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Hit The Highway On A NSW Road Trip To Visit These Undiscovered Gems

When was the last time you took a “great Australian road trip”? Or even a “great NSW road trip”? Sure, the Red Centre and far north might be more archetypically intrepid choice for such an endeavour, but regional NSW has got the goods for a road trip like no other region in Australia.

Today, we’re taking in NSW’s best back road gems: from sparkling Anna Bay, to heritage Rylstone, the state’s oldest inland town in Bathurst, stunning Orange, pub-laden West Wyalong, the famous “Dish” at Parkes and more.

But First…

Before we hit the road, it’s worth hashing out some logistics: NSW is a massive place, and covering it all in one hit is a monstrous task. (“Eat the elephant one bite at a time,” so to speak). To get things moving, we’ve curated a sweet journey featuring some truly amazing off-the-beaten-path nooks, kicking off in Sydney, veering north, before barrelling into the vastness of the NSW bush.

Anna Bay

 

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So you’re pumped, packed and primed to head out into the great beyond – before making a beeline west, consider heading north to Anna Bay. Just a couple hours north of Sydney, Anna Bay is without doubt one of the most spectacular beach scenes on the east coast, if not the country (if not the planet).

Picture vast stretches of white wash cascading on golden, sun-kissed sands, sand dunes and camel trains, and dreamy sea-spray mist as far as the eye can see. So too, the odd military aircraft scooping serious air over your head on its training circuit from Newcastle airport. The stunning view from the Surf Living Saving Club at Birubi Point, with fresh fish and chips from the delicious Crest café, is a real bucket list moment.

Bylong Valley Way

 

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Get ready to head west – the wild west. If you’ve never taken the Bylong Valley Way, you’re in for a treat. Scoot along the B84 Golden Highway through Jerry’s Plains and Denman, then take the first left after Sandy Hollow onto the Bylong Valley Way – the epitome “off the beaten track”.

A scenic tourist road, sealed only in the last decade or so, the Bylong hugs the winding Goulburn River and showcases incredible scenes: sparkling creeks, frontier-era railway lines, vineyards, vast forests, and the wooded sandstone hills of Giant’s Leap. In a word: spectacular.

Rylstone 

A hundred clicks or so along Bylong will take you to Rylstone, a quaint, in-land hamlet featuring charming riverside, gorgeous heritage sandstone buildings, and the unmistakable feeling that you’ve taken a time machine a century into the past.

Having said that, Rylstone keeps it fresh with enough modern trimmings to keep city clickers satiated: excellent cafes, interesting shops, a great pub, an awesome sports field and cosy accomm options if you’re keen to make a night of it.

Bathurst

It’s worth checking out Bathurst for its historic legacy alone – as the oldest inland town in NSW, it’s far from just a place where petrolheads go to hear souped up engines roar across Mount Panorama.

Once considered the HQ of Gold Country, the first ever gold panners came here back in the 1850s; as the site of the first Australian gold discovery, Bathurst makes for a charming heritage stop off, with pre-Federation terraces, cathedrals, and cast iron gas lamps down the main drag all testament to the town’s thriving, and very cashed-up past.

Orange

 

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To drive through the streets of Orange as the season shifts into Autumn is one of the most stunning things you can witness in NSW: a visceral explosion of ambers, reds and yellows to match the town’s already beautiful Victorian-era terraces and downright sweet vibe. Autumn or not, this place is sweet.

True to its name, Orange is a fruit-growing region (though ironically they grow pretty much everything but oranges). They do grow grapes though – the local wine is top notch, so be sure to wrap your lips around a few regional vintages where you get the chance.

There’s also an array of great dining and accommodation options, though for something a little more off-road, check out Macquarie Woods Recreation Reserve in the Vittoria Forest, a few clicks out of town off the Mitchell Highway – a great, free camping spot amongst the gums, ‘roos and vistas of the gorgeous Orange hinterland awaits.

Parkes

 

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Known as “the place where The Dish lives”, the town of Parkes makes for an unlikely international icon. For those not in the know, The Dish refers to Parkes Observatory, a 64-metre radio telescope that played a huge role in helping NASA transmit the footage of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong trundling across the moon in 1969. (The scenario of a humanity-altering event being aided by a satellite dish in an Australian sheep farm was celebrated in the partially fictionalised 2000 film, The Dish.)

Parkes Observatory is located about 20 minutes outside the town itself, and is well worth the detour.

West Wyalong

 

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One of those classic in-land NSW towns, West Wyalong just so happens to blessed with not one, but three pubs (well, we counted three, anyway) – surely, given its size, one of the finest human-to-watering hole ratios in the state.

Pubs aside, West Wyalong is the perfect place to chow down a pie and sausage roll, soak up the mellow pace, and enjoy a relaxed slice of NSW country life.

Weethalle

 

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Wedged between West Wyalong and Rankin Springs you’ll find Weethalle, which, if not the most bustling hub in the state, is certainly one of the more interesting. An historic train used to run through this tiny old wheat belt town – you can visit the old site here.

The big attraction in Weethalle is the town’s giant concrete silo, recently revamped with an impressive full-scale art mural. The larger-than-life explosion of colour on the concrete canvas against barren earth and blue sky beyond is a stunning and most extraordinary sight.

Robinvale

 

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If you’ve decided to strap in for the long haul and ventured further west, encountering the vast stretches of the Hay Plains, and the burst gums of the Murrumbidgee Valley, you’ll probably need a place to crash for the night.

Perched on the other side of the Murray, Robinvale is more than just off the highway – it’s off the state (technically, it’s in Victoria). Still, the camping grounds and caravan parks around this border nook are a prime spot for an evening chill, where the nights are mellow and the sunsets long.

Where to next? … 

You’re a long way from home, but fear not – the journey continues as far as you want it to. Either fuel up and head back the way you came, head further afield towards South Australia and beyond.

Venture up to Mad Max territory via Mildura, Broken Hill, and the Barrier Highway back to the big smoke via Dubbo; or consider even more scenic route through northern Victoria, winding your way back across the border for a valiant Sydney return.

The choice, as ever, is yours. Check out these other NSW road trips to plan your next driving getaway.

(Lead image: Destination NSW)