The 8 quirkiest things to see & do in NSW
Celebrate the state’s mavericks and renegades who brought their crazy tourism ideas to life. Some of these little ideas are now among NSW’s most joy-inducing attractions.
Let the weird and wonderful bring a smile to your face. In NSW, memorable moments are around every corner.
Head to the tiny outback town of Silverton to meet wacky characters, rev your engines at the Deni Ute Muster, channel your inner Elvis or track down a Big Thing. Make like a cave-person in the Blue Mountains or feel like you’re in the Wild West by coming nose-to-snout with a bison. In Lightning Ridge, pop underground to see one man’s arty take on the world while in Sydney, commemorate the moment in a Japanese photo booth.
Here’s where to embrace the quirky and down-right wondrous.
Hi ho Silverton
Silverton, a picturesque former mining town near Broken Hill, is home to 35 humans, four donkeys and several ghosts. Meet two of the town’s most memorable characters at John Dynon Gallery and the post-apocalyptic Mad Max Museum.
John Dynon is nicknamed the Emu Man as the bird that roams the region features in many of his works. Most importantly, though, this former miner is a larrikin who loves a chat as he works in his studio-gallery within a paint-splotched tin shed.
Up the red-dirt street, you’ll find Yorkshireman Adrian Bennett, who took his fandom of Mad Max 2 (filmed in the area) to a radical level by moving here and opening this fascinating shrine to the 1981 film.
Festival devotees line up for days in their utes to yarn and reconnect while waiting for the gates, topped by longhorn sculptures, to open, signalling the start of the annual Deni Ute Muster, a major drawcard for the Murray River town of Deniliquin.
Wear your flanno over a blue singlet and don jeans, boots and a cowboy hat to fit right in with this fun-loving country crowd. Events include circlework (utes spinning in the arena), bull riding, bogan bingo, the tradie challenge, evening concerts and, of course, the Show n Shine, where you can marvel at how much custom bling some owners have added to their beloved utes.
Hips don’t lie
Thousands of Elvis Presley fans – and those who like to dress up and get a little crazy – head to the NSW Central West region to descend on the town (which is also famous for the film The Dish, about the town’s gigantic radio telescope). The five-day, fun-filled festival includes karaoke, tribute shows, dance lessons, burlesque workshops, a street parade and a Sunday morning gospel service.
Australia loves its Big Things – and NSW is home to a wide selection of these kitschy landmarks. Put a song in your heart with the Big Golden Guitar in Tamworth, peel up the Pacific Highway to see the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour and the Big Prawn at Ballina, or feel all warm and fuzzy checking out the Big Merino at Goulburn. In Nyngan, have a chuckle at the Big Bogan, one of the state’s newer Big Things.
It’s purikura time
Lights, camera, smile! At Purikura Photoland in Sydney’s Haymarket, you and your friends can pile into one of the cute Japanese photo booths to create memories with a difference. The purikura (a portmanteau of purinto kurabu, or print club) are booths where you can snap a photo that improves your looks (thank you filters!).
Some even give you a new hairstyle or makeup. Over at the editing station, add speech bubbles, stickers and other effects before printing out the images as stickers.
What lies beneath
A former opal mine in Lightning Ridge has been transformed into perhaps the nation’s strangest art gallery. Head underground to the Chambers of the Black Hand to see more than 700 fantastical sculptures that have emerged from the sandstone walls and pillars, with the help of miner-turned-artist Ron Canlin’s jackhammer, pickaxe and kitchen utensils.
There’s an Egyptian chamber with amusing hieroglyphics, a depiction of the Last Supper, goblins, wizards, Buddhas and more.
Pretend you’re in South Dakota* at , south of Casino in northern NSW. The 477-hectare working American-bison ranch is open to day visitors but you can also stay in one of the American Indian-style tipis or set up a tent, campervan or caravan on site. Meet the herd at the daily feeding experience, explore the bushwalking tracks, dive into the swimming pool or throw a fishing line into the creek.
(*With more than 33,000 head, South Dakota has the biggest bison population in the US.)
The big sleep
Stay in one-of-a-kind accommodation near Bilpin in the Hawkesbury. Love Cabins is a portfolio of seven getaways spread over two properties. Some are traditional while others push the envelope. The Enchanted Cave, for instance, incorporates a bed partially set into bedrock and a spa bath with an astonishing wilderness view. The Treehouse puts you in the canopy for a bird’s-eye view of Bowens Creek Gorge.