Hunter-valley

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Why escape Sydney’s winter weather when you can embrace it? Rather than dreaming of tropical locations over the next few months, we have five winter getaways which are cheaper than a one-way ticket to Europe – plus they’re so much fun!

RELATED: Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Blue Mountains Chocolate Festival

You might want to pack a few extra layers and thermals for a trip to the Blue Mountains, but the three hour drive is worth the wait. A brand new chocolate festival is taking place between between July 3-5 and will feature lots of delicious options for the entire weekend.

The special movie screening of Chocolat, featuring Johnny Depp, will be available to watch all weekend, while markets at Blackheath Public School will be open. You can also take part in the fine art of chocolate making at Whisk and Pin, or simply relax with a bag of chocolates at Hotel Blue in Katoomba.

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Hunter Valley

Since it might be too chilly for a weekend at the coast, why not head inland to the Hunter Valley for a relaxing getaway. Wine country isn’t all about spending half your day vineyard hopping (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The Hunter Valley is also home to delicious chocolate, gourmet food and local scenery – sure to keep you occupied and off social media!

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Kiama Coastal Walk

If you’re brave enough to head down to the coast for a weekend getaway, you must experience Kiama by foot. The stunning 22km coastal walk includes a breathtaking view of Blowhole Point and ends at Werri Beach where you can relax and enjoy some gourmet food and wine.

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Images via Flickr, Around You, Visitors Bureau

June 22, 2015

The ‘Man’cation Just Got Serious

The ‘Man’cation has carved an acceptable place in the Australian travel vernacular, but Aussie blokes are also now adding their stamp on wellness with the “Brotreat” becoming increasingly popular according to Australia’s leading health and wellness authority, Golden Door Health Retreat & Spa Elysia.

RELATED: Tried and Tested: Golden Door Health Retreat

“We have experienced a surge in men enquiring and attending retreats with their mates and to answer the increased interest and demand, we have developed more specific male retreats to cater to a range of health and wellness issues that face Australian men,” general manager of Golden Door Australia, Brigid Walsh, explains.

“Before now, men especially seemed to struggle with the retreat concept; waiting until a crisis forced them to consciously put their health and wellness above other aspects of their life. But men’s wellness is a rapidly growing aspect of our business which we believe is being led by men recognizing and accepting that taking time out, focusing on themselves and learning new ways to cope as a healthy preventative measure that assists them in managing busy, stressful and at times – overwhelming lives.”

Partnering with unique wellness consultancy Sunshine on Legs, which specialises in assisting people to achieve a sustainable life balance, Golden Door’s Men’s Wellness Retreat provides an opportune environment for men to focus on themselves and their own health; motivating them to rethink the masculine ideologies that many men were raised with.

Sunshine on Legs co-founder and renowned men’s wellness expert David Ball says: “The emphasis on what it means to be a male can often conflict with health maintaining behaviours such as seeking advice about health and wellbeing, utilising health services and taking a break for ‘me-time’ when it is required.” 

As opposed to the quintessential blokes getaway where it’s common – if not expected – for men to overindulge in activities that can be detrimental to wellbeing, a health retreat is a sanctuary where digital devices, alcohol, caffeine, junk food and late nights are off the menu.

“The advantage of coming to The Golden Door is that it gives male guests an opportunity to remove themselves from their daily stresses, step out of their current situation and make it possible to view life from a different perspective which can stimulate rebalance, revival and refocus,” David says.

David Ball’s men’s wellness retreat is held regularly at The Golden Door Health Retreat & Spa Elysia and focuses on giving men the tools needed to achieve a life balance and become effective leaders of themselves, their work and their families.

