Nestled in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges, in the heart of the Hunter vineyards, Hunter Valley Gardens has 12 international display gardens on 25 hectares, planted with thousands of trees and shrubs, linked by eight kilometres of pathways.
Storybook garden features timeless nursery rhyme characters Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Wonderland and Little Bo Peep, with many of their friends.
The rose garden is shaped like a corkscrew, with 8000 plants made up of 120 varieties. It is in full flower from October until May. When the roses aren’t in bloom, annual flowers and spring bulbs give a colourful display.
The Italian grotto, lined with bougainvillea, wisteria, geranium and pelargonium, features a statue of St Francis of Assisi. It has fragrant citrus, lavender, azaleas and olives, with a gentle stream meandering through.
The Oriental garden covers more than one hectare and has a two-storey pagoda surrounded by Australian granite. It's a tranquil place of streams, ponds, lotus and waterlilies and Australia’s largest manicured garden of zoysia grass.
The Hunter Valley Gardens chapel is in Lakes Walk and overlooks the Formal Garden. It has streams and a waterfall and masses of seasonal annuals, spring-flowering trees and shrubs.
The Border Garden reflects the traditional English parterre style, with ficus and buxus creating shapes. Colour comes from petunias and marigolds in summer and violas and pansies in winter. There are evergreens and an array of topiary.
The Avenue links the Border Garden to the Storybook Garden and is lined with evergreen ash and lush lawns, with a range of bronzed statuary.
The orchard has ninety varieties of fruit trees, including citrus, stone and pip fruit. Six hundred olive trees make up the olive grove.
Visitors to the Chinese garden cross green slate to enter the Moongate garden, which is guarded from evil spirits by two traditional bronzed temple dogs. It has rugged rocks, raked gravels and slow-growing grass. Camellias, gingko trees, bamboo, cumquats, mulberries and persimmons all grow beautifully.
The Indian Mosaic Tea Garden is entered through 180-year-old elephant gates. You wind your way through a lillypilly hedge to reach a marvellous mosaic of ground-covering plants and pebbles. You can relax in the traditional teahouse and admire the lake and topiary elephants.
Hunter Valley Gardens has Australia’s largest formal garden. Its one-and-a-half hectares have been influenced by the formal gardens of India, China, France and the Middle East. It is bordered by a superb white-flowering pear tree, topiary and finely-manicured lawns. Evergreen magnolia and 3000 bushes of Rosa chameleon roses are a highlight of the garden. All proceeds from the wishing fountain are donated to Lifeline Australia until 2005.
The sunken garden has a 10-metre waterfall and beds ablaze with colour. Views of the entire property can be had from the pergola. Everything has been cleverly planned and designed to give year round colour.
There is a good range of accommodation. Grapeview Villas offers a selection of split-level one and two-bedroom villas, all with kitchen, bathroom, living area and private balcony with valley views, perfect for families and small groups. Guests are able to utilise all resort facilities.
Harrigan’s Irish Pub has great food, wood-fired pizzas and a good selection of Irish beer on tap. Its Irish manager has included Australian beer and Hunter wine, while the cook-your-own barbecue is definitely Aussie! The outdoor area overlooks the vineyards. There are 48 four-star guestrooms, each with balcony or courtyard.
Tallawanta Lodge offers an indulgent selection of 4.5-star twin, queen and king deluxe rooms, family rooms and suites, each opening to a balcony or courtyard. Views of the valley and gardens are spectacular. There are tennis courts, pool, sauna, spa, library and many other facilities.
Lazzarini’s Restaurant is the Hunter Valley’s premier fine dining experience. Its ambience is the perfect setting for the fine Tuscan dining and wine selection it offers.
Roche Wines cellar door offers a premium range of award-winning Hunter wines from the Tallawanta vineyard. Visitors may taste the entire range and purchase on the spot or arrange to have wine delivered.
The boutique shopping village acts as Pokolbin’s town centre. It has a variety of shops, restaurants, attractions, a beautiful Chapel and free entertainment in the village rotunda on weekends.