Picture yourself on a Thursday afternoon. The week has been hectic – you’re spent and you cannot wait for Friday afternoon. Perhaps it’s been a hard week at work, or the kids are going stir-crazy. You could spend the weekend curled up on the couch watching Netflix, but with the weather warming up and the days getting a little longer, why not consider planning a day out?

If you’re at a loose end for where to go, I’ve compiled a short list of potential options. Some are free activities, some will cost a little money, (the bonus one is dictated by the time of year.) But, all are either within the Manning Valley itself or only a mere 50ks out of town. Perfect for a day trip. So grab your map, your sunscreen, and consider trying out the traditional Sunday drive to:

1 – Boorganna Nature Reserve, Comboyne

Nature? Check. Bushwalks? Check. Waterfalls? Check. Boorganna Nature Reserve hosts the beautiful Rawson Falls along a nature walk that’s sure to inspire your inner bush poet at most (and if not that, it’ll definitely get your steps up). It’s a 5km circuit through one of our local forests, and is a short drive out of Comboyne, home of the freshest air this side of Mount Seaview. The Nature Reserve hosts a few different walks, so if trekking around a 40m waterfall isn’t your thing, they’re sure to have something that suits. Remember to take water and a packed lunch.

2 – Edgey’s Manor, Wingham

Wingham is on the branch of old, small towns that were breathed into existence by the railway, and as a result it carries a lot of the old, small town vibe. Something I was surprised to find in Wingham, though, was Edgey’s Manor. A Celtic Britain themed tourist attraction, it hosts a variety of themed things to do, see, and eat. If you or your family is somewhat interested in the trappings of an archaic age, this is something to put on the to-do list.

3 – Timbertown, Wauchope

While we’re on the subject of local theme-parks, have you ever visited Timbertown? This attraction is based more heavily around the industry that raised Wauchope and the time period that happened in (The early 1900s). The size of a small village, Timbertown hosts a steam-powered train, period sawmills, bullock shows, and a horse-and-carriage ride around the site. Should you favour a kid-friendly atmosphere, that is educational and sells Vicker’s Fudge, then chalk this one up.

4 – Fishing, Four-Wheel Driving, Food, Harrington

Of the collection of childhood memories I have of Harrington, going fishing with my Dad is well remembered. That, and the wind. Harrington is just outside of Taree, and if you haven’t spent a day out there before, you should probably book one in. The breakwall is a popular spot for dropping a line and whiling the time, as is the beach for 4WD access. The small hamlet also hosts a couple of camping spots, for folks who are interested in visiting longer than 12 hours or so. If you’re interested in hunting for a wholesome and honest meal after, you could also check out Harrigan’s Irish Pub for some versatile (and delicious) meal options.

If you’re planning to roam the beach in your vehicle, don’t forget to first acquire a permit, (Ritchie’s Bait and Tackle supplies them) check the conditions on the day, and the suitability of your wheels for the terrain.

5 – A Day on the Water, Forster

There are many things to love about Forster – the quiet streets, the gorgeous beach, the way its name helps you spot non-locals (protip: the ‘r’ is silent). If you’re up for a day on the water then the marina is where you should go. Forster Marina rents out kayaks and BBQ boats, and can cover your day out with a significant other, an adventure with your family, or a delightful lunch with your neighbours and their kids, too. Pack your lunch and your swimmers, and you’ll be sure to enjoy the day.

Bonus: Brackenridge Berries, Waitui

Brackenridge Berries is a blueberry farm in the backwater country west of Johns River. It’s only open for about six weeks across December and January, so it’s more of a Christmas Holidays activity, but it’s well-worth the trek. A pick-your-own, it offers a day amid the blueberry trees, a couple of buckets, and a freezer full of the delicious berries. My family used to visit every Christmas in the late 90s and early 2000s, and we’d spend the rest of the year steadily working through what we harvested. It’ll require a little planning and a phone call ahead of time, but it’s a successful day out.

If you want to double down on the bonus, why not consider visiting Waitui Falls while you’re out? There’s few things more enjoyable in the scorching summer heat than a walk through sub-tropical rainforest to this quiet waterhole for lunch and a swim.