I've travelled around the world a couple of times. I'm lucky enough to have lived in several cities overseas. And I've been up and down Australia's east and west coast. So, I like to think I'm quite well travelled.
However, I have never been to the Hunter Valley, despite it being just two hours from where we now live (#slacker haha).
Which meant I was so excited when Holden said they wanted to show us some of the Hunter's 'HIdden Gems'. And wow, what a weekend we've just had! Seriously amazing.
We jumped in our top of the range Holden Captiva on Friday and headed north.
Now, I have to be completely honest here and say that even though we were heading on what promised to be an absolutely beautiful weekend away, mum life never stops (right?!). So, as I was doing the road trip on my own with our two babes (hubby was meeting us there off a work trip), it wasn't easy. Ok, scrap that, it was SHIT. Tantrums from the back, demands every few minutes, meltdowns when we couldn't find a Macca's, the list goes on...it only took us twice as long as it should #mumlife.
The one thing that was a dream on the trip up? The car. I've never driven a Captiva before, and was surprised by the amount of power it had and the size of it (particularly the huge boot which we had stuffed full with all our gear - it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff a family of four needs just for two nights away!). In the front of the car there were some great gadgets, including Apple Car Play which meant I could control my music and messages from the touch screen display right on the dash - genius, so handy.
From the moment we arrived in the Hunter, it was like stepping into another world.
From the hustle and bustle of Sydney to the Hunter Valley's forests, mountains, vineyards, birds chirping and beautiful sunsets......ahhhh. Not even a tantruming toddler could wreck that!
We stayed at Thistle Hill Guesthouse and it was so serene. In the mornings, all you could hear was birds chirping (and toddlers demanding milk, of course!). It is just 2.5 hours drive from the middle of Sydney, and is set amongst 20 acres of garden including a vineyard.
Our suite had easy access to the pool and BBQ area. And the complimentary breakfast was divine, even Harry and Aoife enjoyed it (and that's saying something with our picky eaters!).
The best food and wine
We explored several wineries and restaurants - with the kids in tow, which wasn't always easy logistics-wise but everywhere we went they always had special meals and play things for the kids and were really welcoming of them.
My pick of the wineries would have to be Hungerford Hill (if you like red wine, like me, you HAVE to go here - the best reds I've ever tasted), Tamburlaine (who do a mean organic Shiraz), Roche Estate (which has Tempus Two) and Calais (which also housed the lovely Verandah restaurant where we had some really tasty tapas).
The best meal we had would have to be dinner at Bistro Molines, whose menu draws inspiration from the flavours of Southern France with the local produce from the Hunter Valley region. Mmmmm, the fresh locally grown vegetables were so delicious.
On Sunday we visited the Hunter Valley Gardens for some Aqua Golf (yes, that's hitting a ball into a huge lake, pretty fun actually) and to see the Gardens which were full of storybook characters. The kids loved it!
This year has been so busy for our little fam bam and, with my husband working so much during the week, weekends are so precious to us.
This one was made even more special thanks to this trip, we loved every minute of it and will definitely be back!
Thanks so much Holden - awesome car, awesome trip :)