7 Unique Experiences in New South Wales
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 07 July 2016
New South Wales is Australia’s most visited state, with around 3.3 million holidaymakers choosing its sun-kissed beaches and sweeping vineyards for their Aussie adventures in the year ending June 2015. That’s over a million more than its closest rival Queensland! And who can blame them? With mile upon mile of glorious coastline, rugged mountains, seemingly infinite sunny days and the sparkling city of Sydney, New South Wales is bursting with fascinating sights and unique experiences. Here are seven of our favourites:
Exploring the Jenolan Caves
Visitors flock to the Blue Mountains in their droves, after all it’s easily Sydney’s most accessible day trip. But it’s not just the wild scenery and misty eucalyptus forests that entice them; the dark tunnels and mysterious grottoes of the subterranean world are just as fascinating. Deep within the UNESCO-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area lies the spectacular Jenolan Caves, ten limestone caverns filled with spiky stalactites and stalagmites and offer visitors the chance to explore 25 miles of weird and wonderful rock formations. Thrill-seeking types can head deeper into the darkness on an adventure caving tour, while the brave can scare themselves silly with the Legends, Mysteries & Ghosts tour, held in the dark of night.
Feeling the spray of the Kiama Blowhole
About two thirds of the way along the Grand Pacific Drive, a gloriously scenic coastal driving route beginning south of Sydney, lies Kiama, its shoreline packed with coves, caves and cathedral rocks, and inhabited by the Australian pelican. Here, you can watch in wonder as the naturally-occurring Kiama Blowhole sprays seawater 25 metres into the air, often drenching surprised visitors.
Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney has to be one of the world’s most attractive cities, and what better way to gaze out across the glittering harbour than from the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, a.k.a. the Coathanger. Don your jumpsuit and harness, clip into the state-of-the-art safety system and ascend the steel arch, rising high above the roaring traffic below. With the wind in your hair and the vast expanse of the city laid out in front of you, it’s an exhilarating experience reaching the top, and you’ll have the best view of the Opera House you could possibly ask