5 quirky accommodation options in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

NEW South Wales has loads of quirky accommodation whether it’s camping out with bison or stretching out in a private treehouse, say the Destination NSW who know better than anyone where to go for .

From a selection of their recommendations, we’ve plucked out 5 accommodation hotspots that are much more than merely being a place to rest your weary bones.  Jump in your Sydney car rental and head for these quirky venues for a sleepover with a point of difference.

One… Camp Native American style with bison (pictured)

Believe it or not, but there’s an American bison farm on the NSW north coaast. Head for Aranyani Bison Adventure Park and camp in a Native American style teepee. These large teepees can fit up to a dozen. Besides the bison, the ranch has abundant native bird and animals. Enjoy spending your evenings around the campfire and your day exploring the farm.

Two… A yurt on the Murray River

Inspired by the traditional Mongolian yurt, Talo Retreat has transformed yurt accommodation into a luxurious couples-only experience on the mighty Murray River. From the canvas walls lined with Australian wood, to the domed skylight to allow stargazing from your bed and the private outdoor spa, this is a unique luxurious yurt experience.

Four… Adults-only treehouse

Shoot for the clouds in the canopy in the Blue Mountains known as Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse.With wall-to-wall windows, exposed native timber and perched on timber stilts, the Treehouse offers stunning views of Bowen’s Creek Gorge. This back-to-basics romantic escape includes a spa and wood fire.

Five… African safari in Dubbo

Dubbo might seem like an unlikely place to enjoy an African safari escape, but at Taronga Western Plains you can sleep in luxury safari tents on the edge of the African savannah. From your private deck you will see giraffe, zebra and eland as they roam.

Also try Five Great Road Trips From Sydney




5 of the hottest nearby beach destinations from Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney’s beach destinations are some of the best in New South Wales. On a hot summer’s day, people will head to the coast in droves just to soak up the sun and the atmosphere.

Grab a cheap car hire deal from DriveNow and travel a short distance to one of these incredible beach destinations.

Bondi Beach

It’s one of Sydney’s most iconic beach destinations. Bondi’s famous sandy shore can be explored all year round. Enjoy beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean as you relax in the sand on a summer’s day. You may even want to join thousands of other beachgoers in the middle of the day and hit the surf. Go for a nice stroll at sunrise or sunset. Socialise at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants at night. Whatever you decide to do, Bondi Beach is abuzz with energy.

Manly Beach

Only a short drive from the CBD you’ll discover the best of both worlds. On one side sits a peaceful inner-harbour beach which is lovely to walk along. On the other is one of the city’s most popular surf beaches. Throw in some fine dining restaurants and attractions such as Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary and you have everything you need in a coastal destination.

Cronulla Beach

It’s not often you’ll find a beach destination that caters perfectly for surfers and families, but this spot is ideal for both. On any given day you’ll see kids running around the place while thrill-seekers chase big waves. Look for some beautiful lookouts and ocean pools and it’s likely you’ll have found yourself somewhere along the ‘Cronulla Walk’. The two-hour stroll showcases some of the best scenery the area has to offer.

Terrigal Beach

Surfers unite! Drive just under one and a half hours north of Sydney. You’ll soon understand by Terrigal has earned a reputation for having fantastic surf beaches. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t experienced at riding waves. There are quite a few surf schools to choose from so you can learn to ride. There’s no shortage of surf up here. But if you do feel like doing something other than hitting the waves then you can also check out the area’s lively café scene and scenic walks.

Stanwell Park Beach

This is a peaceful family spot, located only an hour south of Sydney. There’s a large reserve with picnic and barbeque facilities. The beach is also surrounded by natural bushland. Take a walk up to Bald Hill Lookout to really appreciate the gorgeous views of Stanwell Tops and the famous Sea Cliff Bridge. The panorama view of this pretty coastal town is a sight not to forget.



Road trip Sydney and beyond – 5 great drives this summer

By Australia / Australian Capital Territory / New South Wales / Sydney /

If you are to Google Earth our beautiful country you would quickly realise we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to road trips throughout our enormous continent. Once you jump in a Sydney car rental every road leads to a great adventure. But where to start? Try these suggestions.

