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Bishop’s Court Estate: A Luxury Stay in Bathurst

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

A stay at the Bishop’s Court Estate is like spending the night at the house of a friend. If your friend lived in a luxurious, historic mansion, that is. Built in 1870 as the home of the first Anglican Bishop, Bishops Court Estate is a two-storey Victorian mansion that has been exquisitely restored to its former glory by owner Christine Le Fevre.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Le Fevre greets us by name as we arrive, and ushers us into our rooms, which all have their own name and character. There are only six rooms in this boutique hotel, making the stay a cosy, intimate affair. My room for the night is the Bishops Room – the bedroom that was previously reserved for the Bishop of the house.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

The room is spacious and elegant, decorated with a unique art collection and European inspired furniture. There is direct access to the upper terrace from the room, which overlooks the chapel and garden. It’s peaceful, luscious and so relaxing. Complimentary port and choccies await me in the room, a lovely surprise gift for guests.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

A big quick of the rooms at Bishop’s Court Estate is their lack of in-room ensuites. Only one room at the hotel has a bathroom ensuite, the rest, all large, luxurious bathrooms, are allocated to each room in different locations nearby. It’s pretty easy to slip on the provided plush robe and totter down the hall, and kind of feels like I’m on set at Downton Abbey when I do.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

In the evening the chapel is filled with candles and transformed into the ethereal eatery that is 9inety 2wo restaurant. They serve Modern Australian cuisine in one of the most beautiful surrounds I’ve ever dined in.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Our meal is delicious. I enjoy the twice baked asparagus Soufflé with blue cheese and parmesan crisp, hand-cut pasta with mushrooms and baked stuffed eggplant with asparagus risotto, braised okra and spinach sauce. I’m similarly stuffed and can’t fit in dessert, which is a crying shame as it’s an exquisite-looking creme brulee.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

It’s to bed after dinner, which is a wonderfully short stroll up the stairs, and to sleep on my bed, which is so comfortable it feels like sleeping on a cloud.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

In the morning I’m cheerfully greeted by Le Fevre when I emerge downstairs, and step outside to explore the gardens. Serene angel statues are dotted throughout the greenery, giving the garden a celestial feel that, when combined with the solitude of the estate, gives a feeling of supreme peace.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Around the corner from the chapel is the chook shed, where the “Spice Girls”, Le Fevre’s much-loved chickens, live a life of luxury.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

The eggs served at breakfast in the house dish, the “Bishop’s Court Stack” are freshly laid by the Spice Girls, with the fruit grown in the kitchen garden. We sit at a long table, strangers no more. We depart Bishop’s Court Estate as newly found friends, thanks to Le Fevre’s extraordinary warmth and hospitality, and the unique bonding experience of spending a night in this gorgeous estate.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Bishop’s Court Estate
226 Seymour St, Bathurst
Online
Bishop's Court Estate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I was hosted by Bishop’s Court Estate, Destination NSW, Bathurst Council and Mayfield Gardens for my stay in Bathurst. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Whimsical Day at Mayfield Garden, Oberon, NSW, Australia

A whimsical visit to Mayfield Gardens, NSW, Australia

Nestled on the outskirts of the Blue Mountains, in the central tablelands area of NSW, lies a hidden gem called Mayfield Garden.

Created by the Hawkins family in the mid 1990s, Mayfield is now one of the world’s largest privately-owned cool climate gardens. Set on a working farm spanning thousands of acres, the European-inspired garden is at once both intimate and immense.

A visit to Mayfield takes an entire day. It’s just that big, and, with a stunning landscape to explore such as this, why would you want to rush your visit?

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

Mayfield is open year-round, only closing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (or if there is snow and staff can’t get to the garden). I would strongly advise visiting in different seasons; waterlilies in summer, colourful foliage in autumn, raw structure of plants in winter and fragrant blooms in spring.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

In addition to the year-round garden, the additional private family garden is open four times a year during the Festival Seasons: The last two weeks in January, April, July and October. In this additional garden you can enjoy an 80m cascade, rose garden, croquet court, creek gardens, walled kitchen garden, sunken garden rooms and the brand new maze.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

There is an onsite cafe for dining, with a paddock & garden to plate menu. With 80% of what is served in the cafe comes directly from Mayfield’s produce, and the remaining is handpicked from local suppliers.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

Breakfast is served from 9am-12pm, with dishes ranging from $10-$20. Lunch is served from 12-3pm, $10-$18 entree and $19.50-$29.50 mains.

Kids meals range from $8.50-$9.50 and includes toasties, eggs, pancakes, burgers and steak with chips. In the kitchen garden area, near the café, a kids play area is opening in July.

Another fun feature for kids is the flying fox that is next to the chook houses up the top of the garden, next to the walled kitchen garden – adults are welcome to take a ride too!

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

On the weekends, the kitchen garden comes alive with local talent performing at the “Bedford Stage” (aka the back of the Bedford truck!) in the kitchen garden area outside the café.

