29 March 2018
With such a wide range of landscapes, NSW is filled with beautiful natural attractions and awe-inspiring heritage trails. Whether you’re planning a trip to the white sand beaches of the South Coast, unwinding in the North Coast hinterland, or headed to the Outback, there’s so much more to see and do in NSW.
Check out some stunning must-see NSW travel locations as chosen by travel bloggers below and get some fresh inspiration for your next trip!
Australia has the best beaches in the world! It is a fact! In our last 5 years we have travelled to many beaches but none whatsoever comes close to what Australia has to offer. In particular, one of the best beaches on the South Coast of NSW is Jervis Bay. Jervis Bay is said to ‘possess the whitest sand in the world’, it does, and as you walk along its coastline the white sand particles squeaks underfoot. Its stunning turquoise blue waters where dolphins romp and play and during June to November you can see hump back whales shelter on their way up North to warmer climes. You can spend hours in secluded bays swimming, picnicking or fishing.
The local National Park offers camping spots and bush walking trails. The scenery is spectacular and wildlife and fauna abundant. At sunset kangaroos come out to feed and you may just see a wombat stumble across the path in front of you. Huskisson is a quaint seaside village that line Jervis Bay offering boutique shops, restaurants and cafes and local markets. There is a wide range of accommodation from camping to luxury resorts. Jervis Bay is definitely a ‘must stay’ destination on the South Coast.
Bendalong – South Coast NSW is an amazing location where you can hand feed wild stingrays!!! These gentle giants cruise around in the shallows at Boat Harbour Beach and come right up to you for a friendly pat, or, if you have some fish they will gently eat them right out of your hands!!
If you prefer to watch the rays from a distance you can simply relax on the beach while listening to the resident Bell birds singing in the surrounding bush, and even spot a dolphin or a friendly Kangaroo on the beach! Not too far north from here is Jervis Bay which hosts the whitest sand in the world. This stretch of coastline is a magic spot to explore, including a few more hidden gems further south – Potato Point, Merimbula and Pambula!
Fitzroy Falls is a spectacular natural feature! Located less than two hours drive South from Sydney in the stunning Morton National Park, this remarkable area is truly breathtaking. A magnificent 80-metre-drop waterfall is just a couple of minutes level, wheelchair-friendly walk from the Fitzroy Falls Visitor’s Centre. But that’s not all there is to see here! There are also beautiful walking trails to explore – the most popular being the 2-hour return West Rim walking track. Offering panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs and valleys, this picturesque trail leads you through birdsong-filled rainforest and bushland. Along the way you’ll discover several lookouts, the smaller – but no-less beautiful – Twin Falls, and a stone-staircase leading down to the enchanting little rock pool area of The Grotto. Climb back up and return the way you came to the Visitor’s Centre to enjoy a delicious snack and learn more about this truly unique part of the world. With breathtaking scenery and gentle bushwalking trails, Fitzroy Falls is perfect for families of all shapes and sizes. It’s a NSW must-see – be sure not to miss it!
In 2017 we took an adults only weekend getaway to Sydney and for the first time walked the famous coastal track from Bondi to Coogee. We loved this 6 km walk so much that we now always head on a return family trip to Sydney where the whole family can enjoy the amazing scenery of this walk. For our return visit to Sydney, we would love to coincide it with the famous Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition. The largest free art sculpture exhibition in the world, the event runs from 19 October to 5 November in 2018 and celebrates it’s 21st birthday.
For 2kms of the walk, from Bondi to Tamarama Beach, some 100 sculptures by local and international Artists provide a special something to the already spectacular walk. The kids will enjoy the first-time experience of the walk and the picturesque beaches passed along the way and the adults will enjoy a repeat visit as well as the added bonus of the art sculptures. The weather in October will be pleasant for the walk, the funky rooftop bar at Coogee Pavilion will have cold beverages on hand to reward our walk and the day will be completed with a dinner of fish and chips on the lawns at Coogee Beach.
