World heritage and history
Sydney Opera House
Echoing the sails of the boats floating on the stunning Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House is an architectural masterpiece that is one of few contemporary buildings to receive a World Heritage listing. Join a daily backstage tour to discover the stories and history of the building, plus see the extraordinary interiors of some of Sydney's most magnificent theatres and performance spaces.
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
New South Wales features six World Heritage-listed sites. All but two, the Sydney Opera House and four Australian convict sites, are natural attractions. The remainder include parks and reserves managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The world's most extensive area of subtropical rainforest forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, which earned its place on the World Heritage List owing to its outstanding universal natural significance. The area encompasses the major rainforest parks and reserves of northeast New South Wales. These include Wollumbin National Park, Border Ranges National Park, Washpool National Park, the adjacent Gibraltar Range National Park, and many others.
Expect spectacular scenery among the subalpine woodlands, eucalypt forests, swamps and grasslands of Barrington Tops National Park. Carved from ancient volcanic flows, the landscape here provides an ideal destination for nature lovers. The Gloucester Tops, Barrington Plateau and Williams Rivers sections of the park provide some short, easy treks.
Cunawarra National Park highlights the varied beauty of the NSW countryside, linking the pristine wilderness and distinct snow gums of the New England National Park with the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park – home to Wollomombi Falls, the highest waterfall in NSW.
For unspoiled rivers, cascading waterfalls and rugged rainforests, visit Werrikimbe National Park.
The World Heritage-listed convict sites in NSW reveal a colourful time in Australian history. For a fascinating peek into the past, follow in the footsteps of convict workers who carved out the road overlooking the Hawkesbury River on the Old Great North Road World Heritage walk. The Devines Hill and Finchs Line sections of the road became World Heritage-listed in July 2010.
Hop on the ferry to Cockatoo Island, one of Sydney’s Harbour Islands, to explore convict and shipbuilding history. Stay overnight in the island's spectacular waterfront campsite location with camping and glamping (glamour camping) packages available.
For insight into how Australians lived during colonial years, visit Old Government House and Parramatta Park in historic Parramatta. Then head to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum in Sydney’s city, which housed 15,000 male convicts from 1819 to 1848.
This World Heritage-listed island paradise is only a two-hour flight from Sydney, and is famous for its breathtaking twin peaks and pristine beaches. The island lies on the world’s southernmost coral reef, home to 500 species of fish and more than 90 species of coral. Enjoy the stunning beauty of this idyllic island that accommodates up to 400 visitors at any time.
Less than two hours’ drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is ideal for a weekend wilderness getaway. Blue Mountains National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Go bushwalking and camping, or simply relax at a luxurious B&B. Take in spectacular views from Evans Lookout in Blackheath and visit Scenic World in Katoomba.
For a trip way back into Australia’s past, visit the historic Willandra Lakes, home to Mungo National Park. The region consists of a system of ancient lakes formed over 2 million years and Aboriginal people lived here for at least 50,000 years. Explore the unique beauty of the dry lake bed and magnificent sand dunes, and take a tour to learn about the area’s rich cultural identity.