During peak periods (including the festival seasons) additional food options are available including woodfired pizza, gourmet pies, coffee and donuts at the Mayfield Kiosk and a gourmet sandwich bar at the Chapel & cider + swine bar.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

2017 Festival Season Dates:

Autumn: April 15th – April 30th

Winter: July 1st – July 16th

Spring: October 14th – October 29th

Summer: January 12th – January 26th  2018

The only way to visit the private garden; which includes the Chinese pagoda and croquet I visited, plus the blue stone chapel, Mayfield’s cascade and temple, the walled kitchen garden and maze, is during these festival times. The brand new maze is NSW’s second largest fully hedge maze

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

During the Festival Seasons, five red row boats are available for free use, and interactive old-school games such as croquet, chess and bocce are set up in front of the obelisk for visitors to play with.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

To help visitors navigate the large garden, a courtesy bus runs in a loop during the Festival Season, dropping at around six different locations around the garden. The bus is free and stops every 15 minutes at each station.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

Cirkus Surreal in the Garden

When we visited we were fortunate enough to enjoy a performance by students from nearby Kelso High in a program called Cirkus Surreal. The program was designed to take at-risk youths in the community, teach them a circus skill, and, more importantly, pride in themselves and a place in their community. Through this award-winning circus program, Kelso High students perform regularly across NSW as well as internationally. They are regular performers at Mayfield Gardens, adding a whimsical ambience to the gardens.

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

Tips for visiting Mayfield
Be prepared for the climate! Bring a hat, sunscreen, warm clothing, an umbrella or jacket and walking shoes.

Keep children under close supervision around areas such as bridges, waterways and stone stairs.

Many of the paths allow access for wheelchairs and strollers, however there are also many areas where exploring requires going off road, so plan accordingly.

There are change tables in the bathrooms if you’re travelling with a baby.

Keep an eye out for the many upcoming events and workshops at http://www.mayfieldgarden.com/events/

Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia
Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia Mayfield Gardens, Oberon, NSW, Australia

 

Mayfield Garden
530 Mayfield Road Oberon
Hours: Open daily (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day), 9am-4:30pm (last entry 3pm)
Prices: Adult $20, Concession $18, Child $10. Kids aged 7 and under free. During the garden festivals, Adult $30, Concession $27, Child $15
http://www.MayfieldGarden.com.au
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Bathurst is home to 1000 heritage buildings, with over 200 years of European history, and tens of thousands of years of indigenous heritage. It’s a small country town yet it is bustling with energy and colour, the locals’ pride in their town unmistakable.

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

On May 7, 1815 Bathurst was declared a townsite by Governor Lachlan Macquarie making it Australia’s oldest inland settlement. It was a prominent town during the gold-rush, and features many well preserved buildings from the 1800s.

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

A walk along the streets of Bathurst is like strolling through an open air museum, with buildings from its past including workers’ cottages, industrial and commercial buildings, terrace houses, mansions, slab huts and grand civic structures from 1815 to the 1950 still intact around the town.

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Plenty of architecture from The Colonial Period (1815-1840) can be seen in the simple structure of the buildings, mostly of characteristic Bathurst red brick, sometimes lime washed.

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Before Europeans came to Bathurst, the indigenous Wiradjuri people lived in the surrounding lands for more than 40,000 years. You can read more about the history of the Wiradjuri people and European settlement of the area here.

Things to see and do

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Mount Panorama
Not a rev head? Me neither. I still recommend a drive up the top of Mount Panorama to admire the spectacular view of Bathurst down below, and for the experience of driving around the world-famous race track that is available to drive as a public road 27/7 (albeit at a much-slower 60km per hour).

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Mountain Straight, Mount Panorama
Online

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Step back in time
Pick up a free map and take yourself on a walk through Bathurst’s past. The streets of Bathurst are lined with impressive buildings, impressive monuments and gorgeous parks that reflect the history of the city. Particular buildings of note include the Bathurst Court House, built in 1880, and the Bathurst Railway Station (pictured above, circa 1875) with its historic Chifley Engine is on display.
Bathurst Information Visitors Centre, 1 Kendall Ave, Bathurst

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG)
A modern, highly celebrated regional gallery with free entry, specialising in contemporary art. If you’re visiting over the school holidays, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery runs hands-on workshops for kids in conjunction with the Bathurst City Library.
70–78 Keppel St, Bathurst
Online

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum
Get an up close look at the natural history of Earth. Almost 2000 fossil and mineral specimens are displayed in two exhibitions – the MasterFoods Fossil Gallery and the Minerals Gallery. On show are rare mineral specimens and even a few dinosaurs and fossilized eggs.
224 Howick St, Bathurst
Online

Play outside
Take kids to the Adventure Playground, a state-of-the-art outdoor play space designed for children of all-abilities. Featuring dinosaur statues and footprints, a dual flying fox, slides, a maze and sandpit, you’ll find it hard to drag the kids away.
Victoria Park, on the corner of Durham and Hope Street

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

The Begonia House and Machattie Park
This council-owned and operated greenhouse is a perfect example of the town’s pride in it’s appearance and culture. Begonia House is filled with stunning begonia flowers between February and April (9am-4pm weekdays, 11am-3pm weekends).