Sydney to Leura (pictured)

Set your sights in a westerly direction and head for Wentworth Falls via the M4 Motorway. Catch some gorgeous little towns along the way including Glenbrook, Faulconbridge, Hazelbrook and continue on to magnficient Wentworth Falls. The views over the Jamison Valley are hard to beat and there are some great opportunities for  a walk through the Blue Mountains National Park. After that take the 10 minute drive to Leura where you can take a stroll checking out the local shops, galleries and craft stores while having a bite in one of the gourmet cafes.

Grand Pacific Drive

This southerly sensation is arguably Australia’s best, a spectacular driving route that takes in ocean views, countless beaches and such hotspots as Stanwell Tops, Bald Hill Lookout and Sea Cliff Bridge, a sight to behold that swerves out from the cliffs over the sea. Heading off from Sydney, it all starts in Royal National Park before cruising through Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama (a stop off at Easts Beach Big4 Holiday Park is a must!).  Explore quaint seaside villages, drive through rainforests and enjoy a stellar coastline with an endless supply of views.

Discover the Poachers Way

It may be a three hour journey (no stops) from Sydney, but it’s both the journey and the destination that provide loads of highlights with this one. The journey south will take you through such touristy treats like Bowral and Goulburn before you reach the region surrounding Canberra. Welcome to the Poachers Way, a tourist route where you can sample the fine food, wine and art produced by local chefs, winemakers and artists. Visit the towns of Yass, Hall and gorgeous Murrumbatemen along the way and enjoy the high quality produce and discover the handcrafts and local produce of local businesses and artisans.

Hunter Valley

Wine country, yes, but you don’t necessarily need to be a big fan of the grape! Hunter Valley is a two and a half hour drive from the heart of Sydney and while it has a smorgasbord of beautiful rolling vineyards, wineries and great cellar doors, there are also such attractions as Hunter Valley Gardens (with 10 stunning storybook feature gardens), luxury retreats like the Chateau Elan at The Vintage, a splendid golf and spa resort, restaurants galore, and national parks with great walks on offer.

Port Stephens

Head north and hug the coast for a couple of hours and providing you can avoid beautiful distractions like the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle you will stumble upon Port Stephens. There’s a lot to do here, from enjoying “blue water paradise” with 30km of pristine coastline for a swim, fish, whale watching expedition or a dolphin cruise, otherwise hit the sand dunes at Stockton Beach on a quad bike or discover national parks and a superb marina at Nelson Bay for a shop or bite to eat.

Also try Six Summer Sensations in Sydney and Sydney To The Blue Mountains – 5 Ways To Play





6 summer sensations in Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney is the perfect destination in the summer. It’s the time of year where you can spend pretty much your entire trip outdoors as you explore each attraction the city has to offer. Whether that’s a stroll along the beach, an adrenaline-filled activity or an evening of fine dining, Sydney has everything. But one of the best things about Sydney is its food scene.

Hire a car from Sydney Airport and choose from these six summer sensations.

Visit a dining precinct
This city is bursting with fantastic places to eat and drink. There are plenty of lively and emerging dining hubs, including Surry Hills and Chatswood. In Chippendale you’ll find a chic restaurant called Ester. It’s tucked away with its arched openings and dimly lit space. Sweet tooths should consider heading to Black Star Pastry in Newtown. A mouthful of one of these delicious sensations will change the way you think about dessert forever.

Explore a produce market
Fill your weekend with markets! There’s plenty to choose from. One of the most reputable is Carriageworks Farmers Market. This award-winning authentic farmers market is held every Saturday. Fresh, seasonal produce from more than 70 stalls fills the site, located in the heart of the CBD. These delights are picked and packed with love.

Chill on a rooftop
Sometimes where you’re dining is almost just as important as the tastes filling your mouth. Welcome to Glenmore at the Rocks, where you’re treated to 180-degree views of the harbour and CBD from a rooftop. Enjoy these sensational views as you enjoy scrumptious, high-end pub food. It’s the perfect place to enjoy dinner and sunset on a summer’s night.

