Family Travel: Top 5 NSW Road Trips within 3 Hours of Sydney
While there are many reasons to love road trips, one of the best is that they offer a chance to see a lot of different places in a short amount of time.
If you’re looking for a road trip destination that’s within 3 hours of Sydney, there are many choices including Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay, Tea Gardens, Bathurst, Newcastle and many more. Within just a few hours’ drive, you can find everything from stunning coastline to lush mountains and forests. And of course, there are plenty of quaint towns and villages to stop in along the way.
So whether you’re looking for an adventure or a relaxing escape, a road trip in New South Wales is sure to have something for everyone.
Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay
The stunning scenery that Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay has to offer is truly something special. The coastline is dotted with sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and lush rainforest.
In addition, the area offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, from hiking and biking to kayaking and snorkelling. Taking a road trip to places is the perfect way to explore everything these regions have to offer.
Not only will you be able to see some of the most stunning scenery in Australia, but you’ll also have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of activities. So pack your bags and hit the road for an unforgettable adventure.
There’s plenty to do in Port Stephens! Here are six ideas to get you started:
Shoal Bay Beach
Take a walk along the stunning Shoal Bay Beach. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins swimming offshore! The beach is a wide and spacious expanse of golden sand, flanked by rocky headlands at either end.
The waves here are usually small and gentle, making it a great spot for swimming, bodyboarding and fishing. There is also a large grassy area perfect for picnics and games. The beach is accessible by car or boat, and there is plenty of parking available.
Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary
Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is a rehabilitation and education facility that is dedicated to the care and protection of koalas. The sanctuary was founded in 2001, and since then, it has provided a safe haven for koalas that have been injured or displaced.
The sanctuary is also home to a number of educational programs that aim to raise awareness about the importance of conserving this iconic species. Visitors to the sanctuary can learn about the threats that koalas face and what they can do to help protect them.
They can also meet some of the resident koalas and learn about the unique habits and ecology of this amazing animal. Whether you are a long-time supporter of koala conservation or you are just beginning to learn about these special creatures, a visit to Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is sure to be an enlightening and memorable experience.
Go Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding
Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay are great places to go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. The water is crystal clear, and the scenery is stunning. There are plenty of places to rent kayaks and paddle boards, and the staff is always happy to help out if you need any advice. One of the best things about kayaking or stand up paddle boarding in the area is that there are no crowds. You can paddle around at your own pace, and stop whenever you want to take in the view or take a swim. Whether you’re a experienced kayaker or stand up paddle boarder, or you’re just getting started, Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay are the perfect places to enjoy these great water activities.
Dolphin or Whale Watch Cruise
Nelson Bay is one of the best places in Australia to go whale and dolphin watching. Every year, thousands of visitors come to the bay to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
There are several different companies that offer dolphin and whale watch cruises, which depart from Nelson Bay Marina and last for around three hours.
During the cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to see dolphins, whales, seals, and other marine life up close and learn about their behaviour and ecology.
Tomaree National Park
Tomaree National Park is a stunning stretch of coastline and features beautiful beaches, bushland walks and views of the surrounding countryside.
One of the highlights of the park is Tomaree Head, a headland that offers sweeping panoramas of the region.
You can also spot migrating whales from the headland between May and November each year. Tomaree National Park is a great place to spend a day or two, whether you’re interested in swimming, hiking or simply taking in the stunning views.
Nelson Head Lighthouse Reserve Museum
The Nelson Head Lighthouse Reserve Museum is a must-see for any visitor to the area. Located on the grounds of the Nelson Head Lighthouse, the museum offers a unique glimpse into the history of the lighthouse and its importance to the local community.
The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and you can explore the various exhibits at their own pace, or take part in a guided tour of the lighthouse itself. The Nelson Head Lighthouse Reserve Museum is an essential stop for anyone interested in the history of this beautiful region.
After you’ve had your fill of maritime history at the Nelson Head Lighthouse Museum, head on over to the Inner Light Tea Room for a bite to eat.
You’ll be treated to stunning views of the bay while you enjoy a delicious meal. The tea room is the perfect place to relax and refuel before you continue exploring all that the Nelson Head area has to offer.
