Published by AWOL, 21/09/18
While they may not have the hustle and bustle of Sydney, small towns in NSW offer everything from hidden beaches to quirky art to renowned restaurants. What these little locations lack in population, they make up for in personality. (And even if you’re a bright lights, big city dweller at heart, the prospect of affordable brunch has got to be tempting.)
Here are five of our fave small towns in NSW within a few hours’ drive from Sydney, perfect for a weekend escape.
Where: 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney
Around the corner at Little Beach, you’ll find The Boathouse (known for the ideal combination of halloumi fries and cocktail jugs), so kick back and soak up the serenity.
Where: 1.5 hours’ drive from Sydney
The Southern Highlands town of Bowral has become a giant in regional tourism thanks to one mammoth attraction: The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. With a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor, this museum does not disappoint cricket superfans while also offering an interesting experience for the casual sports spectator passing through The Don’s hometown. Make sure to drop by neighbouring town of Robertson for what is arguably the second-biggest attraction in the Southern Highlands,The Big Potato.
If second-hand hunting is more your style, check out Dirty Janes for incredible vintage clothing and antique furniture. The Bowral Salvos and Vinnies op shops are similarly overlooked treasures full of vintage bargains. Bowral has more cafes than you can poke a cricket bat at, and we especially love The Press Shop for its bookish charm and Janeks for its classic coffee and cakes. Even better, Bowral is easily accessible by train from Sydney.
Where: 3 hours’ drive from Sydney
With just over 1000 people calling Millthorpe home, it’s easily overlooked four of its larger neighbours. But this heritage-listed village is one for the foodies, with the regularly-hatted Tonic restaurant drawing crowds from far and wide and and The Old Mill Café offering country staples like bacon and egg rolls and homemade waffles.
For those planning a long lunch, family-owned local vineyard Angullong Wines offers tastings in an historic 1800s cellar and country classic The Railway Hotel hosts trivia nights, live music and raffles. When it comes to shopping, clothing boutique Blue stocks pieces from small, ethically-conscious labels in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The bigdrawcard though is the Millthorpe Markets held twice a year, and the next event on December 2 is shaping up to be a cracker with over 250 stalls of local food and produce.
Where: 2 hours’ drive from Sydney
Nestled between the mountains and the sea, this thriving little town punches well above its weight and is also reachable by train from Sydney. Fuel up for the day with a freshly made pie from Sourdough Café and a doughnut or two from the Berry Doughnut Van which as been serving up fluffy, sugary goodness for over 55 years.
Seven Mile Beach National Park, just outside of Berry, is one of the South Coast’s most impressive beaches. There are plenty of beautiful picnic spots and walks throughout the park, and the nearby Drawing Room Rocks is an easy hike with spectacular views of the beach and surrounding area. Back in town, keep an eye out for Fairgrounds Festival in Berry at the end of November, as well as the fortnightly produce market.
Where: 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney
The Jenolan Caves are both the largest in Australia and the most underrated attraction in the Blue Mountains. Just 20 minutes from Oberon, the caves are not the only drawcard in this neck of the woods, with mushrooming in autumn, truffle hunting in winter and hiking in Kanangra-Boyd National Park all year round. Check in at the Visitors Centre for the most up-to-date information all these activities.
To experience the outdoors with a little more luxury head to the 160-acre gem of Mayfield Garden. They’ve got glamping, a lake complete with rowboats and a maze that will make you feel like you’re in an English rom-com. (And the cafe’s top notch too.)