Sydney is a city built for weekends. Minimalist cafes pumping out flat whites and Bircher on an industrial scale, leafy parks and the sort of coastline usually reserved for deodorant commercials – you could happily spend your Saturdays and Sundays just soaking up some Central Coast sunshine.
But if you want to shake things up a little, we’ve found seven epic adventures not far from the CBD.
1. Drive a Porsche along the Grand Pacific Drive
If your faithful Daihatsu isn’t giving you quite enough grunt at the lights, it might be time for an upgrade, if only a temporary one. Thanks to Cliff to Coast (a specialist Porsche hire and Drive Day company) you can hop behind the wheel of a 911 Carrera and take off through the Royal National Park, about an hour south of the CBD. You can pick your car, throw in a lunch at Bulli lookout, and even take the beast for a spin on the ridiculously photogenic Grand Pacific Drive. Even James Bond will envy you.
2. Swim in a freshwater lagoon at Wattamolla
Even Sydneysiders sometimes forget Wattamolla exists. It’s a cove in the Royal National Park, right on the coast about an hour south of Sydney, and it’s got one of the most picturesque water holes going around.
I don’t know what a billabong is exactly, but when I imagine one, this is what I see: ancient Aussie bluestone, the trickle of a waterfall, leafy gums all around. The lagoon runs out to a deep estuary with sandy banks, perfect for a lazy Sunday dip.
3. Endure a horror movie campout in the forests of Mt Penang
Melbourne might think it owns the whole outdoor movie thing, but Rooftop Bar and Midnight Cinema would be gripping the arms of their significant others and quietly weeping if they ever attended Sydney’s Horror Movie Campout.
Set among the trees of Mt Penang Parklands, the festival includes some up-and-coming local bands, food and booze on sale and two carefully chosen horror screenings after dark. They’ve even got actors who move through the campground to freak people out in the dark. Nope. Nopety nope.
4. Try a foodie scavenger hunt in the CBD
Do you ever think: I wish there were more obstacles between me and my meal? If so, you’re a bit weird. But you’re also a perfect fit for the Foodie Amazing Scavenger Hunt. Gather a core group of your hungriest friends and set out on a culinary style amazing race through some of the city’s best foodie hotspots.
You’ll need to solve clues and riddles, take photos of certain scavenger objectives and eat a lot of delicious thing (oh the humanity). It only takes about three hours and starts in Hyde Park. Beats a weekend Maccas run.
5. Swim with dolphins off the coast of Forster
A couple of hundred years of boating, shipping, fishing, yachting, trawling and floating around on inflatable donuts with a beer have left the waters of Sydney Harbour largely dolphin free. But you don’t have to travel to Queensland, or pay a fortune, to enjoy a dolphin swim near Sydney.
About three hours drive north you’ll find the coastal town of Forster, as well as Dive Forster, a charter operator. Hop on a boat for a two-hour cruise and swim with pods of common dolphins in the blue waters of the Central Coast. You’ll need to head out early in the morning, but the dive itself will only set you back about $80.
6. Play laser tag…in an old gaol
Laser skirmish. Two of the most epic words in the English language. But now add words like ‘gaol’, ‘deserted cells’ and ‘possible ghosts’. Sounding more epic by the minute isn’t it? That’s BattleZone Play Live are offering at Sydney’s Maitland Goal (one of the country’s more notorious prisons. It closed its doors in 1998).
After 4pm, you gear up, equip yourself with all sorts of laser-proof armour (mostly just sensors strapped to a harness) and duel it out in cells and corridors that Ivan Milat and George Savvas called home. For added badassery, you actually get to pick one of six different kind of laser gun, all with different abilities. Nice touch, that.