Hi! It's Geoff Brailey here, Krystol's husband.
I love the outdoors and I find a lot of joy and peace when I'm out exploring new areas of natural beauty. Appreciating nature's beauty is a core part of the story and inspiration of our business, Krystol Brailey Designs. The glorious Australian outdoors are often where we find inspiration for designing beautiful products that bring nature's beauty indoors.
Here's my top five places to where I enjoy the outdoors, all within a 90 minute drive of Sydney. I love the natural beauty of Sydney, from the Mountains to the coast, from the rivers to the parks. It's a beautiful place to explore! To live in Sydney you need to work hard, and also rest well to stay healthy and live big. I hope you enjoy these special places that keep our vision clear and our minds focussed!
Quick travelling check list: Simply Google the locations, pack some snacks and water, take your towel and walking shoes, pick up a takeaway coffee on route and you'll be set for a day you'll never forget! These day trips can be done with family and friends, and they can be equally as good just by yourself.
1) Mona Vale Beach
Located on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Mona Vale (pictured in the header) has a lovely park with public bbqs, grassy play areas and a little bike track for the kids. Plus you can get free parking on side streets if your not a local. Most importantly, it has a great surf break in the northern corner for those who like to get out and ride a few waves. The surf here can be very good if the banks and tides are right - just watch out for the rocks in the middle of the beach!
Mona Vale Beach also has two ocean pools. A big one for the adults, and a knee high one for kids. Our kids love playing in the smaller one and they get so excited when they get small splashes from little waves that crash into the side of the pool. As always, keep your kids close when in the pools, but there are plenty of laughs to be had at Mona Vale Beach. The cafe's rate pretty well here too (the best out of the five locations in this blog), and there's a few options for ice creams or a little savoury snack, if that's your thing.
2) Lake Parramatta
The heart of Sydney (geographically) is just down the road from Parramatta, and here, nestled within the busy streets and suburb of North Parramatta, lies an absolutely hidden gem. This lake (actually a dam) has a swimming area, boat/giant swan hire, cafe and a beautiful loop circuit to walk. It even has mountain bike trails too! This place is a real 'you need to see it to believe it' kind of secluded, natural wonder. It's a great place in the 'burbs to get out and show kids the eastern water dragons, photograph kookaburras and imagine all the eels that live in Lake Parramatta.
The bbqs and facilities are good, but the cafe is so so. The hot chips and milkshakes rate pretty well. Plus, you can use the chips and shake combo as motivation when teaching your kids to 'just keep going a little bit more' on their first few bush walks. Trust me, its a good incentive, and the kids think so too!
Lake Parra is a great place to start the kids out bushwalking, or to test new gear, or go for a short 30 minute loop run (the walk takes about 80-90 minutes). Also, for the teens or crazy adults, there may or may not be a rope swing (it's epic!) just make sure you time your swing and release right!!
3) Wheeney Creek
Located in the north west of Sydney on the edge of The Blue Mountains, lies a glorious sandy creek bed that has warm, gently flowing, knee high water.
This place is amazing! Even though you need to take all your own gear, it is worth the visit. Don't forget to take your lie-lows, your inflatable flamingos and your pool noodles. This is the place you want to laze about on a hot day. And, if you find there are a few other people doing the same thing, just wade up/down the creek for a few minutes and find your own secluded spot. Its a real diamond in the rough! Plus you'll enjoy the drive there too - there are so many cool tracks to explore, particularly if you have a 4wd! I got this next pic when driving within 30 mins of Wheeney Creek. The Blue Mountains truly are majestic!
4) Stanwell Beach
A very short drive south of Sutherland Shire lies the stunning coastal town of Stanwell Park. The park that is adjacent to the beach features an incredible kids playground and park with a large enough grass area for a huge game of soccer, or cricket. There is also a good kiosk to get your favourite ice cream (how good are Rainbow Paddlepops).
The beach can be a bit rough, so make sure you swim between the flags, however you can also play with kids in the little creek. Just keep your eyes up, because the hang gliders will be landing right next to you, so make sure you stay out of their drop zone. It is pretty wild watching them drop down from their swirling heights and land right in front of you.
Also, two other places to visit when you go to Stanwell Beach include The Stanny Cafe for a good coffee with some nice friendly staff and a cool vibe and then there is the Scarborough Hotel. You've gotta check this hotel out! The views are amazing, and you can watch whales glide past during Winter all while sipping a nice wine and eating glorious hot chips! This venue really has a special setting and is great for a slow lunch with friends.
5) Bents Basin
A short drive southwest of Sydney, past Badgery's Creek, and you'll find yourself cruising with the windows down and tunes up as you go past some beautiful acreage properties. Find and enter the State Forest and go past the camping ground to beautiful, natural waterhole - Bents Basin is a southwest Sydney treasure.
This is a glorious spot for a swim, and there's even a sandy beach! The grassy level playing area is good for touch footy, frisbee or volleyball, and there's plenty of shady trees to relax under and read a book.
You'll need to bring in (and take out) everything you want here, but the place is special with tiny rapids to explore and if you bring your giant flamingo, you'll have hours of fun swimming around the basin. Again, there's a sneaky 4-5m rock jump for the teens and crazy adults to try! Always test the depth and check the leap that is required. Please stay safe, but go on, challenge yourself!!
I'm sure you notice a bit of a water theme in these five places. I'm a big fan of getting out into nature and immersed (literally) into the elements. Make sure you swim within your depth, stay in between the flags, and challenge yourself on the rope swings/rock jumps (for the 'big kids' only!) - this is what I am teaching my little kids to do (not the rock jumps), so they learn self-confidence, an appreciation for nature and to find the peace that comes from spending time in nature.
Let me know how you find each of these places! Or if you have any 'go to places' that are great for families, I would love to hear your suggestions.