Pokolbin, New South Wales: Travel Guide And Things To Do

The area which incorporates Pokolbin, Lovedale, Mount View and Rothbury is associated with just one thing: wine. These are the vineyards of the Lower Hunter - a paradise for wine lovers and of scant interest for others, although the district is quite scenic and there are just enough secondary attractions to justify a visit by those who have no interest in viticulture.

Pokolbin is not a town and although some refer to it, for historic reasons, as a village this is also stretching the definition of the term somewhat. There is little centrality about the area which is essentially a district bisected by a number of roads along which are picturesque vineyards and those businesses which complement the wineries: accommodation, restaurants, galleries, nurseries, gift shops and various enterprises which furnish transport around the district.

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Viticulture in the Hunter Valley is often considered to have commenced with James Busby. In the 1820s he studied oenology, wrote a treatise and guidance manual on the subject and briefly taught viticulture at a Liverpool farm school. In 1831 he undertook a tour of French and Spanish vineyards which resulted in two published journals of the trip. He returned with 700 carefully wrapped cuttings of European vines, sending half to the newly established Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. The rest he took with him to the family estate of Kirkton, just north of Belford (see entry onĀ Greta). There he established what was probably the first vineyard in the district. He later left for New Zealand where, as Government Resident of New Zealand, he established the Treaty of Waitangi.

The naming of Pokolbin has a somewhat convoluted history. Land north of Cessnock at what is now called Nulkaba, adjacent what is now Allandale Rd, was reserved for a church and school during the first surveys of the area in 1829. St Luke's Anglican Church was built there in 1867, the original slab-construction St Patrick's Catholic Church in 1872 and a school in 1877. Intended as an administrative centre for the district a village was laid out in 1884-85 as 'The Village of Pokolbin' but became known as Cessnock later in the decade. That name was transferred to the town now known as Cessnock in 1908 and the local name, Nulkaba, was officially adopted in 1927. By that time the farmland to the west had become known as Pokolbin and this is still the case.

The Drayton family established a vineyard at Pokolbin around the late 1850s and the Tyrrells Estate was set up in 1859 by a nephew of the first Anglican Bishop of Newcastle who produced his first batch of wine in 1864. After the Robertson Land Act was introduced in 1861 the way was opened for small landholders and more people began to settle in the Rothbury/Pokolbin area.

Vineyards really began to spring up from the late 1870s but the depression of the 1890s dealt the industry a blow which was further crippled by the influx of cheaper wine from South Australia when customs barriers between the states were removed after Federation was declared in 1901.

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It was not really until the 1960s that the wine industry of the Lower Hunter really began to boom due to the closure of local mining operations and the reorientation of Australian tastes with the influx of European immigrants after the Second World War. By the 1980s it had superceded mining as the centrepiece of the local economy.

The Lovedale Long Lunch is held each year in May and the Thanksgiving Festival in April (phone 02 4990 4477 for further information). Tyrrell's Winery hosts Jazz in the Vines in October.

Things to see

Tourist Information

Pokolbin is not a town and although some refer to it as a village this is also stretching the definition of the term somewhat. Things To See have been listed on a road by road basis.

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The Wine Country Visitors Centre at Cessnock produces a booklet called 'Hunter Valley Wine Country' which contains a good listing of the area's attractions and a rudimentary map indicating their whereabouts. They will also answer all enquiries about the area, tel. (02) 4990 4477.

It is also worth noting that the area's wineries and other venues are exceedingly well signposted at every major intersection with maps at regular intervals and constant forewarnings of approaching attractions.

Mount View Road Wineries

Mount View Rd heads westwards from Wollombi Rd at the southern end of Cessnock. After about 3 km there is a T-intersection. Turn right into Oakey Creek Rd then left into what is actually a continuation of Mount View Rd. To the right are Mount View Estate (open 7 days, tel: 02 4990 3307), Jackson's Hill Vineyard (open Thursday to Monday from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4990 1273) and Petersons (open 7 days with a picnic-barbecue area, tel: 02 4990 1704). A little further along are, to the left, Briar Ridge Vineyard (a boutique winery open 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.daily, tel: 02 4990 7802) and, to the right, Farrell's Limestone Creek Vineyard (open weekends and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. or by arrangement, tel: 02 4991 2808).

