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Bubbletent, Capertee Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

The best winter getaways from Sydney

We've picked out the perfect places in NSW to visit during the chillier months. Here's where to hike, ski or just rug up with a glass of red

By Divya Venkataraman
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Australia has always existed in the popular imagination as the slip-slop-slap land of sun, sea and snags. And with such a plentiful supply of beaches, parkland, waterfront bars and lush scenery here, it's a reputation that's well deserved. But our backyard isn't just worth frolicking around in the summertime.

While in years past, half of Sydney may have flocked to the Mediterranean for some July sun, this year, we're all stuck squarely in our own patch of grass. But soon, when travel restrictions in NSW are eased, it'll be time to venture out of the big smoke in search of glorious winter sunshine, or succumb to the chill and embrace some brisk, mountain air – if only to ski right back down again to sea-level. From the majestic, crisp peaks of the Blue Mountains to the bucolic vineyards of Mudgee, we've rounded up some of our favourite cold-weather destinations to travel to from Sydney. 

RECOMMENDED: The best short getaways from Sydney.

The best winter getaways from Sydney

Bath tub at Sierra Escape glamping in Mudgee
Bath tub at Sierra Escape glamping in Mudgee
Photograph: Supplied

Mudgee

Mudgee may have garnered a reputation as the state’s viticultural nerve centre, but this country town’s charms don’t end with wine. It’s true that Mudgee’s cellar doors are phenomenal – the organically minded Lowe Wines, and its neigbouring restaurant, the Zin House, are picture-perfect and will turn you into someone who goes on about the provenance of a bottle. But if you can tear your gaze off those gorgeous, dappled reds for a second, the region’s natural beauty makes Mudgee more than just a boozy wine trip destination. In winter, the air turns arid and there’s no better time to visit the World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park, where you can hike, kayak and rock-climb the day away. Sleep easy while communing with nature at the eco-glamping site, the Sierra Escape – you can toast marshmallows by an open fire at these luxe lodgings packed to the brim (or rather, the tent flap) with amenities. 

People cycling through vineyard
People cycling through vineyard
Photograph: Destination NSW

Bowral

With its roaring fireplaces, low-slung roofs, and caramel chocolate tarts from Gumnut Patisserie, the Southern Highlands town of Bowral is the perfect foodie's winter getaway. Go rare truffle hunting on winter mornings and forage for mushrooms in the mountains with Wild Food Adventures, or stay seated and let the food come to you at fine dining establishment BirchWalk it off by strolling along the town's boutiques, gourmet grocers and antique stores – Dirty Jane's is full of trinkets and tchotchkes – or wander down to the Corbett Gardens for a refined, Victorian-era stroll. On your way in or out, stop by nearby Berrima's Berkelouw Book Barn, full of antiquarian books in an beautifully-appointed warehouse space – books which are enjoyed best with wine and Gippsland cheeses from the Bendooley Estate's restaurant just next door. 

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Person skiing
Person skiing
Photograph: Unsplash/Emma Paillex

Snowy Mountains

The Snowy Mountains are the closest thing to a quaint, Norman Rockwell-style winter wonderland as you'll find this side of the equator. Snuggled on the border where NSW meets the ACT, Thredbo is the perfect place to park on a ski holiday with the whole family – snowball-throwing and gallons of hot chocolate guaranteed. For those up for a challenge, the Village Trail clocks in at five kms. Once you're done, warm your hands by an open fire at the Lott Café. Our hot tip? In the colder months of June and September, kids ski free with an adult pass. Otherwise, drive against the traffic to end up at Charlotte Pass, the highest resort in the Snowys, which is known for receiving the most consistent snowfall throughout the season. Rest your head at Ecocrackenback, a sprawling luxury accommodation with 18 'habitats', set between Jindabyne and Kosciuszko National Park. Or, check out the self-contained lodging at Caves House at Yarrangobilly, nestled within the national park itself.  

Chairs overlooking pool at sunset
Chairs overlooking pool at sunset
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

Blue Mountains

It might just be an hour and a half from Sydney, but the air gets palpably crisper and lighter as you drive into NSW’s Blue Mountains. The old-world charm of Leura’s cherry tree-lined streets sits minutes from the grandeur of famous mountain vistas. You can gaze from a lookout or take on one of the many hikes if you'd rather earn your view – the Echo Point walk is a good pick for novices, or the Fern Bower circuit will take you past dizzying cliffs and end in a pretty waterfall. Feeling peckish? Pack a picnic to nibble on by the water in the Everglades Garden, or pick up warm, hearty pies from the Bakehouse on Wentworth – and brace yourself, they’re country portions. For a hint of old-world grandeur, spend a night at the historic Hydro Majestic hotel their Yulefest event in July is the Hallmark card White Christmas we of the Southern Hemisphere can only dream of. Or, for more of a modern luxe vibe, try the Spicers Sangoma Resort

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Mullumbimby valley
Mullumbimby valley
Photograph: Destination NSW

Mullumbimby

If you’re not ready for the high energy of Byron Bay, check out the sweet, hinterland town of Mullumbimby – it's also in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, but it's a world away from the well-heeled Sydney emigrés that populate Byron's Wategos Beach. The incense-scented vestiges of the Aquarian energy that drew spiritual seekers to the region in the '80s are still apparent in Mullum's tie-dyed shawls and the distinctive commingling of weed and turmeric kombucha. There’s also a quiet swell of polished gourmand cuisine to be found, like nearby Brunswick Heads' two-hatted café Fleet, and quaint deli and restaurant, Harvest in Newrybar. The farmers' markets are the perfect place to get a local’s version of the town on weekends, and the Crystal Castle will sort out any and all of your witching needs – plus, the northerly region enjoys temperate weather all year, so it’s a great place to dip your toes in the winter ocean. 

Milkyway at Bubble Tent Blue Mountains
Milkyway at Bubble Tent Blue Mountains
Photograph: Supplied

Capertee Valley

Hemmed in by lush, thick forest, the Capertee Valley is home to the world's second largest canyon. Tramp through the Gardens of Stone national park, gaze over sandstone cliffs, and stop in for a spook at the old ghost town of Glen Davis. The village of Capertee is quaint and has all you'll need for essentials _ but the magic of the area is in its lush scenery. The Capertee region is a birdwatcher's paradise – it's been internationally designated an Important Bird Area by the people who decide such things (IBA, for short). When you're ready to rest your head, step into a bubbletent to watch the stars twinkling through your transparent dome-home for the evening – it overlooks the whole valley, and there's a wood-fired hot tub and an fire pit, too. No, not inside the dome, don't worry. 

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People walking in the bush
People walking in the bush
Photograph: Divya Venkataraman

Kangaroo Valley

Now a popular wedding destination for Sydneysiders, the Kangaroo Valley's natural beauty and a regular cast of wildlife makes it worth a visit, even without an embossed invitation. Just a two-hour drive from Sydney, it's got a sunburned, country charm that makes it perfect for cosying up and grazing on plucked, local olives from Kangaroo Valley Olives, a sparkling, local shiraz, or, for a more low-key local delicacy, Southern Pies' infamous cheeseburger pie. For an off-the-grid experience, stay at the Pindari Tiny Home, an ecologically neutral house nestled in natural bushland with views gazing out over Mount Scanzi. 

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Bedroom at Turon Gates
Bedroom at Turon Gates
Photograph: Graham Munro

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