North Coast, NSW

Five top road trips out of Sydney NSW

By Rosie Stevens

October 2, 2020 | 5 minute read

There's nothing more iconic in Australia than the road trip. And the October long weekend is the perfect time to make your escape, whether it's beaches, wineries, culture or countryside you're looking for. 

So grab your friends, family, partner or pet, sort the playlists and head for the open road. Here are five of the best getaways out of Sydney that are guaranteed to impress. 

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Port Stephens - Nature abounds

A stunning seaside region located just 2.5 hours drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens is a mecca for all things outdoorsy. There’s an abundance of beaches, bush walks and the area is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Spot koalas in the Tilligerry Habitat, go dolphin watching or catch a glimpse of a humpback whale migrating through the marine park.

The region is home to 26 gorgeous beaches, encompassing sheltered, family-friendly bays through to ocean beaches that are perfect for surfing. Worth checking out are Anna Bay, Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay for a gorgeous dose of quintessential Aussie coastline. If you’re down to try a new activity or hone your existing skills, there are plenty of options for kayaking, surfing and stand up paddleboarding.

The culinary delights of the area are also a sure-fire highlight for any weekender - we’re talking excellent cafes, coffee and brunch options alongside succulent locally-sourced seafood and upscale dining. And if you’re making food a key focus of your weekend (which of course, we strongly encourage), rest assured you can burn off some of the indulgence with a hike to the Tomaree Head summit—and soak up some idyllic views of the exquisite azure coastline.  

Port Stephens
Port Stephens

Hunter Valley - Wine and more 

A true match made in heaven, road trippin’ to the Hunter Valley is as perfect a pairing as wine and cheese, if we do say so ourselves. A couple of hours drive from Sydney, wine tastings, rolling vineyards and fresh country air await in the Hunter Valley.

If some of the country’s best wineries and restaurants weren’t enough to tempt you, the long weekend also sees the annual Hunter Valley Balloon Fiesta come to life, where upward of 25 hot air balloons from around Australia launch at sunrise to create an utterly majestic skyscape across NSW wine country.  

Kangaroo Valley - Rest and restore

If you’re feeling burnt out and stressed and seeking a few days respite, Kangaroo Valley is the place to go. Here you can truly escape and enjoy peace, serenity and country charm. Just a little over two hours from Sydney, Kangaroo Valley is a hidden gem of a destination. 

Popular activities include visiting the stunning Minnie Ha Ha Falls, taking a dip at the beautiful Flat Rock swimming hole, kayaking or whiling away the day at the Pioneer Village Museum. 


Canberra - Culture capital

Not technically in NSW but neatly nestled within it, Canberra is officially considered Australia’s most liveable city, and spoiler: it’s the perfect long weekend getaway this October.  

The city is brimming with culture in the form of museums, galleries and other world-class attractions, including the National Arboretum, Museum of Australian Democracy, the Australian War Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery, all found either within, or a stone’s throw from the iconic parliamentary triangle. 

For the foodie crowd, there’s certainly no shortage of epic spots for a bite, whether it’s coffee and brunch you’re after or an upscale dinner and drinks. And in particularly exciting news, Canberra’s iconic festival of Spring, Floriade is still in full swing over the October long weekend. 

Far South Coast - The undiscovered 

While it's a longer drive, (4-5 hours) the far South Coast is one of the most beautiful regions in Australia. There is something extra special about the quiet towns, empty beaches, sparkling, pristine waters and stunning scenery that make this a must-visit destination. 

Between Batemans Bay and Narooma, stop in the charming towns of Mogo and Moruya where you'll find quaint shops and welcoming locals. Once you arrive in Narooma, head over to Montague Island to see migrating humpback whales, alongside fur seals and an array of birdlife. You can also snorkel and dive on the island - making it the perfect day trip. 

If you'd rather stay on land, Bar Rock Lockout is one of the best places to see migrating whales plus dolphins, and other marine life as they enjoy the deep waters around the town. And of course there is only one way to end the day in Narooma, and that's with fish and chips. 

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The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in or referred to in this article.