9 May 2019 by Kiera Greenwood
Between gleaming cities, glittering beaches and a truly stunning natural world, all of Australia’s icons are found in New South Wales – Australia’s southeast extreme. It’s all linked by some of the world’s most spectacular roads, with coastal drives and rainforest plunges bringing you among rolling vineyards and gorgeous beaches alike. And, with over 1,300 miles of coastline to choose from, we’ve put together the following guide, with a map below.
- The Blue Mountains
- Hunter Valley
- Port Stephens
- Port Macquarie
- Coffs Harbour
- Byron Bay
- Jervis Bay & the South Coast
Blessed with one of the most recognisable waterfronts, you’ll know Australia’s largest city for the sweeping curves of its twin icons – the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. But, look beyond its poster child good looks and you’ll find plenty of substance. The cobblestone lanes of the historic district, The Rocks, feature heritage cottages and storied pubs, while the Victorian terraces of Paddington are given over to a chic café culture and boutique markets. However, this being Australia, there’s no escaping the sun, with Bondi’s white sands, coastal walks and famous surf among the highlights.
Take an aerial tour of Sydney Harbour for unparalleled views of Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and beyond
Moving out of Sydney, you’ll quickly find yourself winding up into the green-dappled peaks of the Blue Mountains. A World Heritage-listed Area, cascading waterfalls hide among eucalypt forests and sandstone cliffs look out over great swathes of bushland. Take it all in on meandering hiking trails that lead through Aboriginal tribal lands, to stunning cave formations. It’s all the picturesque frame to a delightful collection of lodge retreats.
Three Sisters, Blue Mountains
After the Blue Mountains, the state’s scenery calms into endlessly undulating green curves terraced into pretty rows of vineyards. This is Australia’s oldest wine region – the Hunter Valley. Taste your way through its 150 wineries, often producing Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The region is also undergoing something of a foodie renaissance, with farm-to-table restaurants showcasing the best in local produce. Don’t miss out on the artisan cheeses, hand-made chocolates and bakery delicacies.
Hunter Valley's vineyards are home to world-class wines – often at superb value
Turning back to the coast, you’ll arrive at the ‘Dolphin Capital of Australia’. Home to resident bottlenoses, Port Stephens is one of the world’s best places to spot these playful animals. Embark on a scenic cruise or, for something truly unique, there’s even the opportunity to swim with the pod. It’s all watched over by a collection of national parks, host to giant sand dunes and rainforest walks. And, for some relaxation, there’s over two-dozen beaches to choose from.
Dolphin spotting excursions at Port Stephens are truly magical
Continuing north, you’ll be welcomed to Port Macquarie with that famous Aussie cheer. Fissured into a network of canals and river tributaries, it makes for pretty river cruises that bring you away from its gorgeous beaches to its lush hinterlands. Here you’ll find the superb Billabong Zoo along with the aww-inducing Koala Hospital where you can walk right among these adorable creatures.
Slow the pace down with a stroll along the beach at Port Macquarie
Your next coastal stop should be Coffs Harbour for its watersports fun. There’s everything from surfing and paddle boarding to diving and kayaking to keep you occupied along with those now-familiar golden sands. However, it’s perhaps Coffs’ wildlife that excites the most, with walks and snorkel dips bringing you up close to kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, turtles and dolphins.
Turtles bless the waters here while, on land, you can get close to kangaroos and koalas
End your northern journey along the Pacific Coast with gorgeous Byron Bay. However, it’s not the long stretches of sandy beaches, the yoga getaways or the chic bars that have made this a long-time favourite; it’s the barefoot joy of it all. Artists’ studios abound, spa getaways open right onto the beach and the sunsets are long and colourful. This is boho-chic at its finest.
There aren't many better ways to enjoy a sunset than at Byron Bay
A drive south out of Sydney is equally rewarding, bringing you to deserted beaches and national park wildernesses. Head out past waterfalls and 20-metre-high blowholes to reach Jervis Bay where intertwining waterways make for excellent kayaking. Then, in between visits to historic gold-rush towns and fishing villages, watch the seasonal whale migration (May – November) before scuba diving with fur seals at Montague Island Nature Reserve.
The secluded, tropical beaches of Jervis Bay make for a wonderful start or end to your Australia trip
Lastly, although we've picked out a few of our favourite itineraries below, please also don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our Australia specialists today. For more information, fill out an enquiry form or call us on 020 7590 0610.