The Hunter Valley Blooms for Families
The Hunter Valley doesn’t have to be all about wine (although we will admit that’s nice). It’s also a great day out for the kids, and all just a short two-hour drive north of Sydney. The highlight of any family trip to the Hunter is of course the Hunter Valley Gardens, a wine country institution that was inducted into the NSW Tourism Hall of Fame in 2006. Owners Bill and Imelda Roche had a vision to create something beautiful that would last for many years to come and inspire joy in all those who saw them. Well, they've certainly achieved that. Constructed over a period of four years, the Hunter Valley Gardens today spread across 10 hectares, joining 10 individually themed feature gardens with eight kilometres of wheelchair-accessible paths.
Among the award-winning flowers, trees, bushes and ground cover is a treasure trove of family adventure. Discover the Brokenback Brumbies, four lush topiary horses running free from the Brokenback Range, each one representing a year of the garden’s construction. Keep an eye out for the flower beds; Hunter Valley Gardens takes this term literally! Bask in the enduring beauty of over 8000 roses (and their sumptuous scent) in the Rose Garden. With the Rose Spectacular taking place from 12 October to 17 November 2013, there’s never been a better time to admire the lasting appeal of the world’s most desirable and romantic flower. Elsewhere, you will find a majestic waterfall tumbling from a height of 10 metres, elegant formal gardens and the French parterre style, a Japanese pagoda, a laughing Buddha statue, and the wishing fountain, where all proceeds are donated to local charities.
But that’s not really what the kids are hoping to see. They’re after the Storybook Gardens, a domain of wonder and adventure for children of all ages. The entrance sets the tone for the fairytale thrills they will find within; a topiary giraffe reads from an oversized copy of Jack and the Bean Stalk, while the banner overhead announces that you have arrived. Inside this special place, little ones will encounter all their favourite nursery rhyme characters. Take a picture with Humpty Dumpty (before his fall) and stumble upon Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party; it’s a very merry unbirthday to us all!
When all that horticultural adventure gets too much, retreat to Harrigan’s Irish Pub and Accommodation, located right within the Hunter Valley Gardens. The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Pub Guide awards this cosy country bistro a prestigious two schooners – that means ‘plenty of “wow” factor’ for the uninitiated – and there are plenty of tasty treats for the whole family. There’s also a place to rest your head, with Harrigan’s featuring 48 guestrooms and suites, all freshly renovated.
The school holidays are a great time to get to the Hunter Valley Gardens; this September the Gardens celebrates its 10th birthday with a range of carnival rides, pony rides, treasure hunts, face painting and so much more! The Smurfs will also be paying a visit from 21 September to 6 October 2013, with a special adventure show the kids will love. They can even meet blue-skinned heroes Smurfette and Papa Smurf for a truly unforgettable holiday adventure.
Hunter Valley Gardens are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday. Closed Christmas Day. Adult prices start from $26, children four to 15 from $15, and kids three and under are free. Annual passes are available.
Hunter Valley Gardens
Ph: 02 4998 4000