Now that the cooler weather has set in, we’re pulling out our wooly jumpers and thick parkas to prepare for some winter adventure.
It’s second nature for Aussies to flock to the coast during summer, so it seems only natural that in winter, we do the exact opposite. If snuggling up by a roaring fire, sitting down to a few wholesome meals, taking a long stroll in the crisp country air and exploring some of the state’s most underrated destinations sounds like your cup of tea, then you need to book yourself in for a country getaway in NSW.
We’ve picked out a few of our favourite places to spend a weekend in regional and outback NSW, all within a few hours drive from Sydney or an easy flight with Rex. We’ve even picked out top accommodation options and found a handful of restaurants, bars and cafes and check out while you’re there. So pack your warmest winter woolies and enjoy a charming country getaway in NSW.
Country getaway in Griffith, NSW
Griffith may not have ever come across your radar for a weekend away, but we promise you’ll be telling all your friends about it after a few days there. The area is surrounded by produce and livestock farms, so the quality of the food is unparalleled. There are also plenty of wineries in the region, Calabria Family Wine being one of the most prominent. The cellar door is exquisite and a tasting paddle out in the Tuscan-style vineyard will transport you to the Italian countryside. You can check out our full foodie guide to Griffith here.
Where to stay in Griffith
We love Quest Apartments (everywhere) because they’re always centrally located and have all the essentials for a comfortable stay. Quest Griffith has an awesome outdoor BBQ area where you can grill up some tasty local produce. The rooms also have fully equipped kitchens, but if you don’t feel like cooking, you’re only a few minutes away from Griffith’s top restaurants and cafe. You can check availability and find the best nightly rate here.
You’ll find even more options and competitive rates here.
High-octane adventure in Bathurst, NSW
Bathurst is best known for its annual car race but there’s plenty more to see and do on a country getaway weekend. Supercar racing certainly brings in big bucks – some $200 million a year from its two mega events. But travellers who seek good food, wine, craft beers and micro-distillery gin – and love art – are also heading west. And with the opening of the Bathurst Rail Museum, train buffs are also, pardon the pun, making tracks to the city. Visitors will also be delighted to find nearby wineries, quirky cafes and even a castle!
Where to stay in Bathurst
The Victoria Hotel is a beautifully refurbished pub with an excellent restaurant and bar downstairs, and swanky new overnighter digs upstairs. It’s just 5 minutes from the airport and right in the heart of town with cafes, shops, bakeries and more all within walking distance. The rooms also have a lovely view of the surrounding gardens and have been decked out with modern furnishings and decor.
Not sold? You can find more accommodation options in Bathurst here.
Food & wine escape in Orange, NSW
Orange is one of those wonderful places that strikes the perfect balance between country charm and buzzing vibrancy. There’s just enough going on to keep you entertained without losing the relaxed country atmosphere. The region hosts a number of events throughout the year but the most popular of all is the annual Orange F.O.O.D. Week where chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, bakers, creators and food-lovers descend on the country town and turn it into a Mecca for great food and wine. You can read all about Orange’s foodie offering here, but if you’re short on time, here are three places you absolutely must visit: Heifer Station for a fun farm-gate experience, The Beekeepers Inn for homemade scones and delicious honey and Cargo Road Wines for a sunset wine tasting.
Where to stay in Orange
Our pick is Mercure Orange. Our publisher, Michelle, stayed here during F.O.O.D. Week and found that it was perfectly located in the centre of the action so she could easily wander back to her bed after sampling a few too many varietals. The hotel has been recently refurbished and the rooms are spacious and modern. However, it was the rooftop restaurant and bar that truly impressed.
The Greenhouse celebrates local and regional produce at affordable prices in various spaces, reminiscent of Sydney’s The Grounds. There’s an enormous café complete with hanging herb and flower gardens, pizza bar dishing up some of the best in Orange, a children’s play area and a hall that looks like a rustic stable housing a restaurant and bar, a street food kitchen set-up, and a fine-dining degustation option in a more formal dining room setting complete the picture. What more could you want?
There’s plenty more options here.
Star-studded country getaway in Parkes, NSW
If you have even the faintest interest in astronomy or love a bit of stargazing (who doesn’t?), a trip to Parkes will be a treat. It’s home to arguably Australia’s most famous telescope; The Dish, a 64 metre-wide radio telescope that was used to relay the live broadcast of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Although, most people recognise it from the Australian comedy-drama of the same name. Parkes has very little light pollution – especially if you’re staying a bit further out of town – so the stars on a clear night are unforgettable.
One event to note on your calendar is the annual Elvis Festival in Parkes. The entire town is taken over by fans dressed in elaborate costumes in tribute to the King. If you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth visiting in early January (5th-9th Jan 2022 to be exact). If not, perhaps schedule your country getaway for another weekend.
Where to stay in Parkes
The Astro Dish Motor Inn is one of the more modern accommodation options in town. It’s basic and comfortable, and a 5-minute walk to the town centre. It also places you a short drive from The Dish! The onsite restaurant is great for an easy dinner if you don’t feel like heading back into town after a day of exploring. You can check availability and book your stay at the best rate here.
You’ll find a few more options here too.
Country getaway for animals lovers in Dubbo, NSW
Dubbo‘s biggest drawcard is Taronga Western Plains Zoo where visitors can learn about the fascinating creatures who live there in a safari-style experience. The best way to explore the zoo is to jump on a bike and make your way around on two wheels, or you can hop onboard a safari truck and enjoy a guided tour of the park with an expert ranger. You can even spend the night at the zoo, staying in one of the luxurious safari tents – they feel almost like a hotel room!
Once you’ve crossed the zoo off your bucket list, head out to Warrumbungle National Park, home to Australia’s only Dark Sky Park, for some stargazing. And be sure to make a stop at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre in Gilgandra; a gallery, visitor information centre and a museum proudly keeping the story of the 1915 Coo-ee marchers alive.
Where to stay in Dubbo
Dubbo has plenty of great accommodation options including caravan and holiday parks, motels, hotels and B&Bs – all of which you can browse through here. We’ve also done our own round up of places to stay in Dubbo with some more detailed information which you can find here, but our top pick would have to be the Savannah Cabins at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
The cabins offer all the bells and whistles of a hotel room and place you right in the middle of the animal action. The views are outstanding and will give you the opportunity to see what the animals get up to during the night. You can find the best rates and availability here.
Cosy country getaway in the Snowy Mountains, NSW
Flying into Cooma, you’ll see a patchwork quilt of grazing paddocks, dotted with a few vineyards and produce farms. It’s just as gorgeous on the ground if you’re driving into the Snowies. Thousands of cows, sheep and even alpacas can be spotted from the winding road. Even if you’re not here to ski, you’ll find plenty of walking trails and snowshoe experiences to keep you busy. And when the snow melts, you can try some of the alpine hikes and mountain biking trails.
Where to stay in the Snowy Mountains
If you’re visiting during ski season, accommodation near the resorts may be hard to find but outside the national park in Jindabyne and Crackenback, you’re likely to find a great spot to base your adventure. The Lake Crackenback area has loads of Airbnbs on offer but for a truly luxe experience, book a stay at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa. Set on a stunning lake, the resort boasts a state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre with pools, saunas and hot tubs. The onsite restaurant dishes up fantastic food to fuel your adventures and you’re only a 15-minute drive from great restaurants and cafes in Jindabyne.
Rex operates direct flights from Sydney to all the destinations above. Not based in Sydney? Jump on a Thru Fare from Melbourne, Adelaide or the Gold Coast.
Still searching for your perfect weekend escape?