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HUNTER VALLEY LEGENDS

Bill & Imelda Roche Hunter Valley Tourism Legend 2019

Bill & Imelda Roche established Nutrimetics in Australia in 1968, quickly expanded the company into Asia Pacific, Europe and Mexico, setting up corporate offices in 16 countries. After acquiring the ownership of the worldwide interests of Nutrimetics, which included the United States and Canada, they moved the international headquarters from California to Sydney. An Australian first. The Group was subsequently sold in 1997 to the Sara Lee Corporation. 

Upon retiring, Bill Roche decided the time was right to honour a long-held ambition and build a garden that would be enjoyed by generations to come. The construction of Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin began in 1999, on what was originally horse paddocks and vineyards. Over a period of five years, under the direct personal management and guidance of Bill and a team of up to 50 landscape gardeners, architects and engineers, the Gardens came to life. 

Hunter Valley Gardens now includes 25 hectares of multi award-winning international gardens, with eight kilometres of walking paths winding through gardens consisting of over 6000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and over 1 million ground cover plants - plus waterfalls, statues, murals and much more. The ten individually themed gardens created by Bill and his team showcase the artistry of gardens around the world. 

‘A love of gardens enhances lives and brings with it an appreciation of nature’s beauty. Gardens also provide a counter to the many pressures of day to day living. The spiritual experience of getting back to nature and into gardens is very rewarding.’ Bill Roche 

Hunter Valley Gardens opened in October 2003 and to date has welcomed 4 million guests! Over the years, the Gardens has continued to be enhanced, and to this day a team of 27 horticultural staff work to make sure the displays are beautiful. The introduction of family orientated events such as Christmas Lights Spectacular and Snow Time, plus new attractions including a giant Ferris Wheel, has ensured that the Gardens continues to be enjoyed by multi-generations of visitors, from the very young to the young at heart. 

‘Hunter Valley Gardens aims to provide visitors with a magical experience – a combination of the sounds of water and birds, together with a multitude of fragrances and colours. For many, an exciting and enriching experience, for others one of calm and comfort. I trust we have provided something for everyone.’ Bill Roche. 

Roche Group Pty Ltd, today owns Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens, Harrigan’s Irish Pub, Hunter Valley Gardens Village and Roche Estate.

Bill & Imelda Roche were inducted as Legends in 2019.