Image via healthandfitnesstravel.com.au

October 1, 2014

Spring Into Spring With These Australian Getaways

Now that winter is officially over and the warmer weather is on the way, it’s time to get back into the sunshine and enjoy all that Australia has to offer. So where are some of the best spots to head this spring?  Read on to find out…

Noosa

If you fancy heading to the beach to enjoy the sun that you missed so much during winter then consider taking a trip to Noosa in the Sunshine Coast, just 90 minutes north of Brisbane. Famous for its pristine beaches and trendy cafes, Noosa is a sub-tropical paradise where you can sit back and relax and watch the world go by. If you want to get away with the family, take a trip to Noosa in the second weekend of September when the Noosa Country Show is in full swing. Held in the hinterland you’ll find live music, stage shows, sheep shearing an animal nursery, monster trucks and a sideshow alley.

Toowoomba

Just 90 minutes from Brisbane, Toowoomba sits overlooking the Lockyer Valley and is the perfect place to visit in spring when it’s in full colour. The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is a ten day event held in September each year and is Australia’s longest running horticultural festival. Soak up the sun in Queens Park at the Food and Wine Festival whilst relaxing to the sounds of live music or take a walk through one of the many gardens that have been planted especially for the event. Aside from the festival, Toowoomba is also home to the historic and interactive Cobb & Co Museum, art galleries, wineries and a huge number of parks where you can enjoy that springtime sun.

Hunter Valley

If you’re looking for a getaway full of food and wine then head to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales where the first new buds from the grapevines will be bursting to life. In spring the days are typically sunny and mild followed by cooler nights, so stay in accommodation that has a log fire to cosy up to in the evenings. At the end of October, the Hunter Valley comes alive with the Jazz in the Vines Festival where you’ll find local gourmet produce and local wines on display, all within six hectares of Hunter Valley Countryside where you can dance the night away to live music.

Melbourne

Fancy doing a spot of shopping, eating some delectable food and having a flutter on the horses? Head to Melbourne in spring if this sounds like your idea of a spring getaway. This vibrant city is home to some of Australia’s top boutiques, luxurious restaurants and serene parks and gardens so soak up the springtime sun. From September through to November, there are numerous race days to attend so dust off the frocks and fascinators for a day at the racecourse. The most famous event is Melbourne Cup Day held in November where you’ll see flamboyant fashion paraded amongst the 100,000 strong crowd.

Image via saltpropertymanagement.com.au

September 11, 2014

Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Need a much require vacation away from home? Even a short weekend getaway is enough to revitalise your energy and keep you determined for the week ahead. New South Wales is home to a variety of quaint locations which are only a short car ride away. What are you waiting for?

Pokolbin, Hunter Valley

Home to some of the most luxurious food and wines in the entire state, Pokolbin is only a 3-4 hour drive away from Sydney city. Local wine tours are readily available, food is made fresh on site, and this rural town is home to a number of spa treatment facilities which will make you feel brand new.

Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Byron Bay

Whether you want to relax or live it up, Byron Bay offers a variety of different activities which are couple and child-friendly. Visit some of the local beaches including highly rated Belongil Beach, go on a hike, and even pass by some of the vegan cafés such as Manna Heaven for some fresh, organic produce.

Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Blue Mountains

Escape the city-life for the serene backdrop of the Blue Mountains. Definitely check out the Three Sisters, one of the oldest sand formations in the entire country, and some of the local national parks including Wentworth Falls for some killer views and fresh air. Don’t forget to dress warm – the weather is known to take a dip, especially in the months between July and August.

Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Perisher

For those adrenaline junkies, why not take advantage of the colder weather and take a trip to the snow. There are many child-friendly activities if you’re travelling with the entire crew, so there is always something to keep everyone happy. Ski, snowboard or just relax at the Perisher Ski Resort located on Kosciusko Road.

Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Images via Deanes, Blue Mts, Planbook Travel, Easy To Book.

August 8, 2014

4 Australian Wine Regions You Must Visit

A quick weekend getaway might be just what the doctor ordered, but where exactly can you go? There are a number of wineries spread through the east and west coast of Australia which offer relaxation, impeccable wines and serenity. If you’re planning your next mini-getaway, take into consideration just a few of these amazing wineries to both relax and rejuvenate (and of course test wine).