If you continue to ascend the mountains (i.e., don't take any of the turnoffs which head downwards) then a little further south there is a turnoff on the left to Bimbadeen Lookout. Here you can join the Great North Walk. Sydney Cove is a mere 190 km distant, Newcastle 92 km, the Paxton Hotel 8 km and Pokolbin Rest Area 9 km. The views are excellent. To the east are a series of mountains. The tallest, capped by two towers, is Mt Sugarloaf where there is another outstanding lookout (see entry on Newcastle). In between is a very flat valley with occasional pockets of human habitation. Cessnock is in the near distance with Kurri Kurri further east and Maitland just discernible to the left. The Watagan Mountains are to the right (south).

If you ignore the side road to Bimbadeen then the road becomes dirt in a very short distance. You soon come to a fork. Take the right path and it leads up to Mount Bright Lookout. There is little to indicate its existence. You simply park your car on the side of the road and walk a short distance to a good vantage point although these can be hard to locate amidst the dense tree growth.

Oakey Creek Road Wineries

If, instead of turning left into Mount View Rd at the aforementioned T-intersection, you take the right into Oakey Creek Rd, you will soon drive past Marrowbone Rd on your left which rejoins Oakey Creek Rd to the west. Further north of this turnoff is another left turn which is actually a continuation of Oakey Creek Rd.

If you take this left an unsealed road soon heads off to your right called O'Connors Rd. Just along here, to the left, is Van De Scheur Wines (tel: 02 4998 7789).

Back on Oakey Creek Rd you will soon pass, on the right, the Golden Grape Estate, noted for its exclusive liqueur the Golden Tango Cream. There is a restaurant, a picnic-barbecue area, a gift shop, wine presentation, an extensive wine museum, a playground and day conference facilities (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7588).

Further west you come to the other end of Marrowbone Rd. Just before that intersection is Drayton Family Wines where there are barbecue and play facilities (open 7 days, tel: 02 4998 7513). The oldest winery in the Pokolbin area it was established c.1860.

Marrowbone Road Wineries

Along Marrowbone Rd is McWilliams Mount Pleasant Winery where there is a newly opened wine and food facility with picnic-barbecue facilities (open 7 days with conducted tours at 11.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m.). The first vineyard was established here in the 1880s, supplying local vignerons with wine grapes but it was not until the 1920s that winemaking on the property began.

Pokolbin Mountain Road Wineries

At the western end of Oakey Creek Rd, McDonalds Rd heads off to the right. On this corner is Reg Drayton Wines (usually open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7523). Continue westwards past McDonalds Road and Oakey Creek Rd becomes Pokolbin Mountain Rd. To the left is Tinklers Vineyard at the foot of the Pokolbin Mountains (open daily with farm produce for sale and a vineyard tour at 11).

From here you can continue up the steep, winding, gravel road for 4.2 km to its apex from whence there are fine views over the picturesque valley.

McDonalds Road Wineries

McDonalds Rd is named after one of the first settlers in the area, John MacDonald who obtained a land grant in the area in 1825. His descendant established a winery in 1870.

The roadway heads south-north, connecting Oakey Creek Rd with Branxton Rd. A short distance along, to the right, are Hungerford Hill (open 7 days, tel: 02 4998 7666) and Lindemans (open 7 days, tel: 02 4998 7684).

McDonalds Rd then crosses over Debeyers Rd. To the right is Pokolbin Estate Vineyard (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7524) where you will also find Pokolbin Horse Coaches, drawn by Clydesdales (tel: 02 4998 7305).

A little further north Thompsons Rd heads off to the left. On the corner is Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Cub. Almost opposite this turnoff are Tamburlaine Wines (open 7 days from 9.30 a.m., tel: 02 4998 7570).

McDonalds Rd soon passes Campbells Lane on the right. Almost opposite the turnoff is Brokenwood (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7559). Just beyond it, to the right, is the Small Winemakers Centre (tel: 02 4998 7668).

The next intersection is with Pokolbin's other main thoroughfare, Broke Rd. On the corner is McGuigan Hunter Village, a large complex which contains McGuigan Bros Winery and Cellars (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. with daily tours at noon), the Hunter Valley Cheese Company, The Cellar Restaurant, the Vineyard Resort and Convention Centre, aqua golf, putt putt golf, a children's adventure playground, barbecue facilities, a gift shop, eateries and a miniature steam train which operates on weekends as well as school and public holidays. Also on this corner is Hunter Cellars (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 746).

North of Broke Rd McDonalds Rd is unsealed. Gillards Rd departs to the left. Just beyond it, to the left, are Grapemobile Bicycle and Walking Tours which incorporate a restaurant lunch and select wineries within a scenic outing (open 7 days from 9.00 a.m. - 9.00 p.m., tel: 902 4991 2339).

