Lookout, Blue Mountains National Park, NSW © Tourism Australia

Easy ways to explore New South Wales

Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton, NSW © Kramer Photography 2015

Embark on the Grand Pacific Drive

Starting in Sydney’s Royal National Park and extending to the charming holiday town of Jervis Bay, taking your time along the Grand Pacific Drive will allow you to soak in some of the South Coast’s coolest experiences. Wildlife lovers should make a stop at Symbio Wildlife Park to meet native Australian animals and hand-feed kangaroos, while the brave of heart can skydive in Wollongong. Cross the famous Sea Cliff Bridge and head for the Scarborough Hotel to take in the sweeping views from the cliff’s edge while enjoying a delicious lunch. Don’t forget to stop for the Kiama Blowhole, which sprays seawater into the air, and Glenbernie Fruit Orchard, where you can pick your own fruit from November to April.

Check out 5 reasons to roadtrip from Sydney to Wollongong

Sand Dune Adventures, Port Stephens, NSW © Destination NSW

Find adventure in Port Stephens

Located a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens has the longest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. The dunes reach heights of over 40 metres, creating an otherworldly landscape that is an adventure lover’s playground. Go on a quad biking adventure with Aboriginal guides who will share their history and show you a few of the extraordinary number of significant Aboriginal sites in the area. You can also try sliding down the dunes on a sandboard, as well as horseback and camel riding through the awe-inspiring landscape. Beyond the dunes, you can spot dolphins frolicking off the coast or get up close with sharks and rays at Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters. Those visiting between late May and November can see migrating whales from the coast or a whale watching tour.

Find adventure in Port Stephens

Balloon Aloft, Hunter Valley, NSW © Murray Vanderveer & Destination NSW

Float above the vineyards in a hot air balloon

Home to more than 120 wineries as well as gourmet restaurants, superior golf courses and spa retreats, the Hunter Valley wine region is the ideal romantic or relaxing escape. Embark on the two-hour drive from Sydney and enjoy countryside scenery before taking in one of the most incredible views of the charming Hunter Valley. Set your alarm early for a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Balloon Aloft. On this one hour flight, you'll ascend above the Hunter Valley vineyards of Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury and Broke, to heights of more than 600 metres (2000 feet). Afterwards, a decadent champagne breakfast is served on the deck of Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House Winery. Choose from a mouth-watering menu teamed with chocolates and Peterson House sparkling wines.

Spend 3 magical days in the Hunter Valley

Pulpit Rock Lookout, Blue Mountains, NSW © Destination NSW / The Travel Intern

Visit Pulpit Rock in the Blue Mountains

Made up of one million hectares (3861 square miles) of tall forests, sandstone cliffs, canyons and waterfalls, the magnificent Blue Mountains National Park is a nature lover’s dream. There are many well-known hikes available for all fitness levels, but if you’re looking for something far from the tourist spots, head to the lesser known Pulpit Rock lookout near Blackheath. You’ll get a thrill on the multi-tiered lookouts that offer almost 360˚ panorama across the dramatic mountain range. In Autumn, you’ll witness a majestic mix of orange, yellow and red. For a truly magical experience, spend a night in a mountain resort or romantic cottage and wake up early to see the Three Sisters rock formation engulfed in the beautiful morning mist.

Discover the Blue Mountains in 3 days

Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse, Northern Rivers Tropical NSW © Tourism Australia

Chill out in Byron Bay

If you thought you had to take a tour to reach the world’s best beaches, then it’s time to think again. Located in the far-north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay is home to stunning beaches, lush hinterland rainforests and delicious regional dining as well as unique artisan drinks and new-age retreats. Plus, it’s easy to explore Byron Bay on your own. Embark on a five-day road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay on the Legendary Pacific Coast to see sand dunes and waterfalls before arriving in beautiful Byron. Hike the two-hour Cape Byron Walking Track  and see the first rays of light turn the Byron Bay Lighthouse pink. Watch out for migrating whales between late May and November, and join the locals to swim or surf the trademark waves along Byron’s coastline.

Uncover the beauty of Byron Bay