So I have spent a bit of time considering where I have been in the past 13 months and haven’t really stopped to think about where I am. My Australian friends will probably wonder why I have bothered to write about the Hunter Valley, but for my European buddies, who I miss dearly, I thought I would explain how to experience the Hunter Valley, when you’re poor.
Now by poor I mean experiencing the Hunter on a budget, and let’s say the budget is $30? (18 pounds..ish) and that’s assuming you have somewhere to stay or you are just down/up/across for the day from wherever you’re staying, so let’s go through your $30 day.
Start Early. There are plenty of lookouts in the Hunter, and the sunrise is amazing. You don’t need money to appreciate nature, even after a year I haven’t managed to take a decent picture of it, but that’s mainly because I am a safe driver:) After you have taken some awesome photos there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the valley to get some brekkie at, but we are on budget so hopefully you packed a picnic, or grabbed a mcmuffin from one of the millions of McDonalds in Cessnock/Maitland area.
So the wineries don’t open til 10am, which means you have a few hours to kill before you get drunk, have a little drive around the vinyards, or stop into the Hunter Valley Gardens and take in this delightful view
There’s aquagolf here, which involves smashing golfballs into a lake and potentially winning stuff. It’s around $10, and good fun and you don’t even have to be good at it, golf-winning! As for the best spots for views, Audrey Wilkinson winery has an amazing view, and if you’re not on a budget and happen to be partaking in a wine tour you’ll most likely go there, here is the view.
So back to your day. The Hunter Valley is famous for it’s wines mainly semillion and shiraz, and it is also one of the biggest wine regions in Australia, there are over one hundred wineries here and for those who have not done any wine tasting before, you go into wineries and try wines, it’s easy really and you don’t necessarily have to buy anything, but as a cellar door assistant I should encourage you to buy everything…do it. So you can have a potentially cheap day if that’s what you feel like doing, and you can even rent bikes for pretty cheap to do this, but if you’re drinking all day and don’t want to be a sweaty red faced mess (which you would probably be even without the bikes) have a designated driver or go to wineries within walking distance of your accommodation, don’t drink and drive guys, it’s not cool. I have also found that pretending to be posh while drinking wine is also a hoot and a half, you also develop a strange laugh that you’ve never had before, weird.
Now for the afternoon, you could make your way back to the Hunter Valley Gardens and have a wander around the little shops and have a coffee, there is even a British sweet shop which is where I get my Tango and REAL Cadburys chocolate from. Okay so by now we’ve probably spent about $15 and are getting a tad hungry. There are some seriously amazing restaurants in this area but every single one surpasses the budget, whether we were clever and had the whole $30 or not. But you can make your way into Cessnock and go to a pub and get some decent food and a schooner for under 20 dollars. Awesome right! If you wanted to stay out in the vineyards there is also Harrigans which is an Irish pub, which does decent food. You can also grab a pint here, which is pretty sacred to Europeans in the area. They are also open until around 2 am and there is usually a live band on so it’s a really good place to finish your day, whether you want it to be a lairy one or not.
So that’s how I would attempt the valley if I had a budget and didn’t live here, when I was asking friends how they would do the valley on a budget I was advised that a girl should ‘dress like a slut and go to the pub.’ And another person said ‘spend the $30 on a taxi to get as far as you can away from here.’ I quite like it here, sure there’s trash here, but there is trash everywhere, there is nothing like it in England and I am confident that it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. It’s very easy to take advantage of the places we live in, maybe some of my local friends will start taking advantage of theirs.