Go on a gourmet safari tour
Food lovers unite for a gourmet safari adventure! Your guide whisks you to some of the most exotic food precincts in the city. You’ll learn about culinary food and customs while feasting on some of the most flavoursome dishes. Gourmet safari tours give visitors a taste of China, Greece, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Africa, to name a few cuisines.

Chinatown night market
Chinatown is one of Sydney’s most popular international food scenes. Walk just a few metres and you’ll feel like you’ve entered an entirely different country. Here, you’ll receive a good taste of Chinese culture. At certain times of the year there’s even food stalls that line the streets, giving you ample opportunity to sample several dishes. Think Hong Kong, Hanoi, Tokyo, and more!

Dine on the water
Sydney Harbour is one of the most beautiful stretches of water in Australia. At night the water lights up with reflections of the city’s main attractions, such as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. How else better to spend a romantic evening then on board a luxury dinner cruise with million dollar views on the water?

ALSO try 5 Short Road Trips From Sydney



Sydney summer events – five reasons you have to be there!

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney events in the summer…

It’s the best and busiest time of year to visit. 

After hiring a car from Sydney Airport make sure you start checking out what’s on the Sydney events calendar during your stay. If you need more convincing, then here are five reasons why you have to be in Sydney this summer!

Sydney NYE
Sydney is the New Year’s Eve capital of Australia. From here you can be among the first major cities in the world to welcome in the New Year. The city is famous for its midnight fireworks at Sydney Harbour. Each more than one million people come to the various vantage points around the harbour to watch the colourful show and celebrate the end of the year in style.

Mardi Gras
Coming up in early March is the most colourful LGBTIQ celebration. Held in the heart of the city, the Sydney Mardi Gras draws 70,000 people from across the world. The parade is the highlight of the event, with epic costumes, loud music and colourful floats taking up Oxford and Flinders streets. It’s like a non-stop party that celebrates everything LGBTIQ while making a political and cultural statement.

Chinese New Year
From January 28 to February 12 is New Year on the Chinese calendar. More than one million people took part in Sydney’s Chinese New Year this year, as they were treated to more than 22 hours of live performances. The festival’s highlight is Lunar Lanterns, which features giant, colourful lanterns that represent the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.

Australia Day
People from across the country come together every year on January 26 to celebrate what it means to be Australian. The national day commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, which changed the course of the nation forever. Sydney is Australia’s oldest city, making it the ideal location for several key events across the city.

Australian Open of Surfing
Kicking off in late February, the Australian Open of Surfing is one of the most exciting sporting events on Sydney’s calendar. Manly Beach becomes the home of Australia’s largest (and best) surf, skate and music festival for 10 days. World-class athletes and artists come together to celebrate surf and skate culture at what’s considered to be the birthplace of modern surfing.

Also try Five Ways To Play – Sydney to the Blue Mountains



Whales are all the rage along the NSW coastline this winter

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

FROM full breaches like this photo supplied by the Wild About Whales crew to tail, chin and peck slaps, there’s a lot of action in the waters along the NSW and Queensland coastline with more than 20,000 migrating Humpback whales carving a path in the ocean. Where to spot them? There’s plenty of options along the east coast.

As the Destination NSW gang says, this winter is all about following a do-it-yourself whale trail along 2000km of scenic coastline between the Tweed and Eden offering a multitude of vantage points and experiences to spot these majestic beasts of the deep. Here are just some of their suggestions:

Option 1

In the Camden Haven area south of Port Macquarie, walk through Kattang Nature Reserve to Perpendicular Point to spot the passing whales. Wander along the 9km Port Macquarie Coastal Walk, where boardwalks and viewing platforms hug the coastline to the historic Tacking Point Lighthouse, looking for tell-tale signs of whales passing – breeching, tale splashing and water spouts. Closer to Coffs Harbour, the 10-metre catamaran Pacific Explorer makes daily whale watching trips to the nearby Solitary Islands Marine Park, one of the places where humpback whales converge on their annual migration to and from Antarctic waters.

Option 2

The Central Coast is buzzing with whale watching vantage points. Captain Cook Lookout, Copacabana is a great place to take the kids with two viewing decks, interpretative signage and a fully accessible path. The Skillion is the iconic tall outcrop at Terrigal with amazing views of North Avoca and Avoca beaches to the south, and Wamberal and Forresters beaches to the north. Set up a picnic blanket and enjoy expansive views over The Entrance and Shelly Beach at Crackneck Point in Wyrrabalong National Park. Norah Head Lighthouse also offers stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean and is home to the annual Whale Dreamers Festival in July.

