Happiness is a family day out in the Hunter Valley

New South Wales’ Hunter Valley might rightly be famous for its wine, but you can uncover a wealth of family activities here too

  • Deborah Dickson-Smith

9:00am Morning fun

My energetic kids love to have plenty of space to run around, so we head to Hunter Valley Gardens, a vast park comprising 10 feature gardens across 25 acres. The Storybook Garden is a particular favourite with the younger siblings, as it contains statues of nursery-rhyme characters including a life-sized Mad Hatter’s tea party, where the kids can sit down at the table with Alice’s friends from Wonderland.

Animal-shaped topiary such as horses, ducks and teddy bears is also a big hit, and the youngsters love tumbling down the hill alongside Jack and Jill.

11:30am Putt stop

Next door to Hunter Valley Gardens opens in new window, Aqua Golf & Putt Putt is the highlight of the trip for our kids. They are fans of the latter already, and this place has the added attraction of allowing visitors to whack floating golf balls into a lake. If yours lands in a target you can win vouchers to cellar doors, restaurants or hot-air balloon rides. Our kids aim for the target offering free Subway meals.

12:30pm Lunch break

Just around the corner, Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop is next on our agenda – a hilarious name if you’re a kid. With its gourmet burgers, pizzas and gelato, it’s a great spot for a reasonably priced, fuss-free lunch.

2:30pm Afternoon ride

We’ve signed up for a Segway tour at Crowne Plaza. The tour starts with a training session on the hotel’s manicured lawns and golf course before we veer off-road and through the surrounding bush.

We’re promised sightings of kangaroos, foxes, hares and wombats, and while we certainly do see plenty of kangaroos, we don’t manage to spot any other critters – probably because the kids are too loud and are scaring them off. On the way back we adults are treated to a stop at a nearby vineyard while the kids practise figure-eights with the Segways in the car park.

Children have to be over 11 for the Segway tour, so if you have younger ones, skip it and head to the Hunter Valley Zoo. Our kids never tire of animals, whether domestic or exotic, and at this interactive attraction they’re able to hold a few reptiles, feed kangaroos and wallabies, and cuddle koalas. You’ll also see monkeys and American alligators here.

Take me there

Aqua Golf & Putt Putt: 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, +61 02 4998 7896golftothemax.com.au opens in new window

Hunter Valley Gardens: Broke Rd, Pokolbin, +61 02 4998 4000huntervalleygardens.com.au opens in new window

Hunter Valley Zoo: Lomas Ln, Nulkaba, +61 +61 02 4990 7714huntervalleyzoo.com.au opens in new window

Segway Tours: East Coast Xperiences ex Crowne Plaza, 430 Wine Country Dr, Hunter Valley, +61 02 4991 0900eastcoastxperiences.com.au opens in new window