Rural river area in Rutherford at night with riverside buildings lit up.

Top Activities in Rutherford

Located just a short distance from Maitland, Rutherford is hub of community and sporting centres, great shopping and, of course, is on the doorstep of everything the wider Maitland area has to offer. Whether you prefer boutique stores, want to walk among historic buildings or take in some local art, here are the top things to do in and around Rutherford.


Located about a 20-minute drive from Rutherford, Morpeth is a historic town with plenty of boutique shopping and dining right on the Hunter River. Narrow laneways and sandstone paths give way to heritage buildings that host unique shopping, delicious treats and artisan creations. There’s plenty to see and do in Morpeth alone, including lunch by the riverside or a stroll along Morpeth heritage walk, where you can learn about the history of the town from its colonial beginnings to what it has become today. The galleries are not to be missed, especially if you’re an avid art-lover.


Not even a ten-minute drive from Rutherford is Walka Recreation and Wildlife Reserve, a popular picnic and recreation area that, like Morpeth, is steeped in history. Built in 1887, the old pumping station displays ornate brickwork and is one of the most intact 19th Century complexes in the wider Hunter Valley. Better still, the large lake nearby is home to over 300 species of birds, giving you a chance to experience both history and wildlife in a single visit. You’ll find barbecue and picnic facilities here, as well as a children’s playground.


Maitland Gaol was closed as a correctional facility in 1998, and since then has become one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the region. Prior to its closure, this maximum-security prison housed some of Australia’s most infamous criminals including the serial backpacker murderer Ivan Milat and Anita Cobby’s killers.

With a history that spans over 150 years, Maitland Gaol is a fascinating place where you can “serve time” in order to learn more about the facility, past prisoners and their lucky escapes. You can also enjoy a self-guided audio tour at your leisure, or join a guided tour, including the Ex Warden Tour to hear even more stories about escapes and the ludicrous lives of the imprisoned. If you’re brave enough, you can even visit the gaol at night for a ghost tour.


This community driven art gallery is free to visit, making it a great spot to take in local art whenever you please. Maitland Regional Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of over 6,000 artworks, many of which are made with, about or on paper. Each year the gallery hosts around 25 exhibitions and hundreds of learning activities, which are made available for everyone in the family to enjoy. You can also enjoy a coffee at the Seraphine Café or check out the Gallery Shop, which is full of beautiful and sometimes quirky products crafted by local artisans.


A 20-minute drive from Rutherford will land you at the picturesque Tocal Homestead, a historical site situated on one of Australia’s oldest colonial working farms. There are a range of tours on offer here, including both farm and homestead tours, or you can instead stroll around the site at your own pace, making use of an audio guide to learn about the challenges his Hunter Valley property faced over many decades. Afterwards, you can sit down and enjoy a delicious Devonshire tea.

If Rutherford and its surrounds catch your eye and heart, why not come and visit our Rutherford retirement village and possibly say hello to your new home? Our gated community is purpose-build for seniors and is located on the doorstep of Maitland and Newcastle in Heritage Parc.

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