Option 3

The Legendary Pacific Coast’s Whale Watching Trail features 71 of the best places to spot a whale between Avoca Beach and Tweed Heads. Plan a whale watching day-trip or week long whale watching mission with information on the website detailing best vantage points and experiences. A must-do is a cruise with Tamboi Queen, Imagine or Moonshadow in Port Stephens who all offer memorable experiences with whales.

Option 4

Grab a pair of binoculars and make the short climb to Newcastle’s iconic Nobbys Lighthouse, a popular place to spot whales with 360 degree views of the city, beach, coastline and ocean. Nova Cruises operate 2.5 to 3 hour ocean cruises from Newcastle including a bonus harbour and outer beach cruise.

Option 5

See whales from the air in Sydney with Blue Sky Helicopters on a 60 minute flight over Botany Bay and Cape Banks, heading north up the coast towards Palm Beach and Broken Bay. Be sure to visit the aptly named Whale Beach, which is said to have been named after the shape of its northern headland. Closer to town the viewing platform at Cape Solander in Botany Bay National Park is popular with whales often spotted only 200 metres from the coast. The site is is also part of a long-running whale-counting volunteer program running each June and July. The stunning cliff-top walking trail from Bondi to Coogee beach also offers fantastic opportunities for whale watching as do headlands at Clovelly Beach and North Maroubra. Plus get up close to these majestic animals on a whale-watching cruise departing from Circular Quay or Manly with Fantasea, Captain Cook, Manly Whale Watching, Oz Whale Watching or Whale Watching Sydney.

Option 6

Jervis Bay boasts a huge array of land and sea based whale watching options. Find a vantage point on the headland overlooking the bay, and head to Penguin Head at Culburra or the viewing platform in Booderee National Park located at Cape St George Lighthouse. Enjoy a seafood platter at Portside Cafe before boarding a Whale Eco-Cruise with Jervis Bay WildDolphin Watch Cruises specialise in calm water whale watching staying close to shore to view the “Humpback Highway” as it passes by. They also offer special event cruises including sunsets with the whales, BBQ with whales and even weddings with the whales.

For more visit www.visitnsw.com and www.wildaboutwhales.com.au

Also try Whale Watching Hot Spots





5 ways to play in Sydney this winter

By Australia / Sydney /

In winter when you’re in need of a holiday, look no further than Sydney! While the coastal city comes to life in summer, it’s also an exciting destination full of things to do in winter.

Hire a car through DriveNow, chuck on some warmer layers and check out this list of five ways to play in Sydney during the cold weather.

Sydney Opera House

The Opera House caused a controversial stir when it first opened in 1973. However, with time it became one of the twentieth century’s most iconic manmade attractions. It’s highly recommended that you get your hands on some tickets to see a show one night. You can also book a tour to gain VIP backstage access to the Opera House and learn about its fascinating history.

Whale watching

From April to November each year, thousands of whales migrate between New South Wales and Queensland to give birth. While on their journey to and from the warmer northern waters, the humpback whales pass Sydney. Grab a pair of binoculars and make your way to North Head Lookout and Cape Solander. These are some of the best vantage points to spot humpback whales.

Roller skating

It can be hard to get motivated to exercise during the cooler months. So why not make it fun? Head to Sydney’s Rollerhouse, where you’ll experience the ultimate roller disco! Sing along to your all-time-favourite tunes, grab your leg warmers and dress up in neon gear for the night. All while improving your skating skills with your friends!

Sydney Observatory

Visit the Sydney Observatory to learn about the stars and planets that fill our night sky. It’s set inside a beautiful sandstone building, which is the highest point that overlooks the harbour. Guides will teach you about the universe while you explore the exhibitions on display. During the daytime, you can also put on special lenses to observe the sun. The observatory is open 10am to 5pm daily.

