26 September 2023

Go beyond wineries with a family-friendly Hunter Valley winter escape

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By Rama Gaind.

Nestled in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country, Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort has family-friendly villas, a professional golf course, country club, two restaurants and bars, three swimming pools and two tennis courts.

The Hunter Valley in winter is not just for cosy adult getaways. With spacious family-friendly accommodation and a host of fun activities for all ages, there are many reasons to whisk the children away to the Hunter as the temperature drops. Designed for families, the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort is the ideal base from which to explore it all.

Nestled in the heart of Hunter Valley Wine Country, this resort is a 121-hectare property offering one-, two- and three-bedroom villas, many with private balconies with bushland, vineyard or golf course views.

Now is the time to go for the snow: nothing says winter escape like the annual Snow Time in the Garden at the Hunter Valley Gardens. On until 24 July, this is a winter wonderland made for little ones – and especially those looking for their first go in the snow!

From a family snowball fight and building a snowman to whizzing down an ice slide in a toboggan or ice-skating on two different sized rinks, there’s plenty of winter-themed action to keep the kids warm, as well as, roving entertainment, a Snow Time Café, food stalls and amusement rides.

Seek to have animal encounters: with its unique collection of animals ranging from lions and cheetahs to meerkats and monkeys, the Hunter Valley Zoo is Australia’s largest private collection of animals. From hand-feeding farmyard favourites to close-up encounters with lemurs or zookeeper for a day program, there’s plenty to keep the whole family engaged.

Enjoy a cosy getaway at the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.

If farm animals are your preference, then visit Starline Alpacas to feed fluffy friends every day at 10am and 4pm, head north to Muswellbrook to meet a herd of camels at Camel Milk NSW, take a guided pony or trail ride at Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures or step back in time for an old-school carriage ride with Hunter Valley Classic Carriages.

Early risers or those at the hotel around sunset are likely to enjoy a surprise visit from the resident kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras living in and around the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.

Indulge in fabulous food indulgences, including a visit to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company’s factory that’s jam-packed with traditional treats including honeycomb, fudge, giant jaffas, choccie frogs, mint slices, jellybean towers and a flowing fondue fountain. If you prefer something savoury, then head to the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory. Here you will find everything from quick-and-easy five-cheese tasting platters to the full-blown cheesemaking experience.

Winery treats

An increasing number of Hunter Valley wineries have come up with novel kid and teen-friendly experiences. At Tulloch Wines, children can have their very own tasting experience pairing gluten and nut-free snacks with non-alcoholic drinks (ages three-12) or Kombucha tasting with a local cheese box for teens. Misty Glen wines is a great spot for a picnic or game of boules or croquet on the lawn, not to mention the playful pooches ready to welcome everyone at cellar door. Other family-friendly picks include Calais Estate, Whispering Brook, Ridgeview and Peter Drayton.

Opt for a family-friendly Hunter Valley winter escape at the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.

Families who like a little bit of action can book a spectacular sunrise hot air balloon ride over the vineyards with Balloon Aloft (minimum age seven), followed by a delicious gourmet breakfast or spin around the vineyards on an off-road Segway experience (minimum age 11) with The Adventure Centre Hunter Valley.

The mini rev heads in any family will enjoy zooming around the 850-metre-track at Go Karts Go Hunter Valley, where there’s a choice of adult, junior and twin seat karts so everyone from the age of five can take a spin. For a golfing experience at a more kid-friendly pace, try bashing a golf ball into a floating target net on the lake at Hunter Valley Aqua Golf & Putt for a chance of winning prizes including cash, hot-air balloon rides and restaurant vouchers. Alternatively, follow it up with a traditional 18-hole round of mini golf.

Whether you like to take a hike, or ride your bike, there are plenty of options in and around the Hunter, including the easy one-kilometre Finchley Track walk which features interesting indigenous cultural insights along the trail, the more challenging six-kilometre Yango Walking Track which rewards the effort with terrific views or the 10.6-kilometre Hermitage Road cycleway.


Hunter Valley winter escape

Winery Running Festival – July 17

Hunter Valley Cheese and Chocolate Festival – July 23

Tasty Food Market, Sobels Wines – 24 July

Hunter Valley Steamfest – July 30-31


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