Hunter Valley Attractions
The Hunter Valley, the largest expanse of lowlands in the coastal regions of New South Wales, was discovered around 1819 and, with its fertile arable land and good grazing, was soon settled. The prosperity of the area depends on coal. The town's old houses and mansions have changed little since the 19th C. On the lower course of the Hunter River are a number of semi-derelict river ports.HistoryAround 1804 the convict settlement of Coal River, near Newcastle, was established to work the rich deposits of coal under the green grazing land.Before the construction of a steelworks in 1915 the export of coal was Newcastle's main source of income, and the area became known as the 'Ruhr of New South Wales'. Extensive opencast mining operations, still continuing and planned for the future, have increasingly eaten up the agricultural land.
Wollemi National Park
500,000ha.Wollemi is one of the largest national parks in New South Wales. Adjoining it on the north is the Kanangra Boyd National Park. The most striking features of the park are the stretches of wild, unspoiled country along the Colo and Wollemi Rivers. There are expanses of rain forest on the hills and in the deep valleys that allow for bush and hill walking (strenuous), rock climbing, or canoeing.
Address: Putty Road, Merriwa, NSW 2329, Australia
Entrance fee in AUD: Adult $3.00, Child $2.00
Useful tips: Access via the road from Windsor to Singleton runs along the eastern boundary of the park. There are no roads within the park itself. Adult and child fees are for camping only and apply per night.
Barrington Tops National Park
39,000ha.The landscape of Barrington Tops National Park is dominated by the precipitous Barrington and Gloucester Tops (over 1500 m). A striking feature is the wide range of vegetation - subalpine plants on the plateau, subtropical rain forest in the valleys. Beautiful views; picturesque waterfalls; great numbers of birds. The 143 km drive along the Barrington Top Forest Drive is a memorable experience.
Singleton (pop. 12,000) is one of the oldest settlements in the Hunter Valley. A settlement was established here around 1820, and 16 years later it was declared a town. It is named after Benjamin Singleton, owner of the first inn in the region. It is now a market center and industrial town in a fertile agricultural area producing milk, meat and vegetables. A major contribution to the town's economy is made by its extensive opencast coal mines, much of whose output goes to the nearby Bayswater power station.The old courthouse and jail now houses a historical museum. George Street has preserved its 19th C style (Caledonian Hotel, banks, old post office).
Maitland (pop. 33,440) lies on the Hunter River. The first settlement on the site was established in 1818, when convicts were set to felling timber in the area. Around 1840 it developed into a thriving town and is now the commercial center of the Hunter Valley (agriculture, coal, industry, shopping center). Many people commute to Newcastle from here.The winding High Street and Regent Street in the town center have been declared a conservation area by the National Trust, since almost all the buildings date from the 19th C. The most interesting features are Grossman House (1860-2), Brough House (1870) and St Mary's Church (Anglican; 1867).
Goulburn River National Park
70,000ha.The central feature of this long, narrow park is the Goulburn River, which flows through it from Ulan in the west to Sandy Hollow in the east. In the upper Hunter Valley, to the west of Muswell Brook, is a rugged sandstone plateau with deeply indented valleys.The park is particularly beautiful in spring, when the flowers are in blossom. There are walking trails along the Goulburn River.
Murrurundi (pop. 980) is set in a lush valley in the Liverpool Ranges, in the north of the Hunter region. The area was first settled around 1820.Murrurundi features handsome old buildings such as the White Hart Hotel (1842), courthouse, and St Joseph's Church (c 1860).
43km east of Murrurundi are the Timor limestone caves.
Cessnock (pop. 15,450), founded about 1850, lies in the fertile Hunter Valley. After the opening of the first coal mine the town grew rapidly. Tourism is an important element in the town's economy.
Near Cessnock is the pretty little township of Wollombi, with many old buildings (church, courthouse, post office), in which many veterans of the Napoleonic wars settled in the early 19th C.
Dungog (pop. 2110) grew out of a farming settlement established about 1820 and a military post established in 1838 to combat bushranging. It is a good base for walking in the surrounding area and visiting Barrington Tops National Park.
Scone (pop. 4300) is famed as a horse-breeding center.It is reputed to be Australia's equivalent to the Kentucky Bluegrass region of the United States.
The little township of Merriwa (pop. 960) in the western Hunter region is noted for its many old buildings (churches, police station, courthouse, museum).
Around Merriwa there are many rock formations and a petrified forest. 27km southwest is a gem-fossicking area.
Hunter Valley Pictures View All