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Going to Sydney for a few days? Why not add another couple nights in one of the many fantastic regions only an hour or three away...
1. BLUE MOUNTAINS
For: Greenies, trampers and those who like to get out into the forests.
Being the backbone of Australia, the Great Dividing Range stretches all the way from the northern tip of Queensland to the south and west of Victoria. But nowhere is it more beautiful than in the Blue Mountains National Park, just 90 minutes drive from Sydney! Here the dense forest covered hills have been violently shunted skywards to create giant escarpments and unique geological wonders. The almost impenetrable walls of rock separate the lush east coast from Australia’s desert interior, and it took until 1813 for explorers to finally find a way through.
Luxury: Lilianfels Resort & Spa is a gorgeous old historic mansion luxuriously appointed with things like brass bed ends, marble bathrooms and antique desks. Spend your days out hiking, playing golf, having spa treatments, visiting quaint country towns, or simply relaxing and taking in the stunning views from your room.
2. JERVIS BAY
For: Beach lovers and divers.
Jervis Bay is a huge natural harbour lying three hours south of Sydney. Interestingly, the bay was intended to be the site of a port for Canberra, so it’s actually part of the Australian Capital Territory and not New South Wales, which completely envelops it. The shape of the almost enclosed bay means its waters are calm; perfect for divers, and a resting spot for whales as they migrate northwards. But the biggest attraction is her beautiful beaches which the Guinness World Records have said are covered by the ‘Whitest Sand in the World’. Fair dinkum!
Unique: Paper Bark Camp isn’t your normal hotel. In fact it’s not really a hotel at all; it’s called ‘camping for grown ups’. However, keeping on theme, these aren’t you normal tents either! They’re elevated to allow cool air (and wildlife) to pass through at night, they have wooden floors, power, and an open air ensuite.
For: History and culture fans.
Purposely placed in between Melbourne and Sydney, Canberra was a planned city and was built to settle once and for all, the bickering between the other cities for capital status. The city is only just over 100 years old, but does hold a huge amount of museums and monuments to visit. Some of the most popular including the National Gallery, the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum and the National Zoo/Aquarium, to name just a few. The cities wide, tree lined avenues are built around great Lake Burley Griffin, which helps the cities ‘Garden City’ status.
Economical: The Mercure Canberra has been an institution in Canberra for many many years. It’s housed in a historic old building and some rooms are a little dated, but that bright colours help and it’s still a good three star option for sure. The gorgeous public areas of the building are all lined with beautifully polished wood, and there’s even a fire if you’re travelling in winter.
4. HUNTER VALLEY
For: Wine and food aficionados.
Funnily enough, nearly all of Australia’s major cities have wine regions nearby, and the Hunter Valley is one of the best of them. The region produces a range of wines, from Champagne to Semillon and Merlot. Major brands found here include Brokenwood, De Bortoli and Tower Estate.
Vineyard Stay: Hunter Valley Resort has all the bases covered for your Hunter Valley experience. Not only do they have a good range of hotels and standalone cottages (about four star level), but they have an onsite vineyard with cellar door, so you don’t have to worry about driving if you’ve indulged (accidentally of course). Adjacent is a cheese factory and a brewery, location, location, location!
5. BYRON BAY
For: Spiritual chillaxers and surfers.
Sure, the secret’s been out for a while now, but Byron Bay is still a magnet for everyone a bit ‘hippyish’ and alternative. You can still find the bohemian coffee shops, gluten free bakeries and bars blaring Shapeshifter or Bob Marley amongst the new, flasher arrivals. Of course, the golden sands are as beautiful as ever, and the surf still rolls on in daily as planned.
Wellness: The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa is reasonably new to the Byron Bay scene, and it’s definitely in the higher end of the hotel market. But while it is a luxury resort with an amazing pool, the main focus of the Byron at Byron is their Wellness Centre which has plenty of relaxation, rejuvenation, and spa treatments available. Oh and free yoga sessions every day too.
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