Sunday, July 27, 2014

Australia Days 3/4--Hunter Valley & the Blue Mountains

Australia series

Australia Day 1--Qantas flight 8 DFW-BNE (Dallas to Brisbane)
Australia Day 2--Flight to Sydney, the Westin Sydney hotel & sightseeing
Australia Days 3/4--Hunter Valley & the Blue Mountains
Australia Day 5--Sydney sightseeing and Manly Beach
Australia Day 6--Paddy's Market, Bondi to Coogee Walk & Darling Harbour
Australia Day 7--Sydney to Cairns, Holiday Inn Cairns & the Cairns Esplanade 
Australia Day 8--The Great Barrier Reef 
Australia Day 9--Kuranda Koala Gardens, Skyrail & Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Australia Day 10--Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation 
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 1, Cairns to Brisbane
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 2, Brisbane to Honolulu  

Hunter Valley Wine Tour


The Hunter Valley region is located a couple hours north of Sydney. It is well-known for its vineyards and cellar doors, or wineries. Neither my cousin nor I had ever gone wine tasting and we thought it would be a fun thing to do in Australia.

The previous day we had booked a wine tasting tour of the Hunter Valley region. In my pre-travel research, I found an online travel agent site offering a tour for $99 AUD. The tour included transportation, lunch and stops at four wineries. This turned out to be quite the deal because basically the same tour from the operator's website is $185.

That morning, we got breakfast (or brekkie, as the Aussies call it) from a little coffee shop and walked down to the nearby Marriott for our 7:20 am pickup. The bus did a few more pickups then dropped us off at the coach terminal to get on the bus heading to Hunter Valley.

Bus tour to Hunter Valley
The bus driver/tour guide, was very talkative, friendly and funny. He gave us lots of fun facts on the two-hour ride to Hunter Valley. The tour included a small group of diverse people, including some from Canada, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The first two wineries we stopped at were Drayton's and Lindeman's. Tastings were a lot of fun, and they gave us cheese and crackers. We tasted a variety of whites, reds and dessert wines, such as Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, Moscato and Port.

Wine tasting at Drayton's

Learning about wine at Lindeman's

Lindeman's tasting room

The wine we bought

The vineyards in Hunter Valley
After Lindeman's, we went to Hunter Valley Resort for the included lunch and wine tasting, which included watching a 15-minute DVD about how they make the wine.

DVD viewing before lunch
Then we went to McGuigan's for another tasting, and lastly the Hunter Valley Village which had a bunch of little shops and more wine tasting, if we wanted.

McGuigan's wine tasting
Then it was time to head back to Sydney. The bus dropped us off outside our hotel. We grabbed some McDonald's (are you seeing a trend here?) and were once again back in the room by 8 pm, ready for bed.

The Blue Mountains

Day 4 included a day trip to the Blue Mountains. I decided we could do that on our own, rather than take a pricey tour. It was $17.20 AUD for a round-trip ticket from the Sydney CBD (Central Business District) to Katoomba, the train stop for the mountains.

Sydney Central Station

Katoomba Station

From there, we bought a $25 AUD all-day, hop on hop off ticket for the trolley bus that hits all of the highlights in the area.

Buying tickets for the hop on, hop off bus

We rode the full one-hour loop (29 stops) on the trolley and listened to the commentary. The driver made a few quick stops at some different lookout points and we got off to take pictures. We returned back to Katoomba and grabbed some lunch from one of the restaurants on the main drag.

One of the tour bus lookout spots
 After lunch, we hopped back on the bus (an express one) that went direct to the main tourist spot of Echo Point, where you can see the Three Sisters rock formation.

It was quite cold up in the mountains, but very beautiful. We hiked a bit around the Three Sisters area and took some pictures.
Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters

Three Sisters

We also rode the express trolley to the Scenic World stop, where there is a skyway, cableway & railway. However, we did not do any of those activities.

We headed back to Katoomba and took the two-hour train ride back to Sydney around 5 pm. After returning, we had dinner at a pretty nice place in the same building as our hotel.

No comments:

Post a Comment