Only In NSW: Five Experiences Unique To The State
How many have you done?
This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.
Australians are renowned for a love of travel, but while we’re often busy thinking of our next exotic overseas jaunt, we easily forget all of the gems in our own backyard.
From waterfalls to walking tracks, mountains to museums, there’s almost too much to discover across this big old island of ours. So next time you get those itchy feet, why not consider staying on home soil instead and exploring the best of what ‘Straya has to offer?
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Visit Australia’s best-kept island secret
Fancy a trip overseas without the jet lag/time/long customs queues? Jumping on a plane to Lord Howe Island might just be the next best thing. One of Australia’s best kept secrets, the volcanic island group rises dramatically out of the sea 600 kilometres off the coast of Port Macquarie, and it’s just a two hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane.
With no phone reception and a maximum of 400 visitors at a time, it’s the perfect place to unwind and leave “real life” in your rearview. The island is super for all sorts of water activities (think snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and sailing) or you can hike up to its highest peak, Mt Gower, for panoramic views over the paradise below.
There’s a bunch of lush resorts and yoga retreats, too, and the island’s compact size means you can see it all without too much hassle.
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Take a dip in a beautiful natural swimming hole
While the vast Royal National Park is a favourite escape for Sydneysiders, driving an extra hour south will take you even further off the beaten track. Known for its beautiful waterfalls, lookouts and rainforest, Budderoo National Park on the NSW South Coast is somewhere that you can easily drive to from Sydney, but somewhere that can only really be experienced by getting out of the car and exploring it on foot.
It’s here that you’ll find one of NSW’s hidden gems and one of its most beautiful natural swimming holes, Nellie’s Glen, complete with a cold, fresh waterfall and surrounding eucalyptus forest. The air is fresh, the picnic area is inviting and the swimming hole is just a short stroll from the carpark.
The Budderoo National Park is on the outskirts of small country town Robertson, just a two hour drive from Sydney and perfectly achievable for a day trip. Grab some friends, pack and picnic and don’t forget your camera; it’s beautiful there.
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The perfect place to hang out in the sky
Also in the south of the state, right near Wollongong, is Stanwell Park – one of Australia’s most stunning coastal villages. Head up to the Bald Hill Lookout to take in the spectacular views and to marvel at the humans hovering overhead.
Nope, it’s not a town of superheroes; the strong sea breeze makes this one of the best spots for hang-gliding in the whole world and you’ll spot plenty of people having a go when the conditions are favourable. Hell, you can even try it yourself with one of the many local air sport and adventure companies.
The actual town is nestled in a valley beside steep forested escarpment cliffs, giving it a quiet and isolated feel. Make sure to stop for a photo of the Sea Cliff Bridge, an elevated snake-shaped part of highway curling around the coast and sweeping over the waters of the Pacific. This marvel of engineering is great to drive over, but get out of the car and do the bridge walk for the full experience.
Image: Stanwell Tops, Qantas
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Experience the arts in the outback
Thought Broken Hill was just an isolated mining town? Bet you didn’t know about its amazing arts scene, did you?
Found in remote outback NSW – but actually closer to Adelaide than Sydney – Broken Hill has plenty of links to visual art and sculpture, literature and film, and they certainly provide on the culture front. For fans of the iconic movies that made a huge impact on the Broken Hill area, there’s even a Mad Max Museum nearby that retells the films’ stories with original memorabilia.
The owner literally moved to Broken Hill from England to start it up – he’s passionate, alright! It’s actually surprisingly easy to settle into the bush way of life, and Broken Hill is the perfect intro to the outback.
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Explore the treasure chest of the South Coast
The stretch of coast in the south of New South Wales, from Bermagui to Eden right down to the Victorian border, is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Far from any cities, the area is more or less the definition of “chill”.
From the Bermagui Blue Pool – a stunning natural rock pool that certainly gives Bondi Icebergs a run for its money – to the 31km, three-day Ben Boyd Light To Light Walk, one of the country’s best treks, the South Coast of New South Wales will probably make you want to give up civilisation and live off the grid. Unpopulated, unspoilt and totally underrated, on the South Coast you can experience national parks, waterfalls, wineries, beaches, forests and plenty of other wonders.
(Lead image: Lord Howe Island)