Girls to the front! Whether it’s an indulgent weekend away, the hen party to end all hen parties, or perhaps you just need to kick back and unwind, there are plenty of perfect weekend trips to enjoy with your gal pals just outside Sydney.
From delicious local food and drink and stop-ins at markets and galleries to long walks in the wilderness and rejuvenating day spas, we’ve sussed the surrounds for you.[related_articles]30220[/related_articles] [listicle]
Althought it’s just 90 minutes drive from Sydney, the Central Coast feels like a world away. Dotted with small relaxed towns that all have something to offer, it’s easy to hop from one to the next, exploring markets, beaches and food spots along the way.
There’s an abundance of houses for short-term rental in the village-like Copacabana. Even though the street names are a little tacky (think: Fiesta Cresent and Del Rio Drive), the town itself isn’t. Every house is a short stroll from the beach, and many offer jacuzzis and pools.
Just down the road, and even more chilled than Copacabana, you’ll find Patonga. Live it up at this Hamptons-style beach house that sleeps 12. The place is incredibly private and the spacious layout provides the perfect weekend, even if the weather plays up and you need to spend it all indoors.
Eat & Drink
The Avoca waterfront has some of the best views to enjoy a night out with friends. Pull up a chair with a view, and enjoy. If you and the girls fancy a lager, find your way to the Central Coast’s first boutique brewery, Six String Brewing Company. Keep an eye out for what’s on; they have gigs, pop-up Mexican cantinas and more.
Get active and make the most of the fresh ocean air on some great walks. We recommend the Patonga to Pearl Beach hike (two hours return, and there’s a beautiful pub at Patonga, too). If you’re lucky, you may spot a whale from one of the lookout points.
Alternatively, pack a picnic and your bathers and do the Bouddi Coastal Walk which takes you along some epic clifftops with plenty of secluded swimming spots on the way.
Make sure you check for any closures or weather warnings in the national parks before you go.
If you’re on a hens weekend, book a private class at the Central Coast Dance Centre to kick the night off. They can cater to your needs, but we have it on good authority (read: we did it) that their Beyoncé dance class is a sure fire crowd-pleaser. They provide bubbly and nibbles on arrival, too.
Photos: TripAdvisor and Hamilton Lund/Destination NSW
If you’re after an indulgent weekend with the girls, the Southern Highlands has got everything you need and more. Take your pick of places to base yourself – whether it be the rolling hills of the tranquil Kangaroo Valley or the charming towns of Mittagong and Bowral. These are perfect spots to do much or as little as you like – in style.
For a luxury eco-escape right in the rainforest, find the Barrengarry Hideaway. The setting is spectacular, and you’ll be fighting over the freestanding bubble massage spa. It sleeps seven.
If you’re after something a little closer to the action, check into Menabillie Manor, one of the area’s original grand homes. You may need to book out the whole joint, but it’s worth it. On arrival, you’ll receive a hamper of freshly baked and locally sourced delights including scones, jam and cream, cheese and wine.
The manor also hosts live classical piano performances from 5pm every Saturday.
It’s is famous for its mean cooked breakfasts made from local produce and very local eggs – their chickens are on site. Go and say hello.
Eat & Drink
Celebrate the cool-climate wines of your surroundings with a session at Mittagong’s Tertini Wines. Their cellar door is open seven days a week and we recommend you don’t leave without tasting their Riesling.
Treat yo’self at Biota Dining. With a seasonal menu, a lust-worthy cocktail list, and plenty of options for omnivores and herbivores alike, this is the place to go for brunch or lunch. They also do workshops on natural cocktail-making, natural bread-making and more.
On or near the top of your list has to be Dirty Jane’s in Bowral, where you could happily spend an entire day. It’s both a gallery and a permanent market with covetable vintage and antique goods from near and far.
Along with workshops, there’s also the Dirty Jane’s Tea Salon; clear your schedule and your stomachs and enjoy tea served on fine china, fresh scones, jam and cream, and delicious morsels that Marie Antoinette herself would be jealous of. You can book out the whole salon for a special event, too.
Before you head back to the city, visit one of the area’s day spas. Endota has a group treatment room to cater to all your girls’ weekend needs. Luxury is the name of the game, so splash out and enjoy one of their to-die-for spa packages. They’re open six days a week, with bookings taken on Sundays.
Photos: Barrengarry Hideaway and Biota Dining
Blackheath, Blue Mountains
In a city that’s home to some of the world’s best beaches, it can be easy to forget what’s happening away from the coastline. Just a short drive from Sydney are the spectacular Blue Mountains. With year-round appeal, a burgeoning food scene and a whole lot of cultural and outdoor activities, this makes for the perfect long or short weekend away with your besties.
Book ahead and stay at Westhill. Set on 1.6 hectares of land, the original timber house has a stunning extension by one of Australia’s greatest architects, Glenn Murcutt. If the large landscaped gardens – complete with cosy orchid shed – aren’t enough, the Blue Mountains National Park is on its doorstep.
Westhill sleeps eight people comfortably, and you can also rent the Wood Duck Cabin on the same property to accommodate a total of 10 guests.