Barossa Valley, South Australia

We can’t talk about wineries without mentioning the iconic Barossa Valley in South Australia, can we? Just over an hour drive from city-central Adelaide, this region is praised for it’s Shiraz and other popular red wines. Home to Jacob’s Creek, one of Australia’s most-loved wines since the first vineyard was planted by Johann Gramp in 1847. The friendly and experienced workers offer a taste from a large selection of wines, and how to easily pair them with food to create a delicious match.

Margaret River, Western Australia

The Margaret River is home to some of Australia’s best wines, and offers unique scenery and atmosphere for a one-of-a-kind experience to all visitors who pass through. With some vines only planted 45 years ago, this region is known for it’s popular red blends including cabernet sauvignon and equally delicious shiraz wines. The journey is just a 50 minute plane ride from Perth, or a short car ride if you’re feeling adventurous.

Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Now we can’t leave out the endless vineyards of Pokolbin can, we? The Hunter Valley is comprised of many small wineries which offer a huge variety of red, white and rosé wines for your tasting. Bus tours are available for visitors, which pick up passengers from eastern Sydney and guide them through the various wineries in a day or overnight trip of your their choice. Don’t forget to check out Tintilla Estate, which is a family run winery offering sweet rosé and dessert wines.

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Located right on the coast, the Mornington Peninsula offers a coastal inspired experience which is unique and unlike any other in Australia. There are many local bars, restaurant’s and assorted cafés around the winery so there is always something to keep occupied. Do pass by the Monalto Cellar Door for a taste of their unique wines, and every Sunday catch an exclusive wine education at the cellar door. 

Image via Visions of Johanna Dot Org

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 25, 2014

Winter Cooking Ideas

Spring may be on the horizon, but we still face some chilly days and nights before the frost of winter finally melts away. Head Chef at Esca Bimbadgen, Mark Bennett reveals the ultimate winter menu to add that extra serving of warmth and help you survive the final weeks of winter.

Mark says, “Follow these simple yet soul-warming cooking tips to keep the kitchen hot and your belly full for the remainder of winter.”

1.       Relax
Winter food philosophy is all about taking it slow – leave your food to cook slowly while it soaks up the rich and comforting winter flavours.

2.       Expensive doesn’t always mean best
Winter is the perfect excuse to incorporate cheaper cuts of meat into dishes. Braise these down for a delicious, tender and flavoursome taste. Long and slow cooking processes are ideal for breaking down the tougher cuts of meat, and the general rule of thumb is that the tougher the cut of meat the more flavour it can carry. Winter is the perfect opportunity to bring out those long slow cooking processes that produce the best braises and stews. Make use of that slow cooker.

3.       Get hearty
Winter is a time to look to meals that warm you from the inside out. For the perfect hearty meal, opt for meat loaded with marbling such as shoulder, shank or neck. Sear it in a pan and add some baby onions and root vegetables. Pour in a bottle of wine and cover the dish with a lid or foil. Place in the oven until you can pierce the meat with a skewer or knife. Remove the cooking liquid and place in a pot to reduce to a sauce. Slice the meat and serve the vegetables and sauce.

4.       The grand finale
Winter dessert is about one thing and one thing only; chocolate. Chocolate fondant is without a doubt the perfect melt-in-your-mouth end to your winter feast. It’s warm, it’s soft… and it’s gooey in the middle. A flawless finale.

What are your favourite winter meals?

The Esca Bimbadgen Winter menu features a selection of delectable dishes such as Milk braised pork shoulder with roasted walnuts, apple segments, cannellini and tomato ragout; and the Bimbadgen Shiraz braised beef bourguignon with roasted shallots, mushrooms and baby carrots.

The awarded winery restaurant, Esca Bimbadgen has recently received outstanding accolades in recognition of its ongoing success, including the Restaurant and Catering Association NSW’s Best Tourism Restaurant in Northern NSW and a ‘One Glass’ rating at the recent Gourmet Traveller 2013 Wine List of the Year Awards. Esca has also been named a finalist at the Newcastle Central Coast Tourism Awards, with awards taking place on August 14th.

August 2, 2013