|Trip Length:||12 days, 11 nights|
|Best time to visit:||Spring to late autumn|
|Trip Length:||12 days, 11 nights|
|Best time to visit:||Spring to late autumn|
Route map Brooklyn Wharf (Hawkesbury River) to Brisbane Water National Park, detour to Allen Strom Lookout, then onto Green Point, and finish the day at Avoca Beach Surf House, Terrigal.
Riverboat Postman Cruise
Leave Sydney behind as you travel up the central New South Wales coast. Your holiday starts with a Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River. Since 1910 boats have delivered courier services and communicated with river access only settlements upriver from the Hawsbury, Brooklyn Wharf. The river postman delivers to deliveries to Danger Island, Kangaroo Point, Milson’s Island, Bar Point, Marlow Creek, Fisherman’s Point and Milsons Passage. The cruise is not jaw dropping glorious, rather it’s a chance to be part of the Australian river story viewing homes and settlements that have made the river their home. Sydney bustle drops away as you relax on the Hawebury River delivering mail.
You could be passing a shack, next to an up market holiday home alongside cottages that have withstood the wear and tear of time. Boats range from fishing cruisers to local dinghy runabouts to functional fishing vessels. There is an opportunity to stretch your legs on Dangar Island and perhaps stay awhile and catch the next ferry. The ferry tourist excursion includes ANZAC biscuits, always a winner and then there is the Aussie platter lunch. Australian hospitality is guaranteed. To book click here The Riverboat Postman.
Returns to Brooklyn Wharf by 1.30pm
DURATION 4 HOURS
Brisbane Water National Park
Brisbane Water National Park, Somersby Falls, Gosford is the next stop with an afternoon snack by a waterfall. The waterfalls are not far from the parking area. The track has viewing platforms for the top and bottom of the waterfalls. While the track is short it can be slippery especially in damp conditions. The walk is steep.
DURATION ONE HOUR
Brisbane Water National Park walks include the option of the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk that starts and finishes at Girrakool picnic area. There are attractive views over waterfalls. Early spring is the wildflower season. At the start of the walk there are plaques designating Aboriginal rock engraving sites. From this point the walk drops into bush with a glimpse of forest, waterfalls and the creek. A highlight is the Illoura lookout with the adjacent waterfall for photo moments. For more information about status of walking tracks click here for details, Girrakool loop track.
Allen Strom lookout
Check your route map and decide whether you want to observe the tidal inlets of Hardys Bay. The views extend across to Wagstaffe and Ettalong and you can even see as far as Brisbane Water National Park. Allen Strom lookout was named in memory of the man who dedicated much of his life to the establishment of many national parks and nature reserves in the state.
Allen Strom lookout was named in memory of the man who dedicated much of his life to the establishment of many national parks and nature reserves in the state. In early spring the wildflowers are in full bloom. For driving directions click here Allen Strom lookout | Map | NSW National Parks.
DURATION – NO FIXED TIME
Green Point Lookout
Green Point Look is a local gem. The loop trail is near Newcastle tempting visitors to view the sometimes elusive wildlife who call the area home.
Green Point Foreshore has an easy flat walk with excellent signage describing the history of the lake. The Green Point area was part of the 1860’s coal rush. The Cardiff Coal Company spearheaded development however the poor quality boiler coal failed to achieve market success. The coal development petered out by 1870. Lake Macquarie has invested in extensive rehabilitation to restore plantings and clear waterways.
Check your Travel Pack Information, at the bottom of the itinerary for the brochure Green Point Reserve walks.
DURATION – NO FIXED TIME
Perhaps you took the detour to Green Point and absorbed the fabulous views of Lake Macquarie and the surrounding district. It’s time to enjoy the rest of the day. Pop into the oldest surf school on the New South Wales coast. As befitting a doyenne of the surf world the Avoca Surf House has the best spot on the beach. Floor to ceiling glass walls will encourage you to linger, relax and wonder how you are going to fit in a delicious wagyu burger or perhaps freshly shucked oysters. Avoca Surf House specialises in locally sourced produce and its gift shop supports local artisans.
