Find adventure, connection and freedom in NSW

sydney harbour and cbd

No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it in New South Wales.

Feel the adventure begin

Are you craving something that makes your heart beat faster? Take a leap of faith on the state’s mountain peaks: slice through the snow on one of Thredbo‘s powdery trails or abseil into the cool dark caves of the Blue Mountain’s Grand Canyon. Skim across the frothy blue waves of Freshwater Beach, taking on the surf for the first time or for just one ride of many. Hit the highways for a far-flung road trip to the outback, ready for nights out under the stars and treks through dusty landscapes. Chase waterfalls and underwater worlds, or experience the action of Sydney’s stages, from one of the best seats in the house.

Get your thrills here: Speed past dense bushland, up rocky hills and feel your adrenaline peak as you roll through deep valleys on one of Thredbo’s many epic mountain bike trails. Join a track tour with Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa’s expert MTB instructors; bikes are also available to hire for both guests and day visitors.

Read: 101 ways to holiday in Australia: Do something epic!

Feel the freedom to wander

Lose yourself in the moment on mountains laced with bush trails, glassy lakes and trickling riverbeds, or along NSW’s 2000km coastline, which offers a different experience every day. A paddle along the rainforest-lined creeks and estuaries that thread out of the Bellingen or Kalang Rivers offers a certain kind of peace and quiet, where there’s nothing to worry about but leaning back and enjoying the everchanging scenery. Over on the Snowy Mountains, summer days are just as freeing as the snow-covered ones, with lakes, rivers and open plains becoming the launching points for hikes, fishing trips and horseback rides. Or simply float the day away at one of Sydney’s crystalline beaches from Kurnell to Long Reef; from kayaking to snorkelling, the water offers something for everyone.

Let go of it all here: among serene bushland near Huskisson, stylish glamping bubble tent The Dome Jervis Bay is the perfect base to go wild in the wild – glide on the region’s azure waters on a paddleboard, hike through scribbly gum forests, or snorkel with colourful fish in hidden coves. 

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Feel connected to stories new and old

Seek out long lost stories among the hallowed halls of Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales, home to the relics of ancient artisans, paintings and photography from contemporary creators, and revered crafts from Indigenous makers. Immerse yourself in the oldest living culture in the world – meet First Nations guides on a Tribal Warrior tour and hear about their connection to country. Or embrace the history of the land interpreted in dance, as a Bangarra Dance Theatre performance at Sydney Opera House showcases a rich cultural tale that’s still unfolding.

Go on a culture trip here: travel back in time to Mungo National Park’s Walls of China and tour this 40,000-year-old cultural site with an experienced National Parks Wildlife Service Aboriginal Discovery Guide. From the spectacular hues of Lake Mungo to the stunning geological ripples of Willandra Lakes, you’ll see history come to life.

Read: Five Aboriginal cultural centres to visit in New South Wales

Feel part of something

You’ll feel at home in Sydney, where the best days are spent coming together over a feast. Gather your nearest and dearest at a waterfront restaurant in Rose Bay or feel the strength of the city’s diversity at the Cabramatta Food Market. When you find your tribe, that’s when the fun really begins: fabulous drag shows full of glitter and epic lip-syncing battles at The Imperial in Erskineville; the skaters at the Bondi bowl, who show off their tricks to a stunning backdrop of the city’s most famous beach; or just you and your soulmate, watching the sun go down over Sydney Harbour.

Try the simple life here: experience true Aussie country living on the 11,000-hectare Callubri Station, where days can be as slow or action-packed as you want them to be. Help shear the Merino sheep or crop the paddocks, or simply sit back with a cuppa and take in the incredible views of the Western Plains from luxe sky or river suites.

Feel completely refreshed

A fresh start begins with a holiday. Step out of the ordinary and let the busyness of life wash away as you watch the cascading water of Red Cedar Falls in Dorrigo, or soak up the serenity at a secret beach or mountain cave where it’s just you and your thoughts. Find a home away from home, in the rainforest or a vintage farm stay. Or simply jump into the crystal-clear water of one of Sydney’s ocean pools at dawn – the cool water on your skin and the sun warming your bones can make you feel like a brand new person.

Dive right in here: Oysters don’t get much fresher than those shucked before your eyes, except for the ones you’ll feast on at Sydney Oyster Farm Tours’ new immersive river-to-plate culinary experience. Dine on a fresh tray of Broken Bay oysters right in the water, with white tableclothed tables and the sparkling Hawkesbury River literally at your feet.

Feel your world open up

Travelling is full of jaw-dropping moments, when a landscape takes your breath away or a story changes your perspective. NSW is full of drama: from the otherworldly rock formations of Broken Hill to the iconic curves of the Sydney Opera House seen from above when scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge or from within when watching the powerful storytelling of a theatre performance. But sometimes the quiet moments are just as transformative: searching for shooting stars in outback skies; breathing in the eucalypt-fragranced air from the highest viewpoint in the Blue Mountains; or simply sitting in stillness, from Jindabyne to Jervis Bay, revelling in nature’s significance.

Take it all in here: dewy grass underfoot, the smell of pine needles in the air, feel the excitement of a treasure hunt in the Blue Mountains – your prize, fresh pine mushrooms. This foraging expedition is part of glamorous new boutique hotel Kyah’s inaugural Autumn Wild Mushroom Trail, where you’ll finish with a stunning three-course feast.

Read: Six energising New South Wales destinations

Feel an endless high

Joy comes in many forms in NSW. It’s in the eyes that go wide as a tropical fish swims by in the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. It’s in the squeals that come after every golden firework over Sydney Harbour. It’s in the laughter of a girls’ night out or a single tear that comes after a moving performance at the Sydney Opera House. You’ll find joy in playing in the waves or gliding through a quiet creek deep in the rainforest. And you’ll find it in the new characters you meet, or from simply being yourself with the ones you love. 

Find endless smiles here: join playtime with the seals of Narooma on a snorkelling tour with Montague Island Adventures. You’ll be right up close to these cheeky mammals as they dive for fish, twirl on the ocean floor and dance together in this nature reserve on the South Coast.

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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