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Begonia House is situated in beautiful Machattie Park park which has a fair amount of pretty flowers itself, plus a fountain and arbour. Its history is more gruesome – it used to be the site of the old city gaol and executions took place where the beautiful greenery now lies.
Machattie Park on the corner of William and Keppel Streets 


Where to eat

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Legall Patisserie Cafe
A little slice of France in regional Australia. Legall is owned and run by Frenchman Phillippe Le Gall, and is renowned for its macarons, éclairs, fruit tartlets and freshly baked bread.
56 Keppel St, Bathurst
Online

The Hub Espresso, Bar & Eatery
Serving up modern cafe food with a twist, The Hub is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. The Hub has won Best breakfast Cafe in Australia in the Restaurant & Catering Awards several years in a row.
52 Keppel St, Bathurst
Online

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Church Bar & Woodfired Pizza
Housed inside an old Anglican Church School, Church Bar serves up delicious pizza with a dash of old-world charm.
1 Ribbon Gang Ln, Bathurst 
Online

Annies Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
Serving up fresh, homemade ice cream in an old fashioned 1950s-style milk bar. Try their local specialty, the Sofala Gold.
82/86 George St, Bathurst 
Online

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

The George Hotel
A family-friendly gastro pub offering a seasonal menu made from local produce.
201 George St, Bathurst
Online

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW

Where to stay
I stayed at Bishop’s Court Estate, a Victorian mansion built in 1870 by Australia’s first Anglican Bishop, Samuel Marsden. Interior designer Christine Le Fevre bought the mansion in 2001, restored it to its current magnificent state and turned it into an award-winning, luxury boutique hotel. Guests arrive at Bishop’s Court Estate as strangers and leave as friends, thanks to the warm welcome given by owner Le Fevre, her cuddly cats and “spice girls”, the much-pampered chickens who live a life of luxury while providing guests with eggs for brekkie. Get more info on my stay here.

Bishop's Court Estate, Bathurst, NSW

Bishop’s Court Estate, 226 Seymour St, Bathurst NSW
Online

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Getting around
I toured Bathurst with the wonderful Ian, owner of Bathurst Tours. I can highly recommend him for any of your touring needs! If you are self-driving, Bathurst is an easy town to drive around.

Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW
Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW Things To See & Do In Historic Bathurst, NSW

Thanks to Mayfield Gardens, Destination NSW, Bathurst Tours, Bishop’s Court Estate and Bathurst Council for hosting my wonderful Bathurst stay.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

High Tea and History at the Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, Australia

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The Hydro Majestic Hotel Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s most iconic hotels. Perched atop an escarpment overlooking the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, a visit to the Hydro Majestic is a stylish experience filled with fascinating history, delicious food and plenty of relaxation.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Stepping into the Hydro Majestic’s breathtaking Casino Lobby is akin to walking back in time to an age of opulence and elegance. The hotel opened its doors in 1904, built by retailing magnate Mark Foy who had an eye for detail and a flair for the dramatic. His “palace in the bush” is a beautiful tribute to a bygone age, with a creative mix of art deco, art nouveaux and gothic designs, and luxurious oriental furnishings.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The hotel has undergone a significant refurbishment. After being closed for six years, it reopened in 2014, returned to its former opulent glory.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Blue Mountains Afternoon High Tea

High tea is served in the elegant Wintergarden, with panoramic views overlooking the Megalong Valley.

Choose from the traditional High Tea, Eastern High Tea or Gluten-Free High Tea, each served to the table on a three-tiered silver stand and including a range of tea and coffee.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Traditional High Tea

A selection of pastries, scones, clotted cream, jam and your choice of tea or coffee.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Savouries
My vegetarian option included an egg sandwich, salad wraps, a small frittata and a goat’s curt tart. They were just delicious. Fresh ingredients, fluffy bread, and a copious amount, which I prefer with a high tea.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Scones
Two scones per serving, one plain and one with fruit. The scones were excellent, large, fluffy and fresh, with a strong fruit jam that I suspect is locally made and right cream.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Pastries
An array of desserts including maracons, chocolate squares, hedgehog slice, raspberry tart and fruit jelly (using a vegetarian alternative to gelatine). I was so full from the rest of the food I struggled to fit in all of the sweets, so save room! The sweets were perfectly bite sized and filled with vibrant flavours. Not only did they look gorgeous, they tasted delicious, too.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

$55.00 per person (weekday) and $65.00 per person (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday), Deluxe High Tea from $69.00 per person including a glass of Australian sparkling wine (weekday) and $79.00 per person including a glass of Australian sparkling wine (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday), Luxurious High Tea from $75.00 per person including a glass of Pol Roger NV French Champagne (weekday) and $85.00 per person including a glass of Pol Roger NV French Champagne (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday)

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Eastern High Tea

A selection of steamed eastern dumplings, crispy bbq duck spring roll, prawn and vegetarian rice paper roll, twice cooked pork belly and a selection of eastern and western desserts and your choice of tea or coffee.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

$60.00 per person (weekday) and $70.00 per person (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday). $69.00 per person with a flute of sparkling wine and $75.00 per person with a flute of Pol Roger NV Champagne (weekday). $79.00 per person with a flute of sparkling wine and $85.00 per person with a flute of Pol Roger NV Champagne (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday)

Also on offer is a Kids High Tea
A selection of soldier sandwiches, sweet treats and pikelets with jam and cream and your choice of tea or hot chocolate $35.00 per person (3 – 12 years).

