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Weekend getaways from Sydney: 11 of the best short breaks you can take

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One of the biggest lessons we’re learning in 2020 is how quickly the world can change and how adaptable we are.

After getting used to staying home and accepting that we may not be able to travel for a very long time, here in Australia we are starting to be allowed out to play, and I’ll admit it feels a little strange.

When I published a story about the best Byron Bay retreats last week we had no way of knowing when we could travel again. A few hours later word came through that it would be sooner than expected, and those of us living in NSW would be able to travel as far as we wanted around the state from the 1st of June.

While I’m sure lots of Sydney siders will be dreaming of heading up to Byron I also know that after being cooped up at home for so long we’ll want to take a quick trip as soon as we can. So now it’s time to share a whole lot of awesome weekend getaways Sydney folks can easily enjoy with next to no notice. And to help you make the most of your time at the destination, they’re all under three hours drive away.

As I’m writing this New South Wales is still preparing to slowly reopen, and some places will be welcoming people before others. While we’re in this transition period it’s best to check if somewhere is open before you go, and don’t forget that even though we’re being let out of the house we still need to respect social distancing while we’re out and about.

But now that we can start making short break travel plans again here are eleven of the best Sydney weekend escapes.

A weekend getaway Sydney road trip lovers will enjoy - Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton, image Destination NSW
Hit the scenic highway along Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton, image Destination NSW

Kiama

If you’re ready to stretch your legs on one of the best walking trails in Australia head on down to the Kiama Coast Walk. This 22km walk combines stunning beaches, ancient rock formations and sweeping views, with that famous blowhole and its little sister in the mix.

Keep an eye out for humpback whales putting on a show. From May to November tens of thousands of whales make their way up and down the coast and you don’t need to head out in a boat to see them breaching or slapping their tails.

On Sundays you can go all the way to Kiama and back for $2.80 on your Opal Card but better yet, make a proper weekend of it. If you’re driving you’ll also get to cross the Sea Cliff Bridge as you make your way down the Grand Pacific Drive. 

Kiama Blowhole, image Dee Kramer

Stay  

The latest addition to the hotel scene, the Nova Kiama opened in late 2019 just 250m from Surf Beach. This boutique hotel has 32 rooms, ranging from singles to executive apartments and is built around a central courtyard with an outdoor swimming pool.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stay in a tiny house, the LH @ LBH (Little House @ Little Blow Hole) is ready and waiting for you. There’s a tiny patio to sit on as you take in the big sea views, and it’s only seven houses away from the Little Blow Hole, which is usually more active than its bigger sister.

Little House at Little Blowhole Kiama

If you’re travelling with more than one other person and need something bigger, Bathers at the Beach is a three-bedroom house that sleeps up to six and has beach views and a BBQ on the balcony to cook over with a beer in hand.

Taste

Then again, as much as BBQs in your holiday home are fun, there are so many great cafes and restaurants to try in Kiama you might want to put your tongs down.

Mention Kiama to foodie friends and they’re bound to start talking about Otis. This café-deli is the creation of Emily Herbert who spent the last four years as head chef at Ottolenghi Belgravia, which has a cult following in London. The menu is constantly changing but expect fresh Middle Eastern flavours with local ingredients and always save room for one of their Portuguese tarts.

For modern Australian you may want to book ahead to guarantee a spot at Silica, where you can dine on locally sourced and home grown ingredients as you look out over Surf Beach. Or if you miss your spot in the restaurant grab some fish and chips from their take-away menu and head down for a bite on the beach.

And a locals’ favourite Hanoi on Manning is a family owned and operated Vietnamese restaurant serving up traditional and modern takes on Vietnamese dishes with the freshest of ingredients.

Make time to

Indulge in some pottering around the shops. Pop into local boutique stores including My Room Kiama, The Retro Room, Deer Willow and Sincerely Summer for homewares, art and a wearable souvenir or three.

Bowral

This Southern Highlands gem is only around 120km southwest of Sydney and can take less than 120 seconds to make you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all.

Life moves at a slower, gentler pace in Bowral where beautiful old country style buildings are surrounded by pretty valleys and rolling hills.

