Destinations

The 3 best destinations for a weekend getaway from Sydney

Did somebody say Road Trip…?

By Emily Kerr

Mollymook

How long is the drive to Mollymook from Sydney (CBD)?
Mollymook is approximately a 3 hour drive from Sydney.
What to do in Mollymook
This gorgeous oceanside town strikes the perfect balance between chilled tranquility and fun activities. Spend your days paddle boarding or relaxing on the white sands of Mollymook beach, or exploring the bush and picturesque hidden beaches of Booderee National Park.

In whale watching season (April – December) you can also catch some awesome glimpses nearby. White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum Track in Jervis Bay National Park is great for whale and dolphin watching, beautiful views of white sand beaches and an easy loop walk.

Where to stay in Mollymook
Bannisters Hotel is the epitome of comfortable luxury - the rooms at this boutique hotel are an actual slice of heaven. With an infinity pool complete with sprawling ocean views, two great dining locations (more on that later) and a top-class spa on site, you wouldn’t be blamed for failing to leave the luxe cliff-side accommodation.

But, if you did fancy leaving to explore the surrounding area, there are options to hire bikes from reception to cycle along Mollymook beach and around the town until you’ve worked up a suitable appetite for…
Where to eat in Mollymook
World-renowned chef Rick Stein’s famous fish restaurant is housed at Bannisters. The Chef’s Hatted Rick Stein’s at Bannisters is a seafood lover’s dream, offering fresh, South Coast caught local fish and shellfish in everything from curry, to bisque, to pie.

Drooling yet? You should be.
Pre-dinner cocktails at Bannister’s Pool Bar are also a must. Because, well, look at it:

Cupitt’s Winery is the perfect spot for a long, leisurely Mollymook lunch. Not only is the food delicious, the wine exemplary and the cellar door the ultimate added bonus at Cupitt’s, but the real draw card of this place is the sweeping winery views. Bring a picnic blanket and set up on the grass with the kids and sip red, white, rose or all of the above while watching the sun set over what has to be one of Australia’s prettiest restaurant views.

Southern Highlands

How long is the drive to the Southern Highlands from Sydney (CBD)?
The drive from Sydney to Bowral is 90 minutes. You can travel by train, too. So it's perfect for day trips, weekend escapes and longer trips!
Where to stay in the Southern Highlands
Enjoy boutique accommodation in the heart of the Southern Highlands at The Old Bank Hotel. Steeped in history, this original bank building has been lovingly restored into luxury accommodation. With five luxurious suites and two self-contained cottages, The Old Bank is a treat for the senses situated in the heart of Mittagong.

Peppers Craigieburn, a country estate nestled in the Southern Highland’s Bowral, is another stunning heritage option with a modern twist, ideal for a leisurely escape.

Where to eat in the Southern Highlands
The Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival takes place 30 September and 1 October. It’s an opportunity for foodies to be immersed in all things food and wine, join locals in a showcase of local produce, culinary activities, wine tasting and entertainment, and of course sampe a delicious range of food from the entire region. Sold!
The much-lauded, Two Chef’s Hatted Biota Dining in Bowral is another great culinary option. Chef James Viles' sustainably-driven restaurant (with a solar-powered kitchen!) has also been named as one of the Top 10 Green Hats for his "earth-friendly enterprise". Locally grown produce and a kitchen garden deliver the freshest possible ingredients, and the wine menu is also completely local. Even the rose petals for desserts are supplied from the chef's mother's garden. Obviously this contemporary, outstanding fine dining experience is a must.

Another for the must-eat-at list, at Eschalot Restaurant in Berrima every dish is created with style, innovation and beautifully compliments the unique location of the restaurant. Their philosophy has always been the same - to provide fresh food of the highest quality & combine it with professional friendly service in an elegant and relaxed environment.

What to do in the Southern Highlands
Visit one of the beautiful wineries - because you’re spoiled for choice! Pick from Artemis Wines and Tertini Wines near Mittagong, Centennial Vineyards and Diamond Creek Estate near Bowral, Joadja Estate near Berrima, Cuttaway Hill Wines and Southern Highland Wines near Sutton Forest, and Banjo’s Run and St Maur Wines near Exeter.

And for a less boozy, hangover-free option, enjoy the wonderful attractions of Chase Waterfalls at Fitzroy Falls. From the spectacular waterfall to wildflower walking tracks, breathtaking views and myriad wildlife, this stunning fall drops more than 80 metres in the Morton National Park.

Port Stephens

How long is the drive to Port Stephens from Sydney (CBD)?
Port Stephens is a two and a half hour drive north from Sydney.
Where to stay in Port Stephens
Anchorage Port Stephens sits on the shores of beautiful Port Stephens, nestled between rugged bushes. The boutique resort offers premium accommodation with heaps of fun facilities for the family, teamed with soul-soothing views of the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoiled waters of Port Stephens.

Alternatively, The Nelson Resort in the heart of Nelson Bay allows for a truly cruisy holiday, because with the local shops, cafes, town centre, and Marina just a two minute walk away, there’s optimal time for relaxation.
Where to eat in Port Stephens
Little Beach Boathouse offers everything you could need if wanting to dine out while in Port Stephens – a beachside setting, local produce, fresh modern Australian cuisine, beachy furnishings + interiors + local products to take home. Little This gorgeous spot loves to share the best that Port Stephens and the Hunter Valley have to offer with an emphasis on fresh local produce and seafood, Hunter Valley wines and Australian craft beer, including a variety of Port Stephens very own Murrays Brewery Beers.

Also make time to enjoy lunch at Crest Birubi Beach. Located within the Birubi Point Surf Life Saving Club in Anna Bay, Crest Birubi Beach is an iconic destination venue for fine food, gatherings and events. The award winning designed building is perched at the northern end of the Stockton Bight, with views across the Stockton Sand Dunes, Worimi Conservation Lands and beyond. Boasting a picture perfect view, clear turquoise water and an endless sandy beach, you will not find a more stunning location in Port Stephens than Crest Birubi Beach.

What to do in Port Stephens
Get wild and explore the Insta-worthy Worimi Conservation lands. Get your heart racing and enjoy the sand dunes with a thrilling ride on the back of a quad bike as part of a guided quad biking tour. Or explore the dunes at your own pace by purchasing a beach vehicle permit and steering your way through the desert in a 4WD. Sandboarding across the dunes is also a fantastic way to get acquainted with the unique terrain. If you dare.

Or for a more chilled out option, catch the sunrise over at Mount Tomaree.

Take the invigorating short walk to the summit of Tomaree Head, 161m above the Port Stephens entrance. As you hike the track, you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of idyllic Port Stephens and its coastline. From the top, you can even see as far as Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands – these nature reserves are the world’s only nesting sites for the endangered Gould's petrel.
When you reach the summit, enjoy panoramic views of Yacaaba Head, Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah and Broughton Islands from the north platform. From the south platform, views of Zenith, Wreck and Box Beaches, Fingal Island and Point Stephens Lighthouse will be sure to impress. Be sure to check out the historic World War II gun emplacements. Take your binoculars as you might be lucky to see some dolphins.

But for the ultimate in memorable holiday activities, why not swim with wild dolphins in pristine NSW waters with Dolphin Swim Australia. Dolphin Swim Australia remains the only permitted wild dolphin swim in NSW, licensed by the Marine Park Authority to operate in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park just 2.5 hours drive north of Sydney.