Sydney: One of the biggest cities in Australia, home to the storied Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Tower. Are you tired of reading the word, Sydney, already? While this city is undoubtedly an iconic must-visit destination, tourists sometimes need to become travellers – adventurers that leave the city and go off the beaten track. Here are five affordable one-day options under $150.
1. Blue Mountains
Get close enough to touch the marshmallow clouds when you scale the rocks at Blue Mountains. A wildly popular destination, it is a must-visit for any Sydney traveller aching for an adventure. While taking in the jaw-dropping views from the top of the mountains, don’t forget to explore the mystical limestone Jenolan Caves (from $35 per person) – one of the most extensive underground networks in the world. A train ride to Blue Mountains from Sydney costs between $10 to $15, but if you’d rather leave the planning to professionals, this tour (inclusive of two-way transport) costs $99 per adult.
Transport: $20 to $30 (Two-way train ride)
Activities: $0 (Mountain-climbing), $35 (Cave tour)
Food: $10 to $30
Total: $65 to $95
2. Port Stephens
Image: Roderick Eime
For the self-proclaimed merfolk, or marine enthusiasts, get your fill at Port Stephens. Wild bottlenose dolphins are aplenty here with about 140 of them, and there are cruises you can hop on to watch them. Not impressed yet? How about the chance to catch a humpback whale, or nearly 6,500 of them, in migration between May and August? It doesn’t get any better than seeing first hand one of the ocean’s majestic giants splashing and leaping about. If you’re more inclined to stay away from the water, you can follow the hiking trail that goes to the top of Tomaree Head. Port Stephens is a four-hour bus ride (from $11) from Sydney, but considering the potential sights, it’s undeniably worth the scenic drive.
Transport: $22 (Two-way bus ride)
Activities: $56.70 (Whale-watching cruise), $25.20 (Dolphin-watching cruise), $0 (Tomaree Head hike)
Food: $10 to $20
Total: $113.90 to $123.90
There is only one reason for pit stops at the remote suburb of Maroota, and that is the Tobruk Sheep Station. Interact with throngs of sheep, horses and cows at the farm, where you can snap as many selfies with them as you like and live out your Dr Dolittle dreams. On top of that, witness a live sheep shearing demonstration, a sheep muster and working dog display, and try your hand at cracking a whip or throwing a boomerang like a cowboy or cowgirl. You can take a train ($11 to $13) to reach Maroota. If you’d like to extend your day outing, the farm offers cosy accommodations as well.
Transport: $22 to $26 (Two-way train ride)
Activities: $69 (farm visit including activities and BBQ lunch)
Total: $91 to $95
4. Hunter Valley
Image: Lock the Gate Alliance
Awaken your palate with New South Wales’ finest wines right from the source at Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region. With a stable of more than 150 wineries, vineyards and cellar doors, your best bet would be to sign up for an organised tour ($125 per person), wherein you will get to visit four sites and taste at least five wine varieties from each. Mingle with the robust community of vignerons, learn the subtle difference between Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and end the day with enough wine knowledge to impress at your next dinner party.
Activities: $125 (Full-day wine tour with lunch and two-way transport)
5. Grand Pacific Drive
Image: Maarten Danial
Topping this list off is a road trip along Grand Pacific Drive, stretching around 140km. Journey through the world’s second oldest national park – Royal National Park, and make pit stops at Bald Hill and the 665m Sea Cliff Bridge that offer grand views of the South Pacific Ocean. For the pièce de résistance, catch the Kiama Blowhole shooting gushes of water as far as 20 meters into the air! Nearby lies a rock pool as well, making for a picturesque picnic setting, or grab some tapas and local beer at the Little Blowhole Café.
Transport: $80 to $110 (one-day car rental )
Activities: $0 (Bald Hill, Sea Cliff Bridge, Kiama Blowhole)
Food: $18 to $25
Total: $98 to $135
Note: All prices stated are in Australian dollars
Book a stay with PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, as you plan for one of these quick and exciting excursions outside the capital of New South Wales to put the cherry on top of your Australian holiday. Need more inspiration? Check out our Sydney local guides on PARKROYAL Picks to see where else you can go in New South Wales!