It’s hard to escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney, but less than two hours from the city sits a tranquil retreat with a wildlife attraction few get a chance to see.

With the Covid pandemic keeping most of us stuck inside for the past two years, Aussies are itching to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and enjoy nature yet again.

In NSW, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need to drive hours and hours away from Sydney to experience that kind of refresh, but hop in the car for less than 90 minutes and you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem far from the drone of the city.

Waterfall Springs Retreat and Sanctuary, a wildlife haven for endangered kangaroos and wallabies, is located in the tiny town of Kulnura on the state’s Central Coast region.

Home to a sprawling lodge and glamping tents, Waterfall Springs is nestled on 33 acres of bushland.

Despite the size of the property, Waterfall Springs keeps its guest list tight, welcoming only eight people at a time to the tranquil lodge.

Much of the 33 acres is open to explore, with the lodge’s friendly hosts explaining the four kilometres of walking trails on offer.

And if you can’t be bothered to walk, you can also hire golf buggies to bumble around the same tracks.

Spend the day lounging by the pool or exploring the property and visiting the animals but make sure you book in a glow worm tour at night.

You’ll jump back in the buggies for a bit of late night off-roading to get to the glow worm spot, nestled in a stunning, tranquil valley.

Glow worms are only found in Australia and New Zealand and due to their delicate nature and the tiny webs they weave, they can usually only be seen in caves.

But thanks to the valley at Waterfall Springs, the glow worms have made their home under the rock cavities in the valley.

It means you can walk right up to the glow worms at Waterfall Springs and see them from centimetres away.

You’re also given gumboots so you can wade through the valley’s small freshwater pool and see the glow worms dotted under the nearby waterfall.

And while the starry sky and the visiting microbats – tiny animals that look like brown butterflies – aren’t advertised as being part of the glow worm tour, they’re a worthwhile addition you can look forward to.

Places like Waterfall Springs are preparing for an influx of visitors in 2022 as Aussies try to wash themselves off the pandemic by turning to retreats off the beaten track that give them time away from phone reception and a place to embrace nature.

Aggregate site Booking.com recently unveiled its 2022 predictions for travel with “vitamin vacays” coming out on top.

Booking.com commissioned extensive research on travel trends for 2022, surveying more than 24,000 travellers across 31 countries and territories, including more than 1000 Australians, to predict how travel will continue to be redefined in the year ahead.

According to the research, Australians are abandoning daily exercise and mindful meditation as a way of self-care and are instead turning to travel.

Of the group surveyed, 82 per cent of people said travel “helps their mental and emotional wellbeing more than other forms of rest and relaxation” and 72 per cent admitted they hadn’t realised how important travel was to their wellbeing until it was no longer an option.

This journalist was a guest at Waterfall Springs, courtesy of Booking.com.

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