Beverages offered
Espresso, long black, flat white, cappuccino, café latte, chai latte, macchiato, mocha, hot chocolate

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Tea Selection
English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Green, Lemon and Ginger, Peppermint, Darjeeling, Chamomile, Oolong. Blossom Tea: For an additional $5 per pot, try a gorgeous blossom tea. Each blossom slowly unfurls into an elegant display when placed in warm water.

Vegetarian and gluten free options can be catered for at no additional cost, please advise any dietary requirements at the time of booking. 

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

History Tour

After a luxurious high tea, be sure to take a wander around the property and soak in its history. If you’re really keen on knowing more, I highly recommend the guided history tour. The tour begins in the Casino lobby with its iconic domed roof, then takes in the vibrant Salon Due Thé and Cat’s Alley, the stunning Majestic Ballroom and concludes in the Hydro Majestic Pavilion with its colour displays of Hydro’s historic past along with boutique and regional food and wine from the Blue Mountains and its regions.

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Tour Details
Cost: 10pp
Monday to Friday commencing at 11am and 3pm
Saturday and Sunday commencing at 10am, 11am, 3pm and 4pm.
Arrive 10 minutes prior to the commencement of the tour.
All tours run for approximately 30-45 minutes and start from the Casino Lobby and finish in the Hydro Majestic Pavilion
Bookings are essential

Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The Hydro Majestic
52-88 Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath NSW
Phone: (02) 4782 6885
Afternoon High Tea Sittings: Mon – Fri 11.00am – 3.30pm, Sat – Sun 10.30am – 3.30pm
Reservations essential
Get Directions

I was hosted during my time at the Hydro Majestic. All opinion are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

If you’re visiting the Hunter Valley over December and January, you simply must see the gorgeous Christmas Lights Spectacular at the Hunter Valley Gardens.

What started as a small display of lights in Australia’s largest display garden six years ago has turned into the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest and most breathtaking display of over 2 million lights.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

The show is designed with families in mind, with roaming entertainment, a Christmas Lights Fun Zone with inflatables, jumping castles, an arcade alley and 35 metre long Super Slide, Santa’s Workshop (open until New Year’s Eve) and nightly performances by children’s musical group Little Scallywagz.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

This year’s light displays feature world landmarks, a 6 metre giant present tree, north pole and nativity scenes, Cinderella’s castle, the Mad Hatter’s Tea party, an under water scene, with the absolute faves for us being Candy Land and the Fairy Garden.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Observant visitors will notice a few new additions in the gardens – animatronic dinosaurs who are on display to tell people about the new Mega Creatures display coming to the Hunter Valley Gardens from Jan 2 – so if you visit in Jan, you’ll get both displays at the same time.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Tips for visiting the Christmas Lights Spectacular

  • Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.
  • Arrive when the gardens open at 6:30pm. This will give you plenty of time to walk around the gardens while it’s still light enough to see the actual garden, get some food, and play in the fun zone until it gets dark enough for the lights to truly shine.
  • Keep a close eye on kids in the fun zone. We had no problems but there can be lots of big kids on the inflatables at the same time as the little ones.
  • Enjoy the roving entertainment! Our daughter loved this the most, especially the hula hoop lawn in front of the waterfall section.
  • Walk around the gardens for a second time when it’s dark. The lights are completely the focus when it’s dark and are really spectacular!

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular
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More information

Christmas Lights Fun Zone
Open from 6:30pm – 10:00pm, $7.50 per person
Slide is for children over 120cm tall.

Food & Beverage Area
Open from 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Food includes woodfired pizza, pasta, German kitchen, snack foods, churros, coffee.

Roaming Entertainment
From 6:30pm – 9.30pm

Little Scallywagz Show
7:30pm & 8:30pm

The Christmas Lights Spectacular is on display 4th November – 26th January 2017
Cost: Family Pass (2 adults + 1 child) – Night Only
$72.00, Family Pass (2 adults + 2 children) – Night Only
$92.00

Gates open 6.30pm – 10.00pm
General Gardens open 9am – 4pm during the Christmas Lights Spectacular

Hunter Valley Gardens
Address: 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin

Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens

Where to stay
We highly enjoyed staying the night at the nearby Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens. The hotel is a very short 7-minute walk from Hunter Valley Gardens. The large, bright and clean rooms feature satellite TV, Wi-Fi (paid), minibars, fridges, tea and coffeemaking facilities and balconies. The pool in the centre of the resort was extremely popular with families.

Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens
Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens
2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
mercurehuntervalley.com.au
Get Directions

We were given complimentary tickets to see the light show at the Hunter Valley Gardens. We loved the display and all opinions are my own. We also received a media rate, which is a slightly reduced rate, when staying at the Mercure Resort. I was under no obligation to write about either the light display or hotel. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Bathurst With Kids: A Road Trip Stop Over

Bathurst With Kids: A Road Trip Stop Over - North-West NSW, Australia

We recently stopped in Bathurst for a stop over on our way to Dubbo from Sydney. I prefer, when doing long drives, to push on as much as possible to stop somewhere interesting for longer rather than doing a few short stops with nothing to see or do.