The Orangery, Bowral, image Destination NSW
The Orangery, Bowral, image Destination NSW

Famous as the birthplace of cricket legend Don Bradman, Bowral is home to the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame and hosts one of Australia’s best floral festivals, the annual Tulip Time. Sadly the 2020 festival has been cancelled but those bulbs will be blooming again in September 2021.

Stay

For more than 100 years Peppers Craigieburn has been serving up those country retreat vibes. The original homestead was built in 1887 and started welcoming guests in 1909 and these days you can feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you wander the gardens before a spot of high tea. There’s a private golf course or if tennis is more your game there’s a court waiting. You can also finish the day with a leisurely game of billiards over a nightcap in the billiards room.

Read: Glamping South Australia, luxury tents, helicopters and swags

Peppers Craigieburn has 72 rooms but if you’d prefer a more intimate Grand Estate experience the historic Hopewood House has just four places to stay. There’s the Serendipity cottage that sleeps up to four, the Wayfarer cottage that sleeps up to six, and the Arcadia and Mandalay studios that sleep up to two each. Each is named after one of landscape painter Tim Storrier’s works, who is not only the local artist but owns the property with his wife Janet.

Not surprisingly there are also plenty of gorgeous Bowral homes to stay in through Airbnb. If you’re new to Airbnb you can get up to A$76 off your first booking by simply clicking here.

You can stay in places out in the countryside or go for a spot in the heart of town like The Hidden Door, which is a cosy little getaway a mere 50m from the main street.

Taste

Before moving to the Southern Highlands, Justine and Damien Monley gave Sydney siders the Flat White Café in Woollahra and Madam Char Char in Surry Hills. Their Bowral restaurant, the Grand Bistro, is found in the Grand Arcade and serves up hearty fare made from top locally sourced produce.

Harry’s on Green Lane is named after Sir Harry Veitch, the horticulturist who started the Chelsea Flower Show, and you can pick up some new plants or maybe some garden furniture after tucking into a delicious rustic dish beside an open fire. Meanwhile a strong contender for the cutest cafe award, the Press Shop Café is found behind a pretty blue door and has a menu that is 100% sourced by local Southern Highlands small batch producers with a focus on sustainability.

Make time to

Don’t even try to rush a stationery lover off to the next spot when you meet at the Press Shop Café. As part of the flagship store for Bespoke Letterpress this is part café, part one of the world’s best letterpress studios, where they print the old fashioned way with antique cast iron machines on lovely thick paper. Here you can watch the vintage printing presses doing their thing and take home a piece of the highlands with you.

Bubbletent Australia

One for the stargazers, this isn’t a well-known spot. In fact its exact location is kept secret until it’s time for you to go but we can reveal that Bubbletent Australia is somewhere between Lithgow and Mudgee and looks out over the second largest canyon in the world, the Capertee Valley.

Bubbletent Australia Leo Credit Mayumi Iwasaki

Created by a couple that turned their desire to be able to look up at the stars from a comfortable bubble into reality (my kinda people!) these Bubbletents protect visitors from the elements and the insects so they can really enjoy the starry show.

Read: 20 incredible Airbnb Queensland ways to stay

They all come with outdoor wood-fired bathtubs, telescopes and an iPad loaded up with stargazing and birdwatching apps, and they’re far away enough from each other that you will feel like the only bubble out there.  

Stay

There are three Bubbletents to choose from, each named after some of the constellations you can try to spy from bed.

Bubbletent Australia Virgo.Swedish Woodfired Bathtub

The original bubble, Leo, is perched highest and has the best views because, well, it’s a Leo. The Cancer bubble has a floating day bed and is in a corner where you may spot kangaroos, wombats and wild goats on the ground and wedge-tailed eagles in the sky, while the Virgo bubble has a Swedish wood-fire hot tub and its own herb garden.

Taste

Anything you like, as long as you bring it with you. These babies are BYO bubbles for food and drink.

Bubbletent Australia Sunrise Credit Mayumi Iwasaki

Make time to

Watch the sunrise. Make sure to set the alarm early so you can watch the light change over Australia’s grand green canyon, and try to wrap your head around the fact that it’s 1km wider than the Grand Canyon. Fun fact.

Jervis Bay

You may have heard that Hyams Beach has the whitest sand in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, and oh boy oh boy is it white.

