Spring colour II – Hunter Valley Gardens

by Steven Chater from Trip Plan Australia. Check out Trip Plan’s free Itinerary Planner that will help you make the most of your next road trip through regional and outback Australia.

You can get another fabulous splash of spring colour with a drive of just over a 2 hours north from the centre of Sydney.

The Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin was started by two private individuals, Bill and Imelda Roche (of Nutrimetics cosmetics fame) back in 1999 and was opened to the public in October 2003. The gardens have matured well and now lay claim to being Australia’s largest display gardens.

There are 10 themed gardens to view, with a recommended visit time of 3 hours. Yes, we took the full 3 hours, but that included a very nice lunch at their Garden Terrace café!

Immediately upon entry we took the path that got us heading to the highest point in the site – not that there’s much of an elevation to contend with. The first gardens we encountered were the Italian Grotto and Oriental Garden.

Road trip planner Australia - looking towards the Italian Grotto garden the Hunter Valley Gardens

Looking towards the Italian Grotto garden

From the “Lookout” you can get an appreciation of the layout of the site, and start to realise the effort that has gone into establishing the gardens on what was originally horse paddocks and vineyards.

Road trip planner Australia - looking down onto the Border Garden the Hunter Valley Gardens

View from the “Lookout” to the Border Garden

We started to see spring colour when looking towards the Sunken Garden.

Road trip planner Australia - Spring colour around the Sunken Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Spring colour around the Sunken Garden

Near the “Lookout” is one of the favourite sections of the site – especially for the children. There’s plenty to appreciate in Story Book Garden for the big kids too.

Road trip planner Australia - Entrance to the Story Book Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Entrance to the Story Book Garden

Road trip planner Australia - Mad Hatter's Tea Party in the Story Book Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in the Story Book Garden

You may have noticed the beautifully shaped hedges and trees in the pictures above. There is a staff of around 30 gardeners and horticulturalists employed. One of the gardeners told us that it’s a great job to have – but from watching them in action I’d say you would need to be a little bit of a perfectionist to keep your job there.

Road trip planner Australia - Gardener at work in the Chinese Moongate Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Gardener at work in the Chinese Moongate Garden

Road trip planner Australia - The Formal Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

The Formal Garden

Friends who live up on the Central Coast tell us that the most spectacular time to come is around the end of the year, when the Christmas lights are put up throughout the gardens. In 2014 there were over 1.5 million lights – it’d be pretty special for sure.

As part of the gardens’ Spring Festival of Flowers in September, we were able to enjoy the temporary wheelbarrow display located near the Rose Garden – fabulous colour!

Road trip planner Australia - Spring Festival of Flowers wheelbarrows in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Spring Festival of Flowers wheelbarrows

Road trip planner Australia - Fabulous colour in the Spring Festival of Flowers wheelbarrows in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Fabulous colour in the Spring Festival of Flowers wheelbarrows

There’s over 8km of pathways meandering throughout the site, and one way to get an appreciation of the whole place is on the guided train tour. The tours are popular and we missed out, so give them a call and book ahead if you think you’d like to do this.

Road trip planner Australia - Guided train tour in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Guided train tour

By the time we’d taken in the gardens on the Lakes Walk, we were ready to sit down.

Road trip planner Australia - On the Lakes Walk in the Hunter Valley Gardens

On the Lakes Walk

The café is ideally located near the Oriental Garden and we were able to sit out on the verandah and appreciate the fantastic blossoms while eating lunch.

Road trip planner Australia - Blossoms in the Oriental Garden in the Hunter Valley Gardens

Blossoms in the Oriental Garden

There’s plenty to do up in the Hunter Valley – check out the Event and Attraction listings for the Hunter in Trip Plan (click on the map below). Put a visit to the Hunter Valley Gardens in your itinerary – it’s a great way to spend half day.

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Road trip planner Australia - Trip to the Hunter Valley Gardens at Pokolbin, NSW

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