Winter has well and truly arrived in Sydney. We are experiencing shorter days, cool clear nights and the ocean feels fresh but not icy at the current temperature of 19 degrees. The further easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions is timely as the two weeks of July school holidays are upon us.
For many, interstate and overseas winter holidays have been cancelled or postponed. My wife and I, unfortunately, had to cancel our family ski trip to Queenstown, but now, we have a great opportunity to explore our local sites and wonders. Below are 12 ‘Day Trip’ ideas that could be enjoyed during your winter weekends or holidays.
Day Trips – Walks
A 45-minute drive from Avalon Beach. Prepare to be impressed when you arrive at what is considered to be one of Sydney’s best lookouts. From West Head, you can see Broken Bay on your left, Pittwater on your right and Barrenjoey Headland and Lighthouse in front. You can also enjoy vistas of Hawkesbury River to Lion island and the beaches of the Central Coast.
West head has walks, a picnic area, parking and Aboriginal Heritage sites. Entry is between sunrise and sunset with a $12 entry fee per car for the National Park.
A 30-minute drive from Avalon Beach, this is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets, the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden was established in 1968 with the aim of ‘the growing of plants from all parts of Australia for preservation and public display, and by these means the attraction of tourists and visitors to the Ku-ring-gai Municipality’.
The 123 hectares of gardens lies in an area of Sydney sandstone bushland adjacent to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and is home to two endangered ecological communities. The Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden is a great spot for learning, bushwalking, picnics and special events.
A 30-minute drive from Avalon Beach this is the perfect place for whale watching. Gaze across the ocean, north to the Central Coast or south to North Head, or explore the rock platform for all kinds of marine creatures. Long Reef never disappoints! This is a medium grade walk that is around 3km, takes about an hour… but maybe longer with little ones! The path is a formed track with gentle hills and occasional steps.
A 60-minute drive from Avalon Beach, North Head’s heath-covered cliff tops have unending ocean views and a spectacular panorama of the harbour and Sydney skyline. It is situated on the northernmost edge of the harbour within sight of Hornby Lighthouse on South Head. If your exploration is on foot, try the easy Fairfax walk. The ghost tour of historic Quarantine Station is a must-do. North Head is open 7 am to 7 pm with free entry but parking fees apply.
Day Trips – Bike Tracks
A 25-minute drive from Avalon Beach, I promise your adventurous kids will LOVE this. Once you are there, it’s hard to get them to leave. The Terrey Hills BMX Bike Track is firm, seems to be very well maintained and has a brand new tarred and covered starting gate, which is great for novices to the world of BMX. This facility is perfect in winter, the lack of shade becomes problematic in the scorching heat of summer. Make sure you bring something to sit on, plenty of water (there aren’t any bubblers) and lots of food. Entry and parking are free.
A 25-minute drive from Avalon Beach Narrabeen lagoon trail is one of the shining jewels of the Northern Beaches. The journey around Narrabeen Lagoon will take you through beautiful ecosystems, an abundance of wildlife, cultural heritage and historical icons. Perfect for kids learning to ride!
A 30-minute drive from Avalon Beach, you can enjoy a full day out at St Ives Showground. Kids can bike or scooter along the winding path, stopping at the playground for a break. There are also plenty of picnic spots. Be sure to check there are no events scheduled, as it can get busy.
A 35-minute drive from Avalon Beach, Manly Dam Mountain Bike track is one of Sydney’s best and is enjoyed by beginners to advanced riders. The best access points for the bike track are; Gibbs St, Manly Vale, Upper Clontarf St, North Balgowlah, Kirkwood St, Bantry Reserve, Seaforth and both Roosevelt Ave and Nyrang St at Allambie Heights. Do check the map to find out where the water and picnic facilities are.
If you want a path that is long, flat and has amazing views, then Manly Beach is where to head! You can ride, walk or scoot from Queenscliff to Shelly Beach, even cut through the Corso down to west esplanade and then head back again. It’s great for small kids as it’s flat, there is a string of playgrounds, bubblers and cafes everywhere.
Day Trips – Ferry’s
Jumping on a ferry together and going somewhere new is like going on a holiday, without having to go “on holidays”.
Hop on the ferry at Palm Beach and spend the day at Patonga located on the NSW Central Coast, surrounded by Brisbane Water National Park and the Hawkesbury River. The iconic Boathouse Hotel Patonga – is the perfect destination for fish & chips, a lunch dining experience or a weekend stay.
Since 1855, Sydney Ferries’ famous Manly Ferry has been a “must do” for visitors and tourists. It is a 30-minute trip that operates day and night seven days a week. With a spectacular harbour experience, cruising past all the hidden beaches and harbour suburbs of Sydney’s North then docking between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera house.
From Palm Beach wharf, Ettalong is about a 60-minute Ferry ride and an easy, excellent day trip. On the way, you will experience stunning views past Lion Island up the south side of the Central Coast.
This 20-minute fast ferry ride will transport you to one of The Eastern Suburb’s treasures. Located on the South Head peninsula, there is a lot to love about Watsons Bay. It’s got lovely beaches, marvellous views and delicious seafood. It is also Australia’s oldest fishing village and is home to waterfront restaurants, great walking trails and a Harbourside park perfect for family picnics.