What travel in NSW will look like when restrictions ease
It’s been a bleak winter of lockdown for many. For too long we’ve sat inside over the long chilly months, living the ups and downs of reality tv life punctuated by holiday promo’s wondering who’s going anywhere. As the world has opened up, social media pages have flickered with snap shots of European coastlines, packed street markets and life looking reassuringly like we remembered it before we faced another season of restrictions. With the lifting of lockdown just weeks away now, we’re eager to brush off the winter blues and find our own chance to follow the sun. Here’s our guide to what travel in NSW will look like when restrictions ease plus some easy holiday destinations!
What’s on your travel list?
Considering your travel options poses more questions than ever as we navigate the many complexities of re-emerging from lockdown and finding our feet in a slightly altered universe. With people saving on international travel over lockdown, our spending capacity for domestic travel has increased. Day trips to weeklong getaways will be high on many people’s agendas, with last minute bookings becoming the new norm. The novelty of taking off and exploring what have been recently unreachable holidays spots, will have thousands of us day tripping and beyond. Will we travel to new locations because our holiday options feel impeded? Will we take longer holidays where it can be combined with work from home flexibility?
And while some will already have their backpacks stacked high on the roof racks, others will consider travel with a little more trepidation. Weighing up whether house-stays, hotels, or something in-between will suit your post-lockdown comfort may also depend on how accommodation stays have risen to the occasion to deliver a welcoming, safe, and inclusive message.
A new brand of service
9/11 is when travel changed for all of us and after nearly 2 decades, we’re facing new travel reforms, once again with our safety in mind. With the number of formalities involved in travelling today, many will have become more conscious as travellers, choosing destinations, hotels and airlines based on safety standards. Our idea of customer service may reflect a new industry standard where the gold star is regard for personal care, rather than a dazzling welcome smile and free sweets.
B&B Owner from Overnight Reflections in Lake Macquarie, Narelle looks forward to welcome guests back, but is aware that many accommodation owners may be more cautious about unvaccinated guests and also aware how service will reflect a new way of holidaying. The kumbaya shared breakfast might be replaced by individual meal service and there will certainly be an increase in government regulations, which will be passed on to guests.
They’ll be a greater vigilance on new safety protocols, QR codes and contactless check in and checkouts. Shared stationery such as printed menus, magazines, pens, and paper will be out, but refitted first aid kits, sanitizers and health guidelines are in. Accommodation outlets will have higher standards of cleanliness to follow, including using cleaning products effective against coronavirus for room cleans and shared spaces. Thankfully, in the same way that the pandemic reminded us all that washing hands is good, we’ll all feel better for knowing that hygiene protocols everywhere will be held to a higher standard.
5 easy destination ideas!
With NSW travel top of mind, we’ve also compiled our 5 favourite easy to reach, no-fuss destinations within a few hours’ drive from Sydney. Places that offer the sanctity of village charm, unwaveringly beautiful scenery, and a chance to sink into a home away from home.
Just 1.5 hours north from Sydney lays expansive Lake Macquarie. Taking almost as long to drive around, there are plenty of little townships tempting you along the way for walks, a bite, or views of the bay. As you wind around the lake, some areas greet you with café lined boardwalks, others in close proximity to tessellated rocky outcrops and the wild open sea. Nature walks, open parklands, and beaches are all a short drive to the coastal suburbs of Catherine Hill Bay, Caves Beach, Blacksmiths Beach and Redhead. Start with Belmont, Cardiff, Charlestown, Glendale, Swansea, Toronto when thinking of shopping precincts.
The surrounding region of Port Stephens takes in an undulating hinterland and sweeping coastline that firms around the Headland. From a gull’s eye view, the peninsula must look like an outstretched hand, with the villages of Salamander Bay and Corlette to swanky tourist towns like Nelson Bay, all spilling onto kilometres of coastal beach. Just 3 hours north of Sydney, it’s a haven for a summer getaway whether you prefer pub stays, boutique hotels and resorts or family camping. The steep, picturesque walk up Mount Tomaree is set between the friendly waters of Port Stephens, with a jetty for jumping into the bay and Zenith Beach with its lashing waves and deep sand. Hire a bike to get from one suburb to the next, or paddle board and kayak alongside the dolphins.
In summer the haze that sets low across the Blue Mountains shimmers and the winter gardens bloom under the warmer skies. Within an hour drives west, you’ll reach the picturesque and popular township of Leura, just before arriving in Katoomba to view the valley of the Three Sisters. Head a little further over the mountains and the land opens up into a patchwork of native forests and farmland, dotted with villages that carry you to Lithgow and beyond. As well as Leura and Katoomba, you’ll find great accommodation, sightseeing and walks in Glenbrook (great village feel and lunch stop), Wentworth Falls ( majestic valley lookout of the waterfall) or Mount Tomah, home to the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens (with its own alpine garden).
At only an hours drive away from Sydney, Pearl Beach located on the western shoreline of Broken Bay, is one of the most stunning seaside villages south of Gosford. Sharing the peninsula with nearby Patonga, Pearl Beach is the hub of a nature loving community; small enough to blend in with its abundant natural surrounds. Discovering sandy pathways that wind through the National Parks, hidden beaches, jetties and fishing spots between Avalon and Newcastle, the Central Coast could keep even the most curious holiday maker intrigued all season. Drop in for lunch at The Boathouse Hotel, Patonga after trekking the Pearl Beach to Patonga Track. Even a day trip will tempt your travel taste buds.
What’s not to love about the Southern Highlands? Even the name has a poetic ring to it, harking back to its Scottish namesake. But the Southern Coast of NSW is more than tea and scones and the occasional jail; it’s a chain of charming, rural, off-beat and upmarket towns and villages draped along a magnificent coastline. It would take even the most dedicated traveller weeks to uncover all the hidden charms of the region that’s fast becoming known for its eclectic mix of highbrow home décor, artisan eateries and homemade collectables. Mittagong, Berrima and Bowral are wonderful country day escapes or wind a little further inland to Moss Vale or Kangaroo Valley. Each town has its own arts hub, its own rural feel and story to tell.