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

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

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

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.