Air sports in NSW: Skydiving, hot air ballooning & more

Feel totally lost in the moment with these adrenaline-fuelled, sky-high experiences.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

May 2024 -
min read

The joy of viewing the world from above is twofold: there’s the adrenaline rush of the activity you’re undertaking, be it hang-gliding or hot-air ballooning or taking a scenic flight; and then there’s the view itself, of coastline or wine country or the outback. To properly see NSW, to take in everything it has to offer and to have an awe-inspiring time doing it, you have to see it from up high. And these are the best places to do it.


Tackle the Scenic Skyway

Back when it opened in 1958, the Scenic Skyway was Australia’s first-ever cable car. Nowadays you’ll complete the 384m-long ride across the ancient ravines of the Blue Mountains in a modern Swiss-made cable car that can carry 84 passengers. The glass floor gives you direct views 270m down to the forest below.

This is stunning stuff and the perfect way to take in the likes of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, Mt Solitary and the Jamison Valley. And it’s just one of the experiences offered by Scenic World – you can also hitch a ride on the Scenic Railway, take the Scenic Cableway down into Jamison Valley, or meander along the Scenic Walkway to see life under the rainforest canopy.

Scenic Skyway in Scenic World over Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains

Scenic Skyway in Scenic World over Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains

Float high above Mudgee in a balloon

What a truly incredible way to begin the day: huddling in a basket beneath the huge expanse of a hot-air balloon, rising high into the sky as the sun breaks the horizon and lights the scene below. In the Mudgee region in the state’s central west, that scene includes some of Australia’s prettiest landscapes – rolling hills, vine-covered valleys and forested mountains. And it’s at its most spectacular up high at sunrise, which is exactly what you’ll see on Balloon Aloft’s four-hour breakfast flight. 

It's an equally dreamy outlook to the east in the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest wine region. Here, get some perspective with Beyond Ballooning at sunrise, then touch down for a champagne breakfast. 

Balloon Aloft, Mudgee

Balloon Aloft, Mudgee

Go skydiving in Wollongong

The view of the Wollongong coastline from 15,000 feet up is pretty spectacular – but come on, you’re not thinking about the view. You’re thinking about the fact that you’re in a perfectly good aeroplane and you’re about to jump out of it.

Skydiving is one of life’s true thrills, at once white-knuckle and yet so fulfilling, and an experience with Skydive Sydney - Wollongong is an iconic way to view this spectacular stretch of NSW coast and feel full of wonder at the feeling of 'flying'.

Chief Funster Andrew Smith skydiving with Skydive The Beach over Wollongong

Skydive the beach, Wollongong

Take in Mungo from the air

The vastness of Mungo National Park in the state’s far west is difficult to appreciate at ground level. Yes, you can explore this dramatic, other-worldly landscape – a reserve that’s the same size as the sprawl of greater Sydney – by car or on foot.

But on a scenic flight with Mungo Lodge you get to see all of the park’s highlights, from the Walls of China to Lake Mungo, from Vigar’s Well to Mungo Woolshed, in one fell swoop. You’ll also get a better appreciation of the vastness of the outback which, from the sky, stretches on and on and on.

Spactacular outback landscapes showcasing the Walls of China, Mungo National Park

Walls of China, Mungo National Park

Attend air sports events

Aviation fans, rejoice! NSW has events that will take you sky high, without your feet having to leave the ground. Enter Shellharbour’s Airshows Down Under (formerly Wings Over Illawarra), held at Shellharbour Airport (around 100km south of Sydney) every March. Get ready to experience two action-packed days of flying, aerobatic performers, static aircraft displays, carnival rides… and so much more.

Meanwhile, the historic village of Canowindra in country NSW, not far from Orange, has managed to slide into record books as hosting Australia’s largest hot-air balloon festival. Fun fact: more hot-air balloon rides happen here annually than anywhere else in Australia. Dozens of pilots from across the country descend (then ascend) for the International Balloon Challenge, which sees the sky painted in a rainbow of hues while early morning competitions take place.

Soar high above Stanwell Tops

Hang-gliding is flying at its most pure: nothing but a single wing and the power of the wind to keep you in flight. And when you do it at Stanwell Tops, about an hour south of Sydney, you also get to drink in the incredible views of Wollongong and the South Coast.

HangglideOz has been running tandem flights here since 1987. Soaring high above the cliffs, with only the sound of a gentle breeze in your ears, you will be astonished at the beauty and simplicity of flight.

Go heli-wine-touring in the Snowys

Wine tasting in a helicopter? With the vast alpine beauty of the Snowy Mountains as your backdrop? That’s what’s on offer with Truenorth Helicopters’ Vine to Wine Adventure, which starts in Tumut and transports you to the Tumbarumba wine region, where you’ll visit two premier cool-climate wineries (Obsession and Courabyra) for tastings and more. On the way back, even more spectacular scenery awaits, as you pass over Talbingo, Journama and Blowering dams on the Tumut River.

Truenorth Helicopter on the grounds of Courabyra Wines in Tumbarumba, Snowy Valleys

Courabyra Wines, Tumbarumba

Explore the Sapphire Coast by seaplane

Want to gain an all-new perspective on the ruggedly beautiful Sapphire Coast in the far south of the state? South Coast Seaplanes offers seven flight itineraries, taking off from the river at Moruya and soaring over such glorious spots as Batemans Marine Park, the Tollgate Islands Nature Reserve, Tuross Head, Mogo State Forest and Montague Island. Choose one of the picnic options, and enjoy a gourmet lunch on the beach. This is the very definition of awe-inspiring.

Couple having a picnic by Coila Lake in Tuross Head, Batemans Bay Area, South Coast

South Coast Seaplanes, Tuross Head

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