It’s whiter than Bondi and Manly and almost every beach you’ve ever been on, but before you share that ‘world’s whitest’ titbit on your Instagram snap from the day you should know that there’s no such category in the Guinness Book of Records and it’s not even the whitest sand in Australia. That title goes to Lucky Bay in Western Australia.

A stunning weekend getaway Sydney siders will enjoy - Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, image Mark Fitzpatrick, Destination NSW
Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, image Mark Fitzpatrick, Destination NSW

Now we’ve dodged that social media faux pas we can say that we can understand why so many people believe that old line because it’s so pure and soft and white and not only looks good it feels great between your toes.

The water in and around Jervis Bay is also a pretty special place to be and you can go snorkelling with seals and maybe even spot pods of dolphins and humpback whales going by.

Stay

The safari style eco retreat Paperbark Camp is one of the best glamping experiences in Australia. The canvas tents have private en-suites, polished hardwood floors, wrap around decking and outdoor furniture. There’s full insect screening to keep the mozzies at bay and you can raise the roll up walls as high as you like to enjoy that great outdoors.

Interior Paperbark Camp Glamping, image Paperbark Camp
Paperbark Camp Glamping, image Paperbark Camp

Paperbark used to close for winter but now they’re open year round and as a post shutdown special they’re offering 30% off weekend rates for winter up to and including the 29th of August.

At Worrowing Estate you can choose to sleep in wilderness huts and boat sheds built from reclaimed timbers, glamping tents, stables, beachfront cottages and more.

Or snuggle with your honey in one of the pretty pastel coloured Hyams Beach Seaside Cottages. These 1920s fishermen’s cabins have been fully renovated to comfortably sleep two but also make a cosy getaway for solo travellers. 

Taste

You don’t have to stay at Paperbark Camp to get a taste for their glamping life. Their restaurant, The Gunyah, is built high off the ground and positioned among the trees, and while set menus change from day to day you could find yourself feasting on lamb rump with pea hummus, almonds, feta & coriander. Only a few tables are reserved for outside guests though so do make sure you book well in advance.

Thai food lovers should make a beeline for Wild Ginger. Chef Kierrin McKnight picked up more than a thing or two when he worked for David Thompson at Sailors Thai Sydney and Darley Street Thai in the late 90s, and you can tuck into a South East Asian banquet that will make you wish this was your local.

And for a hearty brunch with a smile 5 Little Pigs is the place to be. Their goal is to be the ‘happiest little café on the planet’ and their menu has some treats that would make it very easy to be happy there.

Snorkelling with seals, Jervis Bay, image Jordan Robins, Destination NSW
Snorkelling with seals, Jervis Bay, image Jordan Robins, Destination NSW

Make time to

Do the 90 minute White Sands Walk along those gorgeous beaches and keep an eye out for kangaroos, possums and gliders as you take the Scribbly Gum track back.

The Hunter Valley

When it comes to weekend getaways Sydney siders who love their wine know the Hunter Valley well.

With more cellar doors than any other Australian wine region, the Hunter Valley is best known for its Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz, and is home to some of the oldest vine stock in the world, with some vineyards dating back to the 1820s.

A Weekend Getaway Sydney wine lovers will remember - Murchessons Horseback Wine & Dine Tours, Pokolbin, image Destination NSW
Murchessons Horseback Wine & Dine Tours, image Destination NSW

You can draw straws to pick a designated driver or join a Hunter Valley wine tour. Get Your Guide has Hunter Valley tours that start and end in Polkobin so you can do them during your stay, or you could do a day trip from Sydney if wine time is short.

At Wynwood Cellar door you can even saddle up for one of Murchessons Horseback Wine & Dine Tours and ride through the vineyard between tastings, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Stay

The Hunter Valley has something for every style and budget from cute cottages to grand guesthouses and resorts. Wake up to the sight of hot air balloons rising in the valley at Voco Kirkton Park, an elegant and modern estate with an indoor pool, spa and sauna. 

Look out over the paddocks from your colonial wrap around balcony at one of the Hunter’s most historic properties. Once the largest sheep shearing station in the Hunter, Corunna Station still has the original buildings including the Hay Shed and Wool Mill, and you can temporarily take over the Country House which has five bedrooms and three bathrooms to share with friends.

