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Sea Cliff Bridge, New South Wales, Australia

New South Wales: The Ultimate Australian Road Trip

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26 November 2018 by Kiera Greenwood

Between gleaming cities, glittering beaches and a truly stunning natural world, a variety of Australia’s icons are found in New South Wales. And, it’s all linked by some of the world’s most spectacular driving routes, bringing you out of Sydney’s urban sophistication, up into the dramatic Blue Mountains and across to the Hunter Valley winery indulgences. Then, hit the coast on roads that hug cragged cliffs to showcase giant views over dense rainforests and great stretches of white sands. In between, you’ll be entertained by unique wildlife, world-class gastronomy and that famous Aussie love of the great outdoors, best experienced on bush walks and afternoons spent surfing in the sun. But, with over 1,300 miles of coastline, there’s plenty to choose from. To help, we’ve picked out the state’s must-see destinations.


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. Discover Sydney and its diverse surrounds, from sprawling vineyards to striking mountain landscapes, with our Sydney, Beaches & The Blue Mountains itinerary

Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia
Take an aerial tour of Sydney Harbour for unparalleled views of Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and beyond

The Blue Mountains

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. Enjoy a two-week driving holiday along Australia's iconic East Coast that takes in the Blue Mountains with our unforgettable itinerary. 

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

Hunter Valley

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 – it's all best discovered with our Highlights of New South Wales itinerary that takes in the best of the region. 

Hunter Valley Vineyards, New South Wales, Australia
Hunter Valley's vineyards are home to world-class wines – often at superb value

Port Stephens

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.

Dolphins at Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia
Dolphin spotting excursions at Port Stephens are a memorable affair

Port Macquarie

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.

Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
Slow the pace down with a stroll along the beach at Port Macquarie

Coffs Harbour

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.

Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia
Turtles bless the waters here while, on land, you can get close to kangaroos and koalas

Byron Bay

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.

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
There aren't too many ways to enjoy a sunset than at Byron Bay

Jervis Bay & the South Coast

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.

Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
When you're finished exploring the rugged beauty of the South Coast, perhaps opt for a bucket-list experience: scuba diving with fur seals

Related offers

Australia’s East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,785 pp incl. flights


Flight offer – Save up to £155 pp
Book by: 28 February 2019

Be charmed by Sydney before discovering the stunning beaches, coastal towns and lush hinterland of New South Wales' East Coast as you wind your way north.

Sydney to Byron Bay in style

18-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,565 pp incl. flights

Enjoy a luxury road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay, pausing at the mist-shrouded Blue Mountains, dolphin-rich Port Stephens and the Hunter Valley’s world-famous vineyards.

Highlights of New South Wales

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,435 pp incl. flights

New South Wales offers a plethora of attractions. Explore them all on this self-drive that visits Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley, Port Stephens and Killcare.

Sydney, Beaches & The Blue Mountains

15-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,440 pp incl. flights

Take to the open road as you explore the Idyllic New South Wales coast and the spectacular Blue Mountains, between luxury stays in central Sydney and ultra-trendy Double Bay.

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