Did you think Sydney was amazing? This entire area of Australia has stunning natural beauty and is rich in Aboriginal and colonial history. There’s even some Australian wildlife you can spot. It’s also easily accessible from Sydney by day. Do yourself a favor and get out of Sydney while you are there.
Blue Mountains is a paradise for walkers, with its spectacular bush-covered vistas as well as hidden valleys filled with ancient forests. The Hawkesbury River Region and Sydney’s South Royal National Park offer stunning walking opportunities with breathtaking views. North of Sydney, the Central Coast is home to uncrowded beaches and inlets full of seabirds. The Hunter Valley has a wealth of vineyards, chocolate, and cheese producers.
A fine mist of oil from huge eucalypts gives Blue Mountains, World Heritage listed, their cool name. The dense canopy of these trees covers a vast landscape that includes deep valleys, and sometimes inaccessible, sandstone outcrops, and creates a beautiful backdrop. From 65 km inland, the foothills are found on a plateau of 1100m high sandstone dotted with valleys cut into the rock.
The region has eight conservation areas that are connected. These include incredible waterfalls and rainforests, excellent hiking trails of various lengths and an opportunity to learn more about the Aboriginal history. It is home to the Gundungurra and Darug peoples. Three of the most well-known areas for bushwalking are the Jamison Valley south of Katoomba and the Grose Valley north of Blackheath. The Wentworth Falls is also a popular area. The Grand Canyon Walk and Giant Stairway are two of the most popular options. You can book your tour from Katoomba by most of the operators. However, there is a lot to choose from so make sure you shop around. You should bring warm clothing as the hills can get quite cool all year.
Royal National Park
Royal National Park is located to Sydney’s South along the Coast. It protects 15,091 ha over 32 km of stunning coast. The park was also declared as the second oldest national park in the world, in 1879. The park also protects the secluded beaches of wilderness, salt marshes and forests, as well as an array of Australian wildlife, including wallabies and lyrebirds. It is home to large flocks of yellow-tailed cockatoos.
The park offers many walks. You can start with the 26km Coast Track. However, if you are only on a short trip to the park, it is possible to do shorter trails. You can find more information about walking and maps on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services site.
Through honeycomb-coloured cliffs and historic towns, the majestic Hawkesbury River runs to the ocean and flows into tranquil bays and inlets. The river passes through several national parks including Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It was established in 1894 by the Guringai, who were its original inhabitants. Through the preservation of over 800 sites including cave art, rock paintings and middens, remnants of precolonial Aboriginal life can still be seen today. Visit the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service information center at Bobbin Head for information on Ku-ring Gai, as well as walks in the region. You will also find a boat dock, picnic area, cafe, and boardwalk through the mangroves.
Further inland is the riverside town of Wisemans Ferry, which spills into the Hawkesbury River’s bow. Another great spot for accessing the Hawkesbury is this location. It also has a rich natural environment that’s home to birdlife like sea eagles and kookaburras. You can still see remnants from the Great North Road that convicts built to connect Sydney and the Hunter Valley. It is now listed on Unesco’s Australian Convict Sites World Heritage list. You can also book a kayaking trip and enjoy the waterway. If you’re able to, consider renting a boat for your holiday.
Between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast includes beautiful beaches and large stretches of national park. It also features a number of saltwater lagoons and inlets. The southern tip of the Central Coast, near Ettalong is accessible by ferry from Sydney’s Palm Beach. The attractive Killcare Beach, Pearl Beach, and Bouddi National Park are located on the northern side of the Hawkesbury.
You’ll also need to rent a car. There are numerous great spots for a day trip north from Newcastle. These include The Entrance, which is pelican infested, and the deep, tranquil Lake Macquarie. Terrigal and Avoca are two popular spots to stop off on the road.
Newcastle, a more industrial area is home to a mix of historical architecture and secluded beaches. The Bogey Hole, a convict-carved ocean bath located south of Newcastle Beach is Australia’s oldest. When the waves are crashing on its shore, it’s quite a place to relax and splash around in. Bar Beach is the most popular spot for surfing, while Merewether Beach is a little further to the south. Merewether boasts its own huge ocean baths.
This verdant valley is dotted with picturesque roads. But, a country drive shouldn’t be the only reason you visit. The Hunter Valley, located two hours away from Sydney is Australia’s oldest wine area. It has vines that date back to the 1860s. This is the ideal spot to take a day trip to Sydney and enjoy fine wine, delicious gourmet restaurants, boutique beers, chocolate, cheese, olives… you name it. You can also go hot-air ballooning from this spot while you’re in Australia.
Most Australians will recognize some of the most prominent names in new-world wines including semillon and shiraz. There are 150 wineries in the valley, ranging from family-run small businesses to large commercial enterprises. Many offer tastings at the cellar doors for free, or a nominal fee. The Hunter Valley visitor center has a free map that you can use to find small producers.
There are many winery tours that can be arranged if you don’t want to drink. These range from simple hop-on, hop-off transportation between wineries, to gourmet excursions on horseback, or in classic cars.
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Publiated at Sun, 25 July 2021 12:01.19 +0000