Celebrating festivals abroad is another thing altogether. Here, we don’t have many relatives or close friends to go to. But even if we have some of the consequential strangers and collateral relations to mingle with (pun intended), we don’t enjoy the liberty of gate-crashing at Khala’s gathering on a busy day of Eid. Since the time I have moved to Australia, what I have seen is that a normal Eid day is not just about dressing up, going to a relative’s place or having sheer khormas or biryanis. Eid is rather a two-day trip from Sydney to explore towns and beaches across NSW just to unwind; try different foods and enjoy a walk along the beach in order to live up to the feeling of having Eid.
It has nearly become a ritual to plan an Eid holiday every year with a few people we know in this city. We couldn’t plan a holiday on Eid-ul-Fitr as I just delivered a baby at that time, but we made sure to utilise Eid-ul-Azha for a perfect getaway to celebrate the day. In the last three years, we have explored a few hidden gems near Sydney. This time around, we wanted to take a road trip to Sanctuary Point that lies in the South Coast of NSW (New South Wales). Sanctuary Point is a town under the jurisdiction of the City of Shoalhaven. It surely serves as a great place for exploring the vast waterways of St Georges Basin. The town offers many accommodation options - a shopping centre, restaurants and a Country Club with golfing and regular entertainment. This peaceful spot is perfect for the whole family to enjoy sailing, swimming, water-skiing, kayaking and snorkelling. There are also established walks along the foreshore. Palm Beach, Paradise Beach and John Williams Reserve both offer waterfront parks with accessible toilets. Sanctuary Point is a short drive to Booderee National Park, the White Sands Coast of Jervis Bay and the seaside towns of Huskisson and Vincentia.
We booked an Airbnb near Sanctuary Point hosted by Oz Combined Realty. It offered a space for 12 guests (we were 12 people in total) and had four bedrooms, seven beds and 2.5 baths. We went in July and July means peak winter season in Australia. The backyard of the Airbnb had a fire pit for bonfires which made it cosier and better. The house was beautiful, spacious and ticked all the boxes for us.
Sanctuary Point is almost 2.5 hours from Sydney, a road trip with scenic views and coastal areas was all that we wanted to kick-start our holiday. Although we couldn’t cover many spots in the span of two days and three nights, but we still made the most of that time. On the first day, we started off with Booderee National Park. Booderee was 11 minutes away from Sanctuary Point if you take the Naval College Road.
Booderee is Aboriginal land. Parks Australia works hand-in-hand with the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community to manage Booderee, using a mix of traditional knowledge and modern science. Crystal-clear waters meet beautiful white sand beaches, while high cliffs overlook the majestic Pacific Ocean. Booderee National Park features extraordinary native wildlife and is adorned with expansive botanic gardens. You need a park pass to experience the cultural and natural marvels of Booderee National Park. Planning on staying in the park? Booderee offers beachside campgrounds nestled among pristine native bushland. Campsites fill up fast during peak periods, so we suggest booking early to avoid missing out.
After paying a short visit to Booderee, we went to Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay – the most popular activity to do there. Hyams Beach is known to have world’s whitest sand (as per Guinness book of record). This was one of the highlights of our trip. However due to cold weather, it was nearly impossible to enjoy a dip in the water but somehow the kids got to do that too. Jervis Bay is also home to many beaches that are just pretty but not as crowded. In order to discover them, take a White Sands walk from Vincentia which is a short walk but packs a punch and you will get to explore Chinaman’s Beach - a true hidden gem. It is interesting to note that here you can find many holiday houses that you can rent for the weekend. For couples, Huskisson and Vincentia are ideal but if you are visiting with kids, you should opt for accommodations in Callala Beach.
The next day was quite adventurous as we got to do more. Early in the morning we went for a boat ride to Huskisson. It was a two-hour boat ride with beautiful deep blue sea in sight and occasional glimpses of dolphins and fishes. The voyage started from Myola to Huskisson charging $25 per person. We clicked pictures, captured videos, laughed and chatted over a hot cup of coffee. We grabbed a few snacks for a quick fix afterwards and headed straight to our next adventure – a hike to Fitzroy Falls followed by several lookouts. Just 150 m from Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre, Fitzroy Falls lookout is a great wheelchair/pram-accessible spot to take in the sight of the waterfall. Follow the elevated boardwalk as it winds its way along a creek to the lookout platform at the edge of the escarpment.
From the lookout, you’ll see the top of Fitzroy Falls as it cascades over dramatic sandstone cliffs into the valley below. Watch the water descend nearly 100 m before it makes its way through Yarrunga Valley toward the Shoalhaven River. Bring your binoculars and see if you can spot the local birdlife as you look out across the rainforest canopies in the valley below.
Many species make their home in these pockets of sub-tropical rainforest, tall open forest and eucalypt forest. If you turn your gaze towards the horizon, you’ll see the views extend along the east and west rim towards Braidwood. Make sure you bring your camera to capture the sweeping panorama of Yarrunga River and Yarrunga Valley, with Mount Scanzi and Mount Carrialoo in the distance.
After witnessing the unmatched beauty of the Fitzroy Falls, we hopped on to the lookout platform to quickly see Jersey, Richardson and Twin Falls lookouts. We were tired but pumped up at the same time because we still had a few hours left to call it a day. Quickly went to the famous Kangaroo Valley which is one of the most picturesque destinations for a weekend getaway from Sydney and is close to the Fitzroy Falls.
There is also a cycling route for adventurous mountain bikers from Fitzroy to Kangaroo Valley combining scenic riding with some steep downhill runs. This gorgeous valley is located 150 km south of Sydney, provides perfect chance to enjoy some country comfort within easy reach of the city. It includes nature adventures which require a separate day to invest in. It is surrounded by towering walls of Illawarra Escarpment and is home to three epic waterfalls: Belmore, Fitzroy and Carrington Falls with plenty of stunning lookouts including the Cambewarra Mountain lookout that offers one of the longest panoramas in Australia.
Kangaroo Valley has so much to offer for everyone! One can immerse themselves in nature and have an adventure. Soak up some music at festival time. If food is your thing, take a chef led class, enjoy the freshest of local produce. In the village, fill up on lovingly made yummies at one of the many cafes. Explore pioneer history at the museum or browse the shops for treats or gifts. For ice creams we went to ‘Sweet as Valley’, a lolly shop in Kangaroo Valley, where you can find a variety of lollies, chocolate and gelato.
After browsing a few shops for antiques, we finally went back to our Airbnb where we just unwound in front of a bonfire. The closing night of this short and sweet trip withered away amid children roasting the marshmallows and making S’mores (roasted marshmallows) and lighting up the night with sparklers while the elders sat back for stargazing and jamming to their favourite music!
Photo credits: Iqra Sarafraz
Iqra Sarfaraz is a freelance journalist and writer, currently residing in Sydney, Australia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @cheekuinsydney