Vivid Sydney

Every year Vivid Sydney warms up the city with its incredible light displays. Taronga Zoo, The Royal Botanic Garden and the Sydney Opera House are among the iconic sites that will light up with moving projections of magical colours and patterns. In 2016, the festival runs from May 27 to June 18. This year’s theme is heavily focused on flora and fauna.

Also … 5 short road trips from Sydney and 7 top spots for a sunrise or sunset in Sydney


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Port Macquarie for BBQs, bands and billycarts!

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

BBQs, bands and billycarts all feature in a bumper line-up of eclectic events in Port Macquarie this year. Plan your visit around one of the many foodie, cultural and sporting fixtures that will spice up any weekend in this gorgeous coastal town. Here are 7 to ponder:
1. Slice of Haven (29 May) – spend your day by the Camden Haven River and meet over 80 local producers of nuts, cheese, wine, beer, vegetables and bush-foods. This year’s ‘Magic beyond the plate’ theme will feature cooking demonstrations, workshops, dancing, quirky stilt walkers and games. 10am-4pm. Entry via gold coin donation. www.sliceofhaven.com.au
2. Hastings Landcare Farm Gate Tour (11-13 June, long weekend, pictured) – learn where your food comes from at this unique event run by Landcare that visits around 12 farms that aren’t normally open to the public. From the oyster farms of the Hastings River to the lush grazing valleys of the Wauchope hinterland, see cows being milked, chickens free ranging and baby animals being fed. www.hastingslandcare.org.au
3. Jazz in the Vineyards at Bago Vineyards (monthly, every second Sunday) – a fixture now for 15 years, Jazz in the Vineyards is the best way to experience the magic of this hinterland winery. Live jazz, cuisine from XS Foods and great wine combine for a relaxing afternoon outdoors, while the kids can get lost in Bago Maze. www.bago.com.au
4. Port Macquarie Beer and Cider Festival (24 September) – enjoy tastings from around 50 beer and cider makers, live music, a beer garden and fun games including the Beer Keg Toss competition, inspired by the long tradition of the Highland Games. Westport Park. www.portmacbeerandciderfestival.com
5. Ekam Yoga Festival Port Macquarie (18 September) – a day of music, play and connection, this event features talks by some of the most senior yoga teachers in Australia, plus classes, workshops and a sustainable living and natural health expo. Ekam, meaning one, is about coming together as one for the day. It is held at the Glasshouse. www.ekamyogafestival.org.au
6. Beechwood Billycart Classic (5 November) – the gorgeous town of Beechwood, just 7km from Wauchope, is home to this hilarious and fun day out. Watch the thrills and spills as kids and adults race down Mt Pappinbarra with speeds of up to 100km/hr, finishing at the Beechwood Hotel, a great landing place for post-race festivities. www.billycartclassic.com.au
7. Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail (daily) – now a permanent event, this free, tourist trail features 50 one-metre high hand-painted koala sculptures set up at various locations including attractions, wineries, beaches, parks and hotels. www.hellokoalas.com
8. Ironman Australia (1 May) – one of IRONMAN’s original events steeped in triathlon history and a must-do for sport-lovers. This year the inspirational Turia Pitt will make her debut return to the field at one of the most scenic Ironman circuits in the world. www.ironman.com

Port Macquarie is a 4-hour drive North of Sydney or a 1-hour flight from Sydney and Brisbane with connections to the rest of Australia. 


5 great foodie events to look forward to around Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney has a great reputation for its food and wine festivals, with many people travelling from across the country just to experience these top food events every year.

Here are five Sydney foodie festivals to look forward to.

Merivale Food and Wine Festival
Merivale Food and Wine Festival is a month-long extravaganza of food and drink events – could you ask for anything better? Throughout March, you can attend exquisite lunches, dinners, wine tastings, food markets and cooking classes. There are also chef competitions to entertain, with each event offering a quirky theme.

Thailand Grand Festival
This incredible event started off as a small, simple food fair 20 years ago. It’s since morphed into a Grand Festival, held for a couple of days every March, to give Sydney residents a taste of Thailand. You’ll get to discover all of the delicious flavours used in Thai cuisine and attend cooking demos, while admiring traditional Thai performances. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled to Thailand for the day!

