As much as the city has its perks, there’s really nothing like ditching the nine to five and hitting the road. Armed with a tank full of petrol (or a topped-up Opal card), you’ll be surprised how far your dollar can stretch outside the big city. Find more short getaways from Sydney, plus a how to spend a weekend in the Whitsundays, Port Douglas or Narooma.
Three hours south of Sydney is a little patch of paradise called Jervis Bay, and it’s here where you can take advantage of the great outdoors’ best features. The spectacular bay plays host to over 90km of natural beaches and a raft of water-based pursuits, including dolphin and whale spotting (from $50), chartered sailing and kayak tours (from $55) from what is claimed to be the world’s whitest stretch of sand, Hyams Beach. Pitch your tent right in the thick of it at Bristol Point Camping Ground, located within the beautiful beachside Booderee National Park (from $17 a night). Afterwards, pop into Husky Bakery and Café and get a chunky steak pie for $5 or dig into a sizeable burger at 5 Little Pigs.
Let nature be your guide here: wander through the steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and swimming holes dotted around this rugged region of New South Wales and be rewarded by picture-perfect vistas prime for online bragging. Adrenaline junkies can get their kicks within the beautiful bushland with abseiling adventures with High n Wild, who run half and full day abseiling adventures starting from $135. Then head over to the 400-million-year-old Jenolan Caves, a labyrinth limestone wonderland with over 40 kilometres of cave passages to explore with your trusty headlamp (from $50). Keep things on the cheap by staying at the Blue Mountains YHA where there's a log fire and easy access to Echo Point and the Three Sisters (from $25 a night).
Whether you’re a fan of antiquing, slogging through scribbly bushland or tucking into fish and chips in little beachside towns, it’s never a bad idea to head southwest to the Highlands. Plus, most of this area is well serviced by train lines, so you can get there pretty cheaply without a car. Check in at the charming Bundanoon Hotel; it’s warm and cosy just like an old pub should be (from $89 a night), then head to Dirty Jane’s in Bowral. This part-gallery, part-market has a covetable collection of vintage and antique wares spread across three large warehouse spaces. Trawl through the rows of well-priced furniture, lighting, vintage clothing, jewellery and more, then finish it up with a drink at Dirty Jane’s Tea Salon for a bona fide high tea experience for $29 per person.
Out over the other side of the Blue Mountains lies the western plains of New South Wales including Orange, a region famous for their cold climate produce like truffles, nuts, berries and, of course, wine. The latter is plentiful here, so make spending an afternoon at De Salis Wines a priority. The next day, make a beeline for Factory Espresso for a shot of coffee and to Scrumptious on Summer for a hearty brekky that’ll cure that hangover. Rest your head at 35 Kite St (from $135 a night), a cute two-person cottage located directly opposite the leafy Cook Park.