North-west of Newcastle in NSW is the Hunter Region, home to the Hunter Valley vineyards. The acclaimed birthplace of Australian wine, the region is brimming with more than 150 wineries and cellar doors. But wine is not all the region has to offer. Did you know the Hunter is also home to three unusual attractions, all within a 20 minute drive from each other?
The Newcastle to Hunter Valley drive takes about 1.5 hours, but we recommend making a few stops along the way. Enter these three must-see sites into your GPS on your next roadtrip from Newcastle to the Hunter Valley heartland.
Mortel’s Sheepskin Factory, Thornton
As you set off from Newcastle toward the Hunter on the A43 New England Highway, drive for about half an hour to reach the Weakley’s Drive turnoff in Thornton. Take it, for the small diversion will be worth a stop at the now famous Mortels Sheepskin Factory. Mortels’ claim to fame its sheepskin factory has Australia’s (and the world’s) biggest Ugg boots standing to greet you by the roadside. Jump out and take a selfie with the big Uggs stretching 5.5 metres into the sky. Inside the factory, the Mortels family manufacture and sell 100 percent natural sheepskin products providing a level of comfort you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
Morpeth Sourdough, Morpeth
Jump back on the New England Highway, continuing north-west. About 10km up the road from Mortels’ is the Morpeth Road turnoff. Turn right, and continue along this until you reach Swan Street. Here, you’ll find the original bakery where William Arnott, the Scottish baker, launched his international baking empire under the brand ‘Arnott’s’ back in the 1860s. The Arnott family still work at the bakery, selling authentic pastries, breads and products using local produce and exporting to local cities such as Newcastle. Definitely worth a stop for a bickie, a coffee and a yarn with Stephen and Allison Arnott who still operate Morpeth Sourdough today.
If Dad or your little up-and-coming pilot is an aviation geek (and proud of it!) this is a must stop place right on New England Highway just after you pass through Rutherford. In fact, it’s your only opportunity to fly in one of Australia’s rarest war birds. We don’t mean a literal attacking bird here; a war bird is a vintage military aircraft now operated by civilian organisations and individuals such as the RAAF Museums and Aerohunter Rutherford. You’ll be taken up on a real military experience flown by an experienced RAAF or Ace aerobatic pilot.
Want to stay a bit longer in the Hunter? Best Western has hotels in Newcastle and the Hunter region ready to welcome you. Don’t forget to tag all your holiday snaps with #bestwestern and follow us @bestwesternau on Instagram.
What excites you most about a roadtrip to the Hunter region?