Cessnock has a history firmly linked with mining and boasts a streetscape of historical buildings, bookended by grand old pubs where you can enjoy a cold beer and hearty pub grub.
Named in the 1820s after Cessnock Castle in Scotland, today the lively country town is Wine Country’s hub for business and shopping, the place to go for all your essentials - from groceries and petrol to banking.
You might not know, but Cessnock has one of Australia’s longest main streets so make sure you take a stroll down it and while you’re at it check out the community art in the decorated laneways.
The CBD has a mix of entertainment options with a range of cafes and cuisines - Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, tapas, and sushi – it’s all there. There are plenty of options for a great coffee and all-day-breakfast, traditional bakeries and takeaways, as well as fashion and gift stores.
You can also browse the well-respected art gallery, which showcases local talent, see a show at the 466-seat theatre at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre or admire the traditional architecture of the Heritage-listed Marthaville Arts and Crafts Centre.
It’s a great base camp with lots of affordable accommodation options, only 6km from the vineyards.
Its signature event is the annual Cessnock Stomp Festival, held each April to celebrate the city’s unique culture, lifestyle and people. Fancy a mad hatter’s tea party? How about some squishy squashy grape stomping? And that’s just for the grown-ups. You should see what’s in store for the kids!
Rich in heritage with distinctive country pubs, Kurri Kurri is best known as the largest mural town in mainland Australia with more than 50 magnificent outdoor artworks illustrating the area’s history and culture.
An image of a kookaburra, the emblem of Kurri Kurri, is included in each mural, but they can be a bit tricky to spot. You can pick up a map and take a self-guided tour as each mural has a plaque describing the story behind it, or you can book a tour with a local guide.After you’ve walked around the town and viewed the murals, learn more about the coal-mining heritage of the region at the Edgeworth David Memorial Museum or take a steam train ride at Richmond Vale Railway Museum. Or how about seeing a movie at the classic Heddon Greta Drive-In, one of only 13 drive-ins remaining in Australia.Kurri Kurri also hosts the spectacular Nostalgia Festival, held annually in March. It’s a three-day weekend celebrating the fab 50s and 60s with classic cars, shiny hot rods, fashion parades, and heaps of rock n roll' and 'rockabilly' dances at local venues. Get ready to step back in time for some good old shake, rattle and roll.
The Kurri Kurri Visitor Information Centre is at 199 Lang Street Kurri Kurri (02 4936 1909) and is open seven days.
Hunter Valley Visitor Centre
The accredited Hunter Valley Visitor Centre is just outside Cessnock on Wine Country Drive in Pokolbin, next door to Cessnock Airport.
It’s your one-stop shop for all information about the region with the friendly staff also on hand to help with booking accommodation, tours, restaurants and other experiences.
The Centre also sells local produce such as lavender and honey, handmade goods, artisan products and souvenirs, along with authentic Aboriginal cultural items and local artwork.
You can also enjoy a tasting of local wines at the tasting counter, or grab a coffee and a bite to eat in the onsite café - PKs on Pokolbin.
Whether you’re just driving through, having a romantic getaway, or looking for something to entertain the family, the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre can help.
The Hunter Valley Visitor Centre is open daily
Wine Country Drive, Pokolbin 02 4993 6700