9 August 2012
We’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we’ve surfed Bondi, and we’ve conquered the fine dining of Woolloomooloo. But we’re still craving more. Lucky for us, Sydney is not only the gateway to a vibrant coastal lifestyle but our city’s backyard also boasts some great escapes into nature.
Just a train ride from the centre of the city, the Blue Mountains offer World-Heritage listed wilderness, amazing tracks for bushwalking, and ancient canyons complete with towering waterfalls. The rocky plateaus sticking out of dense eucalypts and rainforests evoke a sense of primeval earth. To get an idea of how ancient the Blue Mountains are, consider the tale of the Wollemi Pine—a tree thought to have been extinct for two million years until it was rediscovered in this wilderness right outside of Sydney.
For the traveller looking to explore beyond a bushwalk, try abseiling or canyoning with one of the adventure operators in the region.
The mountains are perfect for a long weekend break with cosy inns and B&Bs near Leura, spas in Katoomba, and even luxurious glamping (glamorous camping) experiences.
The Hunter Valley, one of Sydney’s local wine regions, also has plenty to offer a traveller looking for a wine tour with a difference. Consider a biking trek of the region to feel the wind in your hair and smell that fresh country air. This wine region is home to over 120 vineyards, many of which offer tastings of locally produced Semillon and Shiraz at their cellar doors. In addition to wineries amongst the rolling hills, the valley is home to plentiful cheese shops, olive oil producers and smokehouses. For those less wine inclined, breweries and distilleries offer an alternative taste of the region.
Spend a weekend in the Hunter at a B&B. Keep in mind the vines can also be explored at a slower pace in a horse drawn carriage. With plentiful spas, the Hunter is also the ultimate location for a girls’ weekend or romantic break.
Craving the ocean? Just northeast of the Hunter Valley is Port Stephens. This coastal bay is host to golden beaches, crystal waters and resident dolphins. Whether you’re a surfer or just looking for a seaside getaway, Port Stephens’ proximity to the Hunter means that you’ll have a perfect mix of crisp wines and local seafood to go along with the sunset.
In addition to kayaking, sailing, and snorkelling, this area is also a great base to explore the local sand dunes and bush on quadbikes or horseback. Main accommodation areas are located on Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.
So let us know—on your next short break from Sydney, are you thinking bush, beach, or wine?