Corunna Station Country House Hunter Valley

Meanwhile the Hunter Valley’s Airbnb temptations includes Arenridge, where up to 12 can sleep in six bedrooms in a huge home with its own private vineyard and swimming pool.

Taste

You just know I’m going to say wine, and oh boy do you have a few options to choose from. There’s more than 150 wineries and cellar doors in the Hunter Valley including Brokenwood, Tyrrell’s Wines, Usher Tinkler Wines, Tamburlaine Organic Wines and Hungerford Hill

Forget your traditional cellar door experience when you get a taste for Lisa McGuigan’s way of doing things. Lisa’s stunning VAMP Wine Rooms are a sexy blend of fashion, art, music and wine and as well as tasting her own creations you’ll be able to try some of her favourite drops from around the world. 

When it’s time to eat Fawk Foods Kitchen & Bakery is a winner for all day breakfasts and freshly baked bread,

Leaves and Fishes is relaxed dining with a focus on seafood, and you can also spend the weekend in one of their four rooms in The Boathouses, and for fine dining Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Winery has two Chef Hats and has made the Hot 50 Australian Restaurants List. Their four-course menu showcases the best of the Hunter Valley and it’s best to book ahead to secure your spot.

Make time to

Smell the roses. Literally. The Hunter Valley Gardens has more than 35,000 rose bushes along with waterfalls and statues and is pretty as a picture.  

Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, image Destination NSW
Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, image Destination NSW

Newcastle

I spent many a Christmas holiday in Newcastle visiting relatives when I was a child and when I went back a few years ago I was blown away by how much had changed. The Steel City had reinvented itself and had a whole new, cool personality.   

When it’s time to think about weekend getaways Sydney peeps sometimes want that whole countryside vibe. But when it’s time to visit another city, Newcastle is a top choice and an easy drive up the freeway.

Take a dip in the ocean or swim in the Merewether Ocean Baths, the largest seawater public pools in the Southern Hemisphere, watch hang gliders soar over the beach, or if you’re feeling brave sign up for a tandem flight, and explore boutiques shops in Islington and along Darby Street.

Merewether Beach, Newcastle, image Destination NSW
Merewether Beach, Newcastle, image Destination NSW

Stay

For total beachfront moments, Noah’s On the Beach is directly opposite Newcastle Beach and if you get the right room you can step through your floor to ceiling glass doors onto a balcony with ocean views. 

If you prefer boutique vibes the Art Deco Clarendon Hotel is in the centre of the city and an easy five-minute walk to the harbour and Honeysuckle district.

And the Airbnb options range from apartments with beach views to cute cottages. If you love Nordic design Pappa Sven’s Summer Cabin and Pappa Sven’s Apartment are not only the place to stay, you’ll also want to shop in Pappa Sven’s store. They’re all owned by Libby Helinki who brings brands including Marimekko, Iittala, Artek and Pappelina, to the other side of the world.

Pappa Sven's cabin in Newcastle is full of Nordic design
Booking.com

Taste

For fine Novocastrian dining, Subo is the only hatted restaurant in the city. Owners Beau and Suzie Vincent earned their stripes working at Guillaume at Bennelong and Tetsuyas, and here the menus change twice a season and are focused on sharing the best local, seasonal produce in a relaxed setting.

Silverchair’s Chris Joannou says his latest restaurant Flotilla is inspired by California’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Venice Beach. The charcoal oven cooks up proteins and veggies for both vegans and carnivores, and half the wines are either natural or very close to it.

Coal and Cedar, Newcastle, image Destination NSW
Coal and Cedar, Newcastle, image Destination NSW

And when it’s time for a nightcap you’ll need a special code to get into the award winning Coal and Cedar speakeasy. But don’t worry, they make it easy enough for newcomers to find.

Make time to

Do the Bathers Way Coastal Walk. One of the best coastal walks in the state, it stretches six kilometres from Nobby’s Beach down to the Merewether Baths, and take in 360 degree views of the coast from the top of the Newcastle Memorial Walk.

Newcastle Memorial Walk, image Destination NSW
Newcastle Memorial Walk, image Destination NSW

Port Stephens

If you keep on heading north past Newcastle there’s a whole lot of fun waiting in Port Stephens. There are 26 beaches to choose from but the most incredible sand here isn’t being lapped by waves. Instead it’s the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, 32km of the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.

