Sydney - Further Afield
The historic Royal National Park is the perfect bolt hole on a sunny day, with its stunning ocean front (there are miles of pristine surfing beaches to the north), cliff-top walks, river meadows and heathland. There are well-marked walking trails, picnic spots, Aboriginal rock drawings and plenty of opportunities for sports - from football to fishing.
Sydney's iconic beach resorts are where the city comes to escape from the rat race for the afternoon. Bondi, Manly, Balmoral - they all have their unique charms: Victorian bathing pavilions, achingly cool bars, surf-shacks and boutiques. They're self-contained mini townships by the sea, and well worth exploring. And the sand's great too!
Head to the native scrubland of Bradley’s head, where you’ll find picture-perfect beaches, home to the intriguing Eastern Water Dragons, a large, harmless lizard, most often to be found lazing in the sun!
Parramatta was the second British settlement in Australia, founded in 1788 and was originally known as Rose Hill. Here you'll find Australia's oldest public building, Old Government House, a handsomely pro-colonial Georgian villa dating from 1790. The restored Elizabeth Farm House and St Patrick's Cathedral all add a rare sense of history to the city's suburbs. There's good shopping and restaurants here, too.
Whale watching cruises from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay set out to spot whales as they migrate along the rim of the Pacific Ocean. While the Australian Reptile Park, an hour north of the city, offers a land-based natural excursion, and is home to kangaroos, wallabies, dingos and possums.
Further afield still, the stunning Blue Mountains offer outdoor sports, hiking - such as the accessible ridges of the Katoomba region - and cave exploration at Jenolan.
The Hunter Valley wineries are superb, with excellent visitor facilities, tastings and tours, while the friendly, small-scale city of Wollongong is a family friendly place, with model train rides, a smashing beach and scattering of thrilling water-sports.