A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at www.creativejuicy.com
Published July 28th 2011
One of the most awe inspiring things you can do on a weekend is visit the Hunter Valley Gardens – one of the best kept secrets in New South Wales. The Gardens are set in the historic district of Pokolbin, near the Brokenback Ranges in the heart of the Hunter vineyards - and they have deservedly won awards year after year for the Best Significant Tourist Attraction in NSW.
It's almost hard to believe that one couple's dedication has resulted in 10 stunning differently themed garden areas, spanning 60 acres. Eight kilometres of walking paths, more than six thousand trees, one million ground covers and six hundred thousand shrubs are part of this modern day Eden.
Hunter Valley Gardens is the lifelong dream of retired couple Bill and Imelda Roche who wanted to create a garden that would last for generations to come. It's a legacy that will certainly fulfil that aspiration. A talented crew of 40-50 gardeners worked for 4 years to construct the gardens – a true testament to nature's beauty. It's a magical experience for all who visit, with a combination of the calming sounds of water and birds, together with a multitude of fragrances and colour. The variety of plants, garden features, statues and topiary is unsurpassed anywhere in Australia
You'll need a full day, or even a weekend to see everything there is to see and it's a real sensory overload.
Featuring a spectacular 10 metre waterfall, the Sunken Garden is one of the most visually magnificent of the gardens. You can enjoy unsurpassed views of the entire property from the pergola at the top of the waterfall and the kaleidoscope of colour from the surrounding gardens.
The Sunken Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
Storybook Garden The entrance to this delightful garden is through a giant storybook, being read by topiary giraffes. Classic nursery rhyme characters are scattered throughout this fantasy garden, taking you on a journey back to your childhood dreams. Other animals in the 'topiary zoo' include horses, teddy bears, ducks and many more.
The Storybook Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
A kids' favourite (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley website)
Rose Garden The Rose Garden is shaped like a corkscrew and features over 8000 spectacularly fragrant roses. You can relax in one of the four pergolas and let the scents take over your senses.
The Rose Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
Formal Garden The beautiful formal designs of France and England were the key influences of this gorgeous garden. Manchurian Pear Trees, manicured hedges, topiary and over 3000 Rosa chameleon roses create a structured but grand display. Make a wish at the 'Wishing Fountain' donate a coin and all proceeds are donated to charity.
The Formal Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
This garden has distinctly Mediterranean flavours and features a statue of St. Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint of animals and the environment). Enjoy the splendid olive trees, shrubs, citrus and bay trees and the gorgeous beds of lavender.
The Italian Grotto (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
Border Garden Manicured box hedging and magnificent floral patterns are the main feature of this French themed garden. There are hand carved Indian marble water features, giving the garden a romantic and elegant feel.
The Border Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
Indian Mosaic Garden
Bronze elephants and 180 year old antique elephant gates are the main feature of this lovely garden, which is covered in a striking mosaic of plants and pebbles. Curry plants sent their spicy scent through the air. Relax in the Indian Tea House and take in the views.
The Indian Mosaic Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
This is a special peaceful and tranquil area of the Gardens. There are huge old weeping willow trees lining the lake and a flurry of bird life, with the Hunter Valley Gardens Chapel in the background.
The Lakes Walk (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
The Chinese and Oriental Garden
The entrance to the Chinese Garden is a traditional Moongate, guarded by bronze temple guardians to fight evil spirits. There is nothing evil anywhere here or in the Oriental Garden, which features water lilies and irises as well as the largest lawn of Zoysia Grass in Australia.
The Chinese Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
The Oriental Garden (Image appears courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens website)
But it's not just the gardens that are awe inspiring – there are many majestic statues and fountains to be seen as you walk through the grounds.
It almost goes without saying that Hunter Valley Gardens is an idyllic place to hold a wedding or function. They even have an onsite chapel.
If you choose the recommended option of spending the whole weekend, there are some great accommodation options.
There are regular events held at the Gardens, including the upcoming annual chocolate degustation dinner.
Hunter Valley Gardens is also wheelchair friendly and allows access to all areas.
Opening Times: Open 7 days from 9am to 5pm (closed Christmas day)
Adults (16yrs ) $24.00
Seniors Card $20.00
Groups (10 or more people) $18.00
Children (4-15yrs, 3yrs and under are free) $12.00
Family Pass (2 Adults & 2 Children) $60.00
Family Pass Extra Child $6.00