New South Wales Travel Guide
Home to Australia’s largest and best-known city (Sydney), New South Wales is its most commonly visited state. Big enough to swallow up the United Kingdom three times over with space to spare, there is plenty to explore in this state beyond the Sydney area. From outback cattle stations to laid-back surf towns, it has much to offer.
Start your cultural exploration of New South Wales by attending a show at the Sydney Opera House. Known throughout the world for being one of its best examples of modern architecture, it is more than just a photo op for visiting tourists – it is a venue which plays host to the best performers Australia and the world have to offer.
With over 40 shows offered per week, you will have many opportunities to attend a performance during your visit – from opera to rock music, Shakespearean theatre to comedians, those with time to kill will have plenty to choose from.
Roughly an hour down the coast, visitors to Wollongong will be surprised by the grandeur of Nan Tien Temple. A sizable Buddhist temple, it is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Constructed by a Taiwanese Buddhist order in 1995, it is a peaceful place that stands out from the surrounding community with its striking Chinese architecture.
If you are hungry during your visit, or simply want to enjoy your surroundings just a bit longer, spend some time in their tea house. Offering noodles and other vegetarian options alongside its trademark tea, this will prove to be a standout experience during your time in New South Wales.
Think Australia has always been a peaceful place? This wasn’t the case during World War II, as not only was Darwin the target of an air raid, but Australia’s east coast was also hit by sporadic shelling from Japanese submarines.
Built originally to defend the city of Newcastle from a possible Russian attack during a period of tensions between Russia and the British in the 19th century, Fort Scratchley was suddenly assailed by the Japanese on June 8, 1942.
While the exchange between the belligerents caused minimal damage, it was the one time this fortification came into use during its 90-year life as an active military installation. These days, it is better known for the 1 pm daily firing of its main gun, and as a vantage point for photographers.
Don’t miss the chance to go on a tunnel tour, as it will take you into the bowels of the fort. This will put you in the shoes of the gunners, who were tasked with gunning down enemies like the submarine who attempted to attack Newcastle more than a half-century ago.
If your New South Wales travels take you in the direction of South Murwillumbah, go out of your way to check out the Tweed Regional Gallery. While it shows off local art, it is also home to the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which honours one of Australia’s most beloved painters.
With more than 76,000 objects from the late artist’s collection in-house, you’ll quickly find out what a national treasure this creative was, as her still life works are matched in brilliance by few artists alive today.
While you might be in a rush to experience everything the smaller centres and countryside of New South Wales has to offer, spend some time on the Sydney Harbour Bridge before leaving. From the pedestrian decks of this bridge, you’ll get the best views of the Sydney Opera House and the downtown skyline than anywhere else in the city.
If you are jonesing for a bit of adventure, don’t miss out on the chance to go on a bridge climb. It is less dangerous than it sounds, as it is led by trained guides who will ensure you are hooked up to a harness the entire time. Don’t let your fears get the better of you, as the view from the top is unforgettable!
After leaving Sydney behind, nature lovers will want to make the Blue Mountains their first stop. Hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and cable car rides are just a few of the activities you can get up to in this lush region, which is located just 50 kilometres west of Sydney.
Composed of a mix of sandstone peaks and escarpments, this place is a popular getaway for Sydneysiders, so be sure to time your visit during the week to avoid crowds.
Want to dive deep into Australian surf culture? Spend a few days chilling out in Byron Bay. After having its abundant natural break discovered by longboarders in the 1960s, the development of this mining, farming, and logging town into a tourist haven took shape over the ensuing decade.
While the secret is definitely out on this place, it retains the laid-back attitude that made it popular in the first place, making it an ideal place to surf and hang out if you are on a trip up the coast. Note that this town is situated in the far north of New South Wales, putting it much closer to Brisbane than Sydney, so be sure to save this destination for the end of your time in NSW.
Want a taste of the South Pacific while technically remaining in New South Wales? Catch a flight to Lord Howe Island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site due to an isolated ecosystem which contains many endemic species, there is a limit to how many outsiders are permitted on the island at any given time, so be sure to book your accommodations and flight well in advance.
With gorgeous pine and palm trees, beaches, and a pair of towering peaks, it is the paradise you’ve been dreaming about.