From larks on the beach to mountain hikes and island escapes, New South Wales gets our seal of approval when it comes to the top states of Australia.
Cosmopolitan, lively and cool, Sydney has all the hallmarks of a legendary city. If you want to take it slow, it’s easy to spend a few days mooching around the harbour, munching down smoothie breakfast bowls with cracking views of the Opera House, and heading down to the beach – a fail-safe intro to Australia for kids. But delve a little deeper and go beyond the obvious: chow down on top-class pan-Asian food, chink glasses of craft beer at the latest hipster haunt, and wander around the cultural hub of Chippendale. And nothing quite beats a sunrise coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Walk.
Set your sights on this pretty valley, and you’re in for some serious extravagance. With a heavyweight reputation for all things delicious – top-notch restaurants, fine wines, artisan cheese, chocolate and olives – your best bet is to loosen your belt a few notches and take it slow. By day, take to the skies in a hot air balloon, horse ride along leafy paths, and book yourself in to a spa. And when you’re feeling peckish, pull up a chair at one of the wineries for a cracking meal with envy-inducing views.
Looking for an epic, outdoorsy adventure? You can’t go wrong with an expedition into this iconic World Heritage region – one of the most bewildering of Australia’s tourist attractions. Go walkabout here and you’ll stumble across Instagram-worthy views in every direction, from thundering waterfalls and hidden valleys to vast eucaplyt forests whose natural oils give off the blueish haze from which the mountains are named. If you’ve a head for heights, soar above the peaks by helicopter; go in search of kangaroos, wallabies and wombats; and soak up the history and the aboriginal legends that dot the region whilst meeting the locals.
Lord Howe Island
Any Sydney resident will tell you that this island – formed from a volcanic eruption millions of years ago - will send you weak at the knees. We’re talking days of incredible outdoorsy adventures and pinch-yourself-moments: wake up to the exhilarating sight of the island’s twin peaks; stroll along gorgeous white sands; float above technicolour reefs; pedal the paths on a hired bike; and tuck into plenty of relaxed barbecue lunches. Australia tourism doesn’t get much better than this.
Trailblazers will relish a trip into the Outback, and the good news is that you don’t have to leave New South Wales to experience the sheer drama of this dry, remote and downright intriguing region. Plot a course through the dusty landscapes – incredible in scope – in a four-wheel drive, swap travel tales besides crackling fires as you camp beneath spectacular starry skies, and discover ancient rock formations and historic landmarks.