Sydney Blue Mountains Hunter Valley Australia

Sydney

A thriving harbourside city of approximately 4 million people, Sydney is a diverse representation of old and new Australia. The foundations of Sydney being built by convict labour, the city has grown and blossomed into an icon of the “New World”. Some of Sydney’s oldest surviving buildings are located in the historic precinct known as “The Rocks”, which is well worth a visit.

A harbour cruise or as a Day Sailing Adventure is one of the best ways to appreciate the greater Sydney harbour area, that covers approximately 55 square kilometres. From its sheltered waters view landmarks and historical sites and appreciate the rapid progression of this vibrant city.

The waterfront has been maintained as attractive and ‘people friendly’. 24 hectares of prime land is still retained for the Royal Botanic Gardens, first dedicated in 1816.  The Sydney Opera House is adjacent to the gardens, and no trip to Sydney is complete without a visit to this landmark. Sydney Cove is home to Circular Quay, from where many harbour cruises depart, as well as being home to cafes and retail outlets .“The Rocks” and southern pier of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also located in this area.

Darling Harbour is a modern space with a paved concourse housing waterfront restaurants, retail developments and entertainment venues such as the Aquarium and Imax Theatre, an easy way to get to Darling Harbour from the centre of town is to take the Sydney monorail which also gives you an elevated view of the city streetscapes and crosses to Darling Harbour via the Pyrmont Bridge, worth a full circuit just for interest!

Blue Mountains

Sydney is well located for visits to the nearby Blue Mountains, which can be accessed by Self Drive, organised tour or scheduled public transport. This area has been likened to a scaled down version of the “Grand Canyon’ and is both picturesque and fascinating. It is a prime example of the formation of the Australian Landscape, which has been undisturbed by any major geological events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or plate tectonics, and has subsequently been sculpted by millions of years of pure erosion. It has a great ‘away from it all’ feel and being only 65 kilometres from Sydney is a handy and popular escape for the city folk, but populated areas retain a ‘village life’ atmosphere.

Much of the area is protected within the Blue Mountains National Park, which is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, preserving an unusually diverse range of vegetation communities. There are rare and ancient plants, and isolated animal populations, tucked away in its deep gorges. This is a vast and special place with many walking trails that enable the visitor the appreciate the unique features of this awe inspiring landscape.

Park highlights:

  • The view you get from Echo Point, with the famous Three Sisters in the foreground, and the Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary behind.
  • The Grand Canyon Track, which lets you experience the thrill of canyoning without even getting your feet wet. (This is our favourite)
  • The magnificent Blue Gum Forest which was saved, from destruction, by bushwalkers in the 1930s.
  • The National Pass track, an amazing piece of early 20th-century engineering, with stone staircases cut into the cliffs.

Hunter Valley

Beginning just 2 hours north of Sydney, the “Hunter Region” includes the valley's vineyards as well as the spectacular coastline to the east. The “Hunter Region” encompasses the coast of Port Stephens through Newcastle and south to Lake Macquarie, also the high country of Barrington Tops National Park in the north to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley.

The Hunter Valley Wine Country is Australia's oldest wine producing area, with some of Australia's most famous wineries, dating back as far as the 1860’s. The wine-growing region is concentrated south of the Lower Hunter River where the valley is wide and you will find more than 50 vineyards.

Approximately 40 kms northwest (inland) from Newcastle is the main population centre of Maitland, with its huge range of art galleries, antique and craft shops. Maitland and nearby Cessnock, grew with the establishment of the coal mining industry that continues today. The Maitland High Street has a fine collection of original buildings and is classified by the National Trust, as with many old mining towns buildings range from grand residences, built by the affluent, to humble old miners cottages provided by the mining companies.

On the southern side of the valley rise the sandstone ranges of the Wollemi and Goulburn River National Parks. To the north high rugged ranges leading up to the Barrington Tops National Park that can be accessed via Dungog (north of Maitland). This national park abounds with lush bushland and provides the perfect environment for bushwalking, horse riding and picnics.

For those wanting a vineyard escape the areas of Lovedale and Pokolbin offer a country feel. The popularity of this particular area -especially for weekend escapes from Sydney - means that there are a good number of dining options and visitor facilities.