Sydney Blue Mountains Hunter
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!
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
- 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
- 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.
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
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
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.