The Upper Hunter is a thriving community filled with great Aussie country hospitality and fantastic scenic adventures.
Merriwa is a flourishing agricultural town, best known for its sheep festival. It’s one of the oldest towns in the area, with some great examples of colonial architecture in the courthouse, police station and local homesteads.
Scone is known as the Horse Capital of Australia due to its local horse breeding community. The town itself is picturesque with wide tree-lined streets, full of lovely cafes and shops. During certain times of the year you can enjoy festivals and races celebrating Scone’s horse heritage. Not too far from town you can enjoy Burning Mountain along with the Towarri National Park.
Muswellbrook is full of delightful cuisines, just waiting for you to try. This area is renowned for its cheese, olives and wine, with many local producers opening their doors to visitors. In the town itself, you can enjoy walking through Australia’s historic past.
Tip: We recommend checking the NSW Health website for an update on the COVID-19 situation before travelling. As always, be sure to check the weather forecast and bushfires warnings before going for a ride.
Rides To Do
Gundy Mountain Bike Park
Gundy has mountain bike trails the whole family can ride.
There is no better place to take advantage of these trails than from the historic village of Gundy, where you can stretch out and ‘linger a little longer’ at the Linga Longa Hotel. We invite you to enjoy our laidback country hospitality and soak in the beauty of Pages River and the scenic Barrington Tops.’
Scone - Glenbawn Dam loop
Distance: 36.2 km
Total climb: 358 m
Total descent: 358 m
Enjoy this picturesque ride from the centre of Scone out to Glenbawn Dam. There are endless activities once you arrive at the dam including swimming, hiking, picnic, fishing and more.
Merriwa - Sandy Hollow Backroads
Distance: 41.1 km
Total climb: 354 m
Total descent: 461 m
A quiet scenic ride from Merriwa to Sandy Hollow via Flaggs Rd, Stairs Rd and Giants Creek Rd.
About 18km of gravel, so would suit a gravel/xc mountain bike. It is a quiet road and you won’t pass many cars along the way.
Distance: 70.9 km
Total climb: 651 m
Scone is a lovely rural town with wide tree-lined streets. Home to dozens of studs and world-class thoroughbred breeders, this beautiful area in the Upper Hunter celebrates its equine heritage with annual events such as the Scone Horse Festival.
Great loop with good climb over Brushy Hill and views of Glenbawn Dam wall.
Ride time: 4 hours
Grab your bicycle and challenge yourself on these scenic rides, recommended by local cycling enthusiasts for their safety, beauty, challenges and amenities en-route.
Each map starts from Scone, however there is plenty of parking and accommodation at all of the destinations on these maps, making it convenient for you to start where you like! Pack plenty of food, water and spare tubes for your journey as some of these roads can be quite remote. Ride on up!
Scone to Merriwa
Ride time: 5 hours
This is a reasonably quiet route with a major climb just out of Scone, and then rolling hills all the way to Merriwa. The road surface does not allow for easy rolling. There are no amenities in Bunnan but plenty of great coffee in Merriwa.
Merriwa to Willow Tree
Total Elevation: 969m
Surrounded by fertile countryside, Merriwa flourished as an agricultural area after its settlement in 1839. There are many fine examples of colonial architecture in its homesteads, courthouses, police stations, hotels and churches.
Enjoy the many great views along this route of the rolling countryside.
Muswellbrook Explorer Loop
Ride time: 6.5 hours (depending on fitness level)
Starting in Scone, head to Merriwa for coffee and cake. At Merriwa turn left to Sandy Hollow where there is a coffee shop, service station and toilet facilities.
Places To See
There are surprises around everyone corner in this part of NSW. From spectacular scenery to animal sanctuary and geological mysteries - don't miss out on a thing.
Enjoy the tranquility of regional Australia at the Scone washpools. While sitting amongst the oak forest and box woodland, you can soak up the sounds of the bush. From king parrots to wombats, there are many animals to spot if you arrive at the right time.
Just up from the parking lot, you can enjoy a barbeque beside Middle Brook or a swim in the cooling washpools.
While you’re in the Towarri National Park there are some lovely hikes and viewing platforms to explore.
If you’re up for a bit of a drive, we recommend a visit to Aussie Ark in the Barrington Tops. This mountain range is world heritage listed, full of conservation areas.
At its heart, Aussie Ark strives to create a safe and fostering environment for Tasmanian devils. You’ll get to see the devils in free-range enclosures and experience their communal feeding nature.
It really is an unique experience and not one to be missed.
Just up the highway from Scone sits Burning Mountain, a combusting coal seam that has been naturally burning for 5,000 years.
It’s a great place to step back in geological time to experience Australia’s natural history.
There are some fantastic walks to do in the area too. Be sure to take a water bottle and sun protection as there isn’t much shade and it can get very warm in summer.
Lake Glenbawn Recreation Park
As one of the best freshwater fishing spots in NSW, this one is for any keen fisherperson. You can also enjoy the lake by canoeing, pleasure boating, sailing and wind surfing, water skiing and wake boarding.
When off the water you can enjoy getting back to nature in the lush bushlands and visiting animals.
Events To Attend
Depending on the time of year you visit, you can experience the thrilling farming culture of Scone.
King of the Ranges Stockman's Challenge and Bush Festival
It’s an intense 4 days to put stockmen and women through their paces. You can soak up the country atmosphere while catching the competitors in cattle work, pack-horse work, bareback riding, target whipcracking, horseshoeing, and cross country jumping.
When not watching the competition, enjoy the country hospitality that Muswellbrook has to offer. There are fun competitions, displays of horsemanship, demonstrations of bushcraft, live music, great food.
Scone Horse Festival
As the Horse Capital, Scone really knows how to display the magnificent animals in all their glory.
The whole event is to show different types of horses and what they are capable of including a street parade, charity rodeo, sheep dog trials, yarns night, polo, farrier’s competition, tent-pegging, stud tours, a two day race carnival – Scone Cup, yearling sales.
If you head down to Lake Glenbawn you’ll even see grand finale fireworks to wrap up the festival.
Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces
Known best for the Rosto Olives Running of the sheep, with hundreds of market stalls this festival has much to offer and is a favourite of many families.
Soak up the country life by immersing yourself in all things sheep, including team penning action, Sheep Yard Dog Trials, Bush Poet's breakfast, sheep shearing demonstrations, wood carving, dog high jumping and vintage vehicle displays.