Tried and tested: Hunter Valley mini-break

by Brittany Wheeler

At the beginning of March, prior to self-isolation rules, I was lucky enough to enjoy an overnight getaway with my mum in the gorgeous Hunter Valley. I had planned an early Mother’s Day treat having realised that we’d never gone on a mother-daughter trip before – and to make sure we did it right, I browsed through RedBalloon and booked us into the stylish Kirkton Park Hotel complete with a high tea and breakfast, plus an additional leisurely 2 course lunch at Amanda’s On The Edge Restaurant. Read on to see how they reviewed and for other local recommendations.

Amanda's on the Edge restaurant, Hunter Valley

Just 2 short hours from Sydney and we were in the heart of the Hunter Valley wine country on our way to Amanda’s On The Edge restaurant. Located on the hill of Windsor’s Edge Estate, we sat down to indulge in a 2 course a la carte lunch paired with sparkling wine.

Amanda's on the Edge restaurant, Hunter Valley

At a lovely window table overlooking the lush green vineyards and water fountain, we browsed the ever-changing modern Australian menu that is renowned for showcasing some of the region’s finest seasonal ingredients. Having trouble narrowing down to 1 dish per course (they all sounded incredible!), we decided that we would enjoy everything share-style.

Amanda's on the Edge restaurant, Hunter Valley

For entrees we savoured the crab and snapper ravioli, perfectly cooked in a champagne butter sauce, and the seared scallops (pictured above), before moving onto the lamb rump served on top of a delicious spinach and feta scroll and the barramundi sitting in an Asian broth with wonton dumplings. With impeccable food and views to match, this was the perfect way to kick off our trip!

Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley

Leaving with very happy tummies, we jumped back in the car and headed to our accommodation at the Kirkton Park Hotel. As we entered the iron gates and drove up the tree-lined driveway towards the reception we were taken back by the beauty of the Colonial-style manor estate.

Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley

Our beautifully appointed Executive Room perfectly blended contemporary luxury and comfort while maintaining the manor’s historic roots and regal charm.

What I also loved about Kirkton Park was that they were one of the most sustainable hotels in the region, using bedding made with 100% recyclable materials, refillable amenities and their own vegetable garden, just to name a few of their initiatives.

Kirkton Park Hotel high tea, Hunter Valley

Soon enough, it was time to stroll down to their lovely sun-filled Conservatory for an indulgent afternoon of high tea. Offering spectacular views of their manicured rose gardens and glimpses of the Brokenback Ranges in the distance, this was a highlight of the trip. We sipped on sparkling wine and barista-made coffee and nibbled on three tiers of sweet and savoury delights with all of the trimmings – think French pastries, petit fours, fresh scones and finger sandwiches. The experience was perfect down to every little detail including the fresh floral table setting and edible branded sweets.

Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley

Afterwards, we took a stroll around the property to admire the immaculate gardens and decorative fountains.

Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley

With no room left for dinner, although they offer lovely casual dining in the Epoche Lounge Bar and estate-to-plate fine dining in their signature Locavore restaurant, we decided to enjoy a bottle of local wine on our balcony. Boasting sweeping panoramas of the property and beyond, it was the perfect place to watch the sun go down.

Kirkton Park Hotel breakfast, Hunter Valley

Rising from a blissful nights’ sleep, we headed back to The Conservatory for breakfast. Because their were fewer guests during our midweek stay, we were able to choose our hot food off their delicious a la carte menu to reduce food waste. After our coffee orders were taken, we grabbed a plate and perused the buffet to load up on some of the other tasty food still on offer including artisan bread, pastries, waffles, cereal and fruit.

Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley

After breakky, it was our turn to feed the resident pigs and chickens theirs! The Kirkton Park team kindly loaded us up with a bucket of leftover food scraps from the kitchen and we had fun feeding and interacting with the animals. It really was a lovely way to end our stay and I would highly recommend this hidden treasure to anyone.

Hot air balloon over Hunter Valley

After checkout, we cruised over to the Hunter Valley Gardens for a relaxing stroll around the grounds before heading back to Sydney.

If you’re looking for other things to do in the Hunter Valley during your trip, see our eat, drink and play recommendations below.

Eat and drink: Margan Winery for a degustation lunch and winery tour, Circa 1876 restaurant for dinner, Usher Tinkler for an afternoon grazing platter and wine.

Play: Hot air balloon flight with champagne breakfast, Zepher Tours for a full day wine tour, Bimbadgen Estate paint and sip by the vines, stroll around the Hunter Valley Gardens, fun with the family at Aqua Golf and Putt Putt.

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