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Guide to New South Wales

New South Wales has endless unspoilt beaches, breathtaking natural treasures and one of the world’s most famous and vibrant cities.

By Ellie Schneider

The vibrant capital city of Sydney is your base for exploring New South Wales. Discover unspoiled beaches up and down the east coast or take a road trip to see Australia's oldest wine region and beautiful wilderness. See it over a few days or a few weeks. There's good reason New South Wales is Australia's most visited state.  

HOW TO GET THERE

International flights fly directly into Sydney Airport from many global hubs. From the airport it’s an easy 20 minute taxi or train ride to the city centre. Regional train and coach services depart from Central Station to many destinations around New South Wales.

 

DON'T MISS

  • Get your culture fix in Sydney
  • Kick back on picturesque beaches
  • Bushwalk through the Blue Mountains

TOP THINGS TO DO IN NEW SOUTH WALES

See Sydney's star attractions and hidden gems

The Harbour City, as its commonly called, is home to many of Australia's must-see attractions – such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach – but also abounds in sophisticated dining, secret harbour beaches and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops off the eaten path. Discover the hip inner city neighbourhoods of Potts Point and Surry Hills, beach hop through exclusive Vaucluse and drink and dine in artsy Chippendale. You'll find cultural riches such as galleries, museums, theatre companies and alternative cinema, without ever being too far from those glistening million-dollar views.

Chill out in Byron Bay

Byron Bay is mainland Australia's easternmost town, world renowned for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and laid-back lifestyle. Domestic flights arrive at nearby Ballina Airport, and take about one hour 20 minutes from Sydney. In and around town you'll find a thriving food scene that celebrates local produce. Don't miss breakfast at Three Blue Ducks in Byron, set on a working farm. Walk the 3.7 kilometre (2.3 mile) Cape Byron track for breathtaking views across the ocean and hinterland, keeping your eyes peeled for humpback whales, which migrate along the coast between June and November. In Byron there's plenty to get your heart racing, from surfing to skydiving, but you'll be just as happy doing nothing at all.

Get into nature in the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area has abundant natural beauty, and offers excellent hiking, spectacular scenery and quaint towns and villages, making it a popular getaway from the big smoke. Walk to the foot of the Three Sisters on the 998-step Giant Stairway, or glide between clifftops on the Scenic Skyway, 270 metres (886 feet) above ancient ravines. Stroll around picturesque villages Leura and Blackheath for antique stores, quirky cafés and top-notch restaurants, then spend the night in a luxury lodge or charming B&B. The Blue Mountains are only a 90 minute drive west of Sydney.

Eat and drink trough the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is home to more than 120 wineries, gourmet restaurants and luxury retreats, and is conveniently located just two hours drive north of Sydney. Taste a diverse variety of wines at the Hunter Valley's cellar doors, including semillons at the 1886-built Audrey Wilkinson winery; the Graveyard Shiraz at Brokenwood Wines; and Tyrrell's famous Vat 1. Delve into a degustation menu at acclaimed restaurants such as Muse and EXP, or improve your skills at a pasta-making class. You can float above it all on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise with Balloon Aloft.

Swim off Australia’s whitest beach

Drive three hours south of Sydney to the seaside village of Hyams Beach, home to the world’s whitest sand. Located on the southern shores of Jervis Bay, its clear, turquoise waters are high on many holdaymakers' hit lists. Follow one of the walking trails through serene Booderee National Park, explore the historic township of Huskisson and spend the night in luxury safari-style tents at Paperbark Camp.

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Lord Howe Island

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Start your Australian adventure in Sydney, where you can climb the Harbour Bridge and visit the Opera House. Close to Sydney's fringes, explore the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains or the vine-lined Hunter Valley. Swim with dolphins in Port Stephens or in sparkling Jervis Bay. Fly or drive to Melbourne, the place to soak up culture in the galleries and drink, dine and shop in secret laneways. Drive to Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula or along the spectacular Great Ocean Road to Bells Beach and The Twelve Apostles. You could also fly to Australia's Red Centre to discover Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and the outback town of Alice Springs.

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Unwind in Australia's easternmost town - home to sweeping surf beaches, lush rainforests, great regional dining and new-age retreats. Walk the Cape Byron Track to the trademark lighthouse, kayak with dolphins, trawl the markets and indulge in a day spa. Drive the Pacific Coast Touring Route from Sydney or Brisbane, and explore the surrounding national parks on the Rainforest Way.

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Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

Breathe deep in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area - one million hectares of sandstone cliffs, bushland, waterfalls and eucalypt forest. Visit Wentworth Falls and the Three Sisters and go underground in Jenolan Caves. Do short bushwalks or longer hikes such as the Six Foot Track to Katoomba. Enjoy restaurants, retreats, and vibrant arts and events.

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Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

‘Paradise' is a word often used to describe World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, which sits in the Tasman Sea, less than two hours' flight from Sydney or Brisbane. Only 400 visitors are allowed at any time, bicycles are the best way to get around and there's no mobile phone reception. Walk the white beaches, snorkel the world's southernmost coral reef and hike through palm forests to the top of Mount Gower. Leave modern stress behind in this natural paradise, while still enjoying modern comforts such restaurants, day spas and luxurious accommodation.

View more information

Add to your dream trip add favourite

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