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Day trips from Sydney: 12 things you shouldn’t miss, from quaint towns and waterfalls to beaches and wine

Whether you’re a beach body, a wine aficionado, or an active outdoorsy person, there’s a region just a drive away from Sydney to enjoy – three in fact. We bring you the best places to go outside of the city.

In partnership with Destination NSW.

Day trips from Sydney: 12 things you shouldn’t miss, from quaint towns and waterfalls to beaches and wine

Waterfalls and scenic walks await you just a short drive away from Sydney. (Photo: Kramer Photography; www.kramer.photography and Destination NSW)

Australia is rather special, with each state and city offering a myriad experiences. For those wishing to discover – or for seasoned travellers, rediscover – Sydney and beyond, we recommend three regions that might not be as known to Singaporeans but are must-visit places in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

Start from the picturesque and heritage region of the Southern Highlands then go up to the Northern Beaches for great surfs. And finally, explore the hinterlands of NSW’s Central Coast for adventures, treks and delicious Australian treats.

SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS

Enjoy a romantic getaway at Centennial Vineyards in Bowral. (Photo: Destination NSW)

The Southern Highlands are 110km south of Sydney and is known for its cool, temperate climate, making it perfect as a wine region. It’s also known for its picturesque and quaint English towns, established when the English were expanding across the country.

Only 90 minutes' drive from the city, Southern Highlands are a weekend country retreat for many Sydneysiders. It also offers many ways to spend your time, from heritage towns built in the 1800s to the 60 wineries across the region, and bushlands with hiking trails for beginners to experienced ones. Here are our top four picks:

1. Visit historic Berrima and Bowral

The old Berrima Gaol, later renamed the Berrima Correctional Centre. The building was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on Apr 2, 1999. (Photo: Destination NSW)
Start with these quaint Georgian towns which were established in 1830 and 1861, respectively. Berrima is the best-preserved Georgian village in mainland Australia. The town features sandstone buildings, historic pubs, antique shops and surrounding vineyards. Take the Berrima Heritage Walk and be sure to check out the Berrima Court House which features a fully immersive court room experience. Think of it as Law & Order set in the 1800s.
Scenic country views surrounding Centennial Vineyards, Bowral. (Photo: Destination NSW)

Meanwhile, Bowral is often considered the most sophisticated of the towns in the Southern Highlands. Established in 1861, Bowral grew rapidly over the next 30 years from the construction of the railway. Apart from its rolling hills, take in the magnificent views from the Bowral Lookout at Mount Gibraltar Reserve. It overlooks the Wingecarribee River Valley and the neighbouring town, charming Moss Vale. Also be sure to catch Bowral’s Tulip Time Festival at Corbett Gardens if you are there from late September to October.  

For more information, click here for Berrima and here for Bowral.

2. Chase the waterfalls on these walking trails

The scenic Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park. (Photo: Kramer Photography; www.kramer.photography)

When nature calls, be sure to catch the falls at the National Parks. NSW isn’t short of walking trails but the Morton National Park features no less than nine, of varying distances and experience levels. Be sure to catch the cascading Fitzroy Falls, which acts as a start off point for many of the park’s walks. The waterfall plunges 80m into the Yarrunga Valley and is a sight to behold with the park’s picturesque gorges set against the forest gully.

Enjoy a gorgeous walk by the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Budderoo National Park. (Photo: Destination NSW)

The other place to chase the falls lies in the Budderoo National Park. The park also offers birdwatchers a treat with sightings of the superb lyrebird, Australian king parrot or the eastern yellow robin. The Carrington Falls at the park plunges 50m into the Kangaroo River below and the river is accessible by foot or paddling in the still waters on kayak.

3. Fly on Australia’s highest zipline at Illawarra Fly

Zipping through the scenery at Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, Knights Hill in the Illawarra region on New South Wales. (Photo: Destination NSW)

Illawarra Fly is a unique eco-wilderness attraction over the Illawarra Rainforest. Located around Knights Hill at around 710m above sea level, the zipline is one of four in the world and offers a series of elevated cable spans (like a flying fox) and two suspension bridges and four cloud stations (tree platforms) while being suspended 35m above the forest floor.

Each zipline tour includes a treetop walk of 1.5km over a loop track. The steel canopy structure is 500m in length and is suspended 25m over the forest. Don’t miss this to get incredible views of the rainforest layers. The zipline takes about an hour, as does the treetop walk and excludes a 20-minute briefing. Separate treetop walk tours are available too.

For more information, click here.

4. Explore wine country on a bike

Take a guided electric bike tour around the Wine Trail in the Southern Highlands. With more than 60 vineyards, there are many cellars to visit.

Take an electric bike tour around the country rounds of the wine trail in the Southern Highlands. Sample wines from the wineries and enjoy a cheeseboard to round off the three-hour bike tour.

Book your guided e-bike tour here.

PALM BEACH

Head up to the Northern Beaches beyond Manly and you’ll land at Palm Beach. The coastline from Manly to Palm Beach spans around 30km but the quiet beach is known for more than its waves. It’s also the setting for one of Australia’s best-known soaps, Home And Away. Here are the three key things you can do:

1. Hike up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Stars shining over Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Palm Beach. (Photo: Destination NSW)

Enjoy the coastline at Barrenjoey Head and discover the stories at the heritage-listed Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits at Sydney’s northernmost point and is 113m above sea level. Built in 1881 from sandstone, the lighthouse, its oil room and the keepers’ cottage takes one back in time, showing its original stone finish.

