Lover of exploring, family, food and fun! Find me on instagram: @australianrecipesbythebay
Published April 19th 2022
Take the kids & go exploring
The Hunter Valley Gardens is a spectacular 14-hectare parkland, which has themed gardens throughout. Take a wander along the pathways or follow the map, and discover a wide range of garden themes such as the Oriental Garden, Rose Garden, Indian Garden, Formal Garden, Italian Grotto and more. If you have a green thumb, you will love discovering the 6000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and over 1 million ground cover plants, which make up the gardens.
It costs to get in and then you have all day to explore the gardens, have a picnic or stay for lunch in their cafe at the front entrance. During the school holidays, they also have rides and themed events, such as Mega Creatures, Christmas Wonderland and Snow Time in the Garden. Outside the Gardens, there is also a quaint shopping village, a pub and a golf driving range. These were my family's highlights of the whole complex, from our recent Autumn visit...
This was my family's favourite garden. We arrived at the Gardens at opening time, so when we discovered the Oriental Garden we had the tranquil space to ourselves. The Japanese pagoda was a highlight in itself and created a stunning centrepiece to the gardens. The traditional curved, red bridge was another eye-catching feature, which also picked up the red hues in the plants and carp that swam in the ponds. The huge carp fish followed us with open mouths wherever we walked along the water's edge, which was a highlight for my daughter to watch.
This garden was precisely trimmed and manicured into curves and when we walked through the rest of the gardens, we discovered bonsai trees, crane statues, unusual ground coverings and precisely-cut hedges. We watched as a gardener created a curved hedge with a spirit level and rulers, to make an exact shape. It was a peaceful, inspiring garden that created a relaxed feeling that we kept for the whole day.
On our visit, the Hunter Valley Gardens had a Mega Creatures school holidays event, so as we walked around the pathways we came across huge, animatronic dinosaurs, spiders, cicadas and frogs, which made noise and moved when you walked near them. My daughter found this very exciting, as you never knew what you were going to discover around the next corner. I'm not sure that she would have enjoyed the Gardens as much as she did without them - the dinosaurs and the rides made it a special day at the gardens, for all of us.
At the back of the Gardens, there was a children's area with food options, a ferris wheel, large slide, chair ride, teacup ride and carousel (costs apply). Also nearby was the Storybook Garden, which was an attraction for smaller children. If you have kids, ensure you visit when the themed events are on, so they are engaged and entertained.
Outside of the Hunter Valley Gardens, there were other attractions in the complex. There was a shopping village with quaint shops, Harrigan's Irish Pub and just a short walk from the Gardens was the Hunter Valley Aqua Golf and Putt-Putt, which was a fun, family-friendly attraction in its own right. The Aqua Golf was a driving range where you hit the balls into the lake, aiming for nets to win a prize. The music was pumping and excitement was in the air, as everyone lined up to try their luck. When we were hitting the balls, we could see right across the lake to the Hunter Valley Gardens. On our visit, two huge dinosaurs from the Mega Creatures event could be seen, as well as smoke billowing out into the sky from the volcano on the grounds.
The Hunter Valley Gardens Complex has something for everyone - why don't you visit it these school holidays? You are sure to be entertained!