NSW road trips for singles, couples & families
There’s nothing like the freedom of a road trip. Throw your bags in the car, turn the music up loud and set off on an adventure. But how do you choose the route that’s right for you?
Where you choose to go often depends on who you’re travelling with. These four road trips offer something for everyone – solo travellers can escape to the Snowies, couples will find romance along the Murray River, families will love the charming Central Coast, and friends can discover something new in the North Coast hinterland.
Solo travellers: Kosciuszko Alpine Way
Why it’s good: Solo travellers can take some time to reset and recharge in one of NSW’s most breathtaking outdoor environments, the Snowy Mountains. The bright clear days of spring are the perfect time to explore the pristine landscapes around Jindabyne and the Kosciuszko National Park. Be immersed in the quiet majesty of nature as you paddle across icy alpine lakes, cycle rugged mountain bike trails and for a rewarding adventure, hike to the highest point of Australia through a carpet of wildflowers. Or if you’re keen for some company, the pubs and breweries of Jindabyne will be buzzing with other adventurers keen to share stories of their day on the mountain.
Must-stops: Stock up on delicious things for picnic lunches or self-catered dinners at The Little Grocer in Berridale. There’s local cheese, pickles, terrine, bread, chocolate and even truffles, plus the cellar door of Shut the Gate wines. At Thredbo, the ski lifts aren’t just for winter – catch the Kosciuszko Express 560m up to start the exhilarating walk to the summit or have lunch at Eagles Nest, Australia’s highest restaurant.
Travel hacks: If you want to tackle something more adventurous, it’s best to join a group, and K7 Adventures are the experts for rock climbing and abseiling tours through the Snowy Mountains. First timers can start with a half-day ascent of Eagle Rocks in Thredbo, while experienced climbers should spend a full day on Blue Rocks at Charlotte Pass.
Couples: The Mighty Murray River Drive
Why it’s good: History trails, private island campsites, whisky tasting, a few rounds of golf and ancient World Heritage wonders make for a one-of-a-kind couples’ trip. Relax into the freedom of no schedule and explore the charming towns and sleepy villages along the Murray River at your own pace. Linger in Albury to explore the town’s burgeoning arts and dining scene, or head straight for the calm waters of Lake Mulwala to paddle through an eerily still landscape of flooded trees. Take a seat at the local pub for a beer and a chat in Barham or Balranald, or spend a lazy afternoon at a riverside vineyard sampling boutique warm-climate wines.
Must-stops: Paddlesteamers have been plying the peaceful Murray for more than 160 years. Take a cruise through history in Echuca-Moama aboard one of Murray River Paddlesteamers’ beautifully restored vessels. Go even further back in time at Mungo National Park where an Aboriginal guide can show you footsteps and fireplaces that date back tens of thousands of years, part of an unbroken link to the world’s oldest living culture.
Travel hacks: Splash out and spend the night in an adults-only hideaway secluded in a patch of quiet bushland near Echuca-Moama. Talo Retreat has just 12 luxurious yurts – complete with outdoor spa, wood fire and plush pillowtop mattresses – making for a romantic glamping getaway where your only companions will be a noisy flock of long-billed corellas or a mob of curious kangaroos at dawn.
Families: Cool Coast to Intrepid Inland
Why it’s good: This road trip will take you from ocean pools and stand-up paddleboarding to wildlife parks and wilderness horse riding, with a few stops to try local produce along the way. Starting in Newcastle, NSW’s achingly cool second city, it makes a loop south through Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast before turning inland for the famed vineyards of the Hunter Valley and the historic riverside town Maitland. It’s a chance to feel connected as a family and to embrace the uncomplicated joy of a classic Aussie road trip – windows down, radio on, memories made.
Must-stops: Your family could spend a week trying all the activities at Glenworth Valley, with adventurous days of horse riding, canoeing, quad bike riding, abseiling and more on offer. In the Hunter Valley, Keith Tulloch Wine has a Junior Tasting experience that will entertain the kids while the adults sample some of their top drops. And a nighttime tour of Maitland Gaol will be spooky enough for even the coolest teenager to get goosebumps.
Travel hacks: Measuring 4.5m and weighing in at over 500kg, Elvis the saltwater crocodile is the most famous resident of the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby on the Central Coast. He’s even been known to steal a lawnmower from an unsuspecting keeper. The kids will love to see him in action – and eating his lunch – on the weekends at 1.30pm.
Group of friends: North Coast Hinterland Adventures
Why it’s good: When you’re travelling with a group of friends, you need something for everyone. The North Coast Hinterland Adventure will give you just that: lazy beach days for the person burnt out from work; art galleries for the culture lover; and challenging waterfall hikes, whitewater rafting and surf lessons for the thrill seeker. It’s an off-the-beaten-track route that takes you to beaches that are beloved by locals – like the postcard-worthy Number One Beach at Seal Rocks – and beneath a roosting colony of rare flying foxes. Finishing in the bustling beach town of Port Macquarie, there are plenty of opportunities to toast the trip with long chats, seaside cocktails and fine-dining dinners.
Must-stops: Don’t miss lunch at Bent on Food in Wingham, a country cafe that’s a destination in its own right. At Bago Maze and Wine, take a pitstop to lose track of time on the beautiful lawns with a picnic and a couple of bottles. Or you can spend the afternoon giggling like kids as you race each other around the hedge maze.
Travel hacks: If you have some extra time, settle into the slower way of life this region is famous for with a night or two on a luxury houseboat with Myall Lakes Getaway. There’s nothing to do but swim, fish or snooze in the sun as the world floats by.