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Bathurst is a great country town with plenty to occupy families for a few days, so absolutely enough to make for a memorable stopover.

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Where to eat: The Hub Espresso Bar and Eatery
We loved this family-friendly cafe that served delicious, if somewhat pricey food for adults, and a kick-ass and very affordable menu for kids. My warm Sweet Potato Salad ($18.90) was incredible, and the kid enjoyed a 0.50c babycinio and Cheese melt ($5). The cafe handed us colouring in pencils and a kids’ menu to drawn on while we waited for our delicious food.

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The Hub Espresso Bar and Eatery
52 Keppel St, Bathurst, NSW
Phone: (02) 6332 1565
Hours: Daily, 7am-3.30pm
The Hub Facebook Page

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Where to play: Bathurst Adventure Playground
This incredible playground was a major hit. Designed with a dinosaur theme, it features plenty of activities for kids of all ages and abilities, such as a dual flying fox, large metal slide & toddlers double slide, large sand pit with water spout, maze, imaginative play cubby house, rockers and whirlygigs, climbing structure and rock wall, working sun dial. sound activated dinosaur noises, musical deck notes and dinosaur sculptures & footprints. There are excellent clean bathroom and barbecue facilities and also plenty of shade cover over various elements.

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Bathurst Adventure Playground
Durham St & Hope Street, Bathurst

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Where to get dessert: Annies Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
The best way to finish the Bathurst experience is with a sundae from Annies old fashioned 1950s-style milk bar. The pink decor is to die for, and I highly recommend the local speciality, “Sofala Gold” ice cream. With 30 flavours to choose from, there’s bound to be something everyone in the family will enjoy.

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Annies Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
82/86 George St, Bathurst
Annies Ice Cream Parlour Facebook Page

Heading on a road trip around Australia? This guide will help you decide which campervan will work best for you.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Luxury On The Savannah: A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Spending the night overlooking an African savannah is a life-long dream of ours. While a family trip to Africa is on the bucket list and many eons away, we discovered that it is possible to have an incredible local experience that is as close to Africa as it’s possible to get, without actually leaving Australia.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

We recently spent the night at the luxurious Zoofari Lodges at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The 15 African-style lodges are at the edge of a large “African savannah” paddock where giraffe, zebra and eland roam freely.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

We stayed in one of the Animal View Lodges which have verandahs opening up to the savannah view and fit four people. If you have a larger group, the Bushland View Lodges sit just behind these cabins and fit six people in each, with a queen bed, two singles and a sofa bed.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

The lodges are all brand new, with gorgeous features and facilities, including a king split bed and pull out sofa bed, private ensuite, coffee and tea making facilities, mini-bar, fridge and shaded veranda with outdoor furniture. All bedding, linen and towels are provided.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Surrounding the lodges is plenty of bush, which adds to the feeling of being glamping on a safari, and it’s just a short stroll from the lodges up to the equally luxe Zoofari Lodge Guest House, where guests can relax in the pool, with a drink at the bar, or playing games in the lounge area.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

All guests of Zoofari are given two day admission to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with check in at the lodge between 2pm and 3pm in the afternoon. We chose to spend the night before at a nearby motel and arrive at the zoo before the gates opened the following morning.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

We spent the morning and lunch time driving and cycling around the zoo (you can read more about our experience and tips for visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo here), and then drove our car out of the zoo and around the corner to the Zoofari Lodges at check in time.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Our assigned cabin was called “Bongo”, after the endangered African antelope, and we became the “Bongo” family for the duration of our stay.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

During cooler weather, there is often an afternoon behind the scenes tour of the zoo for Zoofari guests, but we visited on a scorchingly hot and our tour was instead scheduled for 8pm in the evening. In the mean time, we relaxed and enjoyed the gorgeous facilities. We watched the giraffes munch on snacks and the water buffalo and ostriches roam around the paddock, then wandered up to the guest lodge for a cool drink.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The guest lodge has an excellent swimming pool, but due to an unfortunate leg grazing incident by my daughter earlier in the day, we were house-bound. I was a bit worried she’d go stir crazy in the lodge, but it was set up incredibly well, catering for both adults and kids at the same time.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

While the guests without kids sat around the bar and had a cocktail, or lounged on the verandah and read a book, we found plenty of colouring in and toys for Cheese to play with, and she even learnt the rudiments of chess.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

At 6pm complimentary wine tasting was served, along with canapés. After sampling delicious wine from the local region (I really enjoyed some sweet wine from Mudgee), we sat at our assigned seats at 6:30 to enjoy dinner – an African-style banquet.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Before the meal, I had a quick chat with the chef about dietary requirements, as she wanted to make sure that my daughter and I were able to find enough food to eat. The banquet is very meat heavy, so if you’re not big on meat I would advise doing similar. I really appreciated the level of concern shown for ensuring there was enough food for both myself and the picky child. The chefs in the end made special kids meals for the little ones present – fish and chips for Cheese, and nuggets and chips for another little fellow.

The dishes were brought out on large platters to share: salmon pesto pasta with chick peas, roast veggies (these were amazing!), Moroccan lamb with three berry couscous, garden salad and African rump chicken. I was served the three berry couscous on its own as well as two giant stuffed mushrooms on plates just for myself.

