The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia, extending from approximately 120 km (75 mi) to 310 km (193 mi) north of Sydney. It contains the Hunter River and its tributaries with highland areas to the north and south. Situated at the northern end of the Sydney Basin bioregion, the Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast, and is most commonly known for its wineries and coal industry.
Most of the population of the Hunter Region lives within 25 km (16 mi) of the coast, with 55% of the entire population living in the cities of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. There are numerous other towns and villages scattered across the region in the eleven local government areas (LGAs) that make up the region. At the 2011 census the combined population of the region was 620,530. Under Australia’s wine appellation system, the Hunter Valley wine zone Australian Geographical Indication (GI) covers the entire catchment of the Hunter River and its tributaries. Within that, the Hunter region is almost as large, and includes most of the wine-producing areas, excluding the metropolitan area of Newcastle and nearby coastal areas, some national parks, and any land that was in the Mudgee Shire (at the western heights of the catchment).
The Hunter wine region is one of Australia’s best known wine regions, playing a pivotal role in the history of Australian wine as one of the first wine regions planted in the early 19th century. The success of the Hunter Valley wine industry has been dominated by its proximity to Sydney with its settlement and plantings in the 19th century fuelled by the trade network that linked the valley to the city. The steady demand of consumers from Sydney continues to drive much of the Hunter Valley wine industry, including a factor in the economy by the tourism industry. While the Hunter Valley has been supplanted by the massive Riverina wine region as the largest producer of New South Wales wine, it still accounts for around 3% of Australia’s total wine production and is one of the country’s most recognisable regions.