With international travel still put on hold and Tourism Australia imploring residents to “holiday here this year”, what better time than now to hit the road and explore your own backyard? Sydneysiders looking to escape the grind of urban life have a wealth of options awaiting them – from epic multi-day trips to quick weekend getaways, there’s something for every type of road tripper.
If you’re short on time… Moss Vale
You don’t have to venture far to come up against scenes of spectacular beauty. Starting your trip on Taronga Road, make your way to the scenic Nepean Dam where you can stop for a picnic and some photos before continuing on through the Southern Highlands’ lush rainforests and resplendent valleys. The Southern Highlands has tons of heritage towns ripe for exploration. It is also known for being stuffed with plenty of antique treasures so if you’re a vintage lover, be sure to pull over and poke around the many antique shops in the area. After a quick coffee break, drive for another 15 minutes or so before you hit Moss Vale, home to bucolic farmlands, expansive vineyards and picture-perfect gardens. The whole journey from Taronga to Moss Vale, if you choose not to stop, takes just 90 minutes.
If you’re longing for expansive coastal views… Grand Pacific Drive
Often touted as one of Australia’s most beautiful road trip routes, this drive combines the best of land and sea – from the sweeping wilderness of the Royal National Park to the wild and rugged coast. Your journey depends on how much time you have. If you’re pressed for time, you can drive through the 140km route, slowing down only to marvel at the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, a 665m-long curved portion of the highway that wraps around the steep slope and stretches toward the Pacific Ocean.
For those with a bit more flexibility in their schedule, make time to stop at laid-back seaside towns such as Austinmer or Thirroul for some local grub before heading on to Wollongong, a vibrant coastal city jam-packed with trendy art galleries and funky restaurants. From Wollongong, it’s a 30-minute drive to the famous Kiama Blowhole, a natural rock formation where seawater shoots through and upwards, sometimes up to 20m in the air. Stay the night in Kiama town or make your way back to Sydney – just two hours away.
If you’re looking for an idyllic drive… Greater Blue Mountains Drive
For those who prefer exploring the hinterlands of New South Wales, this epic journey should be on your list. The entire area comprises some 1,200km of major connecting roads that will take you through rugged backroads, spectacular landscapes and mountains and valleys. Whether you explore part of the drive in short trips or take time for an extended tour, you’ll surely appreciate the myriad experiences that this beautiful region has to offer. Many road trippers head to Katoomba (90 minutes from Sydney), where you have the option of hopping on a railway, cable car, skyway or walkway for views of the famous Three Sisters rock formation.
From Katoomba, there is a 7km stretch of road to the Valley of the Waters, where you meander through scenic cliff-tops packed with Instagram-worthy lookout points and tranquil walking paths. History buffs will love Jenolan, located about an hour from Katoonba, where you’ll find ancient calcite formations and marine fossils in the spectacular Jenolan Caves. Don’t miss Kanangra, a small town about 45 minutes away that acts as the perfect base to explore the pastoral beauty of the Kanangra-Boyd region.
If you are raring for some adventure… Sydney to Snowy Mountains
Heed the call of the wild with this journey that takes you through the picturesque valleys, river plains and mountain peaks of the Snowy Mountains, known colloquially as “The Snowies”. Located about 490km from Sydney, be sure to pack equipment for fly-fishing as you can enjoy year-round fishing in the pristine lakes of the Snowy Mountains. If you’re travelling with young children, you’ll love the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre, where they can check out interactive exhibits on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, a hydroelectricity and irrigation complex in south-east Australia that’s on the Australian National Heritage List. To work off any pent-up energy, get them to jump on the “power bikes” and see if they can peddle hard enough to power an Xbox. The Scheme is located within the Kosciuszko National Park, home to the eponymous mountain where you can explore walking trails of varying levels of difficulty, check out scenic falls and native species, and stay overnight at the many campsites.
If you are hungry for a gourmet journey… Tablelands Food and Wine Trail
For those who travel in search of good food, this is the road trip for you. Strap in and get ready for a five-day epicurean journey that takes you through wineries, boutique producers, farm stops and acclaimed restaurants in the Yass Valley, Hilltops region and NSW Southern Tablelands. Highlights of the trip include Gundaroo, a charming National Trust-classified village where you’ll find several cool-climate wineries; Murrumbateman, a former mining town that is now home to small-batch producers that offer everything from artisanal chocolates to smoked bushmeat; and the historic rural village of Bungendore, where you can wend your way through bustling markets, take part in a cooking class at Le Tres Bon Restaurant and Cooking School followed by a sumptuous feast of classic French dishes. In between all the eating, stop by the many art galleries along the way where you can pick up contemporary art pieces from local artists.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For updated information, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
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