New South Wales is home to Australia's global city, Sydney, and attracts most first-time visitors to the country, but it's out of the city where the state really shines. Within several hours of Sydney you can find the dramatic cliffs and forests of the Blue Mountains, the coastal bays, inlets and lakes of the Central Coast and the romantic vineyards of the Hunter Valley.
The North Coast region is an area of outstanding natural beauty where laidback Aussie surf culture and Australia's natural lifestyle is waiting to be discovered. The world-famous Byron Bay and any number of cosy coastal communities should be on any itinerary.
Sydney & surrounds
Confident, cosmopolitan Sydney is Australia’s oldest and largest settlement, renowned for its fine weather, fashionable nightspots, excellent eateries and iconic attractions. It’s a buzzing backdrop for the icons of its world-famous harbour, home, of course, to the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are some excellent beaches to enjoy here, too, including those well-known favourites - Bondi and Coogee.
For a complete contrast, the Blue Mountains are a swathe of gum trees, gorges and gullies home to an abundance of wildlife; expect to see everything from kangaroos and koalas to rare brush-tailed wallabies and long-nosed bandicoots. Take it all in on bushwalking trails and from scenic lookout points that make the most of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Amid its natural splendour, you'll find a delightful range of luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants. And, it’s all just a 65-kilometre hop from central Sydney.
Australia’s oldest wine region is home to more than 140 estates, with cellar doors and tastings abound. Delve into the avant-garde with verdelho or chambourcin, or savour Hunter Valley classics – semillon and chardonnay. Whichever you choose, it's all set to a backdrop of pretty hills and verdant valleys that invite rambling hikes and bike rides, the perfect preamble to gourmet dining at a collection of outstanding boutique hotels.
New South Wales Coast
The north coast of New South Wales sets the scene for one of Australia’s great road trips. Pretty seaside towns dot a coastline of fabulous beaches, while even the larger tourist centres, such as Byron Bay, exude character and charm. Alternatively, head south from the city to find endless, empty roads connecting enticing destinations such as Jervis Bay and Marimbula.
Lord Howe Island
This tranquil, volcanic island is widely considered to be among the most beautiful in the Pacific. You’ll enjoy plenty of solitude, coupled with the chance to spot rare species, including the endemic Lord Howe woodhen. The beaches here are an absolute delight - all sweeping curves of gold sand. It's an idyllic setting for days of unadulterated relaxation and a full range of activities from scuba diving and snorkelling to fishing and birdwatching.