Our Travel Experts Share Their Best Kept Local Secrets: NSW
REGIONAL NEW SOUTH WALES
As the heart of the NSW tourism scene, Sydney frequently features in most popular holiday destination lists worldwide - and rightly so.
But with travel restrictions and social distancing measures still in place, heading out of town (for those permitted to do so) to explore somewhere a little less packed and off the beaten path certainly holds a great appeal right now.
We asked some of our Sydney based Travel Managers to share with us their favourite local haunts to get away to on a weekend. Read on for inspiration into some of our best kept secrets, and all under 4 hours drive from the Sydney CBD.
Why not get in touch with us and let one of our Travel Experts to plan and book your next local COVIDsafe getaway? Be it a weekend away or regional road trip - we've got you covered!
Such a well-kept secret that it’s not even listed on Trip Advisor, Blue Bay is about 100km North of Sydney. This peaceful beachside town boasts friendly people, great food and restaurants, and amazing beaches.
One of Stephen Perry’s favourite locations for a quiet getaway with the family, a beach walk around the point from the Entrance to the private beach at Blue Bay is an absolute must when visiting.
Where to eat: Stephen recommends the pier for a seafood lunch, and also Ocean Restaurant Blue Bay which is a lovely place to enjoy a meal with spectacular views of the water.
Where to stay: Ocean Front Motel at the Entrance.
A little further on from Newcastle, Forster is perfect for those looking to enjoy the outdoors. The stunning waterways allow visitors to enjoy everything from fishing and surfing to dolphin spotting cruises and scuba diving. Even your four-legged friends will enjoy the fresh air and laid-back atmosphere, as Jonathon Tas knows from experience.
"It’s a good drive, and from Sydney its a little bit further than the Central Coast where all the Sydney weekenders go to their beachouses, so it’s less pretentious."
Pack a picnic, and head to Gregory Reserve, where in most tides you can swim over to a sand island, or hire a dingy to explore the islands in the river.
Where to eat: your own park BBQ, a low key fish & chips, or a Chinese takeout from 'The Happy Garden' after a big day on the water.
Where to stay: The Dorsal Boutique offers beach views from every room so is the perfect choice to enjoy the view.
Pictured: Jonathon's pal "Santana" enjoying the scenery in Forster
A foodie’s paradise, Orange is worth the 3.5 hour drive west of Sydney at any time of year, with each season bringing a new perspective. Carmen Nunn highly recommends taking the scenic route from Sydney via the “Bells Line Of Road” as you can stop in at Bilpin for an apple pie and cider tasting (pictured below is Hillbilly Cider). You’ll be doing your bit to stimulate the local economy after the devastation of this year’s bushfires. The quaint town of Milthorpe, just a short distance outside of Orange, is also worth a detour.
Wine tastings are an especially popular pastime in Orange, with a lot of interesting flavours being produced by boutique vineyards – an ideal destination for those looking to discover something new.
“Wine tours by Orange Wine Tours is a fantastic way to get around and check out the incredible wineries without worrying about how much you've had to drink. Ferment in town is a great cellar door for the wineries of the region without a cellar door, and it turns into a bar after the last tastings are done. You won’t be disappointed!”
Social distancing is well and truly prevalent throughout the region so Carmen advises booking ahead for any meals or tastings, with cellar doors limiting the number of visitors.
Where to eat: The Beekeepers Inn on the way between Bathurst & Orange is a really cute cafe with loads of honey to sell and delicious food, and The Agrestic Grocer in Orange is a fantastic brunch spot with the benefits of local produce & locally produced food.
Where to drink: Slow Wine Co in Millthorpe has some great wines on offer and Brangayne of Orange has a lovely story to go with their wine tastings. Hiefer Station has a gorgeous cellar door, and a great space for the kids to run around if they are joining you on the adventure.
Where to stay: Mercure Orange is very central, walking distance to the high street, local bars and restaurants. There are also a number of wineries with accommodation if you want to stay among the vines.