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Roadtrip Australia: Van-Tastic NSW - KIRSTY AND CARLY Kirsty and Carly embark on the ultimate Aussie roadtrip as they motor around New South Wales with Van-Tastic Adventures for six action-packed, free-wheeling weeks of adventure.

NEWCASTLE & THE HUNTER VALLEY!

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 27 October 2009 | Views [1936]

Newcastle

Hey everyone. Kirsty here.  After leaving Port Stephens, we headed to Newcastle, where we had a brilliant two nights at Backpackers Newcastle. It’s a hostel with a fantastic laid-back attitude – shown in everything from the great staff to the facilities, which are designed for leisure: swimming pool, hammocks, pool table and outdoor eating area.  We even got a free barbeque for dinner one night.  Thanks to all of the staff there!

Newcastle is a great place to hang out.  They have amazing shops, eateries, pubs and beaches – what more could you ask for? We’d definitely suggest you check out Beaumont Street for great restaurants and Darby Street, which has great little independent shops featuring all sorts of clothes, books and odds and ends.  Darby Street also had a fantastic market on the day we arrived.

Kiteboarding

Our main activity in Newcastle was a kiteboarding lesson with Beau from Board Crazy and Dave from Newcastle Kiteboarding School.  If you haven’t seen kiteboarders before, they’re the guys down at the beach strapped onto boards that look a bit like a wakeboard or snowboard, being pulled through the water by giant kites.  It looked like amazing fun, but we soon learnt that it’s a lot harder than it looks!

Thankfully, Beau and Dave were great teachers, and took us through everything we needed to get started.  We began by learning how the kites worked, and progressed to setting them up and learning to fly them on the beach.  It’s amazing how much power they have, and a small tug on the wrong string can have you being dragged down the beach if you’re not careful!  Luckily we also learnt how to safely depower the kite so that we could stay grounded!  After struggling for a while, we started to understand the control system, so we moved to the water, where we used the kites to power us as we bodysurfed.  It was fantastic fun.  That’s as far as we ended up getting in three hours, but we both have a huge amount of admiration for the guys who were out in the water actually doing it, because it’s really hard!  We’re hoping to find somewhere back home where we can keep trying.

Hunter Valley

After Newcastle, we headed up to the Hunter Valley for a day, to experience some wine tasting, as well as all of the culinary delights the valley had on offer!  There are dozens of wineries, food stores and attractions on offer, and it was impossible to see them all in a day. However, here are some of the ones we went to, and what we liked about them:

Hunter Valley Gardens – We drove past this and almost didn’t enter, thinking that they’d just be gardens, but they’re pretty cool!  There are ten gorgeous gardens with all different themes, including the Chinese Garden, Rose Garden, and our favourite, the Storybook Garden, which had statues and excerpts from fairytales and nursery rhymes.

Hunter Valley Chocolate Company – Go here for an amazing range of chocolate, including the amazing chilli chocolate.  Yum!

Hunter Valley Cheese Company – The cheeses here are almost all made on the premises, and they do a daily tour that teaches you all about how it’s done.  It was really interesting to learn about the process

McGuigan Wines – A great range of wines, including my favourite, the 2009 Moscato!  Thanks to Emma, who was really friendly when we had our wine tasting, explaining all about the different wines.

Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop - This place doesn’t just have cheese.  We had fantastic baguettes here for lunch, and they also do a range of gourmet foods, including a huge range of gelato flavours.  We recommend the gelato burger – a scoop of gelato inside a warm, toasted sweet bun. It sounds wrong, but it’s absolutely amazing – definitely our food pick of the day!

That’s all we had time for in the Hunter Valley, but it was well worth the journey.  If you’re in Sydney, it’s a great option for a daytrip. 

Tags: board crazy, hunter valley, kiteboarding, newcastle, nsw, roadtrip australia, van-tastic, wineries

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