Go sandboarding down the massive dunes, join a quad bike adventure or go for a sunset camel ride and feel like you’re in another part of the world.

Stockton Bight Sand Dunes on Worimi Conservation Lands, Anna Bay, image Destination NSW
Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, Port Stephens, image Destination NSW

Sunset is also one of the best times to hike up to the top of Mount Tomaree for stunning views out over Port Stephens and beyond. In the water you can go swimming with wild dolphins or snorkelling in a secluded bay. It’s also one of the best places to go scuba diving with grey nurse sharks if you’re up for the adventure.

Stay

For a stylish boutique getaway, Bannisters Port Stephens is tapping into those sixties and seventies holiday vibes after taking over an old retro motel on Salamander Shores and giving it a Bannisters makeover.

Bannisters Port Stephens, image Bannisters
Bannisters Port Stephens, image Kate Bennett
Bannisters Port Stephens, image Kate Bennett

The Anchorage is channelling Hamptons getaway style with luxury guesthouses and their own marina on a secluded beach. Or you could opt for a holiday home, like this Boat Harbour beach house where you can take in the view from the infinity pool.

Taste

Local favourite The Little Nel is a hotspot for breakfast where your smashed avo comes with roasted pumpkin, eggplant kasundi, feta and picked onion on soy and linseed sourdough and you can be naughty or nice with a Snickers or a green boost smoothie. 

At the Little Beach Boathouse you can go for a snacks side to your drinks on the lower level, or book a table at the restaurant upstairs. If you get in early enough ask for one of the corner front tables for the best views over the water.

And if you missed out on a guesthouse but still want a taste of The Anchorage, book in for High Tea by the Sea where tiny lamb sausage rolls and chicken finger sandwiches join the sweet treats, and where the free flowing sparkling wine makes the afternoon even bubblier.

Weekend getaways Sydney folks love - Tomaree Head Summit, Port Stephens, image Destination NSW
Tomaree Head Summit, Port Stephens, image Destination NSW

Make time to

See koalas in the wild. The Tilligerry Habitat State Reserve is a top spot to see local koalas, and they share the latest koala sightings to make it easier to find our furry friends.

Kangaroo Valley

While there’s never been an official competition, many say that Kangaroo Valley is Australia’s most beautiful valley, and it only takes a couple of hours drive south to see if you agree.

There’s around 80km of river systems to explore and eco tour operator Kangaroo Valley Safaris can take you out for the day in a canoe or kayak, or help you organise up to five days of paddling and camping in the bush.

If you’re happier on land there are bush walks and mountain bike trails, and while the valley may be named after kangaroos you can see a whole lot of other Aussie wildlife as well, including rare brush-tailed rock-wallabies, wombats, goannas, echidnas, platypus and sugar gliders.

Hampden Bridge, Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales

Stay

For old school charm The Laurels B&B was built in 1919 and is now filled with antique furniture, clawfoot tubs and chandeliers. Each of the four bedrooms has king sized beds and private bathrooms, and you can thank the chickens in the coop for helping out with traditional country-style cooked breakfast

One of the most spectacular homes in the valley, Desiderata is a luxury farm stay with cows, goats and local wildlife. The home has 360 degree views of the mountains, outdoor dining areas for warmer nights and a cosy fireplace for when the temperature drops.

Meanwhile The Treehouse Kangaroo Valley is one of the top Airbnb finds, and sleeps up to seven with views over the Kangaroo River rapids.  

Taste

For weekend getaways Sydney foodies will love, it wouldn’t be the craziest idea to get in touch with The Hampden Deli, Dining and School to see when there’s a spare spot at their next event and then time your trip around it.

Chef Nick Gardner has worked at Michelin starred restaurants including Arzak in San Sebastian, Frantzén in Stockholm and The French Laundry in California. Now he and his partner Stevie-Lee Bounader host weekly changing events including chef dinners and degustations, have a deli you can pick up some top shelf takeaway from, and also host cooking classes.

Pies in Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales

People in the Southern Highlands are so passionate about good Aussie pies they’ve put together a Pie Trail that you can follow, including some tasty Kangaroo Valley numbers. For the sake of balance you should probably try one from the Barrengarry General Store, also known as the Kangaroo Valley Pie Shop, and another from Southern Pies. Though you’d need more than a weekend to hit all of them, with thirty bakeries around the highlands on the pie trail list.

