While the rest of Australia turns green with envy over Sydney’s down-right good looking harbour, pristine beaches and meticulously styled people, the jealousy does not stop there. As if the city has not been spoiled enough with its breath taking beauty, the many and varied getaway spots just hours from the CBD centre can equally match, if not rival, the beauty of Australia’s unofficial capital.
Just a stones throw from the city’s centre is a world of adventure waiting to be explored. From beautiful coastlines to mountainous regions, the day tours from Sydney offer visitors a break from the metropolitan jungle. So what are you waiting for, get exploring . . .
|• Blue Mountain Tours
|by t3rmin4t0r @ flickr.com
Named after the distinctive blue haze surrounding the area said to be formed from finely dispersed droplets of oil from the surrounding eucalypt forests. Rather than the ‘Blue’ Mountains, the area would be better called the red, or white or any colour of the rainbow mountains, with diversity in the region sensational. Just a few short hours from Sydney’s metropolis, the Blue Mountains are a favorite getaway spot and recreational playground for locals and tourists alike.
Part of NSW’s largest national parks, the Blue Mountains offers an abundance of wildlife and attractions to keep every kind of tourist entertained. From bush walking, rock climbing, galleries, fine dining, sporting and shopping, the variety of activity in the area is as diverse as its incredible seasons. The area is also full of historical wonderments, including monuments, museums and ancient houses.
Tourists who are confined by time should concentrate themselves in the major towns en route via the Great Western Highway. Make sure you check out all the major tourist hot spots of the region, like boutique village Leura, quaint Katoomba(home to natural wonderments like the Three Sisters) and Blackheath which is the starting line for most of the region’s major bushwalks.
The easiest and quickest form of transport to get to the Blue Mountains is by car, with the journey taking about 50 minutes from Sydney Central and is a scenic and pleasant route. From the city, take the road signed to Parramatta and follow through to the M4 Motorway, eventually reaching Lapstone in the Blue Mountains. If you are driving to Katoomba, it will take about 90 minutes from CBD Sydney. The City Rail offers an efficient and scenic service to the Blue Mountains, allowing tourists a more relaxing, albeit slightly longer journey, than the highway. From central, the train will stop en route at Strathfield, Parramatta, Penrith, Emu Plains and all other stations directional to the Blue Mountains. The journey is approximately 2 hours to Katoomba.
|• Sydney Tours
|by sachman75 @ flickr.com
South Along the Coast
South from Sydney along the coast line lies an incredible 16 000 hectares of national park, demonstrative of the magnificent coastal environment of wider Sydney and New South Wales.
South along the coast is the perfect getaway for travelers wanting to inhale the intoxicating scenery of the state. The Royal National Park protects much of the coastline and a good day tour for tourists includes a visit to the highlights of the area. It is the second oldest national park in the world and is testament to the diversity of Australian native flora and fauna, with rain forest, coastlines, woodland and swampland.
With over 150km of walking trails, there are plenty of walking tours to keep tourists busy. If hiking isn’t your thing, be sure to check in at Wollongong, a beautiful coastal provincial city with plenty of ocean activities to keep the water-lovers at bay. Also worth a look is quiet seaside town, Kiama, who has maintained one of Australia’s most inspiring and intrinsic coastal town feels.
The best way for day trippers to see the area is to follow the Princes Highway out of Sydney, stopping to admire a sensational view only to be out matched by the next stop. Be sure to detour via Wattamolla and Garie Beach to catch a glimpse of some of Australia’s most breath taking coastal towns.
|by yewenyi @ flickr.com
|by pelican @ flickr.com
If you look east, you’ll meet the pristine, intoxicating and extremely proud South Pacific Ocean – but turn west and you’ll find some of Sydney’s best history. About 60km west to Windsor via Parramatta, Australia has buried some of its most historic sites and visitors wanting to know the ins and outs of the nation’s history should consider a day trip.
Dating back to the first years of colony, the Parramatta and Hawkesbury rivers were the first major discovery for settlers in search of fertile land. A major attraction of the region is Elizabeth Farm, a delightful estate deeply routed in the nation’s history. Representative of the traditional Aussie homestead with a large shaded veranda, the house is also iconic for its representation of the now declining wool industry.
Also worth a stop, is Old Government House in Parramatta Park, home to the finest collection of colonial furniture nation wide as well as holding the title of Australia’s oldest public building.
Animal lovers or families with children might want to pay a visit to the Koala Park Sanctuary which is set amongst acres of natural Australian bushland. Despite its name, the sanctuary is home to much more than just koalas, including kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, emus, eagles, penguins and numerous bird species.
Finally, keeping in line with the ‘historic’ theme is Windsor, one of the oldest towns in the country. Established in 1794, the town is full of Georgian Colonial buildings and provides a good insight into the true colonial Australian life style.
The best way to visit the historic west, is via Parramatta Road and the Western Motorway. After turning off at James Ruse Drive, be sure to stop at the corner of Church and Market streets to visit the Information Centre and collect brochures and tips for visiting the region.
|• Sydney Tours
|by mark silva @ flickr.com
As Sydney stretches its lazy arms up north, visitors will come across some of the areas most beautiful beaches and coastlines. Up from Manly to the tip of the Palm Beach peninsula, the area is surrounded by sparkling water. To the east is the Pacific Ocean, the west is flanked by Pittwater and capped at its head is the glistening water of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River.
