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9 Under-The-Radar Adventures For Your Next NSW Road Trip

Since moving to Sydney 10 years ago, I’ve tried to do and see as much of the city and NSW as I could.

I’ve driven up and down the coast countless times. I’ve ventured inland any chance I could get. And I’ve pretty much explored every corner of the CBD possible.

But despite the decade of experiences, when I came back to NSW at the start of 2019 after a year away, I was shocked to discover there were still dozens of adventures I’d never heard of.

Who knew that in our lovely state you could snorkel with seals, swim with whales and even zip around sand dunes on quad bikes? And more importantly, why had no one ever told me?

Lucky for you, dear reader, I’m here to let you in on that knowledge.

Now that the NSW bushfires are finally contained, it’s a perfect time to get out there and spend some money to help affected areas bounce back.

These are the 10 best NSW adventures that up until recently I’d never heard of.

1. Snorkel With Seals

How this adventure slipped under my nose (and the noses of every single one of my Sydney friends) for 10 whole years is truly beyond me. Because it’s incredible, and it definitely doesn’t get the hype it deserves.

The three-hour Snorkel With Seals tour ($95) starts in the town of Narooma on the South Coast, and sees you taken out on a boat to an uninhabited scrap of land called Montague Island.

You anchor there, hop in the water and spend the next few hours swimming with adorable seals.

 

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A swim with the locals here really seals the deal. #MontagueIslandNatureReserve #NSWParks @lee_hankinson

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2. Stay In A Tiny House

Okay, this adventure isn’t so much of a secret as it is new and cool. Because unless you’ve been living without Instagram (no judgement), you’d know about the trend of tiny homes. They’re entirely self-contained houses in isolated locations designed to help guests disconnect.

Among the many now around the country, it’s NSW that has hands-down the most and the widest variety. In2theWild, Tilba Eco-Pods and Unyoked are a few to look out for. Packages and prices vary greatly, so do your research.

3. Picnic On The Side Of A Cliff

A cliffnic is exactly how it sounds – a picnic on the side of a cliff. Well, to be more specific, it’s a fine dining lunch of local cheeses, breads, antipasto and wines served on a platform that’s been installed on a cliff-face.

Around the world, NSW company Outdoor Raw is the only one providing anything like it. So if you’re after an adventure that only a handful of people have ever done globally, this is it.

A three-hour Cliffnics experience is $400.

 

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Cliffnicking courtesy of @outdoorraw

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4. Visit A Koala Hospital

Tragically, koalas are often hit by cars when crossing highways. I know – it hurts my heart to even think about. But that’s what makes a visit to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital all that more special.

As the only koala hospital in the world, those injured koalas are brought in, treated by vets and, if all goes well, released back into the wild. Admission to the hospital is free – as is the 3pm guided tour.

5. Quad Bike On Sand Dunes

Everyone knows you can ride Stockton Beach’s sand dunes on sandboards, but did you know you can zip around on them on ATVs too? You can, and it’s a fantastic way to spend a morning or afternoon.

A one-hour Port Stephens Sand Dune Adventures tour ($99) will take you through grassland and regenerated bush before arriving at the sand dunes, which you’ll then be able to ride to your heart’s content.

 

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Ridin’ squeaky sand clean in #portstephens

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6. Swim With Humpback Whales

There are only a few spots in Australia where you can swim with whales, so it’s huge news that in 2019, Jervis Bay became one of them.

Dive Jervis Bay‘s four-hour Swim With The Whales experience ($185) runs April to July and then mid-August to November to coincide with the whales’ migrations.

The whales use Jervis Bay as a spot to rest their weary selves – and now spend some time swimming alongside excited humans.

7. Sleep In An Underground Motel

Motels themselves are pretty cool, as they’re super Americana. But add in an underground element and you’ve got an extremely Instagrammable situation on your hands.

It’s exactly what you’ll find at White Cliffs Motel. The underground motel is in White Cliffs, a town in NSW Outback once big in opal mining. Rooms here, or ‘dugouts’ as they call them, are $149 a night.

The motel is currently closed for summer, reopening in April 2020.

8. Hike On A Deserted Island

Haven’t heard of Lord Howe Island? I hadn’t either until I got into travel writing and kept seeing the name pop up everywhere – usually when talking about little-known NSW adventures.

The gorgeous island is just under a two-hour flight from Sydney and, to make it even more exclusive, allows just 400 tourists at a time. Which means that almost every hike, snorkel or cycle you do here won’t have anyone else around.

This is a part of the world that’s exposed to extreme weather (including the recent Cyclone Uesi), so it’s worth checking everything on the island is good-to-go before you head here.

 

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If you need me tomorrow this is where I’ll be… 📷 : @jasminealley #LordHoweIsland

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9. Stand-Up Paddleboard In Bundeena

Like every Sydneysider who discovers Royal National Park, I now can’t get enough of it. It’s an untouched wonderland of peaceful waterfalls, cliffside hikes and super friendly kangaroos.

But only recently did I discover the seaside village in the park called Bundeena. A 30-minute ferry from Cronulla, it’s home to beautiful, calm waters perfect for stand-up paddleboarding.

Rent a board and spot dolphins, fish and (harmless) sting rays.

 

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Stand up Paddling with hubby again today💙

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(Lead Image: Outdoor Raw)