Our names are Ros and Alan Cuthbertson, Australian travel bloggers in our late 50’s. Being travel bloggers, we get a lot of people asking us about our favourite holiday destinations. When it comes to NSW there is one location that stands out above the rest, the Hunter Valley!
The Hunter Valley has been on our list for years and that is due to one spectacular event, the Hunter Valley Balloon Fiesta! This stunning hot air balloon festival is held every year around October. Imagine taking to the air at dawn, the silence interrupted by an occasional blast of a flame as you drift higher into the sky. Sipping a glass of crisp Champagne as you look out over a horizon filled with brightly coloured balloons that shine bright as they are hit by the morning sun. An absolutely magical experience, only to be topped off with a gourmet Bubbly Breakfast at Peterson House Winery. With so many wineries to explore why not join a group of likeminded wine lovers and take a step back in time with a leisurely horse drawn carriage ride. Hunter Valley Horses carriage tours are a fun way to spend the day discovering new wines, cheeses and chocolate while taking in the scenery of the Hunter Valley region.
If you have time to spare take Tourist Drive 33 for natural Australian bush vistas and rolling hills. Drive along the convict trail to the picturesque heritage listed village of Wollombi and learn more about Australia’s convict and settler past at the Wollombi Historical Walk. These are just a few of our favourite destinations in NSW, there are many more just waiting to be discovered.
At just 80kms south of Sydney, Wollongong is a city that is literally nestled between the mountains and the sea; and that is what Wollongong means. The city is long and narrow, with seventeen surf beaches on one side, and the escarpment – a mecca for bushwalkers, mountain bike riders and wildlife on the other. Wollongong, is known as the Gong to we locals. With an international university, the Gong is a multicultural city and this can be seen in the food, and the cultural activities. Wollongong has also become a festival city, and there is always something happening from Harley’s to food, and to the thriving music scene. The Gong is also a hub for street art with the Wonderwalls street art and graffiti festival in its 5th year. Wollongong is also home to the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in the southern hemisphere, attracting many visitors. Make sure when you visit Wollongong you come along the Grand Pacific Drive which takes you through the Royal National Park and over the pretty amazing Sea Cliff Bridge. If Wollongong says it is a city of diversity, we can tell you that this is true.
An ascent of under 500 metres (elevation of 720m), 6 km’s return and from 3-5 hours walking in exchange for some of the most stunning views in the country. I have passed by the area a number of times in the past 20 years or so, and yet, Pigeon House remains on my list of spectacular South Coast New South Wales locations. Named by Captain James Cook when sailing past in 1770 as it reminded him of a dovehouse with a dome on top, though I find the local Aboriginal name more amusing, personally – ‘Didthul’ meaning ‘woman’s breast’.
It is not a long hike, though quite a tough one with a number of steel ladders to be climbed to reach the peak. Views of the ocean and across the mountains and escarpments of the Morton National Park reward those who make the effort to climb Pigeon House Mountain. 2018, 1st term holidays (don’t tell the kids) is when I plan to cross this wonderful hike off my list. We will hook up our vintage caravan and go exploring…
New South Wales is blessed with many special places – white sand beaches, lush forests, mountains, deserts. But for me, none is so spectacular as Lord Howe Island. I once heard someone say that arriving on Lord Howe Island was like arriving in Hawaii in the 1950’s. I’m pretty sure they meant that as a compliment. Lord Howe Island is, put simply, completely unspoilt. And its World Heritage status means it will stay that way. Located 600 km directly east from Port Macquarie on the NSW coast, it has the most southerly large reef on the planet affording you some of the most accessible and beautiful snorkeling and diving in Australia. There are many bird and plant species here that live nowhere else on earth. There are few vehicles on the island so cycling becomes an attractive option. The island also offers many walking trails, the most challenging of which is the ascent of the 875 m tall Mt Gower, listed as one of the worlds best day walks. Be prepared though- it is tough, steep and precipitous – but you will be rewarded with an incredible view the length of the entire island. Naturalist and TV presenter David Attenborough once described Lord Howe Island as ‘so extraordinary, it is almost unbelievable’. It’s hard to disagree.