Following Pittwater Road to Barrenjoey Road, just over 40km will see visitors end up at the intoxicating Palm Beach. Here, water fiends can swim in the ocean beaches or the protected bays of Pittwater. There are plenty of casual and tasteful waterfront restaurants to keep empty bellies full and why not take a stroll around the area to admire the real estate while digesting lunch. Home to some of Sydney’s wealthiest houses, if the sparkling water doesn’t get you gawking – then the properties surely will!
|• Photo’s and National Parks of NSW
|• Sydney Adventures
|by XLerate at en.wikipedia
|by steve caddy @ flickr.com
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
When entering the maze of bushland, cliffs and coves of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, you wouldn’t know you were a short 30km from Sydney’s CBD. Serving as one of the state’s unofficial favourite national parks, Ku-ring-gai Chase took its name from the area’s local Aboriginal trip, Guringai.
It is Australia’s second largest national park and rather than becoming a tourist recreational playground, the land has been used to preserve a sample of Sydney’s original landscape. There are plenty of walks available for those with wondering feet, including the Discovery Walk which provides a geological and ecological summary of the area.
Boasting sensational views of Lion Island, the park can be accessed via the Pacific Highway to Bobbin Head or from Mona Vale Road.
|• Water Falls of NSW, Australia
|by Bjenks @ en.wikipedia.org
With Sydney scorching well into the thirties during the summer months, tourists and locals will appreciate the cooler escape of the Southern Highlands. Located just an hour south of Sydney, the region is home to so many attractions, visitors with time to spend should consider staying for much longer than a day.
The drive to the highlands is a scenic one, through many historic towns and past could be described as an European style backdrop, if it weren’t for the uniquely Australian landscape, flora and fauna popping up every so often. Stop off at Mittagong to visit the Information Centre and collect brochures on the region.
Next stop – Bowral – a quaint old town with plenty of cafes and restaurants to feed hungry travelers. After recouping, follow the Hume Highway until reaching Berrima, where visitors can admire the Georgian buildings dating back to the 1830s.
Further on and away from the main Southern Highlands district is the Fitzroy Falls. Overlooking Yarrunga Creek, the Fitzroy Falls is a perfect stopping point for visitors coming from the Highlands to Kangaroo Valley. While thousands of tourists and locals visit the attraction every year, the falls feel far removed from civil society. There are plenty of bushwalks and lookouts around the area.The water flow is not a guaranteed gushing torrent, however it is a beautiful spot for tourists passing through.
With so much to see and do, there are accommodation options close to the Fitzoy Falls for every budget, including several historic guest houses, bed and breakfasts, backpackers and roadside motels.
Often suprising overseas visitors, Australia does have a short but respectable ski season. The Snowy mountains region includes the Kosciuszko National Park and contains the main ski feilds of Australia. Situated approximately 7 hours drive from Sydney this winter getaway is well within reach of the city making it a great weekend or day trip adventure. Athough it is possible to go there and back in one day we reccommend to stay at least one night, as Apres ski is an extremely important factor on any skiing holiday and you don't want to miss out on this unique and unforgettable atmosphere.
Although the season is quite short by international standards (usually from May to September), there are great facilities in the main centers of Thredbo, Perisher, Smiggins, Guthega and Blue Cow among others, catering for all tastes and skill levels.
Outside the ski season the mountains provide their own special charm with numerous outdoor & adventure activities to fill a touring holiday schedule, from rafting and kayaking to horse riding and hiking. Don't miss the Yarrangobilly Caves located at the northen end of the Kosciuszko National Park, take a guided or self-guided tour through these amazing caves with access to a natural thermal bathing pool. Bombala Platypus Reserve is also a great place to visit and an ideal spot to see a platypus. Either early morning or late afternoon are the best times to spot one of these shy little creatures.
If you are planning a trip to the "Snowies" don't forget to leave a couple of days for the trip back to Sydney to explore the South Coast. Yet another hidden gem blessed with pristine and peaceful beaches, magnificent forests and great fishing.
|• Wineries in NSW
|by Vanessa Pike-Russell @ flickr.com
If you go to Sydney for the food, you come to the Hunter Valley for the drink. Boasting some of the Australia’s best wineries, including Lindermans, the region is home to 25 hectares of internationally recognised plants like topiary trees and the largest rose garden in the southern hemisphere.
Dating back to the 1830s, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine district. The Lower Hunter is near Cessnock and for those with limited time, it is closer to the city and probably serves as a more interesting day tour. Stop off at the visitor information centre to plan your visit, which should include at least one of the 60 wineries. Historic names like Tyrrell’s, Lindermans and McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant are great vineyards to visit, and make sure you organize a driver or tour operator to see you through your stay.
It is about 150km to Cessnock and should be accessed via Warringah Freeway.
|• Photo’s of Canberra
|by Sam Ilic Photography - STAGE88 @ flickr.com
Australia’s official capital, Canberra is 3 hours by car and 4 hours by train from Sydney. The city has so much to offer, including the billion dollar Parliament House, the Mint, the war memorial and museum in remembrance of the legends of Gallipoli, the ANZACs and all other Australian soldiers who have fought and lost their lives in international conflicts. Ideally, visitors to Canberra should spend more than a day here, with the get away just a few hours too far to enjoy all the sights in such a short time.