With travel restrictions easing in the state from June 1, this is where we'll be spending our first weekend away in NSW. Brunswick Heads or Bowral, home or someplace new: we'll appreciating every precious moment. Read on for what we're packing and the insider knowledge not to miss.
Go ... A long weekend away in Byron Bay, staying at dream Airbnb, Apartamento by St Agni. Not only is the space a visual and calming feast for your eyes, it’s a return to the iconic oceans of Byron for my much needed sea escape. A complete reset and ultimate relaxation.
Take ... Of course I need St Agni in the form of my too-good-to-be-loungewear but still-comfortable-enough-to-relax-in knit pants. A Matteau maillot for winter swims. My Avenue sun hat, a good book and my headphones.
Don't miss ... Afternoon swims, bushwalks, sunsets and staying in for cookouts and wine. I understand this is not so different to what we’ve been doing recently, but I actually don’t want to do anything else. A morning breakfast in an open cafe won’t go astray though. Some Hemsworth sightseeing? Possibly.
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Go ... I already had my first trip post-restriction-ease planned. The day after the announcement, I booked my weekend away to Bowral. I’ll be staying at the lovely Berida Hotel, which has great reviews for its accommodations and its restaurant. I’ve been longing to sit by the fire in this sleepy NSW town ever since the cold weather hit.
Take ... Many jumpers. Bowral gets rather cold. And definitely a pair of sturdy boots for walking through wine country. The Southern Highlands is one of the best wine regions in Australia, so you’ll definitely want to try a few cellar doors while you’re there. Make sure to also bring a good book to read by the fire. I’m re-reading an old favourite, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter.
Don't miss ... Bendooley Estate. It’s a wonderful winery and restaurant, one which is at the top of my list.
Go ... Home. Byron Hinterland is where I grew up and Brunswick Heads is the closer (and preferred) coastal destination. Since restrictions were placed I have been longing to be home with my parents. Now that it is cooler, the ocean is mostly flat and surprisingly warm, dear friends are returning from all over the world to be with family, and all I want to do is drive the country roads, go for early swims and sit around the fire with loved ones.
Take ... Often very little, but always a black bikini, a basket for all the things, a good book, classic Ray Bans, and a cardigan. Because if you’re meandering around in your swimsuit, you’ll need a cardi for the coffee run.
Don't miss ... Miss almost everything, especially hyped up, avocado toast places. Don’t miss the Starfish Fish Burger. Extremely Australian, only $7, and completely delicious, especially after a dip in the saltwater river that runs through the town. Don't miss hiring a tinny boat, paddleboard or kayak to paddle along the river visiting beachy inlets along the way.
Imagery via Airbnb; via @matteau.
Go … Hyams beach has been top of list for a weekend away since I was last in touch with its lush waters. Granted, that was during a heat wave. But I’ve just watched the Wim Hoff episode of The Goop Lab, which has me convinced no water is too cold. I’ve also been fixated on the pastel whalers’ cottages that fringe the shore front. I’d been waiting on a ‘special occasion’ but our current era has me convinced life’s too short.
Bring … Swimwear, obviously. I’m vibing Matteau basics right now and a bikini for max skin-to-ocean contact. Sweats or flannelettes, to be paired back with wine. When it gets dark all you’re going to want to do is stay in and listen to the waves roll.
Don’t miss … An opportunity to support local purveyors; Hyams Beach Cafe is doing dine in and takeout from the most picturesque of locations. Or, the self explanatory white sands walk from Hyams to Greenfield Beach.
The Blue Mountains
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Go ... Back home. Because this time of year is everything that is good about The Blue Mountains. A sunny day but the air is crisp. The slight smell of smoke in the air and less tourists as the seasons head into winter.
Take ... walking shoes, warm socks and Muji make the best ones, clothing that suits the not-quite-Winter-not-quite-Autumn time of year. Hopefully you’re staying the night somewhere with a fireplace so a book for yourself and a classic game if with company. With the best natural wine and a blanket to get underneath.
Don't miss ... a bushwalk. There are many but The Grand Canyon Walking track is beautiful. All tall gums and lush rainforests along a trickling creek. The croissants from Black Cockatoo bakery, the homemade meals from Yellow Deli, a ploughmans board from Anonymous Cafe, a meal at Mesa Barrio and whatever is showing at Glenbrook’s local family run cinema.