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Published May 26th 2020
Tease your senses with these picturesque country trips
From scenic spots to cosy cafes, artisanal markets to hot mineral springs, hatted restaurants to cool-climate wines, and pristine beaches to lush rainforests. The list is endless with the prodigious offerings of country towns located near Sydney.
Discover hidden gems, experience natural wonders, and explore the wealth of places of interest that the list below offers.
Important Note: With regional holidays within New South Wales being allowed from 1 June 2020 (at time of writing), some places might be still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please keep that in mind and do check websites before making any plans.
1. Berrima, Southern Highlands
This historical village is located in the picturesque Southern Highlands, a short drive from Sydney. It is dotted with sandstone buildings and countryside vibes. Enjoy coffee and delicious pies at Gumnut Patisserie, or awaken your taste buds at the hatted Eschalot, or enjoy hearty pub classics at the historical Surveyor General Inn (opened in 1834, making it the oldest continuously licensed pub in Australia).
Other attractions include the tranquil and charming Berrima River Walk (keep an eye out for platypuses), Harper's Mansion and Garden, Berrima Court House, and Berrima's boutique independent shops. Click here for the website.
'The Pelican Capital of Australia' was first discovered by Europeans in 1796, and is home to spectacular natural attractions from beaches to lakes to lush forest coastal National Parks. There is an array of activities to enjoy here, including fishing, walking, cycling, indulging in local seafood, watersports, and much more.
Attractions include a historic boardwalk, Pelican Feeding, The Entrance Beach, Vera's Water Garden, ocean baths, Tuggerah Lake, Wyrrabalong National Park, and historic Long Jetty. Click here for the website.
Watching the adorable and interesting Pelican Feeding show
This Southern Highlands settlement is surrounded with rolling farmland, wineries, and Mount Gibraltar. Coffee can be enjoyed at Rush or Flour Water Salt, peruse at Dirty Jane's for an epic collection of antique and vintage clothing, as well as Browns Bookshop, and Bowral Art Gallery.
Attractions include lookouts and walking trails at Mount Gibraltar Reserve, Bradman Museum & International Hall of Fame (honours legendary Australian batsman Sir Donald Bradman, who hails from Bowral), Corbett Gardens, scenic drives including Illawarra Tourism Route, The Cherry Tree Walk, and Bowral's specialty stores and galleries. Click here for the website.
Enjoying the spectacular colours at Corbett Gardens
Discover the endless beauty of Mount Wilson. This heritage garden village is around two hours drive from Sydney. It is surrounded with gorgeous lush bushland and rainforest, walking trails and canyons, as well as historic houses and grand exotic gardens, some of which are open to the public.
Attractions include the many walks, Turkish Bath Museum, St Georges Anglican Church, lookouts and scenic views, picnic areas, plant nurseries, camping and canyoning opportunities, birdwatching, pick your own chestnuts and walnuts, and a visit to Mount Irvine (15 minutes drive from Mount Wilson), where you will discover a rural mountain filled with farms and gardens, and breathtaking views. Click here for the website.
Image Courtesy from Mt Wilson & Mt Irvine Facebook
Located around a 90-minute drive from Sydney, Katoomba is home to an array of natural attractions, quirky and quaint cafes, including Yellow Deli, where you can rest among handcrafted wooden furniture and an open fire and Frankly My Dear offers butterscotch latte and miso pumpkin toastie that are must-try.
Attractions include walks along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk which passes through cliff tops and awe-inspiring lookouts and views, the beautiful Three Sisters and surrounding trails, Scenic World for an adventure like no other, Katoomba Falls, Cliff Drive Lookouts, Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Katoomba Cascades, and much more. Click here for the website.
Admiring the awe-inspiring rock formations at Katoomba Falls Walking Track
This adorable village is a gateway to both the Hunter Valley and World Heritage-listed Yengo National Park. There are many things to do, see and experience including indulging in a comforting brekkie at Mulla Villa, wander around Wollombi's historical buildings or discover the beauty of nature at Finchley Lookout, with 360-degree views over Yengo's rugged wilderness.
Attractions include Wollombi Tavern, Laguna village where the Great Northern Trading Post serves up generous meals packed with local produce, Stonehurst Cedar Wine & Vineyards, Wollombi Markets, scenic drives including Tourist Drive 33 Scenic Point, camping opportunities, wine tasting, bushwalking, creative art trails, and much more. Click here for the website.