DURATION 1 -2 HOURS
To complete your evening perhaps a night out at Avoca Beach Picture Theatre. A private, family owned cinema that chooses its films carefully to ensure blockbuster and art house films are given equal weight. The theatre is the venue for Fresh soirees, Italian evenings, Bollywood nights and live performances. The theatre has a liquor licence enabling you to sink back in the plush armchairs, sipping your favourite wine while watching a movie.
DURATION – NO ALLOCATED TIME
Avoca Palms Resort Avoca Beach Accommodation, Central Coast, Terrigal, Avoca Palms Resort.
For those who wish to camp there is a local favourite, however you must plan ahead as there are only 6 camping spots available. Little Beach campground in Bouddi National Park. NOTE, there is no power, dogs are not allowed.
Today is an all day excursion to Kooragang Island. Today’s journey is from Terrigal to Kooragang Island to Newcastle. You are on the coastal route, forget the Pacific Highway as you are in the slow lane, absorbing the coast and passing Cardiff, an industrial heartbeat for Australia finishing your day in Newcastle. A highlight is a day in a seldom visited reserve, Kooragang. Pack a picnic lunch, your sunscreen and pop on comfortable walking shoes. Your camera is compulsory.
So where are the Kooragang Wetlands?
Visit Kooragang Wetlands online information is an excellent resource for an in depth understanding of the importance of the wetlands. While exploring Kooragang Wetlands please follow guidelines as indicated on their online resource:
Experience and explore the wide open spaces along 15 km of boardwalks, cycleways and walking tracks. Visitor highlights are:
How to get there
See it here on Google Maps. Kooragang Wetlands (Ash Island) is accessed via the Ash Island Bridge, 100 m east of McDonalds on the Pacific Highway at Hexham (12 km west of Newcastle). From Sydney, take the F3 north to the end of the Freeway. Turn right towards Newcastle and travel 7.5 km along the Pacific Highway until you reach the Ash Island Bridge.
DURATION ALL DAY EXCURSION
You’ve spent the day in the quiet of Kooragang you rejoin the hum of traffic and head into Newcastle for the night.
Kooragang Reserve to Newcastle: 20km, 25 minutes
Noah’s On the Beach | 4 Star Hotel in Newcastle is one of the only beach front hotels and function venues in Newcastle. The hotel offers 91 accommodation rooms, an award winning restaurant and eight refurbished function rooms. The superb beachfront location is less than a five minute walk from the central business district. The views from NOAH’S are the most magnificent Newcastle has to offer.
Newcastle and coal, the city’s industrial heart is, as the largest exporter of coal in Australia. Yet coal should not be the only definition for Newcastle. Newcastle is a destination in itself, a place where a week can quickly pass with boardwalks, ocean baths, opportunities to explore the bushwalks in the vicinity. This journey is about selecting three Newcastle highlights to offer with a promise to ourselves to return. Newcastle has a vibrant cafe scene, stunning museums and galleries however your focus in Newcastle is exploring its iconic beach culture.
Leave Sydney Opened 2015, ANZAC day the walk is an elevated platform along the coastal cliffs of Newcastle. You feel suspended between earth and the view giving yourself a birdseye view of the Pacific Ocean and the city spread out behind you. It is less than a 1 km, with steps yet it is magic to feel part of the earth and sky.
The walk is a memorial to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in service of their country. Steel silhouettes of soldiers inscribed with close to 4,000 family names of almost 11,000 known Hunter Valley men and women who enlisted during World War I. It also links to Council’s Bathers Way promenade development, a six kilometre coastal walk linking Newcastle’s beaches and stretching from Merewether Ocean Baths to Nobbys Beach.
DURATION ½ hour
Spectacular, superlative one of the best lookouts based right in the city centre. Nobbys Beach, and Newcastle Harbour are part of the 360c views. Nobbys Beach, a line of defence in World World II is now a museum and memorial. Tours are run 6 days a week or it is free to just walk around and enjoy the view.
Open every day except Tuesday
General admission to Fort Scratchley is free. A self-guided tour brochure is available from the Artillery Store to help you explore and discover interesting historical facts.