Taste of Sydney
Taste of Sydney is the main event on Sydney’s dining calendar. This year’s festival returns at Centennial Park between March 10 and 13. Choose from more than 60 tasting dishes created by Sydney’s best restaurants and mingle with award-winning chefs (see if you can figure out some of their secret tricks!) You can also attend masterclasses and enjoy some live entertainment in the beautiful park.

Taste of Orange Food and Wine Festival
This wonderful festival merges the country with the coast to showcase the high quality wine and produce coming out of the Orange and Cabbone regions. It’s part of the Watsons Bay Food and Wine Festival in Robertson Park, which is held in May. There’s no doubt you’ll discover unforgettable flavours of wine and food at this festival.

Bankstown Bites
With its reputation as one of Sydney’s most loved food festivals, Bankstown Bites should be marked on every foodies calendar. Its guided food tours, cooking demos and diverse food stalls attract more than 10,000 people each year. Aromas of spices fill the air and dishes come from all corners of the globe, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


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Unmissable Autumn adventures in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

With the Easter long weekend and school holiday break approaching, now is the time to take advantage of the changing season and plan an autum adventure in regional New South Wales, according to the Desination NSW gang.

From gourmet escapes to fossicking and heritage trails, the Destination NSW team gives us three getaways that will make you fall in love with regional NSW this Autumn:

50 shades of Orange and Bathurst
Autumn is a fantastic time to visit Central NSW, with the region guaranteeing vibrant Autumn foliage, delicious seasonal produce and a stellar line up of local festivals and events.  If you’re a foodie then the Orange F.O.O.D Week is an iconic experience for gourmands, with the 10 day festival in April a testament to the region’s great reputation for food and wine, and beautiful colours (see picture, courtesy of Destination NSW). Indulge your senses as local chefs and restaurants showcase their skill with farm gate tours, cooking demonstrations and the famous 100-Mile Dinner. Continue your Central NSW love affair with a side-trip to Bathurst, just a 45-minute drive away.  One of Australia’s oldest inland settlements, Bathurst’s historic town centre is fascinating, with a blend of old and new including revitalised laneway bars, cafes and restaurants. Be sure to check out the Autumn Colours program of events and the Bathurst Motor Festival at Mount Panorama from 25-27 March.

New love in New England
There is so much to love in the New England region, the changing leaves of trees in towns like Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Emmaville are spectacular, as is the fossicking for gemstones. Armidale, the hub of the New England High Country shines in Autumn, with numerous parks, tree-lined streets and gardens displaying a spectrum of reds and oranges. With the city housing many heritage buildings, grand cathedrals and churches, Armidale is the perfect destination for an autumn break, and its annual Armidale Autumn Festival in March a stand out event on the local calendar. A visit to nearby Uralla is a must to admire the famous Gostwyck Chapel covered in Virginia Creeper.

The laidback country charm of Tamworth and the wider region is ideal for a short break, with national parks, trout fishing, horse riding and great local produce aplenty. Another must see is the historic gold mining village of Nundle, just a 50-minute drive from Tamworth. With great local cafes, antique stores and delicious baked goods at the Nundle Craft Inc. weekly farmers market, you’ll find plenty to do in town. The scenic Fossickers Way touring route begins in Nundle and takes in key fossicking areas. It’s especially pretty in Autumn with its wooded hills, open green pastures and fertile valleys. A little further afield, Boggabri promises a weekend of family fun at the Boggabri Drovers Campfire from 20-25 April with events including a big campfire, camp oven cooking, shearing demonstrations, tours of the district, bush poets, craft stalls, whip cracking, antique machinery display, a bush band and much more.

Beautiful Bellingen
Pack up the car and escape on a road trip to the North Coast destination, Bellingen. With lush valleys, a rich architectural heritage, rural charm, delicious local produce and natural beauty, Bellingen is also known for Australia’s largest regional market offering an amazing selection of handmade arts and crafts, regional produce and live entertainment.  Neighbouring Dorrigo National Park is a must see, offering stunning scenery that has been millions of years in the making. The World-Heritage listed rainforest offers a variety of rare flora and fauna, swimming at Crystal Shower Falls, a Skywalk lookout which takes in Bellinger Valley and scenic barbecue and picnic spots.

