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December 2, 2014 - Hunter Valley

Most of you would associate the  Hunter Valley with wine, wine and more wine. Heck, before we came here today, we thought the same thing. So it was surprising to learn that those who aren’t big drinkers are guaranteed a pretty good time too.

Take those who like adventure, for example. Hunter Valley Resort, currently run by Phil (‘a fourth-generation alcoholic’ – his hilarious words, not mine) offers Segway tours, horseriding and candy-making classes. Adventurers who also like wine could be tempted with the company’s Wine Theatre. We’re so glad we did this at the beginning of our trip – it taught us about the winemaking process, and the differences between drops. Did you know white-wine grapes are grown on flat land, and red-wine grapes are grown on sloped land? I sure didn’t! Afterwards, we walked about two metres to reach Matilda Bay Brewhouse for lunch (what a selection, and I’m not just talking about the food – in addition to a long list of quality wines, there are 12 craft brews on tap! Nearby you could also skydive and take in the sights from a hot-air balloon, and spirit-lovers will adore the Hunter Distillery.

Larger groups enjoying a weekend away should consider staying at Cypress Lakes Resort. Its multi-level apartments can comfortably fit two couples, and they’re located so close to each other that it’ll be easy to stumble back to your place after a dinner party. Being beer lovers, we were delighted to see Coors, an American brew, being sold at the bar, downstairs from reception.

Families can spend at least half a day at Hunter Valley Gardens. Mum can take the girls shopping and dad can head to Aqua Golf with the boys, although everybody’s guaranteed a fun time here, so, ladies, make sure you go hit a few balls too. And don’t worry if you have no idea how – it’s even funnier when the ball has a mind of its own. You may even be lucky enough to get some golf tips from Kieran; he is a sports fanatic from way back, and his dad even played for NRL team St George Dragons! Then, when you’re ready for dinner, head back to the main part of the village. Tonight we ate at The Cellar Restaurant, which specialises in rustic Mediterranean cuisine bursting with natural flavours. Afterwards, visit the actual gardens for a spectacular light show that’s sure to get you excited about Christmas. It was the perfect way to spend December 1.

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