Anna Bay is located approximately 10km south of Nelson Bay and is a home to some of the best camel rides in the country.
The experience begins with a short safety briefing, followed by a gentle trek through the sand dunes and on the beach. As you ride, you’ll have the chance to take in sweeping views of the bay and its surrounds.
After your Camel Ride, you can enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the nearby cafes. With its beautiful scenery and friendly camels, Anna Bay is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Places to stay
2. Jervis Bay
Nestled on the South Coast of NSW, Jervis Bay is a little slice of paradise. With its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and lush forest walks, it’s the perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries. But Jervis Bay isn’t just a pretty face – there’s also plenty to do for those who like to keep busy.
From kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to hiking and biking, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. And of course, no trip to Jervis Bay would be complete without a visit to one of the many stunning lookouts or taking a dip in the pristine waters of Hyams Beach.
So if you’re looking for a relaxed getaway with plenty to see and do, add Jervis Bay to your list. You won’t be disappointed!
Jervis Bay is a beautiful place to visit, with plenty of activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Here are some great things to do in Jervis Bay:
Jervis Bay Beaches
Jervis Bay is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. White sand and clear blue water make it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
There are many different activities to enjoy at the beach, such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and kayaking. There are also a number of different beaches to choose from, each with its own unique character.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or a place to have some fun in the sun, Jervis Bay has a beach that’s perfect for you.
Hyams Beach is a beautiful sandy beach is well known for having the whitest sand in the world, and its crystal-clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing. There are several restaurants and cafes located nearby, as well as a number of accommodation options.
If you’re looking for a breathtaking beach destination in New South Wales, look no further than Greenpatch Beach in Jervis Bay. This idyllic spot is renowned for its clear turquoise waters and powdery white sand, making it a popular spot for swimming, snorkelling and surfing.
There’s also plenty of nearby bushland to explore, and the campground offers plenty of amenities for a comfortable stay. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an action-packed family vacation, Greenpatch Beach is sure to please.
Booderee National Park
Booderee National Park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. For nature lovers, there are walking trails through the native bushland, and you can also spot an array of wildlife including kangaroos, echidnas, and lizards.
The beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing, and fishing, and you can also explore the many shipwrecks that dot the coastline. If you’re after a more relaxing experience, there are picnic areas and BBQs where you can while away the hours surrounded by nature.
Jervis Bay Maritime Museum
Jervis Bay Maritime Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of Jervis Bay and the surrounding area. The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs that tell the story of the bay and its role in maritime history.
Visitors can explore the museum’s many exhibits to learn about the area’s indigenous people, its early European explorers, and its more recent past as a busy port town.
The museum also features a variety of interactive displays, making it an enjoyable experience for all ages. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or just visiting for a day, be sure to stop by the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum to learn more about this fascinating region.
Jervis Bay is a home to an abundance of marine life, including dolphins, whales and seals. A dolphin cruise is the perfect way to experience this natural wonder up close.
During the cruise, you’ll have the chance to see dolphins swimming and playing in their natural habitat. You may even be lucky enough to see them riding the waves or leaping out of the water. Whales can also often be seen in the bay, and you’ll learn about their fascinating habits from the on-board expert.
Place to Stay:
Bathurst is a lovely city nestled near the Blue Mountains and is known for its stunning natural scenery, its many historical landmarks, and its friendly locals. A road trip to Bathurst is the perfect way to experience all that this city has to offer. You’ll be able to take in the breathtaking mountain views, explore the city’s rich history, and enjoy the hospitality of the locals. So if you’re looking for a city that has it all, make sure to put Bathurst on your list. You won’t be disappointed.
There’s plenty to see and do in Bathurst! Here are six attractions that are definitely worth a visit:
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the natural history of Australia. The Museum houses an incredible collection of fossils and minerals, many of which are unique to the continent. In addition to displaying its stunning collection, the Museum also offers a range of interactive exhibits and educational programs. You can learn about the formation of Australia’s unique landscapes, discover the secrets of fossilisation, and explore the stories behind some of the world’s most famous minerals.
