Road tripping is one of the best ways to discover new things while travelling, and there’s nothing quite like the classic method of exploring magnificent Down Under in your own car.
Of course, when we’re talking about Down Under, one of the first places that springs to mind is Sydney! Once you’ve visited this marvellous city, home to some of Australia’s most iconic attractions - the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge (to name a few!), you should definitely take the opportunity to embark on a road trip to explore some of New South Wales’ beauty spots.
New South Wales truly offers some of the best road trip experiences you can find that can bring you from smooth scenic coastal roads and expansive unspoilt beaches to inland towns, mountain ranges and rainforests. If you’re a first-timer, how about exploring the Blue Mountains National Park and then driving down to beautiful Jervis Bay before returning to Sydney? The close proximity between these three places makes it ideal for every road tripper.
Does this pique your interest? Follow these 8 essential road trip tips that will help you get started with your plans!
1. Plan your route for an all-rounded experience
Any road tripper would agree that a road trip restores your faith in a true adventure – one that many often overlook. It gives you that golden chance to fully immerse yourself in the natural surroundings while you’re on the road. Imagine these scenic views and the fresh air!
Credit: Grand Pacific Drive - Sydney to Wollongong and beyond on Facebook
The Sydney – Blue Mountains – Jervis Bay route has ALL of that! This route is perfect for those who just want to escape the busy city life for a little while and witness Mother Nature in all her glory.
This route also has plenty of Muslim-friendly activities all year round so Muslim travellers can definitely take advantage of that! In just 7 hours total on the road, you’ll get to experience a different side of Australia in 3 different places that those not jumping on the road trip bandwagon would not get.
2. Don’t miss must-visit attractions in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Jervis Bay
Blue Mountains National Park
After driving 90 minutes from Sydney to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, your first stop should be to marvel at the Three Sisters rock formation from Echo Point and catch the dramatic rocky cliffs over Jamison Valley.
Credit: VirtualWolfon Flickr
Continue your exploration at Scenic World, a short drive from Echo Point. Take in awe-inspiring views of the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls from the Scenic Skyway before descending into the Jamison Valley via the Scenic Cableway or Railway for a cooling walk amidst the rainforest. Make the most of your time there with a 1 Day pass that allows you to go on unlimited rides!
You can also go on a tour through the Jenolan Caves, the oldest open cave system in the world and Australia’s most impressive limestone caves! The caves are over an hours’ drive from Katoomba, so we recommend heading there the next morning to have ample time at both attractions.
Credit: @sydneyweekender on Instagram
The Blue Mountains National Park is an adventure hotspot, so you can definitely be excited for outdoor activities such as caving, abseiling, rock climbing and kayaking. You can even sign up for a full day activity that will unleash the adventurous side of you with outdoor activities like abseiling, camping and rock climbing around the stunning swimming holes!
Additionally, the best things to do for families with kids in the Blue Mountains include nature walks and having a picnic. Check out Wentworth Falls and Leura Cascades picnic areas for amazing views and plenty of photo opportunities.
Credit: Shantavira on Flickr
Credit: Pierre Pouliquin on Flickr
A 3-hour drive from the Blue Mountains, Jervis Bay isn’t just famous for its white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. The marine park is also home to over 100 bottlenose dolphins that reside in the bay year round. If you’re lucky, they’ll even swim alongside your boat!
And from mid-May to November, humpback whales migrate along the New South Wales coast and Jervis Bay is a prime spot for whale-watching. On the Northern migration, whales can be sighted just 1 mile from the shore while during the Southern migration, mothers and their calves come and rest in the shelter of the bay. The best way to encounter these amazing creatures is by cruises that depart daily from Huskisson in the centre of Jervis Bay.
Credit: Alan Levine on Flickr
After your cruise, soak up some sun at Hyams Beach with its pristine white sand! The contrast between the blue water and pure white sand has an amazing visual effect. You can enjoy the beach by taking a leisurely stroll or spend the day swimming and relaxing in the water and on the beach.