You can also organise to take a paid tour of the site with one of the Fort Scratchley Historic Society volunteers.
DURATION 1 -2 hours
Bogey Hole – swimmers necessary
Visit NSW describes “the Bogey Hole is an Instagrammers dream, and a ‘must see’ attraction on the Newcastle Coastline. Bogey Hole is a great place for people watching, people taking selfies, people posing and the theatre of visiting a well known location.
The Bogey Hole was a hand-hewn rock platform cut by convicts for Major James Morisset, in 1819 for his personal use. Whether this work represented the enlargement of a naturally occurring rock pool used by Aboriginal people is not known. As Morisset was the longest serving Commandant of Newcastle, the pool was originally referred to as the ‘Commandant’s Baths’. The name ‘Bogey Hole’ came into regular usage sometime after, and is said to come from the Dharawal word meaning ‘to bathe’. James Morisset was an interesting character, in the mold of stiff British office military discipline James Morisset Wikipedia provides a sufficient picture of the life and times of penal disciplinarians.
Bogey Hole is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register in recognition of its importance in the course of NSW’s history. Potentially the place has national significance as the earliest known example in the whole of Australia of a purpose-built ocean swimming pool.” To find the rock pool, walk down the road from King Edward Park and follow the crowds with swimmers.
DURATION ½ hour
Merewether Ocean Baths, Newcastle
The 1935 iconic Merewether Baths are the largest Ocean Baths in New South Wales. The baths consist of two large rectangular pools arranged perpendicular to the ocean. The pools are open year round with spectacular sea views. Lifeguards are on duty spring to autumn.
Merewether Ocean Baths online information states water quality is “heavily influenced by the water temperature and usage. During summer, warmer water accelerates algae growth resulting in an unsightly build up on the walls in the splash zone. While this results in the appearance of an unclean pool, regular testing indicates that the water quality is acceptable for public swimming. It should be noted that the water quality is heavily influenced by the naturally occurring water quality of the ocean and the debris present.” Check online resources for further information around the cleaning schedule.
DURATION ½ – 1 hour.
Time to relax at the Merewether Surfhouse’s terrace bar and restaurant with its sweeping views of Merewether’s surfing beach. Or perhaps you can just soak up the rustic surf-styled atmosphere from the cafes on the beach promenade.
An afternoon of people watching, checking out your photos and getting ready for the next sector of your journey.
Of course, this is while you are seated in front of incredible views of the Merewether coast.
Merewether Surfhouse is a glass framed homage to the beach and the ocean setting. At peak time forward bookings are necessary. Check out the menu and ponder your choices for a mid-afternoon snack. Then hit the road and it’s off to Port Stephens.
DURATION – NO FIXED TIME
Newcastle to Port Stephens
PREMIUM CAMP & HOLIDAY PARK
The Retreat, Port Stephens. The Retreat is Pacific Coast hospitality in spades. The Retreat Port Stephens is located in a beautiful bushland setting, close to the beach at Anna Bay and only a few minutes drive from Nelson Bay. There are various choices from standard cabins to ensuite bungalows. To book or further information click here The Retreat Port Stephens – Anna Bay bookings.
Port Stephens is Australian hospitality with the natural landscape as the big event. Deep water fishing, dolphins, whale watching, Stockton sand dunes and Tomaree Headland walks combine to give your holiday a vibe which is not ticketed events.
Port Stephens is a series of consecutive bays in a very large area, more than double Sydney Harbour. The bays are Nelson Bay where the majority of shops and services are located. There is the energy of families and visitors flocking to the beach.
If you arrived on either a Saturday or Sunday then breakfast at Tomaree Community Art Centre and browse the local gallery afterwards. There are a number of up and coming local artists’ works to view as well as the opportunity to purchase some hand made gifts. Your Port Stephens half day exploration of the bays and beaches departs from the Arts Centre towards Shoal Bay. Upmarket Shoal Bay eateries will be fuel for the energy releasing walking track Tomaree Head. Your next stop is Nelson Bay, Salamander Bay and lastly Soldiers Point, returning to your accommodation to collect supplies for your sand dune adventure.