At the corner of the next intersection (Palmers Lane) is Kindred Lochleven Estate (open weekends from 10-5, tel: 02 4998 7686).

Further north Deasys Rd heads off to the left. Just past it, on opposite sides of McDonalds Rd, are Latara Wines (open weekends and public holidays, tel: 02 4998 7320) and Tewksbury Estate (open daily from 10-5, tel: 02 4998 7300).

Debeyers Road Wineries

Debeyers Rd joins the southern end of McDonalds Rd to Broke Rd. If you turn right off McDonalds you will soon come to Tulloch Wines (established in 1893 it is open 7 days, tel: 02 4998 7580) and Thalgara Estate (open daily from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7717). Follow the road as it bends left then right and on the left-hand side of the road is The German Tourist and Holiday Estate where you will find Windarra Winery, as well as a pottery, gallery, motel and restaurant, tel: 02 4998 7648.

Broke Road Wineries

Broke Rd joins the village and district of Broke in the west to Allandale Rd in the east. Starting from the intersection of Hermitage Rd and Broke Rd and heading eastwards you will pass, on the right, Oakvale Winery and Cottage which also contains Bacchus Books (established in 1893 it is open daily from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7520), Butterflies Gallery and Garden Cafe (tel: 02 4998 7724), Chateau Francois (open by arrangement, tel: 02 4998 7548) and, at the end of a little side road on the left, Tyrrells Winery with picnic-barbecue facilities (open Monday to Saturday from 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. with tours at 1.30 p.m. on those days, tel: 02 4998 7509). The second-oldest in the Pokolbin area it was established in 1859 by a nephew of the first Anglican Bishop of Newcastle who produced his first batch of wine in 1864. An old slab hut built by Edward Tyrrell remains, along with antiquated hand presses and wooden casks. The winery hosts Jazz in the Vines in October.

At the corner of Broke Rd and Ekerts Rd is Peppers Creek Winery and Antiques (open Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7532).

After you cross McDonalds Rd and pass McGuigan Hunter Village, Broke Road continues eastwards passing Pokolbin Village Resort, where you will find the General Store, a coffee shop, a restaurant and Cedar Grove Gallery (tel: 02 4998 7811).

Beyond it are Blaxlands Winery which sports a restaurant (tel: 02 4998 7550), Kevin Sobels Wines (open daily from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. with picnic-barbecue facilities, tel: 02 4998 7766), Lake's Folly (open Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7507), the Hunter Valley Wine Society (open 7 days, tel: 02 4998 7397) and Peterson's Champagne House (with food on offer and a picnic-barbecue area, tel: 02 4998 7881).

Gillards Road Wineries

Gillards Rd (gravel) runs westwards off McDonalds Rd. On the right is Honeytree Estate Wines, open 7 days, tel: (02) 4998 7693. Further along, to the left, are Scarborough Wines (open 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: 02 4998 7786) and Constable and Hershon Vineyards (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.with guided tours at 10.30 a.m. from Monday to Friday, tel: 02 4998 7887).

Palmers Lane Wineries

Palmers Lane (mostly gravel) cuts across McDonalds Rd heading east to Branxton Rd. To the left, in quick succession, are Little's Winery with a gallery and shaded picnic area (open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7626), Carindale Wines which possesses a small art gallery (tel: 02 4998 7665) and Moorebank Vineyard with a picnic ground (open Friday to Monday from 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.or by appointment, tel: 02 4998 7610). Calais Estates, to the right, has picnic-barbecue facilities (open 7 days from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7654).

Halls Road Wineries

Halls Rd heads southwards off Broke Rd, just east of McDonalds Rd. To the right is Peppertree Wines (tel: 02 4998 7746) and at the end of the road is Carriages Guest House and Somerset Carriages which conduct horse-drawn winery tours (tel: 02 4998 7591).

Hermitage Road Wineries

Hermitage Rd runs from Broke Rd north to Belford on the New England Highway. Hardy's Hunter Ridge Wines is to the left just south of Deasys Rd (open seven days from 9.30 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7460). On the other side of Deasys Rd, to the right, are The Hunter Estate Winery and Cellars, the Hunter's largest winery, located at The Hunter Resort and open every day from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. with tours conducted daily at 9.30 a.m., tel: (02) 4998 7777. Further north again, also to the right, are Mistletoe Wines (open weekends and public holidays from 11.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7770) and Montagne View Estate (open daily from 11.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7822).

