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Preserving history: Take a deep dive into our new Hunter Valley Heritage Cairn Trail

​As the oldest commercial wine region in Australia, it's no surprise Hunter Valley Wine Country is filled with historical landmarks. Honouring the importance and significance of our region, the recently launched Hunter Valley Heritage Cairn Trail follows those landmarks which have influenced the course of, or made a significant contribution to, the Hunter valley Wine Industry and have been awarded Heritage Cairns to date.

There's never been a better time to explore the great outdoors and embark on a self-drive trail amongst the vineyards. While we have plenty of trails for you to explore, discover something new and visit some of our iconic touchstones. Whether you're a history enthusiast, have an interest in heritage or just looking for an unexpected adventure, the Hunter Valley's Heritage Cairn Trail is one to add to the bucket list.

Here's a snapshot of our Heritage Cairn Trail stops in order of the year they were awarded.

1. Edward Tyrrell's Slab Hut - Tyrrell's Vineyard

​Edward Tyrrell was the founding family member of the five-generation winemaking Tyrrell family. The single room ironbark slab hut was built by hand in 1858 as Edward Tyrrell's home. Edward's Hut still stands at the entry to Tyrrell's Winery today as a monument to Edward's vision.

Bruce Tyrrell says "The Hut marks the spot where the Tyrrell family entered the Australian wine industry. It is the most visible link to our Heritage in the Hunter Valley."

2. Old Winery - Drayton's Family Wines

​The sixth generation Drayton's have been making wine at their winery in Pokolbin for over 150 years. The original cellar has been preserved within the new winery, and thus remains a part of our heritage and history in the Hunter Valley.

​Audrey Wilkinson was committed to leading edge technology which, at the end of the 19th century, included open vats and steam powered crushers and hoppers. These original vats are exhibited at the Audrey Wilkinson Museum today.

4. Maurice O'Shea Mount Pleasant Label – Mount Pleasant

​The founder of Mount Pleasant Wines was Maurice O'Shea who established this winery in 1921. The Mount Pleasant label, as a result of his winemaking skills, became legendary and Maurice O'Shea became an inspiration to the Australian Wine Industry.

5. Tulloch Wines Pokolbin Dry Red Label

​The Tulloch family first used the Pokolbin Dry Red Label for Shiraz wines in 1952. They were soon established as great wines of their time, putting Pokolbin on the map.

6. The Old Still House – Ben Ean Winery

​ The exact origins of The Old Still House at Ben Ean are not known, but it is thought that it may have been built by the McDonalds family from whom Lindeman's bought their vineyard and winery.

7. 1973 Vintage Festival Poster

​The Hunter Vintage Festival was first held in 1973 at the site of the now De Bortoli Wines in Pokolbin and later at Cessnock Showground. The festival was run every second year up until 1983, attracting thousands of visitors keen to sample the best of the Hunter's wine and food in what was then an expanding tourism market. Spearheading the event at the time were local winemakers Brian McGuigan and Bruce Tyrrell.

8. Hall's Cottage – Circa 1876 – Robert's Restaurant Circa 1876

​This cottage was built by the Hall family circa 1876 and used by various occupants as a home until 26 July 1991 when Robert & Sally Molines opened the iconic Roberts Restaurant. The original slab hut is one of the most historical buildings in the Hunter Valley Wine Region.

9. Marthaville Homestead

​This cairn was presented to Marthaville on the 22 May 2015. Marthaville Homestead was built be George Brown in 1885 and is the oldest sawn timber house in Cessnock. George Brown was one of the first vignerons in Cessnock and the homestead stands on what was his original vineyard.

10. Rothbury Cemetery

​This Rothbury Cemetery was originally established as an Anglican Cemetery. It contains inscriptions from as early as 1851. Since that date it has been the resting place of many founding Hunter vignerons and their families.

11. Drayton's Bellevue Wine Label – Drayton's Wines

​The Drayton family are one of the pioneering Hunter Valley vignerons, established in the late 1850's. The Bellevue label was released in 1962 to meet the rapidly expanding Australian wine market.

12. Pokolbin War Memorial Gates

​In Recognition of those who served Pokolbin and our Nation.


"We offer our sincere thanks to the sponsors of the Heritage Cairns, Fay & Brian McGuigan. Their long-term dedication to preserving our unique history is valued across our whole industry' - Amy Cooper, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association.


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