Alternative title: “Cool Things to Do in the Hunter,” according to Mr. Big.
Technically speaking, the Hunter Valley isn’t really my hometown. Sydney is, and if you want to be really specific, the Greater Sydney Area is my hometown. But as I’ve already discussed the resort where our guests will be staying, I thought it might be pretty cool to also give you guys an idea on the awesome things our guests could partake in while they stay in the Hunter Valley.
As the Bighorn wedding is a mini destination wedding, a lot (like, 99%) of our guests will be coming from out of town, either driving up from Sydney, flying interstate, or flying from overseas. Only two of our guests are local, and they’ve both since moved to Sydney.
I’ll break down the actual guest demographics in my RSVP breakdown (which I still need Mr. Big to assist me with—he’s really good at data and Excel), but for now, here’s the Bighorns’ “Honeymoon in My Hometown”!
(Titles courtesy of the wonderful Mr. Big <3)
Cool things to do in the Hunter #1: Meet the locals
The Hunter Valley Zoo is a great place to get up close and personal with native Australian animals. For those who don’t know, Australia has endemic (read: only within Australia) wildlife, such as the koala, the platypus, and the echidna. At the Hunter Valley Zoo, you can get all cuddly with a koala, pat a baby kangaroo (a joey, if you want to be pedantic), and even touch a crocodile (a baby one—they wouldn’t let you get near one of those big ones!).
You can also feed kangaroos and emus, and even some non Australian animals like domesticated ostriches and deer. Side note: the ostriches scare the crap out of me!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #2: Get fat
The Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory sells just that—chocolate. OK, well, I lie—they sell mainly chocolate. Their chocolate ranges from Belgium chocolate of the dark, white, or milk variety, to chili chocolate, to the more Australian macadamia chocolate varieties and more. They sell in bulk, they sell individual pieces, they sell bars, they sell hamper packs—you name it, they sell it. They even have chocolate pasta, which I haven’t tried yet, but it looks great!
For those wanting to get gag items, they even have adult-themed chocolates and sweets! And for those who can’t stand chocolate, they have fudge and condiments, which are just as delicious! Their main factory is located in Lovedale, and you can actually see them making the chocolate!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #3: Be cheesy!
The Smelly Cheese Shop is one of those places that you NEED to go to when you go to the Hunter Valley. They have a HUGE selection of cheeses at their disposal, and if you want the full experience, they even have a walk-in fridge which stinks like, well, cheese. Mr. Big and I often go here to get an assortment of cheeses to eat during picnics we have at the Hunter. For those who can’t stand a bit of fromage, they also have a huge range of gelato (Horny Caramel, yes please!) and even sell condiments, chocolates, milkshakes, and coffees.
Cool things to do in the Hunter #4: Vodka!
I’m not a big vodka fan, and neither have I been to the Hunter Distillery, but from the likes of friends who are HUGE fans of the Hunter Valley area in general, this is a place you need to visit. The Hunter Distillery is relatively new and houses a range of spirits, including schnapps, liqueur, gin, and, last of all, vodka! The range of flavoured vodka from the Hunter Distillery is impressive, including blueberry, chocolate, coffee, caramel, apple, and even chili! If you’re a spirits fan, it’s definitely worth considering.
Cool things to do in the Hunter #5: Horseback riding
Another thing I haven’t done in the Hunter, but I honestly think it would be awesome. The Hunter Valley is surrounded by gorgeous scenery, from sprawling vistas of farmland and greenery, to huge mountains (or “hills” to the Kiwis) which overlook beautifully ripe vines. Driving on the road is pretty enough, but to get up close and personal with the natural beauty via horseback would just be phenomenal. For those wanting a unique experience, horseback riding would be the way to go.
Cool things to do in the Hunter #6: Beer tastings
Ah, the Blue Tongue Café!