As each platter was eaten, more were brought out, so there was an endless amount of food if you were feeling particularly hungry. Dinner was included in the price of the Zoofari experience, but any drinks were an added extra cost. We found the price of drinks to be pretty reasonable however – the happy hour special cocktail was $10, regular cocktails $14 and a glass of wine $7.50.

Dessert was served after the dinner platters were taken away – again, African-style dishes for the adults such as cake and pudding, with plain vanilla ice cream and topping for the kids.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

When dinner was well and truly over, we watched the sun go down over the savannah from our balcony, and it was suddenly time for the night tour. (Please excuse my lack of photos of the meal and night tour, it was too dark to get any decent shots.) The tour left at 8pm sharp and started with a visit to Cuddles, the only African elephant in Australiasia. Our tour guide, Stephen, had an enrichment toy filled with food for her. A little rattle of the toy and she came lumbering our way, so we were able to see her right up close.

While African elephants are not yet endangered, their numbers have been decimated in recent years due to poaching for their ivory tusks, at a rate of around a hundred a day. Eliminating the demand for ivory is the only way to stop poaches – remove the market and you remove the threat to the elephants. It’s tough hearing about the plight of these amazing animals and feeling helpless to do anything about it, but education is always the way forward. We need to know, and we need to teach our children, too.

After visiting Cuddles, we were taken to meet the hippos, who were happy to chow down on the food we brought while we learned about them and the work the zoo does in animal conservation.

Next on the tour was meeting endangered bongo, whom we hand fed carrots. Feeding a bongo is quite the gooey experience, as they love to have a good lick of the hand after eating the food offered. Pretty extraordinary, to be up close and feeding such a unique animal in the dark! We learned that there are only 200 of these herbivores left in the world due to the destruction of their habitat to mine for coltan, a metallic ore used in mobile phones. It was a stark reminder as to how we are destroying the wild even without realising it, and we were urged to recycle our mobile phones so the coltan can be removed and reused.

Our last stop on the night tour was to visit the white rhino, the second largest land animal. Using a red torch we were able to see him even in the dark, as we listened to the sad story of how the rhinos are being poached into extinction for their horns. Taronga has a breeding program in place to assist in the regeneration of the species, but the rhinos are particularly difficult animals to breed, making it a long, hard process.

Back to the cabins and to bed, it was an incredibly peaceful nights sleep until the sun came up just before 6am and the light began to stream into the cabin. There aren’t many things more beautiful than watching the sunrise, and seeing the glowing red ball rise over the savannah and highlight the animals eating their breakfast was breathtaking. A few classic Aussie wild animals joined the African ones, so our savannah included kangaroos, cockatoos and even some bush bunnies all enjoying the dawn light.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

The morning behind-the-scenes tour kicks off at 7am sharp. Mindful of the kids who aren’t able to last till afterwards for breakfast, we were given milk and cereal to tide her over.

zoofari-blog-5 Giraffe feeding at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia zoofari-blog-6 Our first stop was also the highlight, hand feeding carrots to the giraffes. They are behind a fence for our protection, their long necks enabling them to learn over and extend their long blue tongues to take the carrots from our hands. Looking up and seeing a gigantic giraffe head coming towards you is quick an unnerving experience, particularly for the younger members of the group.

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Cheese was a bit scared to feed one on her own (not surprising considering how small she is compared to them), but placing her on my hip made her feel bigger and more confident, and she declared “feeding the blue tongued giraffe” to be her favourite part of the Zoofari experience.

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After the giraffes we met the black rhino, of whom there are only 2000 left in the world. Unlike the placid white rhino, the black rhino is more aggressive – he even looked angry through the bars, which I was extremely grateful for. Our guide fed him a large plant brand near the fence so we could watch him eat as we learned about the story of the rhinos.

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From the rhinos we moved on to the lemurs. The Madagascar lemurs are the most endangered animal on the planet right now due to the destruction of their rainforest through illegal logging as well as hunting. It’s so sad to hear, and we watch the two lemurs at the zoo play happily in the early morning light, unaware of the plight of the rest of their species.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The meerkats are up next on the agenda, one of our favourite animals. Meerkats have exploded in popularity after the Meerkat Manor TV series, as well as a TV ad that we are apparently the only people in Australian to have not seen. If you’re aged 10 or older, you can book in for a meerket encounter later on in the day.

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The last stop on our morning tour is to meet the elephants up close as they’re are having their morning beauty routine. Every day the elephants are washed thoroughly and given a bit of a pedicure, which we were able to watch up close inside the elephant enclosure. The elephant keepers were happy to give us some information on the elephants and answer our questions about their care and habits.

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We were all basically starving by that stage, so it was back to the guest lodge for a big buffet breakfast. Unlike most buffets, this one has food being constantly cooked out the back and brought into the dining area, so everything is constantly fresh and hot. The guests enjoyed scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast, granola, yogurt, cereal, bacon and breakfast buns that included poached eggs, spinach and roasted baby tomatoes (there was also a version with a sausage in it if you preferred it with meat). It was an absolute feast and we ate up, knowing we had a long drive ahead of us.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

After breakfast it was time to pack up and check out of the lodge by 10am. Many guests stayed on the next day to explore the zoo using the complimentary bikes or hiring a Zoofari electronic cart ($89 for the entire day, exclusively for Zoofari Lodge guests).

