The Hunter River is a major river in New South Wales, Australia. The Hunter River rises in the Liverpool Range and flows generally south and then east, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Newcastle, the second largest city in New South Wales and a major port.
Around the Barrington Tops on the northern side of the valley, however, annual precipitation can be as high as , not all of which falls as rain since July temperatures are often below . In the lower areas, summer maxima are usually around and winter maxima around .
Except for the driest parts of Tasmania and a small area of the Monaro between Cooma and Nimmitabel, the Hunter Valley is the southern limit of rich "black earths" (actually black cracking clays). These are the only soils in all of Australia with reasonable levels of soluble phosphorus, with the result that upstream from Singleton very rich pasture land with many horse studs occurs. Around Merriwa and south of Singleton, the soils are very infertile sands more typical of Australia as a whole, and the dominant land use is extensive grazing.
Tributaries of the Hunter River include the Pages River, the Goulburn River, the Wollombi Brook, the Williams River and the Paterson River. The Hunter River is subject to substantial flooding, which Glenbawn Dam near Scone was constructed to ameliorate.
Parts of the Hunter Valley are important for grape growing and wine producing. The Hunter Valley is also one of Australia's most important coal mining areas. The Hunter River is threatened by drought, climate change and proposed loss of water due to coal mining.