When it comes to weekend getaways, Sydneysiders are spoiled for choice. You don’t have to drive far from the city to reach a range of world-class destinations – in fact, some of the best places to find hatted restaurants and heritage-listed accommodation are less than 90 minutes by car. So what are you waiting for?
Woy Woy as a great food destination? Hear us out. Fine-dining restaurant Pearls on the Beach has long been a favourite of adventurous Sydneysiders but the small town has recently diversified its dinner options with two new Italian joints: handmade pasta bar Young Barons and pizza place Tropicana.
The most exciting new addition, though, is straight from New York. Australian restaurateurs Rupert Noffs and Matty Bennett were stars of the Big Apple’s culinary scene with their Asian fusion restaurant Lucky Bee. But the pair was feeling a little homesick and moved back to Australia this year to open The Lucky Bee at Frankie’s Rooftop, a cocktail bar in Woy Woy. And at only 80 minutes from Sydney, it’s a whole lot closer than Manhattan.
When it’s time to retire for the night, jump across to Daleys Point for a spa bath with a view of the pretty jetty at Airbnb listing The Decks.
No visit to the Blue Mountains is complete without a trip to the Three Sisters but that’s not all you should put on your Katoomba itinerary.
Choose your own adventure by exploring the nearby Minnehaha Falls or stay in town to rifle through antique shops such as Odd Mountain and Katoomba Antique Centre. Need to recharge? One of the best ways to soak up Katoomba’s sleepy charm is by lingering over a flat white at a first-rate café such as Cassiopeia Specialty Coffee.
Opt to sleep surrounded by the heritage-listed grandeur of the Carrington Hotel, or check into Lilianfels Resort & Spa to dial the pampering up to eleven. Lilianfels is also where you’ll find Darley’s Restaurant, the region’s undisputed fine-dining champ. Get the degustation – you deserve it.
If Palm Beach (pictured top) looks familiar, it’s because it has long served as the filming location for soapie staple Home & Away. The real “Palmy” has a lot less drama than Summer Bay but its golden shores are every bit as pretty as they look on screen.
Dine with a view of the ocean at The Boathouse, which serves up snapper ceviche and rock oysters in serene surrounds. Then nab a room at Jonah’s, the 11-suite hotel a five-minute drive away at Whale Beach, where the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Mick Jagger have stayed over the years.
And it’s close – Palm Beach is an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD.
The tranquil waters and beautiful bushland alone would sell us on a trip to the Hawkesbury River region but add in one of NSW’s best destination restaurants and you’ve got a must-do weekend away.
Berowra Waters Inn is a truly unique dining experience that starts with a boat ride (or, if you’re feeling flush, a seaplane) to the water-access only restaurant, departing from a wharf 50 minutes from Sydney. Perfectly prepared dishes of beef, nettle and bone marrow feature on the degustation menu, which you’ll get to enjoy with an unobscured view of the flowing river outside.
Your summer beach options don’t end at Bondi. An hour and a half out of town is Avoca, one of NSW’s loveliest strips of sand. Want to stay the night? It’s conveniently close to the luxury B&B The Acreage, set on almost two hectares of private gardens. It serves as the perfect jumping-off point to bushwalks in the nearby Budawang National Park.
For dinner, make the 10-minute drive across to L’isle de France, the Terrigal restaurant that puts an emphasis on organic food and premium bottles of French wine.