National Motor Racing Museum
The National Motor Racing Museum celebrates Bathurst’s unique place in motorsport history. The museum houses a large collection of historic cars and motorcycles, as well as a range of interactive exhibits. You can learn about the history of motor racing in Australia, and see some of the most iconic cars that have ever raced on the famous Bathurst circuit. The museum is also home to a cafe and gift shop, making it the perfect place to take a break from exploring Bathurst. Whether you’re a motorsport fan or just looking for somewhere interesting to visit, the National Motor Racing Museum is definitely worth a trip.
Mount Panorama Racing Circuit
Mount Panorama is one of Australia’s most iconic racetracks. Situated in the picturesque town of Bathurst, the track has been host to some of the country’s biggest motor racing events. Carved into the side of Mt. Panorama, the track is 6.213km long and features a challenging mix of corners and straights. The track is also unique in that it is open to the public for use outside of official race days. So whether you’re a seasoned racer or a casual driver, Mount Panorama is definitely worth a visit. Just be sure to take it easy on the corners!
The Adventure Playground in Bathurst is the perfect place for kids to explore, have fun, and burn off some energy. The playground features a large climbing structure with slides, ladders, and tunnels, as well as a separate area for younger children. There is also a huge sandpit, perfect for digging, building castles, or just playing in the sand.
Abercrombie Caves State Conservation Area
Located just outside of Bathurst, Abercrombie Caves offer a unique underground experience with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. It is a popular spot for camping, hiking, and picnicking. The caves are a popular spot for exploring and providing a cool respite from the heat during summer. There are also a number of walking tracks in the conservation area, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the diverse native flora and fauna. With its spectacular caves and walks, Abercrombie Caves State Conservation Area is a great destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Place to Stay
Newcastle, NSW is a beautiful city located north of Sydney. With its sandy beaches, historic buildings and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder that Newcastle is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Taking a road trip to Newcastle is a great way to see everything this city has to offer. You can explore the city at your own pace, stopping to enjoy the sights and attractions that interest you the most. And with so many excellent accommodation options available, it’s easy to find a place to stay that suits your budget and needs. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, a road trip to Newcastle is sure to be a memorable experience.
Here are a few suggestions for things to do while you’re in town:
The museum houses a collection of over 20,000 objects that tell the stories of the people and history of Newcastle.
The museum has a rich and varied collection that includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts, convict records, shipwreck relics, and an extensive photographic archive. The museum also has a number of interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience life in Newcastle during different periods in its history.
Whether you’re interested in the city’s maritime past, its Indigenous heritage, or its colonial history, there is something for everyone.
Hunter Region Botanic Gardens
The gardens feature a wide variety of different plant species, as well as a stunning waterfall. Visitors can also enjoy picnicking in the gardens, or take a stroll along one of the many walking trails. In addition to being a beautiful spot for a day trip, the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens also offer educational programs for children and adults. These programs focus on topics such as horticulture and native plants, and provide participants with an opportunity to learn about the importance of preserving our natural environment. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an educational experience, the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens are sure to please.
Newcastle Helicopter Flight
Aero Logistics offers a range of helicopter flights to suit every budget. From short 10-minute joyrides to longer sightseeing tours, there is a flight to suit everyone. And with prices starting from less than $100 per person, it’s an affordable way to experience the city in all its glory. Soar over the iconic harbour and take in the sights of the CBD, before heading out to the beaches for a different perspective on this beautiful city. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor wanting to tick something off your bucket list,
The city is home to a number of beaches, each with its own unique character.
Merewether Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Newcastle. It features a large surf club, ocean baths, cafe and a restaurant.
Nobby’s Beach is situated just north of the city center, making it a convenient spot for locals and visitors alike. Nobby’s Beach is well-known for its surfing conditions and is a popular spot for both beginner and experienced surfers. The beach is also great for swimming, sunbathing, and simply relaxing.
Dudley Beach is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing with its gentle waves and clear water. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, picnicking and bushwalking in the nearby national park.
