Hunter Valley Vineyards © F Delventhal
The Hunter Valley region is a 60-mile (100km) drive north of Sydney. It is a region already known to the world for its high quality wine, but is also fast becoming famous as an eco-tourism destination. Besides its vineyards and eateries, there are myriad places of interest, like Lake Macquarie, a glistening lake with magnificent beaches about 12 miles (19km) south of Newcastle; the beautiful Myall Lakes; and the attractive stretch of surfing beaches near Newcastle. Also nearby is the Barrington Tops World Heritage Wilderness Site, which, at 5,203 feet (1,586m) above sea level, contains some of the highest untamed natural bushland in Australia. One of the most popular coastal destinations in the region is Port Stephens, renowned for its crystal clear water and golden beaches. The harbour of Port Stephens is home to about 80 dolphins and many cruise boats offer close up views of these animals. Port Stephens is also a wonderful vantage point for whale watching in season.