DURATION 4 HOURS.
As you walk the track, you’ll enjoy impressive views of the bays that make up Port Stephens and its coastline. From the top, you can even see as far as Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands – these nature reserves are the world’s only nesting sites for the endangered Gould’s petrel.
Visit the famous Stockton Sand Dunes at the Worimi Conservation Lands, the largest sand dune system in Australia, covering an area of 4,200 hectares. It is recommended the dunes are visited with an authorised guide. They are immense and navigation is very difficult due to the soft terrain. Today is about relaxing into your holiday and letting some else make sure you enjoy the day. The vastness of the empty spaces will make you feel a small part of the endless cycle of sand. The quiet and simplicity of sand being an inland sea of movement is intoxicating. For Instagrammers Stockton Sand Dunes are the focus on uncountable photo moments. There is no shade and pick a tour that departs at 2.30pm, wear loose clothing, carry water supplies and expect to be shaking sand out of your clothes for at least a day or two. Below are tour options for you to evaluate.
DURATION 2 ½ HOURS
A day of leisure to immerse yourself in Port Stephens water based holiday experiences. These range from deep sea fishing guided boat cruises to swimming with dolphins and whale watching. Or you can simply chill out at one of the many beaches you cruised by yesterday and soak in the serenity of a day at the beach.
Dolphin swimming involves interaction with wild dolphins and their welfare is paramount. Hence the requirement for eco-certified dolphin encounters. Dolphin Swim Australia is an accredited tour operator who contributes to the scientific community as well as managing visitor experiences with the local dolphins.
DURATION 5 HOURS
Deep sea fishing charters or fishing from the local jetty. Check out the regional tourism information pack around options for your fishing. Port Stephens fishing charters and fish options. Remember to pack your rods and contact the local fish community for tips. The Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club is located in Shoal Bay. For fishing enthusiasts perhaps you popped in yesterday for a chat about local weather conditions in preparation for today.
DURATION – ALL DAY
Goodbye beaches and Pacific Coast your journey is inland toward New England temperate rainforests, national parks and gold mining heritage sites. It is recommended you have an early start to your day to get to Urulla by late morning. It is approximately a four hour drive to your first stop of the day. Today you are going to wonder who is buried in a bushranger grave and try your best to find gold in the Wooldridge fossicking area in Urulla.
Uralla is beguiling, tempting you to tarry longer in this historic town. There are over 50 heritage buildings, some dating from 1860’s when Captain Thunderbolt robbed his way onto infamous glory on the local highways. The Mc Crossin’s Mill is the keeper of local artefacts and the teller of stories. There are antiquarian shops, pubs and cafes for you to rest while exploring the town.
The charming town or Uralla, a heritage gold mining settlement with dedicated volunteers keepers of the McCrossin’s Mill Museum. Your first stop is Uralla by calling into the Uralla Visitor Information Centre. Located in the centre of town, a short stroll from Thunderbolt’s Statue, the centre is open every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day. The Uralla heritage walk as this is a great way to pick up some local gold dust magic.
DURATION – Uralla town exploration 5 hours
At McCrossin’s Mill Museum, originally a three storey flour mill you will meet the volunteers, keepers of Urulla heritage, hear stories about Captain Thunderbolt, whose bushranging was brought to an end near Uralla in 1870. Perhaps you will have time for a short detour to Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve, home to Aboriginal rock art that is up to 500 years old.
Wooldridge Fossicking Area
Let’s try your luck at fossicking for gold. Gold Pan Hire is available for hire at the Uralla Visitor Information Centre at a nominal charge and a map to the area can be provided. Try your hand at panning for gold or semi-precious gems. Download a map of the area beforehand. Check with the Visitor Centre for up to date information.
Wooldridge Recreation & Fossicking Reserve
The Wooldridge Recreation & Fossicking Reserve is located approximately 6km from Uralla township along the Kingstown Road. It offers ample parking for caravans and campervans, free camping, toilet facilities, picnic tables, wood fired barbeques (subject to fire restrictions) and fresh drinking water.
