New South Wales travel guide

The oldest state in the country, New South Wales gives many travellers their first taste of Australia; and it tends to be a potent one. Sydney’s ravishing waterside setting and cultural vibrancy make it one of the greatest world cities and its overall package – beaches, skyscrapers, Opera House and all – means it remains very much the centrepiece of the state (even, some might argue, the entire country).

It’s a city to enjoy on your own terms. Lose yourself in the markets and coffee houses of the outer suburbs, laze in the open parklands of the centre, catch one of the ferries crisscrossing the water or tick off the big sights, from Bondi to the Harbour Bridge. History is a big draw here too, with much of the architecture, especially in ‘The Rocks’, harking back to the early days of settlement.

Heading out of town, one of the state’s biggest natural draws lies just an hour or two away: the eucalyptus-hazed spectacle of the Blue Mountains. And there’s more – much more – to enjoy once you travel further afield. From the country music vibe of rural Tamworth and the hippy surfing outpost of Byron Bay to the winelands of the Hunter Valley and the national parks of the interior, there are few regions that can boast such variety.

Whether you remain in NSW throughout your trip or use it as a springboard to travel elsewhere in the country, the state makes for an absorbing place to explore. From the soft, sandy beaches of Nelson Bay to the rainforested parklands of northern Nightcap National Park, it lays claim to being one of the headiest and multi-layered regions in Australia.