Bond with your family
Take comfort that restless children will only need to be buckled into their car seats for a short time to reach the Blue Mountains, a 1.5-hour drive west of Sydney. Refresh instantly in the cool air and the bushland setting when you arrive in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park, which you’ll find packed with family-friendly attractions. Watch little eyes open wide in wonder at the majesty of the Blue Mountains on an easy outing such as the Three Sisters walk at Katoomba (allow 25–45 minutes), or tackle a longer hike such as the 6.3km Grand Canyon Walk in the Blackheath area, which will leave you spellbound by cascading waterfalls, sheer sandstone walls and lush vegetation.
Thrills for the whole family await at Scenic World in Katoomba, where you can marvel at the Three Sisters rock formation and extraordinary rainforest from the Scenic Skyway, Cableway and Railway — the steepest passenger railway in the world.
Then slide into your front-row seat to the seasons at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, where walking trails reveal the thousands of different plants, including rare species and historically significant plantings, that make these grounds so captivating.
Tap into your sense of adventure
Gain a natural high in Port Stephens, only a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney along the Pacific Coast, where getting back to nature comes with an energising endorphin rush. Experience the unadulterated joy of swimming alongside wild dolphins on a truly immersive tour with Dolphin Swim Australia. Or get a thrill simply watching bottlenose dolphins swim and play alongside the boat as you stay dry on the deck.
Get your blood pumping on a day out with Sand Dune Adventures, which offers Aboriginal-guided quad-biking excursions on the Stockton Sand Dunes. Learn about the cultural significance of the largest coastal sand dunes in the southern hemisphere as you zoom around this otherworldly slice of Worimi Country.
Cool down and take a kayak out to explore the crystal-clear waters of Shoal Bay. Delight in spotting local dolphins as you paddle through the calm waters of the bay. Look up to the east to find your next adventure, an invigorating 2.2km-return hike to the top of Tomaree Head Summit. Emerge from the coastal rainforest to appreciate the dramatic coastal views from your vantage point, which may also include sightings of whales on their annual migration between May and November.
Unleash your inner gourmand
Pack your appetite for a delicious journey to the Hunter Valley, only a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney, where cellar doors, distilleries, fromageries and fine-dining restaurants await.
Take your pick from more than 150 cellar doors in Australia’s oldest wine region, with highlights including Leogate Estate Wines, known for bottling some of the finest chardonnay, semillon and shiraz in New South Wales. Cosy up for an intimate fireside tasting at its opulent cellar door in winter, or drop by in summer to sip its vintages alfresco as you soak up the views across the vineyards towards the forested hills of the Broken Back Range.
Uncover the fascinating backstory of Audrey Wilkinson on a visit to the hilltop winery, where you can treat your taste buds to a cheese-and-wine tasting or find a spot among the vines to indulge in a private gourmet picnic. Then bed down in one of the estate’s three charming stone cottages, each with sweeping views of the countryside best savoured over a glass of wine.
Appreciate the character of the vintages at Tamburlaine Organic Wines, one of Australia’s largest independent organic wine producers, during a tasting or a behind-the-scenes tour that pairs a journey through the vineyards with a tasting experience. Or savour local fare during a memorable long lunch at one of the region’s iconic fine dining restaurants, such as Muse Restaurant, at Hungerford Hill Winery, or Bistro Molines.
Cruise the coast on the Grand Pacific Drive
Strap in for supercharged coastal views on the exhilarating Grand Pacific Drive, an iconic 140km road trip linking lush rainforests, secluded beaches and laidback coastal towns south of Sydney. Harness the wellness benefits of a nature hit with a pit stop in spectacular Royal National Park, the starting point of your journey, 40km south of the city. Stretch your legs on one of its many hiking trails, such as a section of the iconic 26km Coast Track. An hour’s walk along the soaring cliffs south of Bundeena will lead you to Wedding Cake Rock, an intriguing sandstone formation resembling a festive torte.
Shift down a gear to savour every second of the drive along the Sea Cliff Bridge, which snakes 665m over the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean between Clifton and Coalcliff. Park near the southern end of the bridge to take a stroll back along the structure as sea birds soar above you, and manta rays glide through the shallows below.
Continue south to Kiama to experience the power of the town’s iconic blowhole as it shoots seawater up to 30m into the air. Then take in the rolling rural backdrop on the last leg of your trip to the Shoalhaven region, perhaps extending your break to include Jervis Bay, where you can swim alongside the dolphins, whales and seals that call its azure waters home. Or revel in the simple luxury of lazing on its powder-white beaches before you embark on your journey home.