Relax under the ghost gums on a hot summer’s day and be serenaded by the variety of bird life that calls the reserve home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the occasional kangaroo or wallaby passing through.
Pets are allowed into the reserve, but owners are requested to keep them on a leash at all times. Please use the rubbish bins provided to dispose of litter. Shooting is prohibited.
Drive along the Kingstown Road for (approx.) 4.5km. Turn right into Devoncourt Road and follow to the end. A cattle grid marks the entrance to the reserve.
You’ve reluctantly decided you are not going to make your fortune gold panning and it’s on the road to Armidale. Armidale is your home for three nights while you explore the rainforests of New South Wales highlands. Armidale has an ace up its sleeve with four National Parks within one hour drive. New England National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Cathedral Rock National Park and Guy Fawkes River National Park. The town is appealing to the eye.
Landscaped grounds, peace and quiet with an excellent standard from executive, deluxe or standard suites. The historic heritage-listed property has 20 rooms to suit a variety of guest numbers, which includes a wheelchair-accessible unit, pet-friendly rooms, a romantic Homestead Suite, and a comfortable Family Suite. To book or further information click here Moore Park Inn: Home.
Autumn brings the picture postcard rural town a glorious display of deciduous leaf golds and the crackle, snap and crunch of autumn foliage as you walk the tracks. The heritage buildings provide a sense of tradition that continues to be lived in and adapted to contemporary use. The buildings are not just museum pieces but part of the living heritage of Armidale. Armidale is entrancing. Armidale’s climate is characterised by four distinct seasons with pleasant daytime temperatures from early spring (October) to mid autumn (April). Summer average temperature ranges from 20 to 31c. Winter ranges from 0 to 15c.
The park is characterised by New England Plateau dropping into the gorges carved out by the Aspley and Macleay Rivers. For more detailed information check out Oxley Wild Rivers National Park | NSW National Parks. The park has a number of walks for all fitness levels, over eight camping grounds with extensive facilities. Pack a picnic lunch, snacks, water and supplies for your day exploring Oxley Wild Rivers.
The gorge rim short walk is a great photo moment. The views are inspirational. Soak up the contrast between coastal NSW and the forested interior as your gaze sweeps over the falls, the forest and horizon. An easy short walk, Apsley Gorge Rim walking track is a 1.2 km loop. At the Falls Lookout there is a 52 metre steel stairway which leads down to an observation deck where there are excellent views of the deep gorge and the falls which drop 309 m in two stages.
Wollomombi walking track
Waterfall fans rejoice, Wollomombi Falls are the highest in Australia. You have to check out a waterfall with the tag it’s the highest. The Wollomombi walking track leads to a single fall of water from a plateau giving visitors the grand sight of plunging water into the depths of the river below. Make your way to the nearby lookout and gaze over the highest waterfall in NSW. If it’s been raining, you’ll soak up more than just the scenic views as the massive gorge fills with mist and the occasional rainbow. A plus is the easy walking track around the waterfall. After all that exercise and fresh mountain air if bushwalking is on the agenda you could try Chandler walking track or Wollomombi walking track as both tracks start from the picnic area. Perhaps you’ve already set out your picnic and simply relaxed into the quiet of the park with nothing planned but time to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings.
Oxley walking track
The afternoon walk is the Oxley walking track is a 90 minute walk that crosses the impressive Suspension Bridge and continues around the Apsley River to the north side of the gorge. It offers excellent views of the main falls and the lower falls from four lookout platforms. You’ll walk through cliff top woodlands of snow gums and New England stringybark before crossing the Apsley river with four lookout points to gaze over plunging gorges.
Return to Armidale for a well earned rest. For the inveterate adventurer you could consider extending your holiday with an overnight (or two) in the National Park. Overnight accommodation in Oxley Wild River National Park for those who wish to continue camping in the National Parks. There are a number of accommodation options within the Oxley National Park. The East Kunderang Homestead, check for details, the campgrounds available are Apsley Falls campground, Budds Mare campground, Riverside campground and picnic area, Long Point campground and picnic area | NSW National Parks, and Wollomombi campground. Forward booking is essential.