Tours are available every Sunday, with exceptions for Christmas and New Year’s. For a challenging way up, take the surrounding tracks and hike up to explore.

For walking tracks and park information, go here.

2. Water sports at Pittwater

Kayaking on Pittwater near Sinclair Point, Currawong Beach. (Photo: Destination NSW)

Get a truly amphibious morning experience at Palm Beach: Kayak in the blue waters of Pittwater and then bushwalk in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. If the weather permits, explore the aboriginal caves and the artwork of Australia’s indigenous community at Resolute Beach.

For a unique experience, join a Twilight Tour while doing stand up paddling. These paddle boards are fitted with LED lights and light your way as you paddle across the waters for two hours.

Find out more here.

3. Fly to lunch at Jonah’s

Outdoor terrace at Jonah's Restaurant and Boutique Hotel at Whale Beach. (Photo: Jonah's)

Feeling like splashing out during your holiday? Jonah’s is a must-do. The award-winning restaurant has been serving notable personalities and celebrities since its opening in 1929. It counts Sir Anthony Hopkins, Bono of U2 and Justin Bieber as some of its famous guests.

Experience Jonah’s by Seaplane from Rose Bay and enjoy lunch with scenic beachside views or whale watch during migration season as you savour a mod-Australian three-course lunch. The flight starts off at Rose Bay, where your plane glides over the Sydney Harbour offering views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Northern Beaches before touching down at Pittwater.

CENTRAL COAST

Take it up a notch with a trip to the Central Coast. It’s home to 40 beaches, a coastline that stretches 87km, lots of surfing enthusiasts and the national parks in the hinterland.

The Central Coast offers both food and adventure so no matter what kind of traveller you are, there’ll be enough adrenaline and food options to satisfy everyone.

1. Get outdoorsy at Glenworth Valley

Enjoy a guided tour on quad bikes at Glenworth Valley in the Central Coast. (Photo: Destination NSW)

Sitting over 3,000 acres of unspoiled nature, the Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures is the largest horse-riding centre in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also Australia’s largest horse riding and adventure centre in the NSW hinterland.

The centre has 200 horses and caters to all ages and abilities. Glenworth Valley offers sessions in two-, four- and six-hour blocks. What’s more, you get to try other activities like abseiling, quad biking, axe throwing and laser skirmish (think outdoor laser tag but without the bruises).

You can spend a day at Glenworth or make it a trip as there are camping, glamping and even eco-villa options for stays.

Find out more here.

2. Soar over the coast in a Microlight

No licences needed for this tour as you fly over much of the Central Coast with a flight instructor in this ultralight aircraft.

The flight will offer you magnificent aerial views and also allows you to get up in the clouds while looking down at the Central Coast’s key sights. Book flights from 40- or 60-minutes sessions and feel the freedom of flying.

More information can be seen here.

3. Have breakfast with alpacas

Resident alpacas at Iris Lodge Alpacas in Jilliby. (Photo: Destination NSW)

In the Central Coast Hinterland of Jilliby, be greeted by more than 60 alpacas, 42 sheep, and more llamas, horses and cows that live on the Iris Lodge Alpacas farm. The lodge offers farm experiences for those who would like an up-close-and-personal experience with alpacas.

Book the Breakfast with the Alpacas and be greeted by alpaca Billy and his best friend Ellie, a Wiltipoll sheep. Then, you’ll have an opportunity to meet the other alpacas at the Lodge and feed them. Finish off your visit with your own breakfast.

The entire experience has been created to ensure the farm is both sustainable to both the animals and the environment with more than 9,000 trees planted. The farm also attracts unique Australian birds like hawks, eagles, pelicans, corellas, and finches.  

Book your experience here.

4. Immerse yourself in oysters

About 45 minutes away from Sydney is the Sydney Oyster Farm Tours at Mooney Mooney. Located at Broken Bay, this family-owned oyster farm off the Hawkesbury River has been supplying Broken Bay oysters and Sydney Rock oysters to the Sydney markets and wider region for more than 15 years.

The farm offers various tours, which cover a boat ride to oyster leases, a guide to farm as well as the opportunity to shuck your own oysters and eat them. Book the tour which lets you shuck and try your own oysters in the water, plus refreshments as part of your experience.

Tours start at 90 minutes and bookings can be made here.

5. Go on an aboriginal bushwalk experience

Get the full indigenous Australian experience with a guided tour of the aboriginals native to the Central Coast. The Girri Girra Aboriginal Experience brings you on a journey of timeless stories, told through the bush walks across landscapes that showcase the culture of the indigenous Australians. You’ll also witness some singing and dancing, and a touch of storytelling to gain insight into one of the world’s oldest living cultures – and even learn how to craft tools and instruments such as woven baskets and clapsticks.

There are several walks but the Bouddi National Park Aboriginal Tour offers stunning views of the park and sweeping ocean views. It begins with a traditional Acknowledgement of Country ceremony before a 2.5km trek through the national park with significant aboriginal sites near the Bouddi Coastal Walk. Feast your eyes on the ancient rock carvings for an insight to aboriginal society and culture.

For more information, go here.

For more travel inspiration on New South Wales, go to https://www.sydney.com/

Source: CNA/mm
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