Sydney Driving Holiday Mucking About in the Country

People in Sydney sometimes give the impression that they dress up to the nines in order to pop down the local shop and buy a loaf of bread (although possibly not so much in the blue-collar areas such as the Western suburbs). So, when visiting this fair and fashionable city, it's quite likely you'll strap on your trendy shoes and stroll about the place ? draping yourself artistically in cafes, restaurants, galleries and theatres.But there's only so much of that you should have to put up with ? something you might find slightly refreshing is girding up in a pair of trusty jeans and comfy shoes, and heading off for a bit of an adventure in NSW's Central West region.

Studded about the place are national parks, old gold rush sites, vineyards, Arcadian swathes of landscape, and the birthplace of one of Australia's most legendary bush poets. And on the way you can wander about the gorgeous Blue Mountains.If you don't have a car, check out sites like which have all the specials of the country's biggest car hire companies so you can grab a good car rental Sydney deal.

Heading out West from Sydney, it'll take around two hours to get to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. There's loads of accommodation here, ranging from the luxurious to the hmmm-perhaps-we-should-have-camped. Nearby the scenery will keep you engrossed, with pleasures such as The Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls.

The Scenic Railway is a handy means of seeing the countryside without having to move your legs. And there's plenty of little towns around for you to forage about in. Leura is a great little spot. The short main street is crowded by little kitschy shops that just happen to miraculously stock arty trinkets which complement of the vibe of the place.

You may struggle to remember how you managed to live so long without a highly decorative teapot with matching cosy.After you've become the owner of the world's largest collection of bunya nut vinaigrette, climb back into your car and aim for Bathurst. It's a short drive on the Great Western Highway. For a regional town, you might notice the buildings seem to have quite a faded look of opulence. This is the mark of gold my friend.

There are plenty of old gold towns nearby like Sofola and Wattle Flat, and if you feel its necessary to grab a pan and have a go at gold hunting yourself, head out to Hill End where there's equipment to hire. Bathurst is also home to the Mount Panorama racing circuit ? you might have heard of it, it becomes the focus of a few racing enthusiasts every year.Onwards in a westerly way, before you get to a little city called Dubbo are the towns of Mudgee and Orange. Both places are fertile little areas which manage to produce fruity and winey things. Orange has got some beautiful parks and there's also the nearby Mt Canobolas for commanding views.

And it's the birthplace of one Banjo Paterson. A balladeer that could immortalise a crusty old farmer in one line or less, whilst roasting the namby-pamby city slicker poets who dared to complain the bush was dusty, hot and boring.Dubbo, which is only a little further on, is a city which struggles to disprove the idea that the only real tourist attraction it has is a great big zoo. It has some wineries and a gallery or two, and is one of the fastest growing regional cities with a population of around 38 000. But it's the Western Plains Zoo you'll be wanting to visit.

It's an open range affair, with the animals separated by creeks and dykes wherever possible.It's not really necessary to prolong your stay overly much, so heading north with your foot on the gas for about two hours will see you arriving in Coonabarabran. If you're a space freak, then you'll be mightily pleased by the town's optical telescope ? which happens to be the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere ? and the Skywatch observatory, where you can ponder the mysteries of the universe. For the more down-to-earth there's the excellent Warrumbungles National Park nearby. This town pretty much marks the end of the Central West area, and unless you've got mighty ambitions of heading onwards and upwards, then it's time to hang a right and head east to Tamworth. It's a five-hour drive from Tamworth to Sydney, driving on the New England Highway until you reach Newcastle, and then hopping onto the Pacific Highway for the rest.

.Alyssa Betts works for

au and intermittently leaves to go travelling around various places.

By: Alyssa Betts

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