When it comes to family-friendly holiday destinations, you really can't beat New South Wales.
Flying direct to Sydney, it's only a few hours across the ocean so (hopefully) the kids won't get too wild on the flight.
Escaping the city for the natural beauty of South Coast New South Wales is, in my eyes, the perfect adventure with little ones in tow. Hire a car, pack it full with everything but the kitchen sink, and set out to explore the beaches, lagoons and rainforests from Sydney down as far as the Victorian border. If this sounds like the holiday you've been waiting a whole year for, then I'll happily take some of the planning off your plate with this epic five-day itinerary packed full of fun for the whole family and plenty of boredom-busting sight-seeing stops en route.
Day 1: Sydney to Bowral
Just 90 minutes drive southwest from Sydney you'll find Bowral, the largest town in New South Wales' Southern Highlands. Known for its restaurants and cafes, up-market boutiques, antique shopping and art galleries, Bowral is a popular destination for Sydneysiders looking for a bit of respite from the big city. While I could easily spend the day here eating and shopping, it would definitely be remiss for the Guptill family not to visit the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame, wouldn't it?
Filled with memorabilia from Bowral cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman, the museum explores not only the legacy of this sporting great, but tells the story of cricket itself through an impressive collection of interactive displays. It's a must see for cricket nuts and anyone wanting to learn more about the sport from the perspective of the only Aussie cricketer to ever receive a knighthood.
Once you're done exploring, check in to Peppers Craigieburn Bowral for the night. It's a beautiful spot to rest weary heads, enjoy a walk around the 36-hectare garden estate or dabble in a bit of golf on the nine-hole private course.
Day 2: Bowral to Batemans Bay
Batemans Bay is an easy two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bowral and is part of NSW's 'Oyster Coast', which as the name suggests, is THE spot for indulging in a fresh oyster or dozen. Batemans Bay boasts beautiful beaches that wild kangaroos love to frequent too, and you can meet even more friendly Aussie animals at the Mogo Wildlife Park. The zoo offers up-close and personal experiences with lions, meerkats, red pandas, rhinos and many more exotic and local creatures.
Beachfront accommodation is key when visiting Batemans Bay, so book a night at the NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort. You might even be lucky enough to spot dolphins and whales frolicking in the ocean from the deck of your villa or a kangaroo hopping along the beach. The kids will get a kick out of the playground at any rate, and the beach bistro will satisfy hungry tums after a long day of sightseeing.
Day 3: Batemans Bay to Milton and Mollymook
Start to circle back up the coast to the small historic village of Milton, which is a 45 minute drive from Batemans Bay, just inland from the coast, and offers unique shopping, hatted restaurants and stunning country scenery. Grab lunch at vegetarian cafe Pilgrims, which is on the main street. Their burgers, piled high with fresh salad ingredients, sound like the perfect fuel for an afternoon at Mollymook Beach, just a few minutes in the car from Milton. Surfers will froth over the stellar surf breaks, but with lifeguards patrolling both ends of the beach during the summer months, it's safe for the whole family.
This part of the South Coast is a culinary hotspot, and seeing as no one knows seafood quite like Rick Stein, you must check out his restaurant inside boutique hotel Bannisters by the Sea. The ocean-to-plate menu is all sourced locally and crafted with Stein's signature cooking style. The hotel itself gives you a choice of classic rooms, beach houses and penthouses so definitely consider booking a night here, too.
Day 4: Mollymook to Jervis Bay
Home to bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins, Jervis Bay (just over an hour's drive from Mollymook) is a must-visit with kids. Stop for supplies along the way and enjoy a picnic at Hyams Beach, with its world-famous white sand and invitingly sparkling waters. The scenery is so breathtaking, you'll want to park up here for the day, trust me.
Spend the night relishing the creature comforts of a home away from home at The Woods Farm of Jervis Bay. The cottage accommodation is ideal for families, with three bedrooms in each of the eight houses, plus a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge with a TV and Foxtel so you can really veg out on your last night in paradise. Oh, and there are plenty of farm animals around too!
Day 5: Jervis Bay to Sydney
The drive back up the coast to Sydney from Jervis Bay takes around three hours, so you may want to break it up with a stop or two along the way. Take the coastal route and visit the Kiama Blowhole, one of the largest blowholes in the world, spouting seawater 20 metres or more high into the air. The views from Blow Hole Point are also great for whale watching between May and November.
Get the timing right and you might also spot whales when you stop to stretch your legs at the now iconic 665 metre long Sea Cliff Bridge along the Grand Pacific Drive. Even if you don't have time to stop, you'll still marvel at the spectacular greenery and ocean vistas from the car. It really is the best way to round out five days taking in the sights, sounds and seafood of South Coast New South Wales.
For more Australian holiday inspiration go to visitaustralia.co.nz