The Hunter Valley Gardens were started by the Roche family in 1999. With 60 acres of gardens it is the largest in Australia. The garden has 6,000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and 1 million ground cover plants. Opened all year round from 9am to 5pm daily, it is definitely worth the visit. With an Indian Mosaic garden, Chinese garden, Wishing Fountain, Sunken garden, Rose garden, Border garden, Italian Grotto, Oriental garden and Storybook garden, there is something for everyone.
The Gardens put on a Christmas light show from 4 November 2016 to January 2017. The gates open at 6:30pm with some light entertainment and a few food stalls by the water's edge. The lights are switched on at 7:30pm and run until 10pm.
With over 15 million lights the gardens are stunning. On our visit everywhere you looked there was light. There were lit up lollies, Santa, planes, trains, orchestras, Cinderella and so much more. I much preferred our hour stroll through the gardens, to fighting the traffic to view houses for Christmas lights.
The lights only run weather permitting, so if it looks like rain, or is raining or stormy, you best keep your eye on the Gardens facebook page for a cancellation notice.
Now be warned, there will be a lot of parents with little kids and prams, after all it is Christmas. We went out of school holidays and it was the first time in a week that it ran. We were pretty stoked. Tickets for adults were $27 for the night.
The alternative to driving yourself is hopping on an AAT Kings tour which leaves Sydney at 4pm and includes a barbeque dinner for $185 a person.
We made a day of it. Being a three hour drive from Wollongong we brought a day and night ticket. We browsed through the gardens in the day and then had a look at the little village which was abuzz with people. Then we enjoyed a dinner at the tavern next door and went back that night for the light show. It was drizzling but we did get a good look at the lights.