Now more than ever before we have begun to look inward - not just at ourselves, but at our place in the world. For many of us, our worlds have become just that little bit smaller. This also includes our list of travel destinations.
With overseas travel taking a backseat and multiple state border closures, people are focusing more on trips within their own backyard. We have taken this time of introspection and used it to compile a list of road trips that can be taken as single and multiple day trips from Sydney.
Here are a few locations to get you inspired for your next weekend (or week) away and help shake off the isolation blues.
Royal National Park
South of Sydney you’ll find the second oldest National Park in the world, after Yellowstone in the US. Water holes, beaches and stunning cliff tops – this day trip from Sydney offers something for everyone. The coastal walk that runs from Bundeena to Otford showcases the best of the national park, including a glimpse into the Little Gearie and Era cabin communities. Built between the 1930's and 50’s on freehold land, these communities are completely off grid and only accessible via foot.
Drive the famous sea cliff road through to Wollongong and stop by Bald Hill Lookout, where you can see paragliders taking off on the weekends. Go between May and November to catch some of the best sights of the whale migration seasons, as they travel south to breed.
Rainforests, countryside, winding rivers and waterfalls – Kangaroo Valley is home to some of the most idyllic New South Wales scenery. Just two hours from Sydney, this is a drive to remember. Beginning with your descent into the valley, surrounded by mist and lush rainforests, you’ll emerge at the end of the winding cliff road into the wide open expanse of the green valley floor. The historic Valley is home to a Victorian sandstone suspension bridge that crosses the Kangaroo River. Spot the kayakers drifting downstream to scenic picnic areas frequented by an abundance of native wildlife. While you're in the area, don't miss the opportunity to explore some local award-winning wineries.
TOP TIP: Feeling more adventurous? Do the two-day kayaking trip from Bundeela to Tallowa Dam, camping overnight in the beautiful Acacia Flats within Morton National Park.
The Blue Mountains
Home to the Three Sisters and the Wollemi Pine, the Blue Mountains is a must for anyone planning a day trip from Sydney. This beautiful corner of the world is a haven for artists, adventurers, musicians and those wanting to live a life closer to nature. Stop off in Katoomba at the top of the Blue Mountains and explore the town's cafes, boutique shops and live music scene.
Boasting some of the best walks in NSW, The Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls showcases much of the Blue Mountains iconic bushwalking beauty. Descending into the valley, you will pass several waterfalls, ending at tranquil pools where you can take a dip and rest before heading back out again.
Stay in the historic Hydro Majestic Hotel perched on a cliff top in the small town of Medlow Bath and you’ll be waking up in the same rooms as Australian Prime ministers, royalty and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who stayed here and gained inspiration from the dramatic landscape.
Filled with boutique shops, cute cafes and history bursting around every corner, this southern NSW village is the ideal getaway for couples or families. Stroll down the main street and peruse the antique stores before heading to lunch at Salmon & Co Eatery Restaurant and Cafe where you can dine on some of the region's fresh produce. Don’t forget to save space for afternoon tea at the Famous Berry Donut Van – their award winning donuts prompt pilgrimages from donut fans from all over the state.
Feel like staying a little longer in this idyllic country town? Mt. Hay Retreat is well known for its first class accommodation, and is perfectly nestled amongst the beauty of the Berry countryside.
Regarded as one of the most incredible cave systems in Australia, Jenolan Caves offers year round tours. Open every day of the year, you’ll have plenty of chances to see and explore this amazing natural creation. With underground rivers, gigantic rock formations and caverns the size of auditoriums, the geological beauty of these caves has even inspired orchestras to play within their walls.
For those who are brave, Jenolan Caves offers adventure caving, ghost tours and night tours.
Above ground you can explore the beautiful bushland of the Jenolan region and visit the blue lake located just next door. Try to catch a glimpse of the platypuses that live here!
The Hunter Valley
A much loved destination for romantic weekends away, the Hunter Valley is also famous for showcasing some of the best wines in Australia. Stay in one of the many getaway resorts that offer anything from spa treatments to wine tasting, and even horse riding tours.
Take a hot air balloon in one of the region's famous sunrise journeys. Explore the Hunter Valley from a different point of view while enjoying the gourmet breakfast on offer (oh and did we mention it comes with a glass of champagne? Bubbles for breakfast, why not!)
Wurrumbungle National Park
Located outside Coonabarabran, this remote national park is home to surreal volcanic rock formations, rugged landscapes and unforgettable bush walks, including the famous Breadknife and High Tops walk. It also offers some of the best locations for stargazing in Australia. Siding Spring Observatory can be found here, which boasts one of the largest optical telescopes in Australia. Warrumbungle National Park is the country's only ‘dark sky park’ making it one of the best places in Australia to observe the night sky.
Make this into a weekend trip away from Sydney, and remember to bring your telescope, to get the full experience this beautiful location has to offer.
A two hour drive from Sydney, Port Stephens is a much loved holiday destination for Sydneysiders. It’s not hard to see why with its beautiful beaches and charming local attractions.
Take the steep but rewarding hike up to Mount Tomaree to catch breathtaking sunsets with a 180 degree view over the Port Stephens coastline. If you’re lucky you might even spot humpback whales breaching on their way down the coast. Hiking not for you? Take a walk to the hidden ‘wreck beach’ instead and see why this secluded beach is the best kept secret amongst locals.
Home to Hyams beach, famous for having the whitest sand in the world, Jervis Bay is a gem of the south coast. The relaxed, fun loving culture of the local towns and its crystal clear waters have long attracted beach lovers who have returned to its shores year after year.
With abundant marine wildlife including bottlenose dolphins, little penguins and sea dragons, many come to snorkel in the turquoise waters or to take advantage of one of the scuba diving courses on offer in the area.
Follow the white sands walk that takes you along the spectacular Jervis Bay coastline. There’s not much you won’t love about this seaside paradise.
Header Photo: Royal National Park- Photo by Fezbot2000 from Unsplash