Years ago when hubby and I lived in Sydney we loved nothing more than trekking out to the Hunter Valley to spend the weekend exploring and tasting all the region had to offer. Lazy afternoons enjoying a Savvy B on the lawn, Sunday morning sleep-ins and romantic dinners amongst the vines.
Then we had kids.
I was delighted by the prospect of heading out to the Hunter Valley again. It had been almost 10 years since we’d been (yeah I know, kinda makes us sound old). I was dreaming of sipping some vino on a sun soaked verandah overlooking the vines and abundant rolling hills… the image in my head was rudely interrupted by the shrieks of excitement from my kids. How on earth were we going to survive a trip to the Hunter with these little crazies in tow?
To be honest, I was sceptical. Wine country and kids don’t often go hand in hand. I can truthfully say (and I’m as shocked as you are) we had THE best 5 day break with the family in the Hunter Valley. Here’s why:
This gorgeous zoo was full of surprises. Despite its size, the zoo had a large amount of native and exotic animals to hold the kids attention. Some favourites were the Meercats, Spider Monkeys and the Maned Wolf. The kids were excited to pat a Wombat and Koala and feed the Kangaroos. The enclosures are set up perfectly so that your little ones always get the best view of the animals. Its an intimate and interactive experience that the kids will love.
This company were simply amazing to deal with. They usually offer full and half day horse carriage winery tours however they were more than happy to accommodate us for an early morning ride with the kids. This had to the be the highlight of our trip! Starting out our day meandering through the vineyards, soaking up the sun in the carriage being pulled by a stunning Clydesdale was just the best. Towards the end, the kids were so relaxed that they started to nod off to the sound of the horse clip clopping along!
The Gardens really are an amazing day out with the family. We managed to pick a gorgeous sunny day to stroll through the gardens and take it all in. It is Australia’s largest display garden and amount of work that goes into the gardens is just phenomenal. The kids happily explored each garden and loved that they were all so different. There is a train ride you can take around the gardens too and this was great for when the kids were worn out. I really liked the Oriental garden and it was lovely to see the kids running around in the Storybook garden.
My kids and hubby are golf crazy. My five year old loves to hang out on the golf course with his dad and my two year old, well he just likes to hit stuff with his club. Me, I’m not much of a golfer but there is something satisfying about the ‘plop’ into the water that makes Aqua Golf extra fun. We all enjoyed an afternoon at Aqua Golf trying to hit the targets.
It’s not all about the kids. After a couple of days of kid friendly activities, we decided to give ourselves the day off and explore a few wineries. June from Red Zebra babysitting services was fantastic with the kids and put us at ease from the start. I would highly recommend this service. June came equipped with lego, blocks, books, farm animals and all sorts of other toys which the boys loved.
We did manage to sneak in a couple of winery stops with the kids throughout the week. My top picks would be:
Ivanhoe Wines – they provide the kids with colouring in packs to keep the kids entertained while you do your tasting. Our kids were happy to sit out on the beautiful verandah for 10mins and play their iPads.
Tempus Two (Roche) – There is loads of room for them to run around and get some energy out as well as a couple of great casual dining options.
Bimbadgen Estate – The boys loved spotting the fish in the pond out the front and whilst this is a fairly formal winery and restaurant the kids were welcomed by the staff. After lunch the kids enjoyed a run around on the grass area as we took in the view.
We also visited a couple of spectacular wineries without the kids: Cockfighters Ghost and Worthingtons Vineyard. You have to put these two wineries on your to do list. They both have the most amazing views, warm hospitality and most importantly lovely wine!
So there you have it: a successful trip to the Hunter with kids in tow. We had such a great time, I’m looking forward to going back again!