24 December 2013
New South Wales has one of the greatest and most impressive natural areas in the world. From dramatic mountainscapes to inland wilderness, golden beaches and stunning World Heritage Sites, there's no shortage of outdoor areas to explore this summer.
Take a day trip or a week and explore this jewel of Australia at one or several of these naturally beautiful areas.
When a site gets approved as a world heritage location, there has to be something special about it – and New South Wales certainly delivers, offering visitors the chance to see six heritage sites. Each of these offers something special, whether it's a protected or culturally specific area that you won't find anywhere else in the world.
Lord Howe Island was formed by a volcanic eruption over seven million years ago, and now is a gem of the NSW coast. At any one time, just 400 visitors are allowed on the island, ensuring it remains natural and beautiful for future generations.
Fort Denison is found in Sydney's sparkling harbour where it operates as a harbour navigation facility, museum and restaurant, but was once a prison for the region's convicts. It is now the only Tower of its kind in the country.
Another part of NSW's rich history is Sydney's Middle Head, which is on the heritage list due to its role in Sydney's defence for over 100 years until the 1960s. Here you can explore the tunnels, gun emplacements and wander over the walking tracks in the area – all with incredible views of the city.
Don't miss the Abercrombie Caves where you can see the solid marble masses and if you get your timing right, attend one of the many performances held at this natural stage.
The Kosciuszko National Park is another heritage-listed site and offers everything from glacial lakes to limestone caves, grasslands to woodlands and more for visitors to enjoy on a trip here. Don't miss the many walking tracks, lined with wildflowers and worthy of a trip all year round.
The final heritage site in NSW is the Minnamurra Rainforest walking track, which is one of the most lush, verdant walking tracks you'll find in the country. Stand behind a waterfall at the Nellies Glen swimming hole, take a picnic to enjoy on the trip and try your hand at bird spotting on the elevated boardwalk around the forest.
Besides those listed as World Heritage Sites, there are plenty other national parks around the state to enjoy this summer.
The Blue Mountains National Park is just an hour from Sydney and is known for its wild and untamed forestland. You can camp, swim, walk and picnic in this area – just don't forget your camera, as it's packed with scenic views.
Another great spot – in size and scenery – is the Warrumbungle National Park, just 36 km from Coonabarabran. This is a great location to experience the outdoors as they're meant to be seen, with an abundance of activities such as rock climbing and hiking on offer, as well as plenty of wildlife to see – kangaroos, wallabies and emus are all common sights in this area.
Lastly, putting NSW on the map for its coastlines are the numerous beaches.
On the South Coast, anywhere from and hour to a few hours' drive from Sydney, you'll find enough beaches to fill an entire summer – and more. Check out the stunning Kiama area, the pure white sands at Jervis Bay, Hayms Beach and Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast.
In Sydney itself, there are also a number of gorgeous spots to lay down a towel and set up camp for a great day on the sand. No visit to the city is complete without trips to famous beaches Bondi and Manly, but other sunny spots such as Coogee Beach and Cronulla Beach are quickly becoming more popular for their fantastic atmosphere and picturesque views.
If you want to head north of Sydney, there are plenty of beaches on the North Coast, too. These iconic destination are world-famous for their surf, sun and sand. Start with a visit to Byron Bay, wander the shores at Ballina and don't forget your camera on a trip to beautiful Lennox Head. You could even consider staying a while at Yamba, a popular resort town brimming with laid-back, beachy vibes.