I’ve been doing some research into regional travel in New South Wales recently and covering a lot of new ground – in one week I went glamping in the bush in wine country, watched dolphins cavorting in shallow water on a bright cloudless day, saw the mist settle over a rainforest in the shade of a dramatic escarpment and sat in front of a roaring sandstone fireplace in an historic town and learned of the ghosts who lived in the hotel.
I am excellent at packing for short-haul winter stays now. I have a bag (well two) ready to throw into the car at any given minute and have discovered the real wardrobe essentials that will see you through walking the wombat trails in minus 2 degrees or having dinner in an upmarket seafood restaurant.
The regional travel and tourism industry in Australia is undergoing a wonderful renaissance, along with a plethora of fab new restaurants, cafes and cellar doors so there is more opportunity to dress up while still feeling casual and comfortable.
Here are my five winter travel essentials:
1. An oversized black polo neck sweater
This will be worn in the car, with leggings and trackpants. It can go on a bushwalk. It can then be worn to the shops while you stock up on cheese and crackers and quince paste. It can go to lunch at a winery with jeans and boots. It can then be worn at one of the zillion amazing restaurants that are popping up all over the country. That night, put it with a silk slip or slip skirt and the same boots.
You can add pearls and look like a million bucks.
2. The puffer jacket
You can go as designer as you like, or not, but they are the answer to everything. Long or short, in any colour you fancy. Navy looks fab over a black sweater (see above) and can be worn over your evening outfit on the way to the restaurant.
3. Thin merino knits
Layering is the key to keeping warm, not heavy coats, and fine merino long sleeved T-shirts are the most breathable options, worn under the chunky polo if it’s very frosty, or on their own if the temperature warms up. You can even wear one to bed if the generator breaks down and the heating goes off.
4. A long cardigan coat
This has emerged as a surprise item in my travel wardrobe as I certainly have never considered it an essential but have since discovered that is handy to put on over your pyjamas as a dressing gown, comfy in the car, and nice with jeans for lunch.
I bought my first pair of lambswool lined tan suede moccasins when I went hiking in the Himalayas (I’m being annoying now) and I knew my feet would be killing me at dinner after walking all day. Hence, the very comfy what I called “lodge slipper” worn with jeans or pants and the black sweater. My fellow hikers thought they were designer, but I bought them at Big W for $30.
They also look nice with pearls.