Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Relaxing at Hunter Valley

After having a few stressful weeks at work, I decided to take a mini break with family. I was looking for a beautiful and serene place near Sydney, where I can relax and my kids can have fun. The search landed me on Talga estate, Rothbury at Hunter Valley. The Talga estate promised beautiful surroundings, modern rooms with attached spa and space for my kids to cycle or move around freely. The tripadvisor ( rate Talga estate as 4.5star; hence, I went ahead and booked the villa for three nights. 

My additional motivation was to explore Hunter Valley’s well-known wineries and have the opportunity to taste their award winning wines. Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine producing region with more than 100 wineries in the region.

Fabulous Estate

We reached the estate on Friday evening about 7:30PM. The estate is about 150 Km’s from our home in the northern suburb and less than two hours drive through F3 Freeway. About 95KMs on freeway, we took exit at The Freeman’s drive and passed through the historic town, Cessnock in the heart of wine country.

rooms at villa

The accommodation matched our expectations and was the same as described on its website ( It was clean, modern and luxurious. The owners, Laila and Michael  provided for all our needs for the next three days from breakfast to toiletries.

Night view of the estate

Another view during clear night

Great Morning Views

Next day, we woke up to pleasant picturesque surroundings. The back door of the villa opened to a large pomegranate orchard, with a wonderful mountain setting as its backdrop.  Surprisingly, it was not too cold for the month of July and we took a morning walk around the estate. On the way, we saw Kangaroos hoping around. My kids just loved the sight of the Kangaroos. The estate also has a water body big enough to use a boat, but more suitable for fishing.  The surroundings and walk were already having a de-stressing effect on me.

View from back door of the villa

Kangaroos at Talga estate 
Last pomegranate of the season
Flowers with morning dew

The owners own two dogs Fonzy and Harry, and an adorable cat Ginger. Both the dogs were very friendly and playful. On my kid’s request, Laila set the dogs free to play. Both the dogs ran around with my kids all over the estate. It was fun watching them play and having fun.

Harry and Fonzy having fun
Fonzy was always in play mode


Harry followed my son all over the estate

Chocolate and Lunch

About midday, we started our tour to local area. The first stop was at the Chocolate Factory. The Chocolate Factory (CF) has three outlets in Hunter; at Lovedale, Peterson winery and at Hunter Valley gardens. If you are with kids, the CF is usually a good place to start your day J.  Later we visited a few wineries; I have listed some of these at the end of the blog for you.

We had our lunch at Amandas at The Edge (, probably the best restaurant in the area. It was highly recommended by Laila and has outstanding reviews on the web. The Amandas also has a dedicated vegetarian menu, which is like gold for us. The food tasted awesome, had a fantastic view of the vines and all of that on a sunny afternoon. We thanked the chief chef Sara for brilliant preparation.  I highly recommend following dishes:
     Crispy spinach & fetta filo pastry pinwheel with stuffed bell peppers & salsa verde
     Vegetable & chick pea coconut curry served with Jasmine rice, mango chutney & riata 

We went back to the estate and had leisure time for the rest of the day.

Sheep on the estate

Views and More Great Food

My son cycling
Next day, we took it easy while the kids enjoyed cycling and playing with the dogs all over the estate. We decided to lunch at Lillino’s restaurant ( Lillino’s is an Italian restaurant with a Sardinian/Mediterranean influence and a breathtaking view of the valley. The food was amazing from entree to desert. I highly recommend the in-house prepared Tiramisu and award winning wines of the winery.

Cellar door of Audre Wilkinson winery
After the lunch, we visited the Audre Wilkinson winery. The winery offers a magnificent uninterrupted 360o view of the valley. If you are in Hunter Valley for holiday, this winery is a must visit.

Views from Audre Wilkinson Winery

Views from Audre Wilkinson winery

Audre Wilkinson winery

There is a lot to do in this region, for example horse riding, balloon aloft, scenic helicopter flight or visit to the Hunter Valley gardens, However we were tired and left some of those for our next visit. We will definitely be coming back and will again stay at Talga Estate with our lovely hosts Laila and Michael. Till then good-bye Hunter…

Suggested wineries to visit: 

Tempus Two ( Probably the best-looking winery in the area. Also famous for music and events, held in their roman-inspired amphitheatre.

Mcguigan ( One of the most awarded wineries in world. Award winning whites (Semillons) and cheese tasting

Peterson House ( Best place for sparkling wines

Audre Wilkinsons (  for
  • ‘NV Vin de Vie’: Musk perfume with floral notes rise from the glass, lifted by complex aromas from 11 year old Brandy Spirit used to fortify this desert wine. And
  • Best views of hunter region

  • Wonderful views
  • Reds  and
  • Awesome Italian restaurant