THESE are the three best road trips to take from Sydney

From wine tasting to surfer beaches and rainforest skywalks: THESE are the three best road trips to take from Sydney

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Its iconic harbour, buzzing culture and pristine beaches make Sydney one of Australia’s most visited cities. Yet surrounded by hazy mountains, thriving rainforests and mesmerising seascapes, it also offers the perfect opportunity to hit the open road and explore Sydney’s surrounds

After kayaking around the tranquil harbour and scaling its impressive steel bridge, dining out in style and exploring the city’s Aboriginal culture, it’s time to fill the tank and head out to discover the best sites of New South Wales. From mountainous climbs to sky-high rainforest walks and picturesque ports, a world of beauty awaits.

Just a short journey time from Sydney you can experience a vast array of different natural wonders and all manner of adventures (pictured: The Sea Cliff Bridge) 

Whether driving for a day or a week, Sydney’s surroundings are studded by incredible viewpoints and cultural hot spots, meaning it’s easy to break up your journey into manageable chunks.

Perhaps you’ll opt for a Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley expedition after a night with the koalas at Taronga Zoo, a two-day drive peppered by vineyard tours through the Hunter Valley en route to a mountain retreat, or a coastal adventure visiting all the best beaches north or south of Sydney.

No matter where your sights are set, Sydney is the perfect place to start. In the spirit of adventure, here are three of the best road trips that you can enjoy in New South Wales.

The Legendary Pacific Coast route

This route takes you to famous Byron Bay where you can hit the surf if you fancy, or indulge in some yoga with a view

Follow this fascinating 621-mile route between Sydney and Brisbane, and immerse yourself in a diverse world of some of Australia’s greatest treasures. From crystalline lakes to misty mountains, roaring rivers to dense rainforests, this easy coastal journey takes you from Sydney’s cosmopolitan glamour to Byron Bay’s bohemian shores in style.

Two hours north of Sydney, you’ll be spoilt by 26 golden beaches in Port Stephens, where boats head out whale watching from May to November and swimmers share the water with playful dolphins year-round.

Enjoy a quad bike adventure through the dunes, scale Mount Tomaree, and don’t miss Rick Stein at Bannisters, in Port Stephens, for an exquisite seafood experience. Hit up The Wild Herring at The Anchorage Hotel for excellent dining, or the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary for a unique overnight stay glamping among the marsupials.

Two hours north of Sydney, you’ll be spoilt by 26 golden beaches in Port Stephens

Port Stephens offers walks to Mt Tomaree Head summit and quad biking adventures led by Aboriginal guides

A short drive north, more furry friends await at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, or you can opt for a whale-watching trip from Lighthouse Beach. Looking for a culinary delight? You’ll find Bago Maze & Vineyard up by Herons Creek, the perfect place for wine and handmade chocolates.

At Coffs Harbour, another 100 miles further north, explore the waters of the Solitary Islands Marine Park with a snorkel, or head inland to Dorrigo National Park to climb into the rainforest canopy along the Skywalk. Follow your Aboriginal guide on a paddle boarding tour, or sunbathe among kangaroos on Emerald Beach.

Just 2.5 hours later, you’ll arrive at Byron Bay, ready to embrace the boho beach lifestyle, with surf lessons, sunrise mantras and independent boutiques. From kayaking with dolphins to snorkelling past sea turtles, homebrews to field-to-fork dining, here hippie chic is in.

Not ready for it to be over yet? The Tweed Region is forty minutes further north, where you’ll enjoy eco-cruises along Tweed River and ‘catch a crab’ tours led by Aboriginal guides. Fresh produce is everything here, from macadamia nuts to mud crabs and ink gin, it’s an adventure for your taste buds.

Following the Grand Pacific Drive

Royal National Park is just 40 minutes from the city centre and contains over 1000 plant species

A shorter coastal drive taking you south of Sydney to Jervis Bay, where seals, dolphins and penguins play in the surf, spread this 87-mile trip across several days to give you time to soak up everything this region has to offer.

Dazzling ocean views and gourmet cuisine, abundant wildlife and cascading waterfalls, this is one trip where you’ll want your camera to hand throughout.

Your first stop is Royal National Park, just a 40-minute drive from the city centre. This 58-square-mile habitat is Australia’s oldest National Park, and the second oldest in the world. More than 1,000 plant species combine to form fragrant heathlands and woodlands, embraced by cliffs and sparkling beaches.

Huskisson Beach at Jervis Bay, where you might be able to spot dolphins and even swim with seals

Heading south, you’ll soon cross the majestic Sea Cliff Bridge, the perfect opportunity to get out and stretch your legs, following the scenic trail down to the coast. This area is speckled with crystal-clear rockpools teeming with marine life and expansive ocean pools perfect for a swim.

Visit the famous Kiama Blowhole, sample the Sydney rock oyster, and then it’s on to Jervis Bay to swim with seals, spot dolphins and even take a whale-watching tour during the humpback whale migration from May to November. This marine park is home to some of the world’s whitest beaches, and a sublime backdrop to your paddleboarding expeditions.

Extend your trip with a day or two spent in the Southern Highlands on your way back to Sydney, where rural charm, waterfalls and farmers’ markets rule. Admire the wildlife in Kangaroo Valley, head out foraging with Wild Food Adventures, and get educated about sustainable wine-making at Tractorless Vineyards.

Wine and wildlife en route to the Blue Mountains

Sometimes you need a route marked out, sometimes you want to go with the flow. This relaxed route takes you from coast to vineyards and soaring mountains.

Begin with a relaxed drive to the Central Coast for awesome surf, luxury lodges and wine-tasting experiences paired with Bush Tucker at Firescreek Winery. Savour a plate of pearl meat at Broken Bay Pearl Farm, before heading 1.5 hours north to Port Stephens for mountain climbing and quad biking adventures led by Aboriginal guides.

Less than two hours north-west of Sydney, wine lovers will find a home in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, famous for its Shiraz and Semillon grapes and exquisite wine and cheese pairings. Take your pick from more than 150 cellar doors, where you can taste world-renowned wines and pair them with local cheeses and rich chocolates.

One of the incredible dishes served up at Bistro Molines which overlooks undulating vines

Just 90 minutes west of Sydney you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains

Food gives wine a run for its money here and you’ll also find fabulous restaurants such as Bistro Molines, a charming French-inspired spot overlooking undulating vines, or Muse, serving delicate seasonal delights at Hungerford Hill Winery.

Providing a hazy backdrop to Sydney’s vibrant scene, the Blue Mountains are home to a vast national park and your final destination on this meandering tour of coast and countryside. It will take you about three hours from the Hunter Valley.

Here you can enjoy bushwalking adventures, scale the peaks, get an abseiling adrenaline rush or send dust in your wake on an exhilarating mountain biking ride. Explore Aboriginal history, go wildlife spotting, and enjoy a luxurious spa treatment at Lilianfels Resort & Spa.

With Sydney as your base, you’re in the perfect position to explore the vibrant nature and unique culture that call Australia home. After discovering this sun-drenched city’s most iconic sites and buzzing neighbourhoods, it’s time to explore enthralling rainforests, hidden wine valleys, and miles upon miles of spectacular coast.

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