3 Alternative destinations outside of Sydney for the solo traveller
Adventures for one
There are so many advantages to travelling alone — you make new friends, you truly discover yourself, etc — and it's no longer an unfamiliar territory. Of course, safety is always a concern, especially for first time solo female travellers. Hence, we made this list of five best places to make that first step. Australia is one such fine example and if you've visited Sydney enough times to pass off as a local, perhaps it's time to dwell a little further with these suggestions thanks to Destination NSW.
If the idea of buzzing cafes, restaurants and seaside towns appeal you, head south of Sydney and you'll find the dazzling sight of the Illawarra coast line where the city of Wollongong resides.
WHAT TO DO: Take a ride along the Grand Pacific Drive, past the rugged coastline, beaches, seaside town and over the iconic Sea-Cliff Bridge. The view is breathtaking but things like these are always better with company so take the Harley Davidson sidecar tour with Just Cruisin' Tours. They'll stop for photos at lookouts and take you to a beer garden overlooking the ocean at the historic Scarborough Hotel for drinks.
Minus the pulsating energy of a city that never sleeps, Wollongong has something for everyone. For a double dose of adrenaline, book a skydive with Skydive the Beach. For a more relaxing holiday, hang out at the beach and stroll to the Wollongong Head Lighthouse. Both presents an opportunity for the best kind of souvenirs: Photos.
WHERE TO EAT: Diggies Cafe (delicious fresh food with a view overlooking North Wollongong Beach), Illawarra Brewing Co (hearty pub fare with 34 locally crafted beers on tap), The Lagoon Seafood Restaurant (a feast of locally caught fish and oysters), and Sandygoodwich cafe (they organise communal dinners once a month).
Sun seekers know to head north along the Legendary Pacific Coast but where you really need to stop off at is Coffs Harbour, a friendly town with lots to do for solo travellers — especially if you want to learn how to surf.
WHAT TO DO: First up, or rather, surf's up, sign up for a group lesson with Lee Winkler's Surf School and you'll be riding the waves in no time. The nature adventure continues with a plantation tour at Coffs Harbour's landmark Big Banana. Come evening, your itinerary should include a tour of Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve with an Aboriginal ranger. If you're there over the weekend, do check out the harbourside markets on Sunday mornings.
WHERE TO STAY: Coffs Jetty Bed and Breakfast
The wine region of Mudgee is a decent 3.5 hours drive from Sydney and a pleasant getaway destination for foodies and wine lovers. The local farmers and winemakers take pride in growing a stellar produce for the majority of cafes and restaurants in towns.
WHAT TO DO: Mudgee Explorer Tours is your go-to for half and full day small group tours to wineries (up to eight people) as well as excursions to nearby attractions such as hiking along the Goulburn River to the beautiful sandstone rock formation known as The Drip; Ferntree Gully and sunrise at Castle Rocks.
WHERE TO EAT: Blue Wren Wines' Kitchen Table dining experience where guests can eat at the kitchen workbench and engage in a passionate conversation about the dishes served with the chef. Alternatively, Mudgee Brewing Co. is a boutique microbrewery and restaurant with a great atmosphere and hosts live music performances three nights a week.
WHERE TO STAY: Peppertree Hill