Newcastle Beach is a great option if you’re looking for a beach that’s close to the city and has plenty of amenities nearby including plenty of free parking. The beach itself is lovely, and there’s even a cafe if you get hungry. If you don’t feel like swimming in the ocean, there’s also a large ocean pool that’s perfect for cooling off on hot days.
Fort Scratchley is a historic fort which was built in the 19th century to protect the city from a possible Russian invasion. Today, Fort Scratchley is open to the public as a museum. Visitors can explore the fort’s tunnels and see the guns that were once used to defend the city. The fort also offers panoramic views of Newcastle and the surrounding area.
Stockton Sand Dunes
If you’re looking for an adventure, there’s no better place than the Stockton Sand Dunes. These massive dunes offer a variety of thrilling activities, from quad biking and sandboarding to four-wheel driving. And there’s no better way to explore the dunes than on a safari. A sand dune safari is the perfect way to see everything the dunes have to offer. You’ll have a chance to ride a quad bike across the sands, experience the thrill of sandboarding down a giant dune, and even take a 4WD out for a spin. Plus, you’ll get to see the dunes in all their glory, from the stunning views at the top to the hidden valleys below. So if you’re looking for an adventure, be sure to check out a sand dune safari.
Fighter world is located in Williamstown, approximately 30 minutes north of Newcastle CBD. It is a great place to learn about the history of fighter jets and their role in modern warfare. The museum has a wide variety of displays, including interactive exhibits that let you experience what it’s like to be a fighter pilot. You can also see how fighter jets are designed and built, and learn about the men and women who fly them. Fighter world is a great place to spend a day, whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something fun to do.
Places to Stay
5. Tea Gardens
Tea Gardens is a small town famed for its picturesque setting and its wide range of outdoor activities. Located on the Myall River, Tea Gardens is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
You can go for walks through the lush rainforest, paddle in the river, or take a scenic drive through the winding mountain roads.
Tea Gardens is also home to a number of historic sites, including the Tea Gardens Hotel which was built in 1859, and the Myall Lakes National Park which was established in 1967. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, Tea Gardens is an ideal destination for a road trip.
Here are some fun things to do and visit in Tea Gardens:
Myall River Foreshore
Take a walk or cycle along the foreshore. There are several scenic routes to choose from, and you’ll be able to enjoy views of the river and surrounding countryside.
Hawks Nest Beach is well known for its clear turquoise waters and stunning views. You can enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing and kayaking. There is also a very popular walking track that takes you through the stunning coastal bushland. Hawks Nest Beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty surroundings.
Jimmy’s Beach is a great place to spend a day with family and friends. The beach is well-maintained and offers plenty of amenities, including bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables. The water is clean and clear, making it perfect for swimming, paddling, and fishing. There are also plenty of opportunities for walks along the shoreline. Visitors can explore the rock pools, look for shells, and take in the stunning views. Jimmy’s Beach is a perfect spot for a relaxing day by the water.
There’s nothing like being out on the water in a kayak, feeling the sun on your face and the gentle rocking of the boat. And with Lazy Paddles, it’s easy to hire a kayak and enjoy a day out on Myall Lake. We offer a range of kayaks to suit all budgets and abilities, so you’re sure to find the perfect boat for you. And our friendly staff are always on hand to offer advice and help you get started. So why not come down to lazy paddles and hire a kayak today? You’re sure to have a great time.
Places to Stay
If you’re looking for a quick getaway from Sydney, there are plenty of great road trip options within NSW just a few hours drive from the city. If you’re after a beach break, head north to Shoal Bay or south to Jervis Bay for some of the best beaches in the state. Whichever direction you choose to go, you’ll find plenty of beautiful places to explore just a short drive from Sydney.
Before you set on your trip, you may find the following articles helpful
Ivana Katz is a Sydney based website designer and travel blogger. Having her own business has given her the freedom to explore the world. She believes travel is the best teacher and her passion for adventure, writing and photography has taken her and her son to some amazing places, including Hawaii, Canada, Fiji, Greece and Czech Republic. Ivana’s favourite thing about travelling is learning, discovering hidden gems and creating memories. She loves nothing more than inspiring other women to chase their dreams and explore the world with their families and friends.