The Blue Tongue Café is named after the brewery to which it’s attached, the Blue Tongue Brewery. They sell their own beers at the café, and if you’re a beer lover, it’s a good place to go. I’m not huge into beer, but it’s a fun experience getting the beer tasting paddle and just downing all of the beers followed by a hearty pie. It’s a good option for lunch, too, if you’re looking for a relaxing place to sit and chat!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #7: Olive branch
Tintilla Estate is one of many places in the Hunter where you can find awesome olive products, but it is Mr. Big’s favourite place to go for them. They sell wines there, but Mr. Big goes there for the olives (he’s an olive fan). From Tintilla you can also grab oils and condiments from the lovely people at Pukara Estate, who have to-die-for garlic oils that go splendidly with pasta. For all of your olive and oily needs, go to Tintilla—you’ll be glad you did!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #8: Pretend to be Irish
Harrigan’s Irish Pub is yet another place that does a fantastic lunch. To be biased, this is my favourite place. Their lamb stew is AMAZING and their service is always impeccable, if not busy. For those of you wanting to try this place out, that’s something you gotta be aware of: it. gets. BUSY. The smaller the group, the easier it is to get a table. Otherwise, reserve, reserve, reserve. For those who like a pint of Guinness, this is the place to go. For those of you who like meaty, awesome food, this is also the place to go!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #9: Balloon it
For those who aren’t deathly afraid of height (I’m looking at you, Mr. Big!), hot-air ballooning is a good way to see the Hunter Valley from a different perspective. I’ve never been, but apparently it’s very beautiful. This is one of the pricier options, so for those on a bit of a budget, it may not be conducive. However, for those who aren’t afraid of spending a little bit and who want to experience something that will take your breath away, hot air ballooning is a great option.
Cool things to do in the Hunter #10: A horse and cart
For those who like the idea of a more natural experience, like horseback riding, but don’t want to ride an animal, like horseback riding, than a carriage ride is the way to go. Tours can be booked that take you around the Hunter Valley to taste wines, olives, cheeses, and much more. It’s a relaxing way to see the Hunter without the bothersome traffic that you get with a car.
Cool things to do in the Hunter #11: Preen, primp, and pamper
The Hunter Valley has some fabulous day spas which offer services such as massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures. The Tea Tree Spa is located onsite at the Crowne Plaza for our guests, so for any girls (or boys!) who want to get pampered, it’s the local pamper spot!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #12: Cycle it!
For those of you who like a bit of adventure, there’s always the bicycle trails. Bicycles (with helmets and map trails included) can be hired for the day to take you around the Hunter Valley, exploring the wineries in a way that is unique and exciting. For those willing to brave the summer and wanting to get a unique perspective of the region, cycling is definitely an option!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #13: GET TO THE CHOPPER!
For those of you wanting to see the Hunter Valley from above and who don’t like the idea of an open-air arrangement, helicopters may just be for you. The scenic flights start from $70 pp, so aren’t ridiculously expensive. You’ll also feel like a movie star going in and out of these things as people watch you in awe. What’s not to love?
Cool things to do in the Hunter #14: Throw yourself out of a plane!
For the adventurous type, skydiving might just be an option! Yet another unique way to see the Hunter Valley from above, as you’re descending to the ground!
Cool things to do in the Hunter #15: Go off-road
There are heaps of nice off-road opportunities, so if you have the right sort of car for it, it can be fun. Mr. Big has the right car for it, but unfortunately, sometimes, life likes throwing a nasty at us:
So, those with rental vehicles might want to re-think this activity”¦
However, if you have 4WD, I totally recommend trying some off-road activities. There are lots and lots of dirt roads up in the Hunter Valley.
So those are our guests’ options, on top of the typical wine tours and tastings you can have! I’m sure there’re more activities which are out there, but I’ve run out. What do you guys think? Do you think our guests will remain occupied during their long-ish weekend in the Hunter Valley?
- Sydney, NSW, Australia
- Postgraduate Student & Aspiring Writer
- Wedding Date:
- February 2014
- The Hunter Valley Gardens & Tamburlaine Organic Wines