18 December 2019 by Eleanor Kania
While our holidays to Sydney and its surrounds have traditionally been full-blown, flight-inclusive affairs, in recent times my clients have also been seeking out shorter experiences, offering an in-depth appreciation of a region over just a few action-packed days. It’s the perfect way to truly tailor-make your Australian adventure, whether that’s a two-week holiday or part of a longer break staying with friends or family. To help get you started, I have picked out five of these “bolt-on” itineraries, all departing from Sydney. There’s everything from rail trips to self-drives, taking in some of my favourite corners of New South Wales.
Coastal Glamping in Jervis Bay
This ultra-scenic road trip brings you out along the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney to Jervis Bay for a unique glamping experience at Paperbark Camp. You’ll stay in a Deluxe safari tent, complete with a private open-air en suite and wraparound deck to immerse you in the surrounding bushland. As well as exploring well-trodden trails through the bush and relaxing on Jervis Bay’s pristine white sand beaches, there’s also an included Dolphin Cruise, taking you out into the bay to see pods of resident bottlenose dolphins. And every evening in the centre of camp, The Gunyah restaurant serves delicious regional dishes and drinks among the treetops – it’s certainly an upgrade from the usual campfire barbecue.
Blue Mountains Discovery
Part small-group tour, part independent journey, this three-day itinerary is the perfect add-on to a stay in Sydney. In the company of an expert guide and your fellow travellers, you’ll wind your way through rural New South Wales to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, pausing at scenic lookouts along the way. You’ll then spend a full day exploring at your own pace, perhaps enjoying a hike, seeking out local wildlife or chilling out by the infinity pool of your luxury hotel. Award-winning restaurants and bars serve up the very best in regional food and fine wines, while an onsite spa offers indulgent treatments to help you truly unwind. It’s then time to rejoin your group for a guided journey back to Sydney.
Hunter Valley By Train
This itinerary begins with a journey on the express train from Sydney to the spectacular Hunter Valley Resort. Located in the heart of Australia’s oldest wine region, surrounded by 70 acres of gardens and vineyards, the resort offers an enchanting escape from the bustle of the city, despite being only two hours away. During your stay, you’ll experience a unique wine theatre experience, taste world-class vintages and, if you like, add on activities such as horseback riding and Segway touring. My tip? Book a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards – there’s no better way to take in one of New South Wales’ prettiest regions.
Sydney Insider: City Sights
If you're seeking something a little bit different, this itinerary showcases a different side of the city – one the locals know best. You'll stay in a boutique property in the heart of Surry Hills, one of Sydney's hippest neighbourhoods, surrounded by charming cafes and trendy bars. Each day, unique tours such as a boat trip past the Harbour landmarks to a hidden beach, and a guided bike tour of the highlights, help you get acquainted with the city. While tasting regional ales at a classic Aussie pub or sipping wine on your hotel's rooftop terrace, you'll feel like a true Sydneysider.
New South Wales: Mountains and Beaches in Style
This is the most exclusive itinerary on the list, featuring three of New South Wales's most luxurious lodges. Pretty Beach House, your first stop, is set on the Bouddi Peninsula, just above the water with stunning views across the bay. You'll spend your time here soaking in your private plunge pool and making use of the included mountain bikes to explore the local trails. In the Blue Mountains, you'll stay in a Heritage Villa at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley and indulge in multi-course feasts with regional wines after days spent among the horses or walking to viewpoints looking out across the peaks. And, you'll round it off with a stay at Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, a sub-tropical World Heritage listed island known for its sparkling waters, colourful reef, unique wildlife and pristine beaches.
Of course, alongside these shorter breaks, we also offer a range of flight-inclusive holidays, perfect for exploring more of New South Wales in one go. I’ve selected my favourite below, which brings together the highlights of the east coast in one epic self-drive. With flights from the UK included, it encompasses everything from the magic of the Blue Mountains to laid-back Byron Bay.
Australia's East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay
The road from Sydney to Brisbane is well-travelled, and for very good reason. A mix of golden beaches, sprawling vineyards and rugged hinterland paint perhaps the ultimate portrait of the country’s celebrated outdoor lifestyle. After exploring the many delights of Sydney, from the iconic Sydney Opera House to its relaxed seaside neighbourhoods, head into the wilderness to explore the spectacular Blue Mountains, taste your way around the award-winning wineries of the Hunter Valley and take in the charms of pretty coastal towns such as Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay. It’s all accompanied by included car hire and stays in hotels handpicked for their outstanding locations.