Credit: Colin_C on Flickr
Those who aren’t looking to swim can also hit the water by enjoying kayaking or paddle-boarding! Jervis Bay’s turquoise waters make these two activities popular among visitors. For a more adventurous approach, the paddle-board is definitely a must-try! It teaches you the beautiful art of balancing on the board while paddling, which is really good for your core strength and your leg and arm muscles.
Credit: Sarah J on Flickr
Back on land, explore Booderee National Park that’s filled with stunning natural beauty and is home to over 200 different bird species and around 30 mammal species! The park is also the place for the Koori and Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community, many of whom have called this place their home.
Credit: Jerry Dohnal on Flickr
There’s a couple of activities in Booderee for every type of visitor including the Aboriginal Interpretive program where you can learn about Koori culture and their traditional foods!
If you can’t get enough of wildlife encounters during the road trip, visit Taronga Zoo after returning to Sydney! Start off with a ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo Wharf, then ride the cable car up over the elephant enclosure and visit the koalas at the top of the park.
Credit: rhoadeecha on Flickr
Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo with the Wild Australia Experience, or check the time for various animal encounters and talks throughout the day. Don’t miss the free flight bird show with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge on the horizon for that perfect end of trip picture.
Credit: @tarongazoo on Instagram
#HHWT Tip: Looking for something truly memorable? You can even camp overnight at the zoo with the Roar and Snore experience!
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Exploring Sydney’s natural beauty isn’t complete without hopping on a ferry to Watsons Bay. Hike up to the iconic Hornby Lighthouse and feast your eyes on the magnificent views of the vast ocean and rugged coastline.
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Refuel at the lovely Watsons Bay Tea Gardens, a boutique café specialising in seafood and vegetarian food located just 200m away from the ferry stop at Watsons Bay. Do note that the eatery serves alcohol, so do dine at your own discretion!
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#HHWT Tip: If you’re visiting Sydney and surrounds, you can pay your fares on trains, buses, ferries and light rail with an Opal card, available at any newsagent. Opal covers almost all places around Sydney and beyond including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Hunter. All you need to do is add value to the card before you travel!
3. Find Muslim-friendly food at these must-try eateries in Sydney and New South Wales
Ipoh on York
Credit: Ipoh on York Facebook
Feast on classic Ipoh dishes at Ipoh on York, located on the bustling York Street. Learn the secrets behind good Ipoh Char Kuey Teow and Chicken Laksa. The best part is, this restaurant has received halal certification from Halal Australia.
For more Muslim-friendly eateries around Sydney, check out this list!
Mina One Bakery
If you’re opting for light bites before you reach the Blue Mountains, consider stopping by Mina One Bakery, just west of the CBD and located along the route from Sydney to the Blue Mountains! This Lebanese bakery serves up some of the freshest safayeh, a staple dish for Lebanese and quite apt for those on-the-go. For those looking or the ultimate indulgence (since you’re on a holiday after all!), tuck into one of their delicious cronuts.
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Credit: Rubyfruit on Facebook
Or for a healthier option, drop by the vintage-style Leura Mall and have a meal (or two!) at Rubyfruit, a boutique vegetarian café and bakery that serves tasty vegan staples such as vegan burgers, burritos, and even desserts. Everything is egg-free and dairy-free!
Along the majestic highway to Jervis Bay from the Blue Mountains, you don’t only get to enjoy beautiful scenery but good food too!
Credit: @esther.may_ on Instagram
Indian food lovers will find solace at Taj Indian Restaurant as they prepare some of the best Indian food you can get around Jervis Bay. Besides the fact that it is Muslim-friendly, this restaurant is located where the beach is!
When at Taj Indian, order some Vegetable Samosas or the Palak Paneer that is specially made with their homemade cottage cheese and fresh English spinach!
Credit: Lucas Benc on Flickr
Once you’re done with your meal, you can always opt for an evening stroll along the beach front before a good nights’ sleep and continuing road trip. It doesn’t hurt to kill two birds with one stone. ;)
#HHWT Tip: This restaurant serves alcoholic beverages, so do dine at your discretion.
