As winter sets in, daylight hours shrink, breezes turn to gusts, long walks become brisk strolls and many Sydneysiders start to search for breaks in the warmer north.
But although the popular wisdom in Australia is that the outdoors is best in summertime, it’s also true it can be enjoyed equally right about now. Along the New South Wales coastline, remote bushwalks, surf breaks and camping spots are less crowded at this time of year. Those in the know sit around crackling campfires and the days offer crisper conditions for trekking. Here are some ideas for those adventurous city-dwellers looking for a break from the cubicle this winter.
Crescent Head is a sleepy township spread atop a grassy headland an hour’s drive from Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast and a stunning five-hour drive north of Sydney. It takes its name from the shape of its hallowed surf beach, which stretches for almost four kilometres on either side. The break is touted as one of the best in the world. It developed a rich surfing culture after World War II and is part of the National Surfing Reserve. A nearby holiday park sits overlooking the ocean next to a rocky estuary.
For something a little closer to home, the Jimmys Beach Holiday Park at Hawks Nest is fronted by 50 kilometres of uninterrupted beach and has free WiFi. Nearby Bennetts Beach is another lauded surf spot on the east coast, with the holiday park a much more digestible two-and-a-half hour drive north from Sydney.
Nestled next to Jervis Bay, the Booderee National Park is home to picturesque camping spots within a stone’s throw of the big smoke. Campsites such as Green Patch are affordable, have hot showers and opportunities to roast marshmallows by a campfire are abundant. The Steamers Beach sea cliffs are the highest on the east coast of Australia, rising up to 130 metres at one point. Booderee National Park is a three-hour drive south of Sydney.
Visit the Mimosa Rocks National Park on the Sapphire Coast to appreciate the dead silence and stillness of the pristine Tanja Lagoon the camp overlooks. This spot is about a five-and-a-half hour drive south of Sydney.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is only a short train trip from Sydney. Named for the mystical blue haze that lowers across the horizon, the Blue Mountains is host to scores of maintained and marked walking trails for enthusiasts through to experienced survivalists. For those looking for a more rustic touch, there is plenty of self-contained cabin accommodation available for an experience definitely best enjoyed outside of the sweltering summer months.
Wollemi Wilderness Retreat offers private cabin accommodation across 600 hectares of private land for those so inclined. Love Cabins also offers something similar, including a tree house high above Bowen’s Creek Gorge. If you’re interested in rock climbing or mountain biking, gear can be hired centrally in Katoomba. Getting there is easy by train or it is a 90-minute drive.
If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, but without compromising the bushwalking, the Scandinavian-styled designer cabins at Far Meadow, a two-hour drive south of Sydney sit snugly in the foothills of the Coolangatta Mountain.