Broke Fordwich Wine Country In The Upper Hunter Valley- Seven Tips For Planning A Trip

It’s rural and rustic, simpler and slower, authentic and highly appealing to Sydneysiders and others looking for a country escape from the city.

Broke Regional Images Hunter Valley
Broke Regional Images Hunter Valley

Broke Fordwich in the Upper Hunter Valley is a very special area, one of the first settled by colonists yet not at all over developed today.

Broke Regional Images Hunter Valley
Syd - Broke Map 2012-01

Here you will find rolling vineyards and splendid vistas over the foothills of the Brokenback Range. And looming over the valley is Yellow Rock,  the large escarpment which rears high overhead.

yellow rock & vines CU

There are 12 cellar doors to visit, olive groves, macadamia farms and all sorts of other hidden treasures. Wollombi Brook meanders through the landscape.

I’ve just spend a couple of days up in Broke Fordwich and now can understand completely why this area is known as:

The Tranquil Side Of The Hunter Valley

ripe bunch of grapes


Here’s my first post on this charming area, a collection of must-dos when planning a trip to Broke Fordwich.

Wollombi 2 shot

1. Take the Scenic Route via Bucketty and Wollombi

Do it just for those names!  As soon as you leave the F3 you’re in the country. Buy  fruit and veg from the farm gate around Calga Springs, buy chicken manure if you need some.

Pass by beautiful bush, gorgeous trees, paddocks full of horses and lots of funny old mail boxes.

You can explore historic buildings in Wollombi and try the infamous Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice.  More information on Wollombi here.

Wollombi 5 shot
Mottys 1 shot

2. Order in Farm Fresh Meals From Motty’s Farm Cuisine

There are many restaurants and cafes in Broke Fordwich, but really, what’s more relaxing than spending at least one or two nights in? There’s no need to stint on gourmet meals, though.

Melissa O’Toole and her family grow their own veggies and herbs, and farm their own meat and poultry. Then they cook up a storm and deliver fresh meals to you.  It’s home grown and home cooked and you can taste the love and care that goes into each meal.

Read more on the Motty’s Farm Cuisine website here.

Motty's 2 shot
Butter chicken and a yummy cheese plate from Motty’s Farm Cuisine.
Broke Regional Images Hunter Valley

3. Find Excellent Accommodation In The Heart of Broke Fordwich

There are lots of accommodation options in Broke Fordwich. I stayed at the lovely Pemberley Grange in one of their six cottages. Check out the website here.  More info to come on Pemberley Grange. Stand by!

If I were to stay with the family, I’d be very tempted to check out Starline Alpacas Farmstay Resort.

For comprehensive information about all accommodation on offer, click here.

Pemberley 2 shot

4. Explore The Cellar Doors of Broke Fordwich

There are 12 cellar doors to explore in Broke Fordwich, including the largest organic vineyward in the Hunter Valley, Ascella Wines. The biodynamic vineyard Krinklewood is also found in this area.

The marvellous thing about Broke Fordwich is that so many of the wineries are owner operated, so very often you will be being served and assisted by the owners themseles- a rare treat!

I visited four of the cellar doors, read about them here.  Also, do have a look at the information on vineywards on the Broke Fordwich website here.

Wine 2 shot
Nightingales 2 shot

5. Try Nightingale Restaurant For Lunch Or Dinner

Nightingales Wines has a fine dining restaurant open for lunch and dinner, a well loved local institution. I really enjoyed my poached pear sections stuffed with feta wrapped in prosciutto and served on baby spinach salad. 

I then went completely mad and had Nightingale verdelho liqueur accompanied by rich dark chocolate ganache enveloping dried fruit and nuts, finished with dark berry compote. Waistline, forgive me!

Nightingales also has some lovely accommodation, see the website here.

4 shot Nightingales
Margan Food 4
A meal at Margan: local olives, marinated and served with grissini and aged parmesan; raviolo of sweet potato and pumpkin, garden vegetables, goats’ curd; Zokoko milk and dark chocolate, coconut, malt, milk sorbet; a perfect chocolate and tea to end.6. Visit Margan Restaurant and Wines – Not To Be Missed!

