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Escape the city: Weekend getaways near Sydney

School holidays. Romantic getaway. A simple desire to escape the daily grind. Whatever the occasion, there’s nothing better than a weekend break to reset and recharge the batteries, and reconnect with loved ones. To help you take the guesswork out of planning and get you on your way to your next adventure, we’ve selected a list of destination ideas in New South Wales, just hours from Sydney.

Myall Lakes

250km – 3hrs 30mins from Sydney

Located in the Great Lakes region of New South Wales between Nelson Bay and Forster, the Myall Lakes is one of the state’s largest coastal lake systems, comprising of four interconnected lakes, and countless opportunities for adventure. Its extensive waterways are ideal for sailing, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, and water-skiing. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, the park boasts more than 40kms of secluded beaches where you can while away the hours in the sun or, for the more active explorer, choose from one of the many tracks at Myall Lakes National Park, including the Mungo Rainforest loop walk, suitable for old and young alike, which takes you on a short trip along the lakeside through to dense rainforest, where you’re likely to spot plenty of wildlife amongst the flora. Other spots to see within the region include The Grandis – NSW’s tallest tree) and the Dark Point sand dunes.

Stay: Whether it’s a luxury villa, grassy campsite, or your own caravan, the NRMA Myall Shores Holiday Park offers a range of powered and unpowered waterfront sites, just a short drive from the beach. Facilities include a swimming pool, playground, shared amenities, barbecues and on site dining.

Bathurst

200km – 3hrs from Sydney

Just North West of Sydney, in the Central Tablelands of NSW, is where you’ll find Bathurst; a vibrant country city steeped in rich history and heritage. History-buffs, meander along tree-lined streets, and feel as if you’ve travelled back in time as you take in the architecture and historic sites scattered around the town, or take a self- or guided tour through the Abercrombie Caves – the largest natural limestone bridge in the Southern Hemisphere. Seeking a sunset? Just a short three kilometre drive from the town centre, Bald Hill lookout offers panoramic views of historic Hill End’s countryside and Instagram-worthy vistas. A visit to Bathurst isn’t complete without a trip to Mount Panorama. Best known for the Bathurst 1000, you can drive around the track when it’s not being used for racing, while next to the track is the National Motor Racing Museum where you can learn about the entire spectrum of motor racing here in Australia. When driving through regional NSW, fuel prices can vary quite dramatically, so it’s a good idea to check the my nrma app throughout your journey to plan where to buy the best value fuel on your route.

Stay: Bathurst Panorama Holiday Park is the perfect base to explore the wonders of the central west. The park offers a range of accommodation including one and two bedroom cabins, as well as ensuite, powered and unpowered sites for caravanning and camping.

Port Macquarie

380km – 4hrs from Sydney

Port Macquarie was purpose built as a convict settlement in 1821. Today, you can visit a number of convict-era sites around town and learn about this fascinating era by joining one of two walking tours or an after dark ghost tour with Port by Night Tours (December through to Easter only). Kids in tow? They’ll love the Hello Koalas Public Sculpture Trail, where you can spot 60 one metre high koala sculptures, individually designed and hand painted by local artists, dotted around the Port Macquarie-Hastings landscape from the mountains to the sea, and in parks, restaurants and shops. Lastly, no visit to Port Macquarie would be complete without a stroll along the breakwall – the perfect spot to spot dolphins, cast a line, ride a bike, or admire the sunset.

Stay: A 45 minute drive from Newcastle, Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park (formally Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park), is a beautifully landscaped waterfront property, bordering the beach, the city centre and the Hastings River. Not only does its affordable central location makes it arguably the best holiday location in Port Macquarie, it offers facilities including a newly refurbished swimming pool, camp kitchen and barbecue areas, swing set, kids club and shared amenities.

Coffs Harbour

560km – 6hrs from Sydney

A must visit attraction, the Big Banana Fun Park is more than just a photo opportunity with an oversized banana, housing a complex of attractions to keep both young and old entertained, including a water park, mini golf, laser tag, a cheese making workshop and a tour to learn all about the production of the popular yellow fruit. Take a picnic and spend a day swimming, surfing, fishing, diving or snorkelling at Woolgoolga Beach and Headland, where you’ll find scenic walking tracks and coastal views that stretch to Yuragir National Park and the rolling hills of the Coffs Coast and hinterland.

Stay: Spanning over 110 acres of coastal forest, and located on the pristine Arrawarra Beach just 25 minutes north of Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast, the eco-friendly NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Resort offers the ideal place to take time out and recharge with the family. The park boasts a huge range of facilities including a resort-style pool, twin slide and a spa, bowling green, 9-hole golf course, two tennis courts, jumping pillows and more.

Finally, before you hit the road, make sure your hire car is covered for roadside assistance. In the event of a breakdown, the NRMA will make sure you make it there and back without too much stress. Happy travels!