Take a Mini Break in NSW
A weekend getaway in New South Wales can be action-packed, full of natural wonder or spent hopping from cafe to restaurant to bar. Take a look at what you can do in just a few days at the following mini break destinations.
There are plenty of fantastic accommodation options in Illawarra, surpassed only by the sheer abundance of things to do in this seaside region.
For a walk with a difference, try the Illawarra Treetop Flyer. Run by 3801 Limited, this will have you walking 25 metres above a rainforest to enjoy breathtaking views across the Robertson bushland surrounds. This treat can be added on to The Cockatoo Run, which takes you aboard a restored heritage train to travel from Sydney through to Robertson and Moss Vale.
If you've got kids, or simply have a passion for fun and adventure, head to Flip Out Trampoline Area in Warrawong. The trampoline playground is Australian-owned and aims to keep kids active and entertained without excluding parents and older participants. Bounce around on the trampolines or step things up with a ninja class, where you can learn how to flip and twist in mid-air. Not only is this activity heaps of fun, but it's got plenty of health benefits too, including the development of coordination, agility and better cardiovascular fitness.
South West Rocks
The sleepy town of South West Rocks in the North Coast area boasts many opportunities for aquatic adventures. Make Fish Rock Cave your first port of call, famous for its incredible dive adventures and plentiful marine life. It's one of the few diving sites in the country where the rare and endangered grey nurse shark can be found all year round in its natural habitat.
Check out Fish Rock Dive Centre for PADI scuba lessons and dive courses through these stunning waters.
In winter you can catch a glimpse of humpback whales in South West Rocks, with whale watching cruises available during the migration period of May to November.
Visit Smoky Cape Lighthouse, the East Coast's most elevated building of its kind at 128 metres. It's located in the Hat Head National Park and is surrounded in beautiful bushland, with a backdrop of sweeping coastal views.
Head slightly east of South West Rocks and you'll find Arakoon State Conservation Area, which is home to the picturesque ruin of Trial Bay Gaol. This was initially built as a public works prison but was then used as an internment camp for World War I. Visit the ruins, soak up the history and take in the surrounding natural wonder of the area.
Nelson Bay is one of Port Stephens' premier destinations and provides plenty of opportunities for sun, sand and surf on your mini break. Head slightly north of the township to Stockton Beach, which is home to the largest coastal dune system in the country. It stretches for over 30 kilometres to Newcastle's outskirts, and the picnic shelters, barbecues, changing rooms and beach kiosk at Stockton make for an excellent day trip destination. The waters are relatively sheltered, making it a great place to take the kids or the surfboard.
Once you've worked up an appetite, head to Mavericks on the Bay. The restaurant offers open plan dining on the edge of d'Albora Marina, with views overlooking the water. Sip on one of the eight tap draught beers while you peruse the menu, which includes such delicacies as Sydney rock oysters, crispy skin chicken with bok choy, pumpkin risotto and porcini mushroom jus, and deep fried Szechuan soft shell crab, complete with a warm Asian salad. Regional musicians play live at the restaurant with no cover charge on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Blue Mountains are incredibly popular with tourists, but many Australians may not have explored this magnificent area. A mini break to these iconic peaks could be the perfect way to spend a weekend.
The mountains feature a characteristic blue haze due to the mixing of sunlight and drops of eucalypt oil. They're World Heritage-listed and feature plenty of tramps, walks and scenic lookouts to enjoy.
One of the most spectacular views can be experienced at Echo Point Lookout, which offers panoramic views of the southern mountains, Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness and Three Sisters rock formation. From here you can take an adventurous walk down the Giant Stairway, which will lead you 980 steps to the valley floor. Along the way you'll notice interpretive plaques that detail the Aboriginal stories of the site.
For more adventure, check out the Jenolan Caves. These impressive limestone caves are estimated to date back at least 340 million years, and are open to the public every day of the year. Located near Oberon, the caves feature incredible lighting, underground rivers and awe-inspiring stalactites.
Explore the complex cave system with a day or night guided tour, or step things up a notch with a ghost tour or adventure caving. Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies and platypus while you're there. If you only have time to tour one cave, check out the Lucas. This offers the area's widest and highest caverns along with the most photographed limestone formation in Jenolan - the Broken Column.
The South Coast town of Bermagui is known for its game fishing, so make sure you pack your rod and reel when you head here. You may be able to catch such exotic fish as yellowfin tuna and marlin. Head off the shoreline for the best fishing, as this is where warm southern currents flow and the big game fish can be found. If you don't have your own boat, hop aboard a charter vessel where you can get up close with black marlin and tuna.
Bird watchers should head to Wallaga Lake, where more than 200 species, including lyrebirds, can be spotted. You can also see Umburra, the black duck and totem of the Yuin-Monaro people. It's the largest lake in southern NSW and offers prawning when in season, along with sailing, water skiing, fishing and swimming.
There are plenty of events and festivals that take place year-round in this bustling hub, including the Four Winds Festival, Bermagui Seaside Fair, Sculpture on the Edge and the Bermagui Bike Show.