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

It was sad to say goodbye to our amazing cabin and the lovely people who we met during our stay, but oh what an experience we had!

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

In 2017 Taronga Western Plains Zoo will be opening a new Pridelands exhibit with 20 lions roaming over five hectares, and the option to drive through it on a small bus. We hope to return for this exhibit opening and stay again in this gorgeous, unique accomodation.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

More Information On Zoofari Lodges

Rates for one night accommodation in an animal view lodge starts from $309-$399 per person for adults, from $49-$79 per person for children aged 1 – 4 years old and from $149-$179 for kids aged 5 – 15 years old.

Bushland View Lodges start from $269-$359 per person for adults, from $49-$79 per person for children aged 1 – 4 years and from $149-$179 for kids aged 5 – 15 years old.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Rates are for one night accommodation and are fully inclusive of:

Two day admission to Taronga Western Plains Zoo
One night accommodation at Zoofari Lodge
Exclusive behind the scenes tours with a Zoofari Guide
African style canapés, banquet dinner and dessert
Buffet breakfast
Standard bicycle hire for two days
10% discount at the Zoo’s Souvenir Shop
10% discount voucher for Bakhita’s Café
10% discount on additional Animal Encounters

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Zoofari Lodges at Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo
Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830
Online
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Heading to Taronga Western Plains Zoo? Read our tips on having an incredible experience.

We stayed as guests of the Zoofari Lodges. All opinions on this incredible experience are our own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

9 Tips For Visting Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is a road trip many Australian families have made over the past 40 years, since the zoo opened in 1977. The zoo was opened initially to provide more grazing and breeding space for large animals such as elephants and antelopes, with 35 animals from six countries.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

While the design of the zoo has remained the same, with open-range with concealed moats separating the animals from visitors, the zoo expanded significantly after a big financial investment from the government into both Taronga zoos several years back.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Both Taronga zoos focus on conservation, and at Dubbo you’re able to see their breeding plans in action. We visited in late spring and were treated with many babies around the zoo, including zebra, 10 wild dog pups, giraffes and Sabai, the three-week-old Asian elephant calf.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia 9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Also on display were the Galapagos tortoises and their babies – the first juveniles I’ve ever seen. Classified as “vulnerable” due to their decline in numbers, it was remarkable to see the tiny tortoises doing their best to bring their species back from the brink of extinction.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The zoo is home to many endangered animals that can be seen up close around the park. With Taronga’s focus on conservation comes education – the more people who know about the plight of these animals and care enough to make a difference themselves, the better chance we have of saving these species from extinction.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Endangered animals at the park include the Asian elephants, black and white rhinoceros, the bongo, of which there are only 200 left in the wild, and the Sumatran tiger. All of the money you pay at the zoo for everything from admission to souvenirs, goes back into the upkeep of the animals and their conservation programs.

I always think it’s best to know before you go, so if you’re heading out to Taronga Western Plains Zoo soon, these tips might help you out.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

1. Plan to spend two days there
One day is pretty rushed and there is a lot to see and do, including free talks by keepers as well as upgraded activities that cost a bit extra. Admission for two days is included in a one-day entry, so it also makes your money go further.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

2. Book a bike or buggy
You can get around the zoo with your own car, but what’s the fun in that? The most popular mode of transport is an electronic buggy ($69 for 3 hours). To secure one, arrive at least 10 minutes before opening time as they book out fast.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Our favourite way to see the zoo was by bike, as it allows you get off the main road and ride through the bush trails as well as getting some exercise. You can bring your own bikes or hire them ($15 for a bike, $25 for a bike with kid seat, $29 for a bike with caboose for the entire day).

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

3. Arrive early
The animals are most active in the early morning. On a hot day, by midday the animals are all snoozing in the shade, so it’s worth your while to be early.

Giraffe feeding at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

4. Book an animal encounter
The cheapest and most fun is the giraffe feeding for $7 per person. Who doesn’t want the chance to feed one of these majestic creatures? More info on animal encounters here.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

5. Follow the keepers’ talk schedule
The scheduled talks start early in the morning when the zoo opens and continue around the zoo path, so you can easily just go from one to the next. The main benefit in this is the keepers usually feed the animals at the same time as their talk so you can see them close up and active. We visited the hippos, for example, before the talk and couldn’t even see them in their large enclosure. When we returned for the talk, the keeper had them right up near the visitors’ platform showing off their massive teeth.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

6. Bring your own food
While there is a cafe at the entrance and a kiosk halfway around the 6km circuit, the food at the zoo is basic and expensive. There are plenty of picnic spots around the zoo in the shade so if you can bring your own food I would highly recommend it.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

7. Book online
If you book your tickets online, you get 20% off entry fees. You can also book animal encounters online – and I highly advise you do so well in advance of your trip, as the popular ones book up very quickly. Book your tickets here.