Eat & Drink
With a fully-equipped kitchen, formal and outdoor dining area, wood fires and a setting that will take your breath away, Westhill is the perfect spot to self-cater. Cook up feasts, try your hand at cocktail making, and crack a delicious bottle of red, because there’s really no need to go anywhere. The owners may even supply you with some local produce if you’re lucky, and there are some beautiful fresh herbs growing in the garden.
If the Nespresso machine doesn’t do it for you, head to Anonymous Cafe for your coffee hit and a great breakfast. Just 10 minutes away is the recently renovated Hydro Majestic. Full of grandeur and great views, head here for sunset drinks and try the eponymous cocktail.
Walk across the lawn and you’ll find yourself in the Blue Mountains National Park. From here, it’s a nice walk to Govett’s Leap and Cliff Top walk where you’ll see wildlife, waterfalls and the blue hue that gave the area its name.
Shop for treasure at the Victory Theatre Antique Centre, and then wander by the farmer’s market on the second Sunday of each month. Make sure you head to nearby Katoomba to see the famous Three Sisters.
Photo: Anonymous Cafe/Destination NSW
Aaaaaand breathe. There’s something pretty magical about the South Coast that makes you want to quit your job and enjoy the quiet life, but a weekend away with your gals will do the trick in the meantime. It’s a foodie paradise, and we suggest splitting your time between the beautiful beaches and the gem of a town that is Berry.
The Mercure Gerringong is hard to look past as it offers something for everyone. With spacious rooms, there’s an on-site pool, day spa and tennis courts for a little friendly sporting rivalry. Oh, and the beach is just a short walk away, too.
Eat & Drink
For breakfast, head to where the paddocks meet the sea at The Blue Swimmer in Gerroa. The Hungry Duck in Berry is worth a stop in, as well. With beautiful local produce, Chef David Campbell (formerly of Billy Kwong, Testuya’s and Neil Perry’s Rockpool) knows his way around modern Asian flavours.
And you can’t go to Berry without lining up for old-school cinnamon donuts and milkshakes at the Berry Donut Van.
If you fancy a dip, the Werri Beach Ocean Pool is just what the doctor ordered. A visit to the Kiama blowhole is essential, and its weekend markets include Kiama Seaside Markets (third Saturday of the month) and the Makers and Growers Markets (fourth Saturday of each month).
For a well-rounded weekend, head to The Yoga Hive for heated and non-heated yoga classes that will leave you refreshed, stretched and ready to face Monday.
Photos: Mercure Gerringong and Berry Donut Van/Facebook
Mudgee is an historic village with an impressive food and wine scene, all served with a healthy dose of fresh country air.
Just 10 minutes from the centre of Mudgee is heaven on a hillside. Nestled among the Rosby vineyards with views of the region is Rosby Guesthouse. The attention to detail is what makes this place such an incredible stay.
Breakfast is included, there’s complimentary home-grown veggies and eggs, some lovely walking tracks right outside, and amazing living spaces to recline, unwind, and enjoy a glass of house wine, provided to you on arrival.
Eat & Drink
Housed in a former butcher shop, complete with original tiles, is the The Old Butcher Shop Café. This bustling place is great for breakfast and a coffee to kick-start your weekend.
After a full day of exploring, take stock and head to Roth’s Wine Bar for great vinos and live tunes in the back shed. High Valley Wine & Cheese also needs to be on the itinerary. They’ve been making cheese for over a decade, and you can sample their selection until the cows come home. Book ahead for private wine and cheese-tasting sessions.
You could easily spend the whole weekend on the Rosby Estate with wine-tasting, annual sculpture exhibitions, art workshops and more, but you’ve made it all the way to Mudgee, so make the most of it.
As you’re in one of Australia’s premier wine regions, we shouldn’t have to spell it out for you: Get thee to a local cellar door. For a full list of nearby vineyards, head here.
On the third Sunday of each month, you can go on a Farm Walk – a guided tour of a local producer’s farmgate. The walk will help to rebuild your appetite between meals.
Photos: Rosby Estate and Visit Mudgee
It would be a sacrilege to have a list of girls’ weekend destinations without including Byron. It’ll require a long weekend and a return flight but with a sub-tropical climate and plenty to explore, it’ll be worth it.
Eat & Drink
Head to the gorgeous Byron Bay Hinterland and be rewarded for your 20-minute journey in the form of Harvest. It’s a café, bakery and restaurant, but we recommend sitting in and trying the iconic lamb dish. Everything here aims to showcase the region’s produce and seasonal delights. You won’t be disappointed.
Enjoy a vino at St. Elmo and be tempted by their tapas if hunger starts knocking. The Three Blue Ducks at The Farm (see below) is spoken about (and Instagrammed) extensively for a reason. Get there and you’ll see why.
The Farm is an 80-hectare working property just outside of Byron. There’s a number of micro-businesses working together, making it easy to pass a whole day here – from touring the farm and meeting the animals, to doing a session of yoga and picking up a post-workout treat at The Bread Social.
Head to neighbouring Brunswick Heads where the river meets the sea for a more chilled-out seaside village vibe. Get your coffee and breakfast at the Footbridge Café, then walk up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Australia’s most eastern point.
Photos: Harvest/Facebook and The Farm[/listicle]
(Lead image: Destination NSW)