Location and surrounds
The New South Wales Hunter Valley stretches from the city of Newcastle in the south to the small town of Murrurundi in the north. Hunter Valley wines are renowned not only in Australia but also overseas, and viticulture and wine production take their place alongside the region’s other claims to fame – coal extraction and many of Australia’s premier thoroughbred horse studs.
The valley enjoys a moderate, Mediterranean-style climate, with average maximum temperatures of around 29°C in summer and an average minimum of about 4°C in winter.
Muswellbrook Shire, population 16,800, is centrally located in the Upper Hunter Valley. It presents a microcosm of the Hunter region, containing both urban and rural areas, and having a local economy relying on coal mining, power generation, viticulture, agriculture and horse breeding. The town of Muswellbrook has two main shopping centres where national retailers are well represented, and it also boasts a fine art gallery. There are five wineries in the Upper Hunter. Hunter Belle Cheese artisan cheese makers are located in Muswellbrook itself, and the Pukara Estate, famed for its award-winning olive oils, lies 14km south west of the town. Nearby Denman hosts the popular Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair every year in May.