If I had my time over I would definitely go for a destination wedding. We had the great pleasure to attend our friends destination wedding in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. What a great idea to get your whole wedding party and guests together.
Now, if you are a wine lover you are going to love the Hunter Valley! This is Winery Central. This was a short weekend wedding trip with kids so unfortunately not enough time to visit the 140+ wineries and cellar doors in the region. I think we will go back without kids one day….
It was a good 2 1/2 – 3 hour drive from Sydney airport to the Hunter Valley. You could probably time it better than we did to drive through Sydney traffic in a non-peak time. I have been to Sydney many times, in fact we lived there for a year, yet somehow this was my first time driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So that was a bit exciting for us all, except perhaps for Steve who was driving and didn’t get to appreciate the views.
The wedding was held at the Cypress Lakes Resort and we also stayed at the resort in a 2 bedroom villa. There is a restaurant onsite for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however we ventured off exploring and had a fantastic meal at the SSS BBQ Barn. There was popcorn to snack on while we waited for our meal, lots of character, great kids menu and delicious steak and ribs! Mmmmm, and the sweet potato with cinnamon butter…. There are so many places to eat in the Hunter Valley, the biggest problem is deciding where to go. For us, it came down to somewhere that had a good kids menu and was not too expensive. Cessnock was about 15 minutes drive from our accommodation and had supermarkets and all the usual take-away outlets.
Yep, this is my crazy fam at the SSS BBQ Barn.
I should mention the Cypress Lakes Resort is huge. I don’t know how big the property is but I can tell you from our villa to the main building is a nice 10-15 minute downhill walk. On Saturday morning the kids and I did a pool crawl while Steve did his best man duties and played golf. The closest pool to our villa was nice, but small and not heated. Next we checked out the lagoon pool, this was quite the hike past the conference rooms and tennis courts. Unfortunately this was also not heated and I have to say not a very inviting area which was disappointing. So off to the pool at the main building. This pool was heated and a beautiful setting, deck chairs, umbrellas, drinks from the bar. So refreshed after our swim, drinks and relaxing in the sun. Remember that nice downhill walk from our villa? It was a bit more effort on the uphill return journey! I believe they do offer a shuttle service and in retrospect we wished we had taken it!
Between the wedding ceremony and reception we managed to sneak in another swim and a drink by the pool (kids swam, I drank). We drove to the pool and back to our villa this time which was much nicer. Although earlier in the day we had the pool to ourselves – it was a lot busier in the afternoon.
The only problem with having a wedding in the middle of our weekend was we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the area, so I guess we will just have to go back. We did manage to fit in a visit to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory. It was a lovely store to wander around in, grab some chocolate and have a drink outside. The Hunter Valley Gardens are also worth taking the time to visit, the kids will love it too! It’s also great spot for wedding photos!