The Hunter River Valley (also known as the Hunter Valley or the Hunter Region) is a region of New South Wales about two hours drive north of Sydney. It is very close to the coast and is centered on the Hunter River and its tributaries.
At the mouth of the Hunter River is located the city of Newcastle. The Hunter River Valley also contains several large towns (Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens) and a number of smaller ones (Dungog, Forster/Tuncurry, Gloucester, Kurri Kurri, Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton).
Industries of the area include coal mining, viticulture (wine growing), horse breeding, electricity production, agriculture, dairy farming and cattle farming.
Coal Mining, Electricity Production
Coal mining is the Hunters largest industry, with most of the production being exported to China and other overseas countries. Coal is transported mostly via rail to to the port at Newcastle where it is loaded onto coal freighters. Recently, there have been a number of conflicts between the coal miners and other industries (such as the farmers and tourism operators) which see the miners as damaging the environment and their businesses. In addition, climate change activists are pushing for a reduction in coal mining.
Related to coal mining is the regions electricity production industry, which uses coal fired power stations (for example, the Bayswater, Eraring, Liddell, Munmorah, Redbank and Vales Point power stations).
Dairy Farming, Horse Breeding
Milk and other products is produced by farms across the Hunter River Valley and processed by companies such as Oak at Hexham.
The Upper Hunter River Valley and especially the town of Scone is Australias largest (and one of the worlds most important) centers for the breeding of thoroughbred horses.
Tourism, Wine Making
Tourism attracts over 2 million visitors per annum to the Valley. Tourists come to cruise the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie, to go fishing and swimming, to visit the well-preserved urban areas including Newcastle and smaller country towns, to ride the Hunter Valley Steam Trains, and to visit the vineyards.
Centered on Pokolbin (about 50 km west of Newcastle), the Hunter River Valleys vineyards and wine making industry. There are extensive plantings of shiraz semillon, chardonay, and cabernet sauvignon, as well as some pinot noir.
In addition to the wineries, there are many guesthouse, hotels, restaurants, shops and golf courses in the "wine country". Many of the visitors come up on day trips or for weekend visits from Sydney
There are a number of national parks in this area (Barrington Tops National Park, Goulburn River National Park, Mount Royal National Park, Myall Lakes National Park, Watagans National Park, Werakata National Park) as well as some state forests and nature reserves.