Sydney enjoys one of the best locations imaginable, and we’re not just talking about that incredible harbour-front positioning.
The city is engulfed by astounding scenery and experiences that ensure it is the perfect platform to enjoy a weekend escape. In fact, a string of magnificent NSW destinations are perfect for a short break from Sydney.
Prepare to be tempted...
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Enjoy a leisure-filled weekend away from Sydney in an area that boasts the largest coastal saltwater lake in the country, combined with easy access to sparkling beaches. While water recreation abounds, Lake Macquarie also has land-based attractions with equal allure.
Best outdoor attraction: That oh-so-versatile lake. Kayak or sail on it, fish in it, or walk or cycle around it. Nearby Caves Beach is not to be missed, either.
Best rainy-day attraction: Indulge your creative side at the Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie.
Underrated attraction: The rainforest-cloaked surrounds of Watagans National Park are spectacular.
Budget tip: Enjoy the facilities of Speers Point Park. It’s particularly appealing for families.
Accommodation: Ingenia Lake Macquarie.
Claiming an enviable patch of land that overlooks spectacular coastline is just one aspect of Kiama’s elevated appeal. This Illawarra region town is also within a stone’s throw of sublime national parks that showcase the astounding natural beauty this country offers.
Best outdoor attraction: The Kiama Blowhole. More entertaining than a circus; more ferocious than a dragon. Little Blowhole is worth a look, too.
Best rainy-day attraction: If the weather spoils your plans, Crooked River Wines at nearby Gerringong will brighten the mood.
Underrated attraction: Budderoo National Park is not exactly radar dodging, but with so much jaw-dropping scenery on display, it deserves more footprints than it receives.
Budget tip: Stroll the Kiama Coast Walk for 22km of awesome scenery. Or picnic near Insta-worthy Cathedral Rocks.
Accommodation: BIG4 Easts Beach.
Goulburn is billed as the first inland city in Australia and tangible signs of its rich history are scattered throughout. Many of Goulburn’s leading attractions are heritage based, including the unmissable Big Merino (FYI, there's more to see than just a giant sheep). The laidback vibe makes this spot the ideal location for a weekend getaway from Sydney.
Best outdoor attraction: You can’t go past the views from Rocky Hill Lookout on a sunny day (it's also a war memorial with a museum), followed by a picnic in Belmore Park.
Best rainy-day attraction: The Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum has more than meets the eye with a beautiful setting.
Underrated attraction: There's plenty to explore at the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre (limited opening hours apply).
Budget tip: Spot all sorts of colourful and quirky creations on the Public Art trail.
Accommodation: BIG4 Governor's Hill.
Go nuts with aquatic-based play in an area where water is the key focus. Port Stephens is concentrated around a humungous bay and boasts a bevy of beautiful beaches as well as inviting inlets. But there’s so much more in this sub-region – part of the wider North Coast district – that includes bushland, sand dunes, and entertaining indoor attractions.
Best outdoor attraction: A visit to Worimi Conservation Lands (Stockton sand dunes) is highly recommended.
Best rainy-day attraction: Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters. Enthralling, all-age entertainment.
Underrated attraction: Fighter World museum at nearby Newcastle Airport has a brilliant range of aircraft to view.
Budget tip: Burn calories and not cash along the sensational Tomaree Head Summit walk.
Spend a bit longer on the road, and many alluring destinations with BIG4 parks await. The following places are all roughly within a 3.5hr drive of Sydney.
While the small mid-north coast town is spotted marginally inland, water is ever-present. Bulahdelah is set along the Myall River and within striking distance of mammoth Myall Lakes. Predictably, assorted aquatic activity is strongly encouraged in these parts, although there’s plenty to explore on dry ground, too.
Accommodation: BIG4 River Myall.
This sleepy hamlet is tucked away on the state’s south coast, just beyond Ulladulla, and is prime for a city escape. Relax with ease or explore a succession of beautiful beaches, fringing national park, and more.
Accommodation: BIG4 Tasman – Racecourse Beach.
Escape it all and feel relaxed in no time with a visit to Hallidays Point. This quiet village is perched on the sparkling NSW mid-north coast and offers easy access to beautiful beaches that come minus the crowds. Warning: a few days here will likely not be enough.
Accommodation: BIG4 Happy Hallidays.
Spotted where the Manning River meets the sea within the prized North Coast NSW region, this historical village has the ability to put visitors into relaxation mode with utmost ease.
Accommodation: BIG4 Colonial.
Small town, big appeal. Lake Conjola township occupies a fabulous vantage point on the edge of the lake of the same name, complete with the easiest of access to beaches overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. This NSW South Coast hotspot mixes a plethora of water-based fun with rewarding walks through neighbouring national park and nature reserves.
Accommodation: BIG4 Ingenia Lake Conjola.
At the heart of the Central West NSW region, the charming town and celebrated wine district has 'memorable weekender' written all over it. Enticing cellar doors and first-rate restaurants blend with engaging family-friendly attractions and plenty else.
Accommodation: BIG4 Mudgee.
The quiet village is spotted just south of Harrington at the base of a narrow spit, meaning there’s ample and easy opportunity to indulge in all manner of water-based recreation. An extra night is calling…
Accommodation: BIG4 Ocean Shores.