The picturesque Port Stephens area is a must-visit destination in NSW. Whether you desire a relaxing break away or an action-packed weekend full of adventure, this region has it all! Port Stephens has over 20 stunning beaches and bays to explore giving you plenty of options for swimming, kayaking, surfing and fishing. If you enjoy hiking, you will be in your element with the array of coastal walks on offer. Mt Tomaree being a standout! Once you conquer the short but steep climb, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the area. A day on the popular sand dunes at Stockton Beach, tackling 4WDing, sand boarding or quad biking will satisfy the more adventurous. On the water you can take a relaxing dolphin or whale cruise or head out into deeper seas on a fishing charter.
To tempt your taste buds, there is everything from cafes to fine dining. You won’t be stuck for somewhere to get a bite to eat. Your biggest decision will be which view to take in, the beach or the bay! Port Stephens truly has something for everyone!
Killalea Beach, otherwise known as “The Farm”, is one of our favourite New South Wales destinations! This surfing haven is located in the Killalea State Park, which boasts over 260 hectares of coastal reserve. Whether you are looking for a romantic spot for a picnic with your significant other or you are wanting to catch a perfect wave, Killalea Beach is perfect place for you.
The Farm offers plenty of activities to keep you busy. There are great rainforest walking tracks and stunning estuarine wetlands to check out. If you enjoy spotting wildlife, there are seabird breeding area set up at The Farm as well. If you crave a bit of a getaway and want to truly immerse yourself in the surroundings, you can also choose to set up camp here. That way you can unwind to the max and really escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
When travelling to Killalea Beach for a picnic or if you are setting up camp here, make sure to stock up on supplies at the nearby Shellharbour Village. There are plenty of restaurant choices here, great cafes, quirky boutique shops and much more!
Lightning Ridge is a small town located in the NSW Outback, a little over 700 kilometres north west of Sydney. If I was to choose just one word to describe Lightning Ridge it would have to be ‘quirky’! Lightning Ridge is famous for the Black Opal it produces. Opal was first discovered in Lightning Ridge in the late 1800’s and has been mined there ever since. A unique way to experience all that Lightning Ridge has to offer is to follow the Car Door Tourist Trail. Maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre and by following a series of painted car doors you will see the best the town has to offer.
You can take a tour of a working opal mine, take a soak in the hot Artesian bore baths which have a constant temperature of between 40 and 45 degrees or visit Amigo’s Castle. Amigo’s Castle has been hand built using local ironstone. Although incomplete, it is an impressive structure and visitors are welcome. Another impressive structure, found on the highway just out of Lightning Ridge is ‘Stanley the Emu’. This huge sculpture is the creation of local artist John Murray. It stands at 18 metres tall and is constructed entirely from scrap metal and car bodies.
Taree is not usually a destination on people’s must-see hit list. But my little hometown is definitely worth checking out, here’s why! Taree is a myriad of gorgeous rivers that stem from the mighty Manning River. There are pockets of parks, BBQ areas and secret sanctuaries that can be discovered all along her shores. Picnics and swims with the dogs are all common on this river’s edge. I particularly love swimming at Manning Waters Reserve and Andrews Reserve in Taree West, and in front of Wingham Brush Nature Reserve in Wingham. In the centre, you can dine or drink by the water’s edge in cute cafes and local pubs.
Near the town centre, in the middle of the Manning River, sits unassuming Coocumbac Island Nature Reserve. Seen easily from the Manning Bridge, this little island might not look like much. In actuality, it is a rare example of lowland sub-tropical rainforest, most of which in Australia was cleared for housing and agriculture. Also home to an abundance of grey-headed flying fox, Coocumbac Island can only be visited by boat.
For gorgeous views, head to Apex lookout. Or, there is an abundance of nature parks to explore like Coorabakh National Park and Brimbin Nature Reserve.
Explore forest-filled valleys and rugged mountain scenery in the spectacular Blue Mountains. It’s one of our favourite destinations when we need to get out of town. Whether you’re snuggled up in a beanie and gloves in winter or need a break from Sydney’s summer humidity, the cool, crisp air will invigorate you.