6. Visit Margan Restaurant and Wines – Not To Be Missed!

You really must visit Margan Wines and try the restaurant too. It’s a very special place. There’s a working farm which produces most of the food cooked in the kitchen. The menu is based around what is seasonal in the kitchen garden and orchards. And you can taste that freshness in the food.

The wines are estate grown and made. Andrew and Lisa Margan are very passionate about what they have created here. Read more about it on the website here.

Margans interior 3-shot
The very beautiful tasting room and restaurant at Margan.
Broke Fordwich history book-2

7. Hone Up On Your Local History

I find there’s nowhere better to study history than when you’re staying in the place it happened. It’s so much more chilling to read of murders and mysteries when you are right beside where they happened.

Area first settled in 1820, dispossessing the local Wonnarua people, several  incidents of violence occurred as the first peoples were forced off their lands.Village of Broke founded in 1860. One of the early landowners was John Blaxland who was granted 4, 280 acres in 1825. He named his estate Fordwich after his birthplace in Kent in England. Sheep and cattle were raised and a home built, all using convict labour.

Broke Fordwich history book

Planning Your Next Trip

I’m already planning a trip back to Broke Fordwich with my family. I’d love to try:

A Wine Tour of Broke, small personalised tours of the area metting local wine makers.

Pickled and Pitted, the retail outlet of River Flats Estate selling olive oils, gourmet produce, cheese, soap and moreat 67 Wollombi Road, Broke

Peaks Retreat 9-Hole Golf Course, earmarked to keep my husband amused.

I’ll also be looking for kid-friendly bush walks, some horse riding, a chocolate shop or two… or I think we could spend some very happy days here as a family!

Broke Fordwich map

Broke Fordwich Wine Country – Information

Check out the Broke Fordwich website here.

Find Broke Fordwich on Facebook here.

Travelling From Sydney Via Wollombi – Very Scenic:

Join the F3 Freeway at Wahroonga but take the exit at Calga and Peats Ridge (route 33 first exit after Mt White). Follow the signs for Wollombi. Travel along the old Pacific Highway for approx 15 kilometres and then turn left at Peats Ridge following signposts to Wollombi and Singleton. The road follows the Old Convict Trail from Bucketty and winds through the valley, past Murrays Run and Laguna before arriving at Wollombi. Continue straight ahead at the Wollombi Tavern – there is a short section of dirt road (half a kilometer only) just outside Wollombi but improves shortly afterwards. Continue along the Wollombi road for a further 30 Kms until you reach Broke.

NB I’d always try to drive this route in daylight if you don’t know the road well.

Sunrise Yellow Rock
I took this photograph on a steely grey sunrise over Yellow Rock very early one morning. You can see how tranquil this gorgeous area is.

You can tell I loved this visit, can’t you?

I’ll be taking my family there for a wee stay sometime soon.

Do you know Broke Fordwich?

Do you have a favourite cellar door there?

Enjoy exploring!

Margan Family Wines
The strawberry patch at Margan – I’d love to pick a few of those.

margan family wines
Chef and restaurant and vineyard owner Lisa Margan in her kitchen garden. Many thanks to Lisa for letting me use some of her gorgeous photos.

Margan Family Wines
One of the chooks at Margan. From nest to plate in quick time!

margan family wines

margan family wines

My visit was hosted by the Broke Fordwich Wine and Tourism Association – grateful thanks to everyone I met and to Ken of Serenity Grove, an olive farm with accommodation,  for driving me around- what a treat.

Thanks also for allowing me to use some photos from the media kit provided. It was rainy during my visit so all the gorgeous wide exterior shots on this post were taken by the pros.  Thank you…. just look at that shot below- inspiring.

Broke early morning


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  1. What a beautiful part of the world. I love it so much more than the more touristy polkolbin because it is a much more authentic eperience, where you actually get to meet the wine growers and farmers. Your photos are so good. Clearly the course is doing wonders for your skills.

