Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stacks Hunter Valley Accommodation Options Can Meet The Needs Of Every Visitor

By John Bryce-Thornton

The Hunter Valley wine region ranks among the largest, oldest and most celebrated in Australia. Its vines were first planted during the early 1800s after having been grafted in France. Its wines have been lauded and awarded all around the globe. Over a hundred individual estates produce hundreds of millions of litres of table wine each year. Its shiraz, chardonnay and semillon wines have developed a particularly strong fine reputation. The vineyards are a popular attraction drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. There is a broad range of affordable and comfortable Hunter Valley accommodation to meet the needs of all types of tourists regardless of whether they are taking a quick weekend break or longer stay vacation.

Wines and vineyards are not the only attraction. The region is also home to the boutique Bluetongue Brewery. It is situated at the Hunter Resort and is modern contemporary operation having been established only recently in 2004. Its four distinctive beers include a premium lager, a bitter beer, a summer wheat beer and an alcoholic ginger beer. All four beers are available on tap at a sleek bar at the brewery.

There are scores of vineyards in the valley. Virtually all open their gates and cellars to visitors. They have guided tours of their estates that convey interesting insights into how they operate, grow their grapes and craft their wines. Tastings are common and many vineyards also have a restaurant on the estate.

Even though European settlers first arrived during the 1820s, the Darkinjung indigenous people have inhabited the region for about 3,000 years. Following European settlement, many died from disease or from direct conflict with white settlers. Many others were forced to move in neighbouring territories, sparking inter-tribal rivalry that often resulted in deadly battles. Very few Darkinjung people remain alive today. Their influence remains alive today in the names of towns like Kurri Kurri, Congewai, Wollombi, Nulkaba and Laguna.

Cycling, skydiving, health spas, hot air ballooning, kayaking and canoeing are all on offer. Bird watching and bush walking in the Brokenback Range are also popular activities. These mountains form part of the Great Dividing Range and mark the western boundary for the valley.

There are several historic towns, villages and hamlets to amble through and explore such as Morpeth, Broke, Branxton, Pokolbin, Wollombi and Maitland. Many of their buildings are listed on the Register of the National Estate. These settlements link the region with its colonial past and the extensive coal mining that dominated the area during the first half of the twentieth century. Coal mining was scaled back as the industry restructured during the 1960s.

A public wharf was completed in 1833 under orders from the Colonial Secretary, Up until the 1890s, Morpeth remained a heavily trafficked port. Its main thoroughfare, Swan Street, echoed with the hubbub of a thriving trading centre that handled the agricultural products from the valley. By the 1890s, new rail and road connections diminished the importance of Morpeth as a shipping port.

By way of final comment, the wide range of Hunter Valley accommodation options allow visitors ready access to this picturesque wine country. Rich colonial history, vineyard tours, cafes and restaurants, championship golf courses, scores of art galleries, craft boutiques and antique stores are all on offer. For the more active horse riding, bush hiking, canoeing, kayaking, ballooning, and trail bike riding are also available.

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