January 9, 2020 / By Emily Harrison
We don't know about you, but we are always amazed by parents that pack their lives and their kids up to travel around Australia. One particularly inspiring family is Emily Harrison, hubby, Master 7 and Miss 4, who are travelling around Australia in a caravan called Harvey, Lucky for us they are sharing their tips on great things to do along the way (Our Family Gap Year). Here we catch up with Emily to see what she recommends doing as a family in the Hunter Valley.
Seeing as we’re travelling around Australia with two small children, hubby suggested that we should share our tips on what to do (with kids) at each of the places we visit. So here’s my summary of things to do in the Hunter Valley. I’ll write a post about Dubbo and the Blue Mountains over the next few weeks as well, and then, if you like them, I’ll keep writing them as we travel around this amazing country.
We’ve had a wonderful few days in the Hunter Valley—blissfully disregarding our budget and pretending that we both have full-time jobs and can afford to eat, drink and buy whatever we want—wine, spirits, cheese … oh, the fun we’ve had.
But you may be wondering if the Hunter Valley is kid-friendly. How do you have fun wine (and spirit) tasting when you have two young, energetic kids with you? The answer, for us, was in ensuring we mixed up the days to include some activities for the kids and some for us. Below are our favourite places based on our most recent trip.
Hunter Beer Co at Potters Hotel Brewery Resort
Not only is the beer well worth a taste (they have tasting paddles and spicy ginger beer), there’s plenty of green grass for the kids to run around on and an outdoor playground with shade sail.
Tamburlaine Organic Winery
We loved the wine here, and while there wasn’t much to do for the kiddies while we were wine tasting, there is a shaded outdoor playground that they loved. They also have a small selection of organic chocolates and lollies so you could always bribe the kiddies with that too if you need.
This vineyard had a sit down tasting menu (with a complimentary cheese plate), which can be harder with little ones, however, they have great colouring pages and crayons, and a whole suite of outdoor toys for the kiddies to play with—hula hoops, large dominoes, a huge blackboard to draw on and a large grassy space for the kiddies to run wild.
This also had a sit-down tasting menu but the atmosphere was a little more relaxed and there were some trains and other toys which kept our kiddies entertained (although if it was busier there may not have been enough toys to go round).
While this café isn’t especially kid friendly, they do have a kids menu with colouring in and heaps of pencils. The staff are exceptional and the food is amazing and extremely allergy friendly. They also have cocowhip – coconut ‘soft serve’ icecream that is gluten free, dairy free, nut free and refined sugar free – which kept our kiddies happy while we enjoyed our brunch and coffee. In fact, it was so good we went back two days in a row!
Chamelon Play Cafe
The kiddies found a brochure for this at one of the wineries, and then we walked past it while exploring Cessnock so decided to pop in. It’s a café with a playspace for the kiddies. There’s no entry fee, and you can sit and relax with a coffee or a meal while the kids run around and let off steam. We only grabbed a coffee but the menu has things like burgers, chips and milkshakes, as well as a kids menu.
The Hunter Valley Zoo is also here but we decided not to go this time as we’d been to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo only a couple of weeks before. But I have it on good authority (from my sister-in-law who used to live up here, and from a few other travellers we’ve met on the road) that it’s well worth a visit.
And of course, there’s the Hunter Valley Gardens. We did have a quick look (and liquor tasting) at the village, and a play on the outdoor playground, but didn’t venture into the gardens themselves. They do have some great kids activities coming up during school holidays but we’ll long gone by then.
Overall, we found plenty of kid friendly venues and things to do (including swimming in the pool at the place we were staying, and staying home a bit longer so they could play duplo), so we all managed to have a great time. Except for our bank balance. It’s feeling a little low…
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