And if you’re there on the second Sunday of the month, head along to the Kangaroo Valley farmers market to stock up on some farm fresh fare.

Make time to

Walk through gothic Victorian sandstone towers as you make your way across Hampden Bridge, Australia’s last surviving wooden suspension bridge.

Bathurst

As someone who went to university in Bathurst (shout out to the Mitchell Mafia members!) I’ll admit it took me a while to go back after I headed off to the bright lights of Sydney and London. But when I did I realised I shouldn’t have left it so long.

Australia’s oldest European settlement was built around the country’s first gold rush and there are still some beautiful old buildings to be seen from the golden times.

Abercrombie House, Bathurst

When some of the world’s best aren’t racing for the crown you can drive around the Bathurst 1000 racetrack (under the speed limit of course), and see more than 100 racing cars and bikes from Australian motor sport history at the National Motor Racing Museum.

If you’re more into natural history the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum has some treasures including a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton for you, and the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) is where you can see both local and touring exhibitions.

Stay

If driving around Mount Panorama isn’t enough Bathurst 1000 action for you, get a room overlooking the Conrod Straight. Rydges Mount Panorama has studios, standard doubles and twins, along with two and three bedroom apartments. Usually you can snap up a room relatively easily but if you’re thinking about staying there while the race is on you’ll need to get on the wait list.

For a beautiful boutique stay Bishop’s Court Estate is top of the list. Originally built as the residence for the Anglican Bishop back in 1870 it is now owned and run by Christine Le Fevre who worked as an interior designer on some of Australia’s top hotels before working her magic on her own place to stay.

Bishops Court Boutique Hotel, Bathurst

And for another stay packed with history, The Original Hat Factory has studio apartments in the historic Webb Building, which was the first department store west of the Blue Mountains when it was built during the gold rush back in 1845. 

Taste

Many moons ago when I was a uni student in Bathurst an exciting new café called Zieglers opened on Keppel Street. These days it’s still a great spot to be but now The Hub is in its place and is where the Buddah Bowl dressings are made of kombucha, turmeric, pumpkin seeds and ginger. You get the healthy and delicious idea.

Just up the road you have Legall Patisserie Café. Pastry chef and owner Philippe Legall moved from the South of France to Bathurst more than 30 years ago and his lemon tarts are a must whenever you’re in town.

And for American style dining, brews and boozes, head on down to Dogwood. It’s also THE place to go for a cocktail. Owner Evan Stanley has worked on some of the world’s best cocktail bar teams and won the 2013 ALIA Australian Bartender of the Year and the 2014 Melbourne Time out Bartender of the year.

Wherever you end up, if you see Fish River Roasters coffee on the menu do yourself a favour. This local small batch roaster has won 22 awards and counting so you’ll not only be supporting local you’ll be drinking a great cuppa too.  

Make time to

Visit Abercrombie House. Built by Bathurst pioneers, the Stewart family back in 1870, this Tudor Gothic mansion has 52 rooms, seven staircases (including a rather unusual looking one), 29 fireplaces and a ballroom where they host high teas on Sunday afternoons and other events including jazz nights throughout the year. 

Mollymook

Okay, so I’m being a little cheeky on the within three hours concept here as according to Google Maps it takes 3 hours and 4 minutes to drive from Sydney to Mollymook. But maybe you’ll get great traffic and will scrape in under three.

Beach at Mollymook, image Visit Shoalhaven

Before Rick Stein opened Bannisters by the Sea, Mollymook wasn’t a spot all that many people talked about. Well, except for all the marshmallows out there who know it from the season two finale of Veronica Mars.

But Mollymook and neighbouring Milton, or Molly and Milly as they’re known, have become weekend getaways Sydney slickers look forward to repeating as often as possible.

Stay

If you’re planning a special weekend away the biggest decision could be which of the two Bannisters to stay in.

Bannisters by the Sea is the original luxury boutique hotel overlooking Mollymook Beach that came to life after an old 1960s motel was given a sleek and stylish makeover. If you’re going for a very special weekend there are two penthouses designed by Collette Dinnigan, and there’s even a level above that. The Cameron Kimber Penthouse has its own private Hammam steam room and home cinema.

