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Finding fame with its oyster farming scene, this seaside city has given birth to a wealth of seafood restaurants enticing enough to attract weekend trippers from the big city. Snorkellers will love the otherworldly depths of its beaches, which are luminescent with reefs and fish. On land, the expanse of wild bush punctures foamy tide, offering an endless stretch of nature to explore on both sides. At the day’s end, get some rest in this modern two-bedroom apartment and dream about doing it all again the next day.
Floating away from the hum of the crowds, this kayak tour takes you to some uncharted nooks and crannies along the coastline. Keep an eye on the horizon for the looming arch of a migrating whale’s back, while your guide teaches you about the surrounding environment and the diverse marine life below the surface. Take a break with home-made cake and fruit on a secluded beach – only accessible by water, you can swim or snorkel, while thrill-seekers will be kept occupied jumping from the towering rocks.
An enduring harbour city built on the bones of a steel town, Newcastle’s storied past is reflected in its 19th-century architecture and historic sites such as the Convict Lumber Yard. Just a two-hour drive from Sydney, the city is rife with eccentric coffee shops that pair seamlessly with the chilled vibes of its many beaches. Matthew Mcconaughey’s Surfer Dude would feel right at home on the sands of Merewether, which is the annual location of Australia’s largest surf festival. If you’re travelling as a couple, this romantic hideaway – complete with a sea-facing balcony – is the perfect place to watch the sunrise in the morning.
Set sail on this whale-spotting eco-tourism cruise to encounter creatures rarely glimpsed and learn something new about their natural behaviours. An experienced helmsman will take care of traversing tranquil or choppy waters, so you can confidently keep your eyes glued on the ocean’s rippling surface, looking for the shadow of the elusive gentle giants. Meanwhile, a witty seafaring guide will provide an informative soundtrack to the experience. Along the way you may be visited by inquisitive dolphins, seals or birds, which love to play in the foamy tracks of the boat.
Hunter Valley’s cascade of hills is lined with rows of gnarled trees sprouting twisting vines – the sign of a flourishing wine industry. Its viticultural roots date all the way back to the early 1800s, when its proximity to Sydney helped fuel the trade (particularly with Semillon and Shiraz). A blend of family-owned and world-class wineries, the area offers up an array of tours sure to please any palate. If you’re travelling as a group, push the boat out with a stay at this luxury bungalow in Cessnock – you’ll have your very own pool in which to cool off after a day of exploring the region.
Wine enthusiasts will be in their element on this tour, which dives into its history and production process. A self-guided tour of the in-house Audrey Wilkinson Museum lays the foundations, so you’ll feel a little more in-the-know when it comes to the masterclass on wine tasting. Teaching you about tasting notes and introducing a rich range of varietals to sip on, you’ll be well informed when you leave (and most likely slightly inebriated). To complement the boozy buzz, head out for a vineyard picnic with a bottle of hand-picked wine and gourmet hamper.
Tinged with a cosmic-blue hue when spied from afar, the Blue Mountains appear like a Bob Ross painting brought to life. The never-ending eucalyptus trees stretch into the horizon, hiding native wildlife, twisting trails and spellbinding underground glow worm caves. Watching over the land is the famous Three Sisters rock formation – Aboriginal legend has it that they were three beautiful sisters turned to stone by a village elder. Stay close to the heart of this stunning national park with a stay at this cosy eco cabin on the edge of the Kanimbla Valley – there’s a balcony for dining al fresco and a wood fire to keep you warm during winter.
Wake up at the crack of dawn to wander into the dense wilderness of the Blue Mountains. The full-day hike ventures away from well-trodden paths and down through Wentworth Falls, a rust-coloured cliff hammered by a colossal waterfall. From here, you’ll tread carefully down the tallest outdoor staircase in Australia and into the craggy bowl of Jamison Valley for lunch and something refreshing from the conservation hut. Along the way your guide will enlighten you on the UNESCO World Heritage site’s diverse plants and native wildlife.
Dig your toes into the whitest sand in the world and gaze out over the postcard-worthy haven of Jervis Bay. Sitting on the south coast of New South Wales, this idyllic spot seems to be torn from the set of Castaway (but with much better connections to civilisation). The clear waters and two national parks are alive with chattering wildlife, while the area is also fringed by numerous villages and sea-inspired eateries. With space for up to four people, this waterfront studio apartment boasts spectacular views over Jervis Bay.
Go and visit the region’s most spirited residents on this bucket list-worthy dolphin cruise. Nearly 100 bottlenose dolphins frolic in the waters of Jervis Bay, and this tour takes you up close to their natural playground, giving you a front-row seat to the creatures swimming and jumping around the boat. The specially designed catamaran spoils you with five viewing points to witness their aquatic antics and sticks to an ethical distance that won’t invade their natural habitat. As you cut through the marbled blue-green ocean a guide will narrate the voyage, providing an insight into the marine park’s thriving ecosystem and the wildlife that lives among its labyrinthine reefs.