Visiting the Hunter Valley is generally easier than access to Australia’s other, main wine-producing regions. It is relatively close to Sydney, very near to Newcastle, and is home to many towns and villages in which to stay. These go from real towns with all amenities and hotels to quaint villages and luxury wineries.
Pokolbin is the main town/area for a Hunter Valley visit. It is situated in the Lower Hunter where most of the action is, with more budget orientated Cessnock close by. Both of these have their wineries and also make a great base from which to explore the rest of this delightful region.
Pokolbin has good shopping and excellent restaurants and pubs along with its wineries and attractions, which include the Hunter Valley Gardens Village, a visit to which is a must. Horse-drawn carriage tours from Pokolbin are very popular.
Broke is a smaller and quieter town to base yourself here and, together with Maitland, Morpeth and Paterson, retains some impressive heritage. Morpeth in particular has some good antiques shopping. Lovedale is another, quieter alternative to Pokolbin and Cessnock; the latter consists mainly of wineries and stunning spa resorts.
Maitland is farther north and is easier to get to than the bigger towns, with a rail service from Sydney and lots of tour options. You can explore it on foot and it has many historic side attractions to gaze at. Paterson is north of here, residing towards the more spread out Upper Hunter.
Spring and autumn tend to be best for a visit to Hunter Valley, while summers are busiest and most fun. It is hotter here than the coast and much cooler in winter. Also keep this in mind when deciding to travel, with busier roads from Sydney being the norm during the summer. The drive is just a couple of hours, or you can train or bus it to Maitland from Sydney or Newcastle, fly to Cessnock or get on an all-inclusive tour.