For more information on Autumn escapes in NSW visit http://www.visitnsw.com

For car rentals visit www.drivenow.com.au


6 reasons to holiday in Lake Macquarie this year

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Home to undiscovered gems, the largest coastal salt-water lake in the country and 30km of pristine coastline, Lake Macquarie is one of Australia’s east coast’s hidden treasures. Just 90 minutes from Sydney, it has something for everyone, whether you’re an outdoors type, history buff, or simply seeking relaxation. The Visit Lake Mac team have given us six key themes to put Lake Macquarie at the top of your domestic holiday list.

With nature reserves galore there’s no better way to explore Lake Macquarie than to don the hiking boots and hit the walking trails, with tracks taking in views of the beach and the bush, through to lush rainforest and waterfalls. Top choices include: Boarding House Dam in the Watagan Mountains – A cool rainforest bushwalk leads to a pretty waterfall along an easy pathway, featuring a 110 metre long moss covered rock wall (650m return) Or, for something more difficult, check out the Gap Creek Falls trail, with the spectacular Gap Creek Falls (1.5km return). Wallarah Peninsular Track – stretching from the Lake to the ocean this scenic track takes in bushland as well as the cool Palm Gully rainforest, with a number of side trips leading to local hideaways such as Spoon Rocks Spit and Pinny’s Headland (8km one way). Ken and Audrey Owens Walk – A gorgeous four kilometre network of pathways, boardwalks, wetland bridges and whale observation platforms that wind through sand dunes and restored bushland, with views over Redhead beach and Webb Park. (4km return).

With 30km of unspoilt coastline and a central lake twice the size of Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie is a hotbed of water-based action (cruise, jet-ski, wakeboard, fish, sail) for all ages. Highlights include: Kayaking at Swinging Bridge Dora Creek – a terrific secret kayaking destination, the trail heads upstream taking in eagle’s nests, lizards, waterbirds and of course, the picturesque swinging bridge.  Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire can deliver kayaks directly to your accommodation, or start point. Boating – whether by boat, jet-ski, yacht, catamaran or kayak, there are so many sandy inlets and coves to discover. Bring your own, or hire a BBQ or speed boat Jet Buzz at Cams Wharf. Jet boating with Jet Buzz – If its thrills and spills you are seeking head directly to Jet Buzz, get the heart racing with a Lake Thrill ride, or head out beyond the channel on the Ocean Extreme.

Lake Macquarie’s coastline is as diverse as it is delightful, boasting sandy beaches alongside secluded coves, each with their own iconic features:
Caves Beach – a firm favourite for locals and tourists, with tidal sea caves and rock pools, as well as some top notch surf breaks. Redhead Beach – renowned for its red rocky headland, iconic shark tower and timber boardwalk this pretty beach features its very own café – located moments from the sand. Blacksmiths Beach – the calm conditions at Blacksmiths make it a popular spot for both families and ocean swimmers – be sure to watch out for sandcastles!

For a scenic way to explore the region, jump on a bike and enjoy the plethora of pathways catering for all ages, abilities and timeframes – and with plenty of hire options available there’s no need to bring your own. Both Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire and Boomerang Bike Hire can deliver bikes directly to your location. Warners Bay Foreshore – Enjoy a ride along the water’s edge, taking in panoramic lake views and enjoy the elevated over-water Redbluff Boardwalk. With a Boomerang Bike Hire station located along the foreshore riders can simply meander, or enjoy a longer ride. Fernleigh Track (Belmont to Adamstown) – follow a historic rail corridor through bushlands, wetlands and suburbia – one of the best-known, and most varied, pathways in the area (15km). Wangi Wangi – check out the yachts, sailboats, birdlife and keep an eye out for turtles as you make a leisurely trip around Wangi Bay (1.4km).