Credit: Pilgrims on Facebook
Not up for Indian food? No worries, head over to Pilgrims instead. Unlike Taj Indian, Pilgrims is purely vegetarian.
Dine to your heart’s content with its popular Bliss Burger, made with mixed grain patty, some greens and a peanut sauce! The patty tastes so good that you’d want more.
Credit: Pilgrims on Facebook
Why not hit up Pilgrims for a hearty breakfast and order up their super fruity Acai Bowls? Get an obligatory Australian flat white and you will be all set for the adventure ahead.
#HHWT Tip: It’s important that we highlight that the restaurants located along the route are mostly vegetarian restaurants, thus for better access to halal food, we do recommend eating at the CBD first, or pack a few meals.
4. Stock up on Muslim-friendly food on-the-go in Sydney
Before you embark on an epic road trip, it’s important to pack the essential stuff: food and beverages. It’s important to keep yourself energized, hydrated and feeling well fed on holiday, plus all the fresh air and adventure can leave you more peckish than normal.
If you’re coming from the CBD, there are a few halal eateries that you can go to for take-outs:
Black Star Pastry
For pastry lovers, you should not miss out on Black Star Pastry as you’ll find a wide range of Muslim-friendly pastries and desserts that you can take with on your trip!
Credit: @blackstarpastry on Instagram
If you’re having trouble choosing, we definitely recommend the soft Croissant, the Cinnamon Scroll and of course, the delectable tarts! For Instagram enthusiasts, the Insta-famous strawberry watermelon cake is a must try, although we recommend you eat it right away as it might not stay so pretty once packed away in the car.
Credit: @blackstarpastry on Instagram
#HHWT Tip: This eatery is not halal certified but they do have an alcohol-free and animal-free menu and they prepare them separately, thus you can be assured that there would be no cross contamination at the kitchen. Do ask the staff before you purchase!
Lord Of The Fries
Who doesn’t love fries? It’s the perfect take-out food! This vegan fast food chain has definitely attracted non-vegans and vegans alike for its delicious offerings. Besides fries, they also offer hot dogs and burgers.
Credit: @allthatsveg on Instagram
The Halal Pack is the best choice for those in big groups as you can all share the meal together. We also recommend the juicy hot dogs as well! Everything is 100% vegan so you need not worry about the source of the ingredients.
Credit: @lordofthefries1 on Instagram
#HHWT Tip: There are 7 major supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) in Sydney CDB that have huge ranges of affordable snacks and drinks to stock up on before you start your road trip. Generally, the potato chips there are Muslim-friendly but do check the ingredients first!
5. Save on flight tickets
Let’s admit it, we all want the cheapest flights possible and buying one can be a challenge!
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But fret not, with CheapTickets.sg, you’ll be getting a great deal and be able to save an additional S$30 when you purchase return tickets to Sydney before 31st July. Not only is this platform convenient, the booking system also provides additional discounts for flight tickets, accommodation and car rental if you book them together.
When it comes to accommodation, it’s important to book as early as possible, especially if you’d like to stay in Sydney before or after your road trip. Lucky for you, with CheapTickets.sg’ “Flight + Hotel + Drive” option, you’ll be able to plan your trip fuss-free!
With an extensive catalogue of airlines, hotels and car hire places that CheapTickets.sg co-operates with, you’re guaranteed to have the lowest and the best deals in town without having to go through the hassle of checking multiple sites, so book your dream holiday in Sydney and New South Wales online at CheapTickets.sg!
Credit: 28 Hotel on Facebook
#HHWT Tip: For stays in the CBD, we recommend hotels as you can find a wide range of affordable ones nearby halal restaurants. Such an example is Metro Hotel Marlow Sydney Central, priced at S$165 for one night, or . These hotels provide parking facilities so you need not worry about parking your car elsewhere. The prices are based on these dates: 19 July – 20 July 2018.
Credit: Metro Hotel Marlow Sydney Central on Facebook
Most of the hotels around Sydney do not provide halal catering but in general, halal food isn’t scarce especially in the CBD. Check out our article here for the best Muslim-friendly restaurants you can find in Sydney!