Once you leave the Old Northern Road at Dural, you will come to rolling farmyard and National Parks, with the fun cable ferry crossing at Wisemans Ferry, followed by the twists of scenic Macdonald River.
Attractions include Settlers Arms Inn, a Georgian coaching inn and pub built by convicts and backdropped by mountains, cycling trails, St Albans Anglican Church, historic buildings including The Courthouse and The Police Lockup built-in 1890, and more. Click here for the website.
Getting ready to cross the Ferry Car Crossing at Wisemans Ferry
Mount Victoria is a small, but charming historic town that was initially named 'One Tree Hill' and dates back to 1834- the name was changed in 1876 when the first Post Office was built. There are numerous historical buildings to admire, lookouts, bushwalks and more.
Attractions include the hot mineral springs at the Japanese Bath House (15minute drive from Mount Victoria), Mount Victoria Manor- Heritage-listed mansion built-in 1876 by John Fairfax, founder of the Sydney Morning Herald, Sunset Rock Lookout & Mitchell's Ridge Lookout, bushwalks, Mount Victoria Historical Museum, historic buildings including the Imperial Hotel built-in 1878, St Peter's Church of England built in 1874, The Manor House, and Toll Keepers Cottage, Victoria Falls, Victoria Pass, and much more. Click here for the website.
9. Kiama, South Coast
This gorgeous seaside coastal town of New South Wales is best known for its blowhole, quirky cafes and shops, spectacular coastal views, beaches and from late May to November, Kiama offers the best place to enjoy whale watching during their migration.
Attractions include the Blowholes, Kiama Coast Walk, National Trust-classified Historic Terrace Houses built-in 1886, Pilot's Cottage Museum, galleries, Bombo Headland, lookouts and scenic views, coastal scenic drives, Flour Water Salt, Penny Whistlers and The Hungry Monkey for some of the best eats, beaches for swimming, surfing and sunbathing activities, and more. Click here for the website.
Picton is home to friendly charm and a historical backbone. This vibrant town was one of the earliest European settlements and was "discovered" when several cattle went missing in the early days of the colony. It is packed with heritage, nature and attractions.
Attractions include self-guided Picton Walking Tour, The Botanic Gardens, rail heritage with a unique railway viaduct still in use, the Redbank Range Tunnel (known to locals as Mushroom Tunnel), and nearby the NSW Rail Museum, artisan cafes, restaurants and grocers, unique gift shops, historic buildings including Victoria Bridge, the George IV Inn, ghost tours, nearby Thirlmere Lakes National Park, Scharer's Little Brewery, and more. Click here for the website.
Exploring the spectacular Thirlmere Lakes National Park
This small village is the perfect country getaway. It is home to heritage buildings, beautiful places to stay, award-winning restaurants, and impressive gourmet food and wine experiences.
Attractions include wineries & vineyards, gorgeous nearby beaches, walks and scenic drives, Old Creamy Lane, Milkwood Bakery, Treat Factory, rolling hills and valleys, picnic areas, galleries & museums, and heritage buildings. Click here for the website.
This idyllic village is famous for its apple-growing magic. Apples are not the only fruit that flourishes here; you can pick your own fruit at Bilpin Fruit Bowl, taste cider at Hillbilly, enjoy lunch at Maggie Lou's Bite.
Attractions include Mt Tomah Botanic Garden, historic Bells Line of Road, mountain scenery, picturesque drives, walls of sandstone, endless canyons, artisan galleries and stores, and more. Click here for the website.
Image Courtesy from Visit Bilpin Facebook
13. Port Stephens, North Coast
This 2.5-hour drive from Sydney is a top-notch location for whale watching and spectacular coastal sweeping views. The Point Restaurant offers Asian-inspired bites and The Little Nel Café with its outstanding terrace is perfect for relaxing and grabbing a bite to eat before exploring further.
Attractions include Tomaree Head, walking & cycling trails, lookouts and scenic views, freshly caught seafood, beaches, watersports, whale & dolphin spotting, Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, The Port Stephens Surf School (learn how to surf), Tomaree National Park, Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters, and more. Click here for the website.
This charming potato-growing town was the setting for blockbuster Australian film Babe. Robertson is perched above the magnificent Macquarie Pass and the Illawarra Escarpment.
Attractions include the famous Robertson Pie Shop, Robertson Cheese Factory, Rainforest Walking Track, bushwalks and other walks, Robertson Heritage Railway Station, Belmore Falls, Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, Robertson Nature Reserve, Nellies Glen, waterfalls, scenic drives, farms, rolling valleys and more. Click here for the website.