The Broke Fordwich region, a 20 minute drive from Pokolbin, is nestled at the foothills of the Brokenback Range in the shadow of the majestic Yellow Rock escarpment. It has a rustic charm and is pin-drop quiet, making the perfect destination for a relaxing rural retreat. Peppered with boutique and biodynamic vineyards, olive groves, cosy accommodation options and restaurants, it has two big-ticket events; A Little Bit of Italy held each April and the Broke Village Fair & Vintage Car Display in September.
When you exit the Hunter Valley at Lovedale Road and turn left you have arrived in Lovedale, a relaxed neighbourhood east of Pokolbin. The winding country roads are lined with cellar doors, eateries and an eclectic collection of places to stay – pick up a copy of the Tour De Lovedale map and follow the self drive route. It is also home to mobs of kangaroos and wallabies, and the Lovedale Long Lunch, which takes place on the third weekend in May each year.
As far as idyllic rural backdrops go, you cannot ask for much better than Mount View. Weaving its way past terraced vineyards, tasting rooms and charming B&Bs, Mount View Road takes you up to the Bimbadeen and Mount Bright Lookouts, with breaktaking views in every direction. It is off the beaten track, but the mountain-top lookout, peaceful setting and memorable wine experiences are worth seeking out.
Pokolbin isn’t a town or a village, but it is hailed as the hub of the Hunter Valley because it has the highest concentration of wineries, restaurants, accommodation and activities in the region. The first vineyards in the Valley were planted in Pokolbin in the early 1800’s and it continues to play a pivotal role in winemaking today with winemakers producing the region’s award-winning flagship wines – Shiraz and Semillon – as well as new varieties that receive widespreed acclaim. While Pokolbin revolves around Broke and McDonalds Roads, it also includes established trails such as De Beyers Road, Palmers “Wine Lovers” Lane and the Around Hermitage Trail.
The Upper Hunter is the largest horse-breeding region in Australia with an extensive viticultural industry based around Denman, Muswellbrook and Jerrys Plains. Stretching from Singleton in the south to Murrurundi in the north, it has a bevy of paddock-to-plate produce to sample, including olives, cheese and boutique wines, as well as outdoot and water-based activities at Lake St Clair and Lake Glenbawn.
Drive 30 minutes south-west of Pokolbin to the quaint village of Wollombi and you will be transported back to a bygone era. Established in the mid-1800’s, the pretty hamlet is famed for its colonial architecture and old-world general store. The gateway to the Wollombi Valley, it offers a heady mix of attractions from acient Aboriginal sites, national parks and the Great North Road convict trail to farmgate produce and boutique wines.