Sunday 19 November 2017
Welcome to our Hunter Valley Christmas Lights tour! Today we head down the Bells Line of Road, through Bilpin and Richmond. Our lunch stop today is at the Gosford RSL. Our afternoon journey takes us to Morpeth which is a heritage village. It was once an important river port in the 19th century. We will meet our local guide at Campbells Store who takes us for a tour of this historic town. Afterwards we make our way back to the Store, where we enjoy a tasting of locally produced Fudge, ginger beer and honey and have a little time to browse amongst the antiques stores, quaint art and craft galleries and curio stores. Nearby is Maitland where we check into our four-night’s accommodation. Unpack and settle in before dinner.
Monday 20 November 2017
The Hunter Valley
Maitland is the ideal centre from which to leisurely explore Port Stephens, the Upper Hunter and of course the Hunter Valley. Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before we take a look around Maitland. Mid-morning, we make our way to the Hunter Valley Gardens. The gardens are nestled at the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges, in the heart of the Hunter vineyards. We’ll enjoy a tractor train ride through the gardens to orientate ourselves, take in the superb views from the lookout and step back in time with all our favourite fairytale characters in the Storybook Garden.
There are over 25 hectares of international display gardens that will amaze us with sensational sights, colours, fragrances and adventures of the twelve stunning feature gardens. We’ll have plenty of time after our lunch to explore each garden one by one and enjoy an exciting journey through flowers, trees and shrubs with an air of discovery at every turn.
Of course, no visit to the Hunter Valley would be complete without a wine tasting, so later today we make our way to a local cellar door. We have an early evening dinner in a local hotel before heading back to the Hunter Valley Gardens to enjoy the Christmas Lights Spectacular. We won’t even recognize the gardens as being the same place we spent most of the day at, it will have made a magical transformation! After a fantastic day, we return to our motel.
Tuesday 21 November 2017
This morning we head to Nelson Bay where we board our cruise boat for a sightseeing cruise on Port Stephens. Hear the stories of the past and present as the cruise takes us across these beautiful blue waters. With luck, we may also meet some of the long-time locals – the friendly dolphins.
Back on dry land, we make our way to Tailor Made Fish Farm and Cookaburra Restaurant for lunch. Following our delicious lunch, we enjoy a tour. This is the premier Barramundi farm in NSW, producing a total of 1,000 kilos of live and freshly chilled barramundi per week. We have the opportunity to see how a commercial farm operates as we are taken on a guided tour through the production sheds and the nursery to see the baby Barra. The process of growing both fish and hydroponic vegetables will be explained in a fun and informative manner. We also meet “Big Barry”!
Our afternoon stop is in Newcastle where we take a guided tour of Fort Scratchley. Perched above Newcastle Harbour, the fort was constructed during the Crimean War to protect the city from invasion. At the height of World War II, the fort returned fire on a Japanese Submarine making it the only fort in Australia to have engaged the enemy in a maritime attack. After our interesting day we return to our hotel to freshen up for a slightly later dinner.
Wednesday 22 November 2017
Upper Hunter Valley
Many of us may have been to the Hunter Valley before, so we have planned a completely different day to enjoy. We are joined by our local guide as we tour through the Upper Hunter Valley. Our sightseeing takes us to Darley Stud – a magnificent operation with animals and scenery that will be remembered. Darley (Woodlands) is owned by Sheik Mohammed from Dubai – he is the largest breeder of thoroughbreds in the world – this farm is the largest – it is in the Upper Hunter and we have exclusive rights to visit today! We’ll stop for lunch in Denman before continuing our sightseeing which will include some local enterprises (depending upon availability on the day), and of course a wine tasting at a local winery. After a thoroughly fascinating day we head back to the motel to relax.
Thursday 23 November 2017
Rylstone & Homeward Bound
This morning we farewell Maitland as we retrace our steps back to Denman where we have our morning break. Our journey today takes us over the range to Rylstone, a heritage village with many fine stone buildings. The area is fast becoming known for its wineries, olive estate and gourmet foods, so we’re sure to find something tasty to purchase for lunch. This afternoon, we head for home, arriving back in Bathurst to complete a fun 5-day break!
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