Just south of the Old North Road, to the right, is Collectables on Hermitage, open Thursday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. or at other times by arrangement, tel: (02) 6574 7290.

Old North Road Wineries

The Old North Rd (gravel) runs eastwards from Hermitage Rd to Branxton Rd. A short distance along, to the right, is Pendarves Estate, open weekends from 11.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 9974 5794. At the Branxton Rd end are Murray Robson Wines, tel: (02) 4938 3577.

Deasys Road Wineries

Deasys Rd (gravel) runs eastwards from Hermitage Rd to McDonalds Rd. To the left are Marsh Estate (open daily from 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7587), Terrace Vale, along a little side road on the left (open daily from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7517), Paxton-Brown Carriages who offer a leisurely horse-drawn amble about the vineyards and a visit to Eve's Teddy Bear Barn (tel: 02 4998 7362), Hunter Valley Hot-Air Ballooning (tel: 1800 818 191) and, just before you reach McDonalds Rd, Sutherland Wines (open daily from 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7650).

Branxton Road Wineries

Allandale Rd heads north from Cessnock, passes Lovedale Rd on the right and Broke Rd on the left then continues northwards as Branxton Rd until it reaches Branxton at the New England Highway. Opposite Broke Rd is Lesnik Family Wines (open daily from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4998 7755). Further north, to the left, is Balloon Aloft which organises sunrise flights over the Hunter with a champagne breakfast, tel: 1800 028 568.

Wilderness Road Wineries

Wilderness Rd (gravel) runs east-west between Branxton Rd and Lovedale Rd. Heading east from Branxton Rd you will encounter Fraser Winery on the right (open Friday to Sunday and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: 02 4930 7594). Further along, to the left, is Sandalyn Wilderness Estate in a garden setting (open 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: 02 4930 7611). Just before you reach Lovedale Rd a short side-road on the left leads to Wandin Valley Estate where there is a gallery, accommodation and sports facilities (open 10-5 daily, tel: 02 4930 7317).

Lovedale Road Wineries

Lovedale Rd departs from Allandale Rd and heads north-east to Lochinvar on the New England Highway. On the corner of Allandale and Lovedale is Pokolbin Old Wares and Collectables, tel: (02) 4990 9010. As you leave Allandale Rd, Londons Rd heads off to the right and just down here you will find Capercaille Wines which has a gallery and picnic facilities (open 7 days, tel: 02 4990 2904). A little north of Londons Rd, to the right, is Allandale Winery with a gallery and fine views (open 7 days, tel: 02 4990 4526).

Talga Road Vineyard

Lovedale Rd continues in a northerly direction past Majors Lane and Wilderness Rd. Just north of the latter turn left into Camp Rd and take the immediate left into Talga Rd. At its end is Molly Morgan Vineyard (open from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. on weekends and public holidays, tel: 02 4930 7695).

Tours

Pokolbin Estate Wine Tour and Adventure Booking Centre offer free information on the tours available in the area, tel: (02) 4998 7304.

Jump Up Creek Vineyard Tours in Belford provide daily mini coach tours of the Lower Hunter vineyards. They will pick you up and return you to your accommodation in Singleton, Maitland, Morpeth, Cessnock, Pokolbin and Wollombi, tel: (02) 6574 7252 or 019 453 674. Hunter Vineyard Tours (tel: 02 4991 1659 or [email protected]), Wine Country Tours (tel: 02 9484 0477) and Grape Expectations (tel: 015 892 855) offer a similar service. The first organises transport to and from Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock while the latter two organise free Sydney hotel pick-ups. Hunter Valley Day Tours furnish a combined winery and rainforest tour or a wine and cheese tasting tour with free hotel pick-up (tel: 02 4938 5031).

Hot-air ballooning is provided by Balloon Aloft (tel: 1800 028 568) and Hunter Valley Hot-Air Ballooning (tel: 1800 818 191).

Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered by Paxton-Brown Carriages (tel: 02 4998 7362), Somerset Carriages (tel: 02 4998 7591) and Pokolbin Horse Coaches (tel: 02 4998 7305).

Bicycle tours are available from Boomerang Bicycle Tours (tel: 02 9975 4251) and Grapemobile Bicycle and Walking Tours (tel: 02 4991 2339).

Source : http://www.traveller.com.au/pokolbin-new-south-wales-travel-guide-and-things-to-do-130egx

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