Natural Wonders

8 Stunning Natural Wonders Less Than Three Hours From Sydney

There are many iconic structures to marvel at in and around Sydney and while the likes of Bondi and the Opera House might be on the top of your bucket list, a short drive out of the city will bring you to some equally stunning places that deliver the “wow” factor in spades. You can spend the day swimming, hiking, stargazing and more at these unspoiled examples of nature. From majestic mountains to sprawling cave networks and extraordinary beaches, here are some of the most breathtaking natural wonders worth a day trip out of Sydney.

Image: Destination NSW

The popular Royal National Park is one of the most visited places in NSW. But not too many people are familiar with an equally jaw-dropping spot that lies north-west of Sydney. The criminally overlooked Capertee Valley is the world’s second-largest canyon and wider than Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Formed over millions of years, this unique spot has sandstone cliffs, panoramic vistas and bushwalks. You can also book a stargazing bubble overlooking the canyon. Read all about it and how to get there.

Distance from Sydney: 3-hour drive

Image: Destination NSW

The Jenolan Caves are arguably the most famous in Australia but you’d be surprised to learn that they’re also the oldest in the world. At the ripe age of 340 million years, it would be rude to not witness this extraordinary spectacle with your own eyes. Head to the Temple of Baal caves to see stunning crystal formations or walk down to Imperial Cave to see a glowing underground river up close. There are about 11 show caves to explore with something for every interest and fitness level. Read all about this popular spot and its history or head here to book a guided tour.

Distance from Sydney: 2 hour, 45-minute drive

Image: Shutterstock

Everyone knows Jervis Bay is home to some of the whitest sand in the world, but the real magic starts when the day turns to night. Masses of plankton glow in the dark and emit a stunning blue light on its many famous beaches. It’s known to make an appearance all year round but you can get especially lucky during the warmer months. To make your trip special, you could even book a stargazing tour on a bioluminescent beach. Find out where you can spot this phenomenon.

Distance from Sydney: 3-hour drive

Image: NSW National Parks

Prefer staying on land? Try and find the Wollemi Glow Worm Tunnel, home to thousands of glow worms. Located in the Wollemi National Park, this mysterious tunnel can be reached through a short and easy walking track, surrounded by lush, dense forests. Take a pair of binoculars along if you want to see some black cockatoos, eastern grey kangaroos or red-necked wallabies at the national park. The track to the 100-year-old tunnel is currently undergoing upgrades so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see the magic with your own eyes. It is expected to open sometime this year, keep an eye on the NSW National Park and Wildlife Service website for alerts and updates.

Distance from Sydney: 2 hours, 45-minute drive

Image: Shutterstock

The peaceful coastal town of Kiama is home to the largest ocean blowhole in the world. Formed from basalt lava flows 260 million years ago, this geological wonder is known to shoot water into the air at a staggering height of 30 metres. The blowhole features a tunnel-like opening that leads to the ocean and you can reach it just a short walk from Kiama Station.

Distance from Sydney: 2-hour drive

6. Bouddi National Park

Image: Shutterstock

Love fascinating rock formations? It doesn’t get much better than the liesegang rings at the Bouddi National Park. These ring-link structures are coloured bands found in sedimentary rocks that are known to cut across the bedding over time. Bouddi National Park is also home to some great walks, camping sites and gorgeous beaches, all accessible within a short drive from Sydney. Read more about it here.

Distance from Sydney: 90-minute drive

Image: Destination NSW

Swap seascapes for sandscapes at the spectacular Stockton Sand Dunes — the largest coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Towering up to 40 metres in height, these dunes are flaunted by the beach on one side so the views are pretty amazing. It’s also heaven for thrill seekers with sand boarding, quad biking and more. You can also check out the expansive place on the back of a camel or horse. Over the years, Stockton Beach has seen shipwrecks and aircraft crashes, the most popular of which is the MV Sygna — a 53000-tonne Norwegian bulk carrier. Read all about the sand dunes and things to do here.

Distance from Sydney: 2-hour drive

8. The Blue Mountains

Image: Shutterstock

We saved the obvious for last. The Blue Mountains are one of Australia’s great natural wonders and a stunning mix of canyons, rainforests, lookouts, small towns and hidden gems. It’s also a short drive from Sydney which makes it extra special. Read our full guide to the world heritage site here.

Distance from Sydney: 90-minute drive




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