How to have a more sustainable holiday in NSW

There’s much more to sustainable travel than simply popping a reusable cup in your suitcase. We define sustainable travel as tourism experiences that consider their current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts.

Elisha Kennedy

Elisha Kennedy

May 2022 -
min read

Wine and dine on local produce

A sustainable approach to food and wine means seeking things that are good for our bodies and good for the environment. A great place to start is by eating what is local and in season with a dinner at The Blue Door, a provenance-focused restaurant in Surry Hills. The menu changes weekly in response to availability from their local NSW farmers, and the wine list features only NSW wine by the glass. Take your commitment even further by sipping on a no-waste cocktail at Sydney’s Re Bar. Their inventive bar snacks and cocktails are all made using surplus fruit and veg from the markets and by-products from other hospitality venues.

The Blue Door in Surry Hills, Sydney

The Blue Door, Sydney - Credit: Luisa Brimble

You might choose to spend a weekend in Orange, picking up a bottle of certified carbon neutral wine from Ross Hill Wines. This winery practices low-input viticulture and traditional winemaking techniques, using indigenous yeast cultures to encourage biodiversity and minimise the need for artificial chemicals and additives. And you could plan an entire trip around The Farm in Byron Bay. Spend the morning wandering around the working farm watching staff as they raise and tend to plants and animals, then sit down for lunch at on-site restaurant Three Blue Ducks before picking up some local produce from the store on your way out.

Salad dish from Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, Byron Bay

Three Blue Ducks at The Farm Byron Bay

Further afield, take a guided walk through the wetlands at Restdown Wines and Jungle Lane Beef in Deniliquin, and learn how they manage their certified organic vineyard, winery and beef farm with biodynamic principles on 1100 acres of natural bush and farmland. And back on the coast, you can sign up for an Oyster Tasting Kayak tour with Region X along the Clyde River in Batemans Bay to sample some of the region’s best Sydney Rock oysters and learn about their essential role in the river ecosystem.

Travel Tip: Actively seek out local produce when visiting a new region and be sure to dispose of any waste properly.

Guided or self-guided walk at Restdown Wines and Walking Trail in Deniliquin, The Murray

Restdown Wines and Walking Trail, Deniliquin - Credit: Echuca-Moama Tourism

Explore the outdoors with minimal footprint 

When it comes to outdoor activities, there are two principles to follow: 1. Tread lightly, and 2. Leave no trace.

Swing through the trees with TreeTops Adventure in Nowra, who have carefully integrated their ropes courses and zipline activities into the tree canopy for minimal impact and practice bush regeneration throughout their parks. K7 Adventures can help you explore the Snowy Mountains while respecting the natural world, on guided hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and climbing tours.

Ski Touring in the Australian Alps, Sensational Winter Adventures in Kosciuszko National Park

K7 Adventures, Kosciuszko National Park - Credit: Mike Edmondson

If you’re more drawn to the ocean, then admire the cartoon-blue water of Narooma as you ride an e-bike with Southbound Escapes along the Narooma to Dalmeny cycle track, a 21-kilometre coastline track was built and funded by the local community. Or take a surf lesson that focuses on environmental awareness through Lets Go Surfing Sydney at Bondi and Maroubra, and also runs programs to support disadvantaged groups in the community.

Travel Tip: Keep to designated pathways and courses in natural areas to lessen your impact on the surrounding environment.

E-Bike and Bike Hire at Narooma in Batemans Bay & Eurobodalla, South Coast

E-Bike Hire and Tours, Narooma - Credit: Southbound Escapes

Embrace First Nations culture and support local communities

Sustainable travel also involves respecting and protecting living culture, traditions, and cultural sites. Have a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the water with Tribal Warrior, Sydney's only First Nations owned and operated Aboriginal cultural cruise. Hear stories of the Gadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people of Sydney Harbour and learn the Aboriginal names and meanings of local landmarks. Then drop into Australia’s oldest museum to learn more about natural history and anthropology — the Australian Museum has received the Federal Government’s Climate Active certification and is a carbon neutral organisation. It has launched Changing Climate, an ongoing exhibition sharing climate solutions and stories of climate impacts across Australia. 

Out of the city, enjoy an eco-minded river cruise along the Tweed River in daylight or at sunset with Tweed Eco Cruises, with a grazing board of 100 per cent local produce or a buffet of locally sourced seafood. Or travel Yuin Country with Dwayne ‘Naja’ Bannon-Harrison from Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness, who hosts On Country experiences along the NSW Far South Coast.

Travel Tip: Ask permission before taking photographs of people and sites of potential cultural or spiritual significance.

Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness in Callala Bay, Jervis Bay & Shoalhaven, South Coast

Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness, Callala Bay - Credit: James Horan Photographer 

Walk with the animals (from a distance!)

Wildlife experiences are one of the most inspiring aspects of travel, and it’s crucial that these prioritise animal welfare and the safeguarding of habitats. To do so (and to have the best chance of sighting wildlife), you should find a local guide or expert to lead you through the landscape. Wolgan Valley Eco Tours host educational walks through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and EcoTreasures share their passion for conservation through guided coastal walks and snorkelling tours off Manly. On the Far South Coast of NSW, guides from Navigate Expeditions can teach you about some of the cultural and ecological features of the environments you explore while providing locally sourced catering and transport via electric vehicles.

Navigate Expeditions at Mimosa National Park, Kalaru in Merimbula & Sapphire Coast, South Coast

Navigate Expeditions, South Coast

If you’re looking for a more intimate encounter with wildlife, you can swim and snorkel with dolphins off the coast of Port Stephens with Dolphin Swim Australia. After some training, you’ll get to spend a few hours enjoying a safe and supervised wild dolphin swim in pristine waters of Great Lakes Marine Park. Further north, Go Sea Kayak offers guided kayak and snorkelling experiences in Byron Bay's Marine National Park and facilitates sightings of dolphins, whales and local green and loggerhead turtles. The tour company also donates $1 for every customer to Sea Shepherd and other marine-focused charities.

Aerial over a guided kayak tour with Go Sea Kayak, Byron Bay

Go Sea Kayak, Byron Bay

For an immersive experience on land, join one of Reynella Rides’ multi-day Horseback Safaris through Kosciuszko National Park. By day, traverse the mountain plains along riding trails and observe wildlife (brumbies, if you’re lucky), and then, after a long day in the saddle, relax around a campfire with a three-course meal.

Travel Tip: Observe safe distances from wildlifenever touch, provoke or disturb animals.

Reynella Rides in Adaminaby, Cooma, Snowy Mountains

Reynella Rides, Adaminaby


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