At less than 2 hours’ drive from Sydney, it is an easy day trip. You can get your fill of nature, shopping and fabulous cafes all without waking at the crack of dawn. That Three Sisters magnificence draws a crowd though, so you may choose to set off early and beat the masses. Or book a night or two in a cosy cottage to take your time and enjoy the peace and quiet after the day-trippers go home. Get in amongst the escarpments, waterfalls and dense forest at Scenic World. Ride through it on the Skyway, Cableway or Scenic Railway (preferably all of them!), or take a wander along a boardwalk trail. Beat the queues by buying your entry tickets online at home.
Explore Leura’s eclectic shopping, from luxe homewares to handknitted tea cosies. And don’t leave without sampling a scrumptious country scone or two.
The inland city of Bathurst is in central western NSW, just 200 km for Sydney. Bathurst is well known for the Bathurst 1000, the legendary car race at Mt Panorama but there is a lot, lot more to see and do in this very attractive city.
Bathurst is the oldest inland city in NSW. After explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth had achieved crossing the Blue Mountains of NSW, it was declared a township on 7 May 1815 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The colonial settlers were in search of land to be able to feed the ever-growing population of Sydney. When gold was discovered near the city in 1851, the township of Bathurst boomed, and this can be seen in the architecture of the city. We noticed that the relationship between the people of Bathurst, and the indigenous Wiradjuri People appears very strong
Bathurst is a very attractive city, one where the architecture and the gardens will overwhelm you. However, Bathurst has undergone a renaissance, and this is nowhere more evident than in the avant garde food and wine scene, the thriving art scene, cute as coffee shops, and ultra-luxurious boutique hotels. Bathurst is the perfect weekend getaway,
Finding a holiday hot spot to suit everyone in your group is easy when your destination is the Ballina/Byron Bay region. Sporty? Surf the right hand surf break at Lennox Head – or hang glide above it! There’s 32 km of beaches between Ballina and Lennox and more further north at Broken Head or Byron Bay for swimming, kite-surfing and boogie-boarding. Hike the trails at Cape Byron while admiring the spectacular coastal scenery of Australia’s easternmost point, or fish from the Ballina breakwall.
Shopaholic and gourmet traveller? Combine shopping AND food in at least two different local markets every weekend. On off-market days, discover interesting shops, great food and coffee, or try alternative therapies in hinterland villages – start with Alstonville, Bangalow or Mullumbimby.
Love nature? Whale-watch (June to November) from the headlands between Ballina and Byron Bay. Discover Nightcap National Park’s Minyon Falls, or take a walk through World Heritage-listed rainforest at Terania Creek on a walk to the falls – the 1970’s protests that saved the forest from logging occurred here. Or just take a picnic and go wildlife spotting at Rocky Creek Dam. Or just chill – and check Ballina’s Big Prawn off your Aussie Big Things list!
Bellingen on the mid north coast of New South Wales is an irresistible mix of creative energy and old style charm. We love how the graceful old buildings house a vibrant mix of gourmet food and live music venues. Hyde Bellingen, in the old J. P. Halpin building, is a bustling Café/home style-boutique. Look for the stained glass detail and pressed tin ceilings when savouring a cup. The local Bellinger River swimming spot at Lavenders Bridge is the perfect picnic spot. You will find a well-stocked gourmet deli at the Hyde Street Supermarket and sourdough delights at Hearthfire Bakery.
Bellingen is full of surprises – like coming face to face with Television Journalist and “local” George Negus, on our way to Lodge 241 and then, the delightful Japanese restaurant Qudo, within. Our 1st Prize for creativity goes to the hidden Bellingen Brewery hosting events like the Bello Beer Choir. Think Retro building, with stainless steel pendant lighting, salvaged timber, funky DJ mezzanine, crafted beers (including ginger beer) and a lovingly tended wood-fired pizza oven. We suggest using Bellingen as a base from which to explore the magical Dorrigo rainforest, Urunga boardwalk and Coffs Harbour. It’s a special place to return home to at the end of the day.