With plenty of long weekends and good weather coming up, there’s no time like the present to pack your bags, round up the troops and treat yourself to a mini-break. And, if you’re the social secretary of your group of friends, fuss-free options for organised fun should be top of your list.[related_articles]56255,55829[/related_articles]
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for a new adventure, New South Wales is spoilt for choice when it comes to mapping-out the perfect group weekend away. Wilderness bush walks, panoramic coastal lookouts, and tranquil seclusion are just three reasons why these getaways are top of our to-do list. All easily accessible from Sydney or Newcastle, enjoy the unique offerings of these affordable, group-friendly escapes.
#1 Sussex Inlet
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Where: 3.5 hours south of Sydney
Perfect for: National parks and nature, walking trails, and beaches
Sussex Inlet is home to a host of riverside properties and a haven for outdoor activities. Set up camp (literally) at Cave Beach or Bristol Point in Booderee National Park, or opt for a holiday rental if you’re a creature of comfort.
Bristol Point is particularly well equipped for larger groups, offering unpowered sites for up to 10 people from $115 per night. Booderee is less than 30 minutes’ drive from Sussex Inlet and a stunning escape into nature. Vehicle entry is only $11 for 48 hours and Visitor Information opens between 9am and 4pm daily.
Camp or condo, cook up a barbecue feast and keep an eye out for kangaroos patrolling the area.
#2 Hawkesbury River
Where: 90 minutes north of Sydney
Perfect for: Seclusion and sightseeing
If dry land doesn’t cut it, the Hawkesbury River will certainly float your boat. Self-driven house boats accommodate two to 12 people with weekend hire costing between $1000 and $3500 (depending on season and party size).
Cruise the river between Brooklyn, America Bay, Refuge Bay and beyond to discover waterfalls and secluded beaches. Hawkesbury Afloat, Luxury Afloat and Holidays Afloat offer homecruisers, BBQ boats and tinnies to suit the holiday needs of any group. Best of all, a boat license isn’t required for most of the vessels.
#3 Port Stephens
Where: 3 hours north of Sydney
Perfect for: Kayaking and boating, marine life, scenic lookouts, and dining out
Well-loved holiday destination Port Stephens offers over 30kms of soft white sand and pristine blue water. And there’s no need to choose exploration over relaxation when the region boasts a healthy dose of both, from lazy days on blissfully tranquil bays to a catalogue of action-packed adventures are both readily available.
Hire a paddleboard at Shoal Bay, sandboard the dunes of Anna Bay or hike Mount Tomaree for sweeping views across the headland. Dolphin-watching cruises, 4WD tours and even camel rides are also on offer.
End the day with sundowners on the aptly named Sunset Beach, Soldiers Point.
#4 Newport and Avalon
Where: 1 hour north of Sydney
Perfect for: National parks and nature, walking trails, scenic lookouts, surfing, bars and dining
Just north of Sydney, Newport and its neighbouring suburbs boast proximity to both beach and bush. A 30-minute drive from the heart of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and grazing the eastern coastline, rugged wilderness and vast ocean are just a short drive apart.
Pay a small $12 entry fee (per vehicle) to the national park and cruise along winding roads to quaint Cottage Point or West Head Lookout for an Instagrammable seascape and a close up view of the Palm Beach headland. Stop for a picnic or barbecue in Bobbin Head and hire a paddleboat to revel in the beauty of the National Park whilst afloat on Cowan Creek.
There’s no shortage of Airbnbs in the area, with waterside camping at The Basin within Ku-Ring-Gai being a cost-effective alternative. Listen to live bands, sip on cocktails and watch the sun set over Pittwater at The Newport.
#5 Forster Tuncurry
Where: 2 hours north of Newcastle
Perfect for: Water sports, beaches, swimming, marine life and scenic lookouts
A prime vacation spot located in the picturesque Great Lakes region, Forster is a slice of salty, sandy heaven. Sandbanks line the Coolonglook River, which flows between the twin towns of Forster Tuncurry.
The beaches surrounding Forster are plentiful, boasting ocean baths at Main Beach, snorkelling at Pebbly Beach, and surfing at Seven Mile Beach. For a birds-eye perspective of hills and ocean (and whales in winter), scale the Cape Hawke Lookout at Booti Booti National Park.
(Lead image: Dallas Kilponen / Destination NSW)