I while back (well June long weekend last year) I was invited along to a friends hen’s weekend in the Hunter Valley. I only just remembered that I never published this post – so here is what I wrote almost a year ago to the day!
My friend picked me up from my place at 9.30ish and we took off on our way towards Sydney. The drive between Canberra and Sydney is always incredibly boring, but we had plenty to catch up on so it went by quickly. We drove onto the M7/M2 and through to the Hunter Valley Region.
It seems that the best way out to the Hunter is by car. I believe there are buses and possibly trains, but the quickest and easiest way would be to drive.
It’s so pretty out this way – there are so many vineyards and wineries along the way. I think it took about 4.5 hours for us to drive up, which is pretty good considering I live in South Canberra.
For the 10 of us staying, there were two 2-bed cabins booked at Cyprus Lakes Resort. These cabins were two storey, had a medium size kitchen, a lounge and dining area, and a big deck out the back. There was a fantastic view from the balconies too!
The top storey had the two bedrooms, with each room having it’s own bathroom. There was also a fold out sofa bed in the loungeroom.
To access the cabins, a 6 digit code it sent to your mobile number. During your stay, you must use this code to access your room. Not sure what you would do if you forgot your code and you had left your phone inside with the code in it….
In the cabin I stayed in, the sink in the bathroom of the main room had not been cleaned properly. Actually, it looked like someone hadn’t cleaned it at all. It was very obvious too, so I don’t know how someone could have missed it. Everything else was clean and tidy though, with the towels rolled up on the bed looking every bit professional.
I found the doona on the bed not warm enough for me. But there was an extra blanket available,
We used the heater the second night and it definitely kept us warm. Just remember to turn it off when you leave otherwise you will be charged excess use fees!
Overall, I really liked these cabins, and I think I would stay here again.
Dinner at The Cellar Restaurant
This is a cosy restaurant with plenty of room for group dinners. There is a fireplace in the middle and fern trees around the window sides of the restaurant. I thought it had a lovely atmosphere. We were seated next to the fire and they let us know they could turn the fire down if it became too hot for anyone. Always nice to know that a customers comfort is important as well as the service and food.
There was a large menu of choices. We were told that if we ordered a main that we would need to order a side as well. Pretty much everyone at the table ordered a type of steak or whole fish. We shared about 7 sides between the 10 of us.
I chose the Sirlion steak cooked medium rare with the mushroom sauce. I loved the sauce and that it came in a giant ramikan jug. There was also a giant wedge of lemon served on the plate. I’ve never seen a piece of steak served with lemon on the side before, so I’m guessing it was for presentation reasons. This makes sense because the presentation was lackluster.
We didn’t stay for dessert, but we did look at the menu. There appeared to be no chocolate dessert. There were desserts with bits of chocolate in it or white chocolate, but no full chocolate dessert like a cake or mousse. I found that a bit weird and a little disappointing.
Drinks at Harrigans
This place is your typical Irish pub. We found a spot to sit and talk inside near the sports bar area, but were soon told that the chairs had to be moved away as there was a DJ playing soon. I have to say, whoever that DJ was – was absolutely terrible! There was terrible mixing (if any at all), beat matching did not exist, and the same songs were played twice within 30 minutes of each other. They were all typical songs that you hear a resident pub DJ play. It was kinda fun, but seriously, this person should not be allowed to DJ in public when they haven’t even got the basics!
Also, if you plan to get the courtesy bus from Harrigan’s – DON’T. We asked if the bus was going soon and the bus driver said in 10 minutes he would leave. After sitting on the bus for 20 minutes, he came in, turned off the lights and the bus and closed the doors. Maybe he forgot about us? We waited another 10 minutes before deciding to ask what was going on. The bus driver decided he wasn’t allowed to leave until the bus was full. Um… why didn’t you just say that to begin with? We could have caught a taxi home 30 minutes earlier. I was pretty annoyed about that…
(Ps I was sober for this whole experience)
The company that we booked our bus through was James’ Wine Tours. I could not think of a better way to do this. James is lovely and informative and organizes a great tour. He gives you a run down for the day and then you can modify the schedule if there’s a specific winery you do not want to visit or really want to see. He has multiple buses that can be used, and can seat up to 12 people in each bus. He also has a smaller car for private tours.
The tour also involves stopping for lunch. Whilst I can’t remember the name of the restuarant, it was a cosy and warm atmosphere.There were a few gluten free options available. I chose the chicken and it was a delicious meal to have inbetween the wine tours (although I wasn’t drinking or tasting any wine that day).
There were horse drawn carriages outside as well… I’m not sure if this was something the establishment offered or organised as well, but I would think that it would be a fabulous experience to take a hrse drawn carriage through a wine region.
The wineries we went to were:
- First Creek – I purchased a bottle of Rose.
- Domaine de Binet – I purchased a Semillon Savingion Blanc & a Tempranillo (Red wine similar to a Shiraz)
- Hanging Tree Wines – I purchased a Sparkling Moscato
They were all very nice wineries, and I would definitely go back. Even in winter the Hunter Valley was beautiful. I would recommend that everyone visit the Hunter Valley and do a wine tour at least once in their lifetime!
Have you been on a wine tour in the Hunter Valley? Where would you recommend to go on a wine tour? Share your experiences in the comments!