#HHWT Tip: Stay a couple of nights in the Blue Mountains and Jervis Bay to make the most of your road trip whilst saving money on hotels. Besides experiencing the cooler weather from June to October, you can also enjoy cheaper hotel prices.
Credit: La Maison Boutique Hotel on Cheaptickets
Accommodation in the region around the Blue Mountains National Park including Katoomba and Wentworth Falls can be as low as $180 for an apartment that accommodates up to 6 people, or you can stay at a guest house like La Maison Boutique Hotel for only $112 per night including continental breakfast. Prices shown are for stays from 17-19 September.
Credit: Huskisson Bayside Resort on Cheaptickets
In Jervis Bay, search for a stay in one of the B&B’s in Huskisson and you can snap up a 4-star stay from $135 per night, or rent a holiday home that sleeps up to 6 people in 3 rooms from $150 per night. Prices shown are for stays from 17-19 September.
7. Picking the best wheels for your ride
When you’re planning to drive around Sydney and New South Wales, it’s important that you know about the local driving laws. Generally, anyone who is over 21 years of age can drive but if they’re under the age of 24, they may need to pay a daily underage surcharge for some car rental companies.
Credit: Edwin Neaves on Facebook
There are many car rental companies in Australia that provide for both holiday and business trips. Among those are Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Thrifty, Budget, National and Alamo. But checking every rental website can be time-consuming, and confusing too! So why the need to do so, right? Don’t worry, we’ll make things easy for you. ?
Credit: Ace Rental Cars Australia on Facebook
CheapTickets.sg allows you to compare car rental rates that suit your budget all on one website. You can even rent a Toyota Corolla for only $26 a day! We also highly advise that you buy additional car rental excess insurance when booking the car. CheapTickets.sg offers it through Allianz for only $9.90 per day, on collecting your car this could be offered at over $35 per day by the rental company.
Credit: Ace Rental Cars in Australia on Facebook
For most car rental companies, pick-up and drop off locations are conveniently at the airport and CBD. Sydney has reliable public transportation and quick connections to the airport, so for those who would love to explore the city first, it’s best to take the Airport Link train service that goes directly from the airport to Sydney city and back to the airport to collect your car later.
#HHWT Tip: When you browse through the selection of cars, make sure you choose your preferred car transmission (manual or automatic). We definitely recommend the latter for an easy drive. Also note that when selecting your car pick up from the airport, you can chose between the terminal or take a free shuttle bus to collect your car. By choosing the second option, you can save up to 50% off your rental, but do note the extra time it might take to drop off the car if you are rushing for your flight at the end of the trip.
While on the road, chances are you’ll be lucky enough to see a variety of animals like kangaroos and koalas! ?
Credit: Nelson Minar on Flickr
While it is great to be able to take a closer look at them, it’s also important that we respect their space and not provoke them. Kangaroos and koalas frequent the highways (often in the early morning and evening), so keep a watchful eye on the road and drive within the speed limit!
8. Pack light and pack well
When you go on a trip, it’s best to go in a group of 3 or 4 and you’ll save a lot too in terms of cost! But when it comes to packing, go easy on it and pack light! We recommend using duffle bags or backpacks as they’re compact, and great for easy organization.
Credit: Harsha K R on Flickr
If you’re heading from the city, you can drop by Westfield Sydney for snacks and instant food. If you are visiting in the cooler months from June- October, you might want to pick up a jumper or a jacket before heading out on your trip. Heading over to Pitt Street Mall and The Strand are your best bet! Or you can also drop by Rhodes Waterside, located along the Blue Mountains route!
Credit: @fly.by.feet on Instagram
Of course, there are plenty of road trips around Sydney and New South Wales that you can go on but for starters, we definitely recommend a shorter drive like the Sydney – Blue Mountains – Jervis Bay route. So, are you prepared for the trip of a lifetime? Better start planning now!
This article is brought to you by CheapTickets.sg and Destination New South Wales.