Ever wished you were a thousand miles away from life in the city? Here are just a few of my favourite weekend destinations less than 5 hours from Sydney where you can get that far away feeling for a fraction of the travel time.
Jervis Bay National Park seems to be missed off many of the itineraries of travelers to Australia. Often people will flock to places like Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island or White Haven Beach on the Whitsunday’s Islands when planning their holidays to Australia. Why? Because they have seen postcard perfect pictures of white powdery sands and crystal clear waters. With that in mind, it amazes me as to why Jervis Bay would be missed off the ‘must do’ list as it is said to possess the world’s whitest sands. The National Park not only has a number of spectacular beaches such as Hyams Beach but also some very appealing camp sites such as Green Patch where, if you’re lucky, you might witness kangaroo’s playing on the beach. Huskisson is the nearest town and offers lots of activities from whale watching tours to diving and snorkeling. Located less than three hours outside of Sydney, you’d be mad not to check this place out.
Lake Jindabyne & The Snowy Mountains
Snow, in Australia!? Sure, the winters get cold enough that they often dump a heap of snow on the Snowy Mountains, approximately 5 hours South West of Sydney. Thredbo Alpine Village and Perisher Resort are the popular snow holiday destinations and offer ski slopes for all abilities. Ozsnow Adventures run weekend tours to Perisher and Thredo in the winter months, Leaving Sydney 4pm on a Friday and returning Sunday night. Jindabyne is the gateway to the ski fields and rests on the edge of Lake Jindabyne and offers breathtaking views. When it’s not snowing and the summer sun returns the area still offers heaps of adventure sports such as kayaking, horse riding, mountain biking, walking trails etc making it a year round destination.
Further South than Jervis Bay, some 4 and a half hours from Sydney lies the small beach side town of Narooma. Just 8km offshore of Narooma you will find Montague Island, a National Parks and Wildlife Reserve, home to NSW’s largest colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals and one of the largest little penguin breeding sites in Australia. Popular boat tours from Narooma combine whale watching tours with trips to Montague Island. You can even opt to snorkel or dive with the large number of playful seals, which makes for quite an experience! In Narooma itself, Bar Rock Lookout is an excellent vantage point to spot whales and dolphins and even witness seals basking in the sun on the rocks. ‘Australia Rock’ rock formation at the wharf is a total hidden gem! It can be seen at the bar crossing at Wadonga Head, where the inlet empties into the sea. It is known as ‘Australia Rock’ due to the unique and very impressive formation that looks remarkably like a map of Australia.
When visiting Narooma, you must take a short 15 minute drive to the region of Tilba. Tilba offers the opportunity to visit beautifully restored and maintained period villages and experience living history. The villages are encased with rolling countryside and the greenest of spaces. The cute, and quirky villages are definitely worth a visit
Going North this time, approximately three hours from Sydney is Port Stephens, a sand dune and golden beach adventure! Port Stephen’s has over 26 golden beaches to choose from. Activities include paddle boarding, jet skiing, sand dune quad biking, 4X4 dune tours, beach camel rides and sandboarding. Port Stephen’s is also a popular place to spot whales and swim with dolphins. A must do trail walk is the Tomaree National Park Summit Walk which offers panoramic views across Port Stephen’s coastline. Port Stephen’s really does have everything and with so many beaches to choose from don’t be surprised if you find one all to yourself, it’s often hard to believe you are only a short drive from the city.
If you want to be instantly transported to the European countryside then you need to visit Hunter Valley! A green paradise of wide open fields and vineyards. Why not book yourself into a cosy little cottage and enjoy your evenings watching the sun set over the vineyards with a glass or two the local wine. By day you can make your way around the many Winery’s the area has to offer by independent drive, bus tour or even bicycle ride. There are chocolate and cheese factories too to compliment all that wine tasting! If you’re after something more lively for your evening there is even an Irish Pub and what destination would be complete without one!? Just under three hours north east of Sydney and all the wine you can drink is yours for the taking!
These are just five of my favourite weekend destnations that I think everyone should spend some time at! NSW has so much more to offer than just Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, get out there and explore!