The little sister Bannisters Pavilion joined the family in 2015 and is full of clean lines and light, white spaces with a killer rooftop bar.  

Weekend Getaways Sydney locals love include Bannisters Pavilion, Mollymook, image Bannisters

For a special countryside stay The Old Schoolhouse is just a few minutes outside of Milton and has its own vegie garden, orchard and chickens wandering about. There’s even a full sized cricket pitch if you want to play a game with friends. And don’t forget if you’re new to Airbnb you can get up to A$76 off your first booking by simply clicking here.

And wine lovers can spend the night in Cupitt’s Cottage, which is rather conveniently just 100 metres from Cupitt’s kitchen and cellar door and features the original stone fireplace and antique furniture.

Taste

You just know I’m going to mention a certain chef again and you’d be right.  One of Australia’s best seafood restaurants, Rick Stein at Bannisters serves up the freshest local catch using Rick’s classic recipes.

Seafood at Rick Stein at Bannisters Mollymook, image David Griffen

Make your way to the old cheese factory now known as Milk Haus for a menu where the produce either comes from their own farm or from one of the neighbours, and pop into Flour Water Salt at Milton for organic artisan breads and gourmet pies.

Make time to

Snorkel or just swim in the Bogey Hole. This tidal pool is a family favourite but is also fun for those who just like to float in a safe space and let their troubles melt away.

The Blue Mountains

And last but definitely not least we have an old favourite. One of those weekend getaways Sydney people have been doing for so long they have their special spots to go and sometimes forget to explore the other green corners.

Govett's Leap Lookout, Blackheath, Blue Mountains NSW

There are those who are team Leura, team Katoomba, and team Blackheath, but no matter where you choose to stay there’s nothing like breathing in that fresh mountain air and feeling your body do a reset as you leave the city behind.

Stay

It took six years and around $30 million to bring the Hydro Majestic back to life, and as someone who remembers her old salmon coloured days I was among those who cheered when she opened her doors again. If you miss out on a room you can indulge in high tea with a view, or book ahead to join one of the Hydro Majestic History Tours where you’ll be able to hear some cracking old stories as you explore the rich red salon Cats Alley and other corners of the hotel.

Cats Alley in Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains

The history lessons continue at The Carrington. Back in the early 1900s she welcomed British royalty, Prime Ministers and well-heeled tourists and was considered one of the finest British colonial hotels in the world and a rival for Singapore’s Raffles. Now a heritage listed landmark you can feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you take in the original stained glass windows and play snooker on a table that’s more than 100 years old.

For a more contemporary stay, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges is a five star country retreat with 28 rooms including garden suites and loft rooms, and if you’re looking for something truly unusual check out some of the Blue Mountains’ fantastic Airbnbs, including a gorgeous adults only treehouse and this Enchanted Cave.

Taste

Refuel for another round of Leura shopping at the The Leura Garage, an award-winning restaurant, café and bar that serves up delicious, locally sourced food in an eco friendly space.

At Mayfield Garden you can explore the largest cool climate garden in the Southern Hemisphere before dining on fruit, vegetables, lamb and beef that was grown right there on the farm.

The Victory Café in Blackheath is a local favourite where classic breakfast dishes mix with a seasonal lunch menu. Check out the huge Jenny Kee mural on the side of the building and give yourself time to potter around the antique centre that shares the old Art Deco building. 

Make time to

Visit Govetts Leap lookout. While most people head to the Three Sisters you should make sure you do both. Apart from the incredible views across the Grose Valley it’s also home to the Bridal Veil Falls, which with a 180m drop are the tallest waterfall in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

So there we have it. Eleven places that are so close and easy to get to from Sydney they make perfect weekend getaways. So which one is calling your name first?

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  1. Rebekah Domonkos says

    Thank you Amanda, you have just created a new 2020 escape from reality bucket list. Perfect suggestions for a year of celebrations. The Mitchell Mafia will thank you. xx

  2. Lots of great adventure activities to be had here. You can hire electric mountain ebikes and standard mountain bikes to get yourself to some amazing lookouts (Blue Mountains Biking Adventures), Rock climbing, canyoning (BMAC and High’n’Wyld), horse riding (Megalong Valley) .. the Blue Mountains (Blueys) has it all!!!!

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