Best Western Bluegum Motor Inn, Dubbo, Australia

8. Book accomodation in advance
We drove up from Sydney the day before and stayed the night in the excellent Best Western Bluegum Motor Inn. For $175 a night we were given an upgrade to a gorgeous newly renovated family room with air conditioning, one queen and two single beds, a fridge with no mini bar (hooray!), free internet, complimentary water, milk and apples. The motor inn is right in the centre of Dubbo, only a few minutes drive from several restaurants and a large Coles, plus there is a park with a playground across the road. It’s an 8 minute drive from the Best Western to Dubbo zoo.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

9. Splurge on a Zoofari Lodge
This was hands down one of the most incredible accomodation experiences we’ve had. We stayed overnight in a Zoofari Lodge within the zoo – a luxe cabin situated right on the edge of an African savannah where giraffe, zebra and eland roam freely.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Watching the sun go down and come up again the next morning over this gorgeous landscape is an experience that won’t be forgotten. (An animal view Zoofari lodge costs from $309 per adult per night. More info here.)

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830
Hours: Daily, 9am-4pm
Online
Get Directions

We received entry as guests of Taronga’s Zoofari Lodges. All opinions and tips are 100% our own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

For a relaxing weekend away in the Hunter Valley, you really can’t go past the Sebel Kirkton Park. I recently stayed at the hotel during a girls’ weekend away and could not have been happier with our stay.

The Sebel Kirkton Park is set on 28 hectares of gardens, right in the centre of Pokolbin. It’s only 8km from the Hunter Valley Gardens, to give you some perspective.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

The rooms at the Sebel Kirkton Park are spread around a central courtyard, each with a balcony overlooking either the beautifully manicured courtyard or the spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. My book club ladies and I enjoyed drinking coffee together in the morning, sitting on the balcony and admiring the gorgeous outlook.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

Guests are free to roam the extensive land the hotel is set on – including a few gorgeous little gardens like this sculpture one I discovered. If you stroll the grounds during sunset or sunrise you might find some native animals out for the evening – kangaroos are very common in this area.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

The Sebel Kirkton Park rooms all include the basic facilities you would need such as TVs, desks, minibars, tea and coffeemaking facilities, and sofabeds. Upgraded rooms add antique furniture or private terraces with garden views.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

We had a complimentary bottle of wine and local chocolates waiting for us in our rooms – I absolutely love small touches like this. It’s the tiny details that make a difference.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

We made excellent use of the stunning pool and spa – we had it all to ourselves as we visited in the early evening and enjoyed a few glasses of local wine while relaxing in the tub.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

Parking on the property is free. There is an on-site restaurant that serves Australian cuisine with seasonal menus, a casual bar and an al fresco cafe with casual food. If breakfast is not included in your room package, the full hot buffet is $30, continental buffet is $20 and tea and toast is $10.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

Other amenities: a Jacuzzi, an exercise room, a lit outdoor tennis court and a basketball court.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley via christineknight.me

We highly enjoyed our stay at the beautiful Sebel Kirkton Park.

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley
336 Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320
(02) 4998 7680
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Peppers Convent High Tea, Hunter Valley: The Perfect Girls’ Weekend Away

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

The Hunter Valley is known for its decadent food experience and sumptuous wines – but perhaps not as renowned for its delicate high teas. It was a surprise to me to learn about the delightful high tea offered by the Peppers Convent in Pokolbin.

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

Peppers Convent is a gorgeous Victorian-style manor house surrounded by vineyards. Devonshire Tea and High Tea are served Wednesday to Sunday:

Traditional High Tea: $42 per person
London High Tea: $56 per person (includes a glass of Peacock Hill Sparkling)
Paris High Tea: $64 per person (includes a glass of Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve)

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

I enjoyed the high tea with my book club. I’m not sure if a book was discussed, but the delicious food and wine certainly was. I really enjoyed that this tea offered a good variety of sandwiches and the “sweets” weren’t overly sweet. The price was also very reasonable.

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me
Tea Sandwiches
Cucumber and Watercress
Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Salmon Roe
Curried Egg Salad and Spinach

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me
(As sole vegetarian I was also given an extra plate of vegan sandwiches at no extra charge.)

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me
Sweets
Petite Meringue
Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Sago and Macerated Fresh Berries
Almond Cake

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me
Scones
Lemonade Scone
Lightly Sweetened and Clotted Cream
House Made Jam

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

The ambiance at Peppers invokes the feeling of a bygone time filled with elegance and luxury. There is no need to rush, to eat quickly, to attend to other matters. There is just the beautiful light pouring through glass windowpanes, a stroll through the manicured gardens and a delightful afternoon filled with cake and conversation.

High tea at Peppers was the perfect girls’ outing. It’s a fantastic stand-alone activity, or you could do what we did, and have a weekend away with the high tea as the kick off point. After our delicious high tea we visited a few wineries, our tummies fortified with delicious cake and sandwiches. Me with a few of my book club gal pals below:

Peppers Convent Hunter Valley High Tea via christineknight.me

Peppers Convent
88 Halls Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Get Directions
Credit Card details are required to secure a booking. Cancellations within 24 hours of the reservation or in the event of a no-show, a $20 per person fee will apply.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!