    You have really inspired me to visit again.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Hi Caro, I loved this area just for the reasons you say. It was such a treat to meet the actual owners and growers, and it felt a million miles from the more corporate feel of other busier areas of the Hunter Valley.

      It was wet when I was there so not all the shots are my own: I was given a media kit and used several of their exterior wide shots… one day I will be able to take such good shots but not just yet. I did like some of my interior shots, the wine and food though… but so much to learn still.

  2. says: Leigh

    I love the wines from the Hunter Valley but your photos suggest that it’s a compelling place to visit. The food looks out of this world as well.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      And the lovely thing about the food is, it’s cheaper to eat that well than it is in the city AND a lot less far to drive as this is a compact area. Too good… I’m heading back there soon.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Thank you! I will write a bit about the wineries next week or week after. I visited four up there, it was marvellous to actually meet the owners, something that wouldn’t happen in big huge wineries.

  3. says: budget jan

    Your photos are seriously good Seana. Is this your new Camera? I love the roo in the first one and the mist in the second and third and Brokenback mountain as a backdrop is superb. The old buildings and the sunlight through the trees. You have really showcased the district superbly.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Hello I didn’t take a lot of these shots – maybe I need to say so at the top not the bottom? It was raining when I was there so Used some gorgeous shots from the press kit. I did do the shed and the food and interiors. Still pondering a new camera. Taking shots with all sorts of ISO settings is my study task today. Thanks for visiting Jan.

      1. says: budget jan

        Shall have to brush up on my speed reading skills Seana. ISO is a mystery to me. When you conquer the subject maybe you could do a post on it and I would read it really slowly. 🙂

  4. Interesting! I live less than an hour’s drive from Northern California “wine country” where what you call “cellar doors” are called “tasting rooms.” And we don’t just have a dozen — we have hundreds to visit!

  5. says: Lisa

    Seana, I could see myself there right now! I love the look of the old Courthouse, and I think those views out over the vineyards would be the perfect match for all that beautiful produce. xx

  6. says: stephanie

    We’ve been to the Margan winery before,but never tried the food there. Looks lovely! Whenever we are in the region we end up at Pokolbin, will have to keep Broke on the radar.

  7. says: Alicia

    I haven’t spent any time in the Hunter Valley, it looks like a wonderful place to spend a few days, or a week! Spectacular views, I love all your photos. I could handle a food and wine tour here 😀

  8. Broke Fordich sounds like a great little getaway. How far is it from Sydney? I had no idea you could grow macadamias there as I picture that as more of a tropical tree since I only know of them in Hawaii. All the food sounds so delicious, too. I’d end up returning home with a wee bit more excess baggage on my hips than when I drove there.

  9. says: Lucy

    Oooh I have never been to the Hunter Valley but you have definitely sold me on it! It looks gorgeous!! Food and wine… two of my favourite things! xx

  10. says: Emily

    Oh I am drooling, crying and WISHING I was there, that place looks divine Seana, a place I could (and need to) escape for awhile… Never been there, doubt I will for another 20 years, til the kids have LONG moved away x

  11. says: Marcia

    Ahhh, I can just FEEL the ambience of Broke Fordwich – no hurry here. Glad to read that it isn’t over developed either.
    Such an interesting and colorful name, too. Of course, I imagined that there was a Mr. Fordwich who became broke. Anyway, Wikipedia set me straight.

  12. says: Marcia

    Hey Seana, I wanted to share this but couldn’t find your buttons. Anyway, I must be going blind as I also totally missed your history of Broke Fordwich.

  13. says: Marisol

    Wow, Broke Fordwich is absolutely beautiful, so bucolic. I like that it’s not too developed but offers great dining and accommodation and, of course, the divine cellars. I regret not making it to Hunter Valley when I visited Sydney. I have a friend who lives there and invited us to visit her at her house. But asked her to meet in Sydney instead due to lack of time. I should make time to visit her next time. Thanks for the lovely post. Seana.

  14. says: Grace

    Oh, Seana! Your photos are breathtaking!! Especially that one of Yellow Rock. And look at all that lovely fresh produce!
    You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Hunter, despite having gone there a couple of times. But I think you might have just converted me!

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