An abundance of land dedicated to open space and conservation makes Lake Macquarie perfect for picnickers, with plenty of spots featuring a variety of facilities and vistas.
Morisset Picnic Area – get back to nature, and spend lunch with one of Australia’s most iconic animals – here, dozens of roos are just waiting for visitors to come and give them a gentle pat.  The park boasts a large grassy area, a barbeque area as well as lovely views across the lake. Speers Point Park – enjoy a barbeque or picnic on the shore of the Lake, and let the kids run wild on the state of the art variety playground – featuring a flying fox, water play and a bike circuit with two intersecting tracks. Pelican Foreshore Reserve – loved amongst locals, this picnic spot features expanses of shady grass, sheltered tables, barbeques and a play area. Take in the relaxing atmosphere, or throw in a line off the small fishing jetty.

Historical Hotspots
This vast area is home to some unique Australian history, with something to suit almost any culture seeker. highlights include:
Dobell House – a unique opportunity to visit the home and studio of one of Australia’s most prominent artists –  Sir William Dobell. Volunteers run tours from 1pm – 4pm on Weekends and Public Holidays. Catherine Hill Bay – this historical coal mining town remains relatively unchanged since its former working days, featuring uniform rows of miners’ cottages and historic rail jetty stretching over the beach and out to sea. Free Heritage Walking Trail guides are available at the Lake Macquarie Visitors Centre. Rathmines –used as an important Catalina Sea Plane base during World War II, Rathmines is jam packed with history. Take a walk around Rathmines Park, or join a free tour with Friends of Rathmines (1.5 – 3.5 hour tours, dates and times vary. Contact 02 4975 1973 or rathmines@gmail.com)

To book your 2016 trip to Lake Macquarie, go to Visit Lake Mac or call 1800 802 044.


Hit the road and head to Lake Macquarie

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Lake Macquarie may be renowned for its beautiful lake and spectacular coastline, but it’s also home to a raft of not so well-known treasures loved by the locals. Best of all, it’s only 90 minutes from Sydney.
The team from Anne Wild Associates handed me a brilliant little guide to 8 perfect places you can discover off the yellow brick road. Try these for size …

Petrified Forest, Swansea Heads
Accessible at low tide just a short walk from the Reids Mistake Reserve you’ll find the Petrified Forest, home to 250 million-year-old tree stumps and fallen logs as well as an expansive rock platform ideal for exploring up close.

‘Grannies Pool’
Nestled between the Swansea Channel Breakwall and Blacksmiths’ Beach, the ‘Grannies Pool’ is a shallow, sheltered inlet protected from large waves and swell, that is loved by local children – and their grannies!

Gap Creek Falls, Watagans
The Watagan Mountains are well known, but many visitors are entirely unaware of the stunning Gap Creek Falls, which are hidden deep within the rainforest. These striking falls are accessible for keen hikers via the spectacular Gap Creek Falls Trail.

Pulbah Island
Only accessible by boat, Pulbah is Lake Macquarie’s largest island and favoured by locals for its tranquil picnic spots and idyllic bushwalking pathways.

Dora Creek
Located on the southern side of the lake, the peaceful Dora Creek is ideal for kayaking trips, and is home to lovely picnic spots along the banks. Don’t miss ‘The Swinging Bridge’, which is tucked behind the Sanitarium Factory and also accessible by kayak – a well-kept local secret spot for family fun.

Morisset Park kangaroos
There’s no entry ticket to buy to get up close and personal with the kangaroos here… in Morisset Park’s picnic grounds there are dozens of roos just waiting for visitors to come and give them a gentle pat. Hidden away within the vicinity of Morisset Hospital, there’s a large grassy area, a barbeque and a lovely view over the lake to enjoy.

1950s Car Museum
If vintage cars are your thing – or even if not – this is the spot for a stroll down memory lane packed with American classic cars (some are even for sale), a replica Fonzie milk bar, 50s memorabilia, 50s music, and a caravan dishing up memorable milkshakes and burgers. The locals love it – so don’t forget to book!
Lake Macquarie Airport/Air Adventures, Marks Point
Locals agree that the best way to see the lake is from the sky, and the recently re-opened Lake Macquarie Airport (formerly the Belmont Airport), is home to a raft of adventurous air activities including Matt Hall Racing, Skydive the Beach and Skyline Aviation Group helicopter tours, all of which include magnificent views of the Lake.

For more information or to book a Lake Macquarie escape visit www.visitlakemac.com.au or free call 1800 802 044. Don’t forget to grab a car rental from DriveNow