Road Trips to Take from Sydney
Sydneysiders and visitors to the area need not jump in a plane to head off on the next big adventure - the holiday of a lifetime could be closer than you think. All you need is a reliable car, a map and a sense of adventure to set off on road trips around the New South Wales area, plus holiday accommodation booked in along the way. Take a look at some of the best places to get to via car from Sydney.
The Grand Pacific Drive
The Grand Pacific Drive is one of Australia's most spectacular routes, and it just so happens to depart from Sydney.
Drive over the iconic 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge during your trip, which attracts locals and tourists from all over the world every year. It was opened at the end of 2005 and provides the perfect opportunity to get out of the car and stretch your legs after a long day on the road. Plus there's a viewing platform from which you can whale watch during migration season.
Another lookout to put on your list is the one at Bald Hill in Illawarra. Head to the top of the hill for views of not only the stunning surrounds, but also the hand gliders that frequent the area. In fact, Bald Hill is a staple of the flying world, with Australian flight pioneer Lawrence Hargrave experimenting with box kites at the beach in the 20th century. Head to the peak of the hill to see a memorial dedicated to the great man.
The Kiama Blowhole is another must-see feature of the Grand Pacific Drive. It's the largest blowhole in the world, and includes a viewing platform for excellent views of this natural wonder.
First sighted by George Bass in 1797 years ago when he anchored his boat in the bay, tourists have flocked to the area for more than 100 years. They come in droves too, with around 600,000 people visiting Kiama each year to see the plume of water spout up from the hole.
This is a great place to stop for lunch on your drive, with picnic areas and a rock pool nearby.
One last place to check out on this road trip is the Nan Tien Temple. It's the Southern Hemisphere's largest Buddhist Temple, and offers a blend of grandiose architecture, art, culture, festivals, vegetarian cuisine, healthy lifestyle classes and retreats. It's located in Berkeley, just south of Wollongong City, and offers meditation classes to help you relax after a long car ride.
Greater Blue Mountains Drive
Set off from Sydney on the Greater Blue Mountains Drive, which takes you through some of the best natural attractions in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
This drive is perfect for adventurers, as it has 18 discovery trails branching off from the main route. These are linked by a network of parks and conservation areas that stretch from the Upper Hunter through to Hawkesbury.
There are several different routes you can take from Sydney to start you off on this drive, whether you choose to travel through the Hawkesbury Valley or the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens near Campbelltown. Just make sure you set aside time to discover some of the spectacular sights along the way.
Keen mountain bikers and walkers will love the Anderson Fire Trail, which runs from Bedford Creek near Woodford to Kings Tableland at Wentworth Falls. Stop at the Ingar Picnic Area for a bite to eat, before continuing along the serene pathway.
Factor in a visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, situated 1,000 metres above sea level and featuring countless native and exotic plants that don't flourish elsewhere. The cool climate garden is part of the Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust, and has stunning panoramic views of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. It covers 28 hectares and has many formal gardens to explore. Wander through the garden's Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Exhibition Centre to learn more about this pristine area, then head to the garden shop, kiosk, picnic area or restaurant to continue your visit.
Board the world's steepest incline railway and then coast between clifftops on a Skyway, complete with a glass floor, suspended 270 metres in the air. Follow up with a walk through the ancient rainforest over the 2.4 kilometre Scenic Walkway. The elevated boardwalk has minimum environmental impact but maximum wow factor, which is perfect for those conscious of preserving the natural environment. Along the walk you'll come across relics of the site's coal mining history, such as a mine entrance, replica miner's hut and bronze sculpture of a miner.
Don't panic if it's raining - the Walkway comes alive in wet weather, with mist creeping down over the cliffs and blanketing the walkway's foliage and waterfalls. It exists in its own microclimate which can be very separate from weather elsewhere, and can be enjoyed regardless of any rain or wind.
Finish your road trip with a visit to Falls Gallery, which features an ever-changing rotation of works on paper and ceramics by artists who are both established and emerging. What's more, you'll find these artworks located in an incredible turn of the century weatherboard cottage that has been lovingly restored, complete with a leafy garden as a backdrop. There's also a studio and pottery workshop on the property.
Come along and view ceramics by Ian and Anne Smith as well as a large collection of Anne's works.