You will find one of the oldest hydroelectric schemes in Australia and the tracks carved out to build and service the power station are explored. Together with the spectacular views of the Gara Gorge you will be well rewarded for your day in the rainforests of New South Wales with glimpses of wildlife and birds that frequent the area.
Blue Hole picnic
Blue Hole picnic area | NSW National Parks is located within Oxley Wild River National Park. With its pretty picnic grounds it is an Armidale local favourite for summer trips. The area has archaeological significance due to the channels dug in the 1800’s to generate hydroelectric power. Threlfall Historic Hydro-Electric loop walk offers views of the gorges. One of the first hydro-electric schemes in Australia it was built to light the town of Hillgrove and the remains can still be seen at Gara Gorge. Threlfall walking track in Gara Gorge in the northern section of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, is an industrial archeological exploration of remains and how nature is reclaiming the area once more.
The medium length track on the gorge ridge is a combination of a historic walk with jaw-dropping views. Gara Gorge follows the route of the historic 1894 hydro-electric scheme, along old embankments and through ancient cuttings of granite. At Gara Gorge lookout high above Gara River, with a backdrop of majestic blackbutt and spotted gum trees, gaze across the rugged wilderness. The area is a well known bird watchers spot. Keep an eye out for rosellas, lyrebirds, and king parrots. You might even strike it lucky and see a koala having a snack in a gum tree. Ready for lunch? head back to either Threlfall picnic area or nearby Blue Hole picnic area.
Threlfall walking track
DURATION — ALL DAY
Tamworth is a whistle stop detour to view the ‘Big Thing” as it’s Tamworth of course it is a guitar. There is a music and gift shop located next to the enormous guitar. Wikipedia describes the guitar as, “The Golden Guitar was erected in front of the famous Longyard Hotel on the Sydney Road in 1988. It was unveiled by Australia’s most popular country music artist, Slim Dusty. Its location in Tamworth is symbolic of the city’s recognition and celebration of Australian country music, and its artists.”
Tamworth Power House Museum
Tamworth Power House Museum is a must visit destination for bike enthusiasts. The Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum in Tamworth, NSW is fascinating insight into a collectors hobby and how it grew into the private museum. The museum houses over 50 motorcycles in pristine working order from the 50s, 60s, 70s & 80s. The collection is privately owned. Then it’s on the road to Mudgee, a Sydney-sider favourite for overnight city breaks.
Mudgee is just over three hours from Sydney and is a destination where our local visitor dollars will count. Over 40 family owned cellar doors with local produce and boutique stores to potter around in. Mudgee is part of the Hunter Valley vineyard district. And there is more to Mudgee than a fabulous food, feast and wine weekend getaways.
You will arrive in Mudgee mid to late afternoon.
A chance to check into your accommodation, go for a stroll to investigate the local visitor centre and relax with a glass of local wine either in your accommodation or one of the numerous cafes and vineyard restaurants.
Bandalong Cottages is a travel guide favourite with its spacious grounds, the sense of intimacy and the fact it is the home of a family whose roots reach back into their convict origins. Mudgee NSW | Self Contained Cottage Accommodation on 33 acres is home for the next two nights. And the location is superb with three winemaking neighbours making driving redundant, Burnbrae, Blacklea and Thistle Hill cellar doors. Then there is the very practical, clean lines of Catherine Sykes pottery. Her studio is tucked among the 3 acre property.
With over 40 cellar doors, plenty of choice what to see and do. it is likely you will return to Mudgee. Let’s get you going with local advice, guaranteed no hidden traps to get to a specific destination. Swirl + Sip is a handy directory for up to date information regarding opening times + services, or visit our Virtual Love Hub here. You are invited to filter your selection according to
Your return is a scenic journey through the Blue Mountains to your destination Sydney. You have ample time to stop in Katoomba for a leisurely lunch at the iconic Mountain Heritage: Katoomba Accommodation | Blue Mountains Hotel or cafes nearby.