Top 10 Quick Getaways in New South Wales

In need of some ideas for a family weekend escape? If you’re short on time, look no further than nearby NSW. Whether your idea of a perfect quick getaway includes mountains, bush hiking, sandy beaches, charming small towns or a bit of everything, there is so much beauty and adventure to see and explore just a stone’s throw away from the city grind. To help you narrow it down, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 destinations no more than a few hours away from Sydney.

1. The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

Distance: 100 km – 1 hour and 30 minutes to Echo Point

Talk about outside your doorstep. The Blue Mountains is not only a must-see for visitors to Sydney as a world heritage site, famous for the Three Sisters (best seen from the Echo Point lookout). Just 50 km west from the city to the foot of Blue Mountains National Park, lies a vast region of endless, awe-inspiring scenery for locals to explore and return to time and time again.

The landscape is made up of rugged valleys, ancient sandstone rock formations, lush eucalyptus forest trails and waterfalls. There is also plenty to soak up and enjoy from shops, restaurants, cafes, luxury hotels and retreats in the region’s historic towns, including Katoomba, Leura, Blackheath and Lithgow.

Scenic World in Katoomba is a great place to start for some family fun, riding the world’s steepest passenger train on the Scenic Railway, down to the rainforest floor. For more wonders further out, take a guided tour through the spectacular Jenolan Caves, the oldest and largest cave system in Australia.

2. Bowral and Berrima

Bowral and Berrima

Distance: 118 km – 1 hour and 30 minutes

Head down to the Southern Highlands to these idyllic historic towns just 10 minutes apart, surrounded by a countryside backdrop of green pastures and rolling hills. As a wine and good region, there is plenty of tasting and local fare to be had at over 63 vineyards and 17 cellar doors, and from many unique cafes, hearty pubs and award-winning restaurants.

As the region’s commercial centre, the pretty streets of Bowral are dotted with interesting shops and eclectic antique markets. The town is most well-known for its annual Tulip Festival in the Spring and a destination for cricket fans as the birthplace of Donald Bradman, visiting the Bradman Museum and International Hall of Cricket Fame.

For the kids (and your inner child), be sure to stop by the Lolly Swagman in Berrima for a huge range of traditional and modern lollies and treats from all over the world. Walk off that sugar high along Berrima River Walk, a gorgeous and tranquil trail commemorating the history of the German Internment Camp from WWI.

3. Kiama

Kiama

Distance: 123 km – 2 hours

Be blown away by this beautiful seaside town on the South Coast, a favourite for surfers and families looking for a laidback beach holiday. Kiama is most well known for the spectacle of the Kiama Blowhole right beside the lighthouse, a seaside rock formation formed by lava flows that can spout water up to 25 metres high. You’ll also find some of the state’s best ocean pools and a stunning 20 km coastal trail between Minamurra and Werri Beach.

For more adventure with the kids, drive over 15 minutes to Jamberoo Action Park for water slides, thrilling rides, and play areas, as well as shallow pools and mini slides at Billabong Beach for the little ones to enjoy.

4. Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley

Distance: 155 km – 2 hours and 10 minutes

This uniquely quaint valley town of historic buildings and weatherboard cottages is a perfect stay for adventurers. Located in the Shoalhaven region, Kangaroo Valley is enclosed amid stunning cliffs, rainforests and countryside. With the Kangaroo River running through it, kayaking is one of the easiest and best ways to explore the local area. Most kayak and canoe rental companies start at Hampden Bridge, where you can opt for an independent or guided tour.

Only a 17-minute drive north is Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park, a must-see natural wonder of the Southern Highlands. The Lookout provides stunning views of the sandstone cliffs and 100m waterfall on an elevated boardwalk. Enjoy more panoramic views and wildlife sightings along the West Rim or East Rim walking tracks.

5. Berry

Berry

Distance: 144 km – 2 hours and 15 minutes

For Sydney weekend escapes, we could never forget to mention Berry, tucked away in the Shoalhaven region and loaded with quintessential small-town charm. Berry is a foodie haven and a popular escape for gourmet lovers and families. Enjoy top dining experiences at South On Albany or Queen Street Eatery, or satisfy your sweet tooth at local institutions like Berry Donut Van and The Berry Tea Shop.

It is also a shopper’s paradise, where you can find one-of-a-kind treasures from boutiques, antique and collectible stores, or handmade goods at The Berry Markets (also known as Country Fair), open every first Sunday of the month.

Berry is also near to some great beaches and nature walks throughout Seven Mile Beach National Park. For a moderate to challenging hike, head to Drawing Room Rocks for breathtaking views above sandstone rocks overlooking the town.

6. Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Distance: 200 km – 3 hours

Known for having the whitest sand in the world, Jervis Bay on the South Coast is a paradise of crystal blue waters for relaxing or enjoying water activities, drawing in crowds of Sydneysiders during the Summer Holidays.

While Hyams Beach is the most well-known for its snow-white sand, there are incredible white beaches all along the bay, including Murrays Beach in Booderee National Park. Be sure to also check out Aboriginal-owned Booderee Botanic Gardens for beautiful walking trails and to learn about how the Koori people care for local country.

Another popular beach is Huskisson Beach, right by the town, where the family can enjoy diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, and fishing. You can also book a spot on a dolphin or whale-watching cruise, to get up close to the abundant marine life in the region.

7. Port Stephens

Port Stephens

Distance: 216 km – 2 hours and 30 minutes

Just past Newcastle along the North Coast is the region of Port Stephens, famous for its resident bottlenose dolphins, aquamarine beaches, and rolling sand dunes. Nelson Bay is the main port and town, where you’ll depart for a dolphin or whale-watching cruise. For hiking in the area, Tomaree Head is a relatively steep but short trail that offers incredible, jaw-dropping summit views.

The adventures don’t stop at the shore. Along with water sports, the family can enjoy sandboarding, quad biking, 4WD, horse or camel-riding adventures at the incredible sand dunes in the Aboriginal-owned Worimi Conservation Lands — the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.

For dads into craft beer, be sure to stop at B Farm by Murray’s, home of Murray’s Craft Brewing Co — a local institution. Along with the beer garden, the property also includes a cellar door, farm-to-table dining, and a picnic area for the whole family to spread out.

8. Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

Distance: 251 km – 3 hours and 15 minutes

Known as one of Australia’s preeminent wine destinations, Hunter Valley is equally a foodie paradise and destination for family fun. While almost every one of the numerous wineries offers tastings, you’ll find the most famous vineyards and cellar doors in Pokolbin, including Tyrell’s, McGuigan’s, and Brokenwood (the largest cellar door in the valley).

Many wineries are also family-friendly. At Tulloch Wines, little ones can enjoy a Junior Tasting Experience of five snacks paired with non-alcoholic drinks, and Whispering Brook in Broke features a cubby house sandpit. Among many delicious options for daytime cafes and eateries, are also some of NSW’s best fine dining restaurants, including two-hatted Muse Restaurant and Margan Restaurant.

Horse riding or biking are ideal activities for families visiting the Hunter Valley. For adventures on horseback, Hunter Valley Horse Riding in Rothbury caters to all levels of experience. On wheels, check out Deadmans mountain bike loop, an easy 8 km ride in Werakata National Park.

9. Mollymook and Ulladulla

Mollymook and Ulladulla

Distance: 230 km – 3 hours and 15 minutes

For a seaside holiday with a touch of luxury, head further down the South Coast to Mollymook and Ulladulla. These beach towns are known for some great surf beaches, coastal walks and seafood offerings. Mollymook Beach stretches from the north at Bannisters Point to Mollymook Golf Club at the southern tip, which features a large natural rock pool great for swimming and snorkelling. If you and the family are keen you can also learn to surf with the Mollymook Beach Surf School.

The Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk along Ulladulla’s harbour is best enjoyed on the guided tour, where the family can learn about the many sightings of sharply preserved fossils as old as 270 million years. As a historic fishing town, Ulladulla is where you can go to enjoy freshly caught seafood from local restaurants and fish shops by the harbour. For fine dining, head back to Mollymook and treat yourself to the renowned Rick Stein at Bannisters.

10. Forster

Forster

Distance: 308 km – 3 hours and 30 minutes
Situated among the Great Lakes on the Barrington Coast, the laidback town of Forster is a popular destination for all kinds of water activities and adventures. Think of just about anything, from boating, fishing, paddling, sailboarding, scuba diving, dolphin and whale watching, to even diving with grey nurse sharks with Dive Forster.

Forster is home to beautiful beaches for surfing and relaxation, stretching along the coastline from their main beach (Forster Beach) to Boomerang Beach at Pacific Palms. Explore the beaches, coastal rainforest and walking tracks at beautiful Booti Booti National Park — a popular spot for those keen on overnight camping.

Enjoy freshly shucked Sydney Rock Oysters or hearty fish and chips along the Wallis Lake wharf from any number of suppliers and fish and chips shops, including Beach Street Seafood. If you’re a dad who likes a good craft beer, check out Coastal Brewing Company, a local family-owned microbrewery where you can enjoy a tasting paddle of their regular rotating beers.