Next time you want a mini escape that's not maxi distance from Sydney, read on for my favourite stops in this Sydney suburb:
1. Head to the Visitor's Centre
First stop on our half-day trip was the Dural Visitor Information Centre. Grab a copy of the Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail. Right behind the visitor's centre is a Honey stand (I'm all about local honey!). If you book a tour in advance, you can check out the colonial heritage-listed Roughley House built in 1856. Also mark in your diary the lovely Jazz At The Pines event times - we've enjoyed a family picnic here it was an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends. Open from September to May.
Address: 656a Old Northern Rd, Dural, NSW
2. Grab a Coffee at a CafeYou don't even have to leave the Visitor's Centre carpark to get a good coffee fix. Head straight next door to the hugely popular Wildpear Cafe and snag a spot on the veranda looking out to the Blue Mountains. The cafe is part of a nursery and plant pot retailer and offers incredible-looking food that I have been highly recommended.
Address: 658 Old Northern Rd, Dural, NSW
Nati Bros Roses is one of the local spots featured on the Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail. Visit from October through May for more than 50 varieties of fresh local roses including Mr. Lincoln, Double Delight, Brandy & Blue Moon from this 50-year-old farm. In the off-season, you will still find imported roses in the huge cool rooms for every occasion.
Address: 790 Old Northern Rd, Middle Dural, NSW
Depending on the time of the year, there are bountiful roadside fruit and vegetable stands to stop at along the Old Northern Rd. We bought new season peaches and eyed off the local products from the stand at 873 Old Northern Rd where there is plenty of off-road car parking.
Address: 873 Old Northern Rd, Dural
Forget about your hardware store's plant section; head to the beautiful Swane's Nursery for a huge selection of plants and accessories for your garden. Our kids love running around the rows of flowers and choosing their favourite plants.
Address: 490 Galston Rd, Dural, NSW
Another stop that we were (very) keen to try on the Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail was Broken Bay Oysters in Mooney Mooney. The most direct route looked like the twisty road between Galston and the Pacific Highway at Hornsby Heights through Galston Gorge. Not for the faint-hearted! The Ford EcoSport Titanium managed the five 5km-an-hour hairpin turns like a pro. When in doubt, click down into Sport mode and use the manual gears to navigate tricky driving challenges. The Hill Launch Assist helped navigate the turns slowly, stopping without rolling back, when we needed to. The views were amazing and there is a walking track through gorgeous bush land through Berowra Valley National Park.
Address: Galston Rd, Dural, NSW
Argh! Unfortunately Broken Bay Oysters at Mooney Mooney was closed due to excessive rainfall in the catchment area; lesson there to ring first. But we consoled ourselves with the promise of great seafood at neighbouring Brooklyn.
Address: 243/10 Kowan Rd, Mooney Mooney, NSW
8. ... or Fish and ChipsBrooklyn on the Hawkesbury River was a gorgeous, peaceful destination to finish our half-day trip (and only 51km from the Sydney CBD). We started with great salt-and-pepper calamari and fish and chips at hipster Fitzies (one of at least three seafood cafe/restaurants nestled amongst the tall palms).
Address: 8 Dangar Rd, Brooklyn, NSW
Address: 212 Brooklyn Rd, Brooklyn, NSW
Then it was straight onto the M1 south and back home. There are many other great spots in Dural and surrounds that we have visited previously (including Fagan Park and Dural Putt Putt) and more we would love to try out (the House of Herbs and Roses). Do you have any hints and tips for this beautiful part of Sydney?
Thanks so much Kidspot and Ford for the opportunity to take the Ford EcoSport Titanium for a family day trip! Read more from Australian bloggers participating in the Paint The Town Ford challenge - some beautiful posts. [Don't miss out on Bondville posts - subscribe here for the monthly newsletter round-up, and here for new posts the day they are written.]
Images: Steph Bond-Hutkin | Bondville