UNESCO World Heritage in NSW
From Sydney Opera House to convict-built relics to the beautiful wilderness of the Blue Mountains, NSW's UNESCO World Heritage sites are nothing short of soul stirring. Explore the ancient Gondwana Rainforests, the pristine paradise of Lord Howe Island and Willandra Lakes, where human history dates back tens of thousands of years.
The Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, are so named after the blue hue created by the vast eucalypt forests releasing tiny droplets of oil that mix with water vapour and sunlight. You can begin your day of discovery at Echo Point lookout in Katoomba, which has uninterrupted views of the famous Three Sisters.
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia are the world’s largest subtropical rainforest sanctuaries and the lineage of its conifers and ferns is measured in tens of millions of years. The rainforest is found in the Barrington Tops, north of Sydney, as well as in protected areas in Armidale, Glenn Innes and on the North Coast of NSW.
Follow the Washpool walking track near Glen Innes and the Lyrebird Link track near Dorrigo for outstanding views at every turn. Travel to the centre of the birdsong-filled rainforest on Waterfall walk, which meanders through Willi Willi National Park, 90 minutes’ drive northwest of Port Macquarie. Please read these safety tips before you begin your bushwalk.
Islands and Outback
About 600km east of the NSW coastline is Lord Howe Island, a Pacific island paradise surrounded by the most southerly coral reefs in the world. Around 75 per cent of the island is a permanent park reserves and it’s renowned for its exceptional bird watching and hiking. There’s also luxurious accommodation and great food.
The landscapes are every bit as spectacular in Outback NSW. Mungo National Park is in the Willandra Lakes Region and one of the most significant national parks in the world. The world’s oldest ritual cremation site was discovered in Mungo, which UNESCO describes as "a unique landmark in the study of human evolution".
World Heritage sites in Sydney
One of the great natural harbours in the world is home to the Sydney Opera House, an architectural masterpiece and temple to creativity. Sign up for a daily tour or performance or take in the views at the Opera Bar. You can catch a ferry from nearby Circular Quay to one of the World Heritage sites dotted around Sydney Harbour.
Cockatoo Island is a World Heritage-listed area steeped in history. Listen to an audio tour to learn about the convict and shipbuilding past of the island, the largest in Sydney Harbour. As the city lights blink on, you can spend the night glamping on the island. Other UNESCO convict sites to explore in Sydney include:
Lord Howe Island
This World Heritage-listed island paradise is only a two-hour flight from Sydney, and is famous for its breathtaking twin peaks and pristine beaches. The island lies on the worlds southernmost coral reef, home to 500 species of fish and more than 90 species of coral. Enjoy the stunning beauty of this idyllic island that accommodates up to 400 visitors at any time.
Greater Blue Mountains
Less than two hours drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is ideal for a weekend wilderness getaway. Blue Mountains National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Go bushwalking and camping, or simply relax at a luxurious B&B. Take in spectacular views from Evans Lookout in Blackheath and visit Scenic World in Katoomba.
Wilandra Lakes Region
For a trip way back into Australias past, visit the historic Willandra Lakes, home to Mungo National Park. The region consists of a system of ancient lakes formed over 2 million years and Aboriginal people lived here for at least 50,000 years. Explore the unique beauty of the dry lake bed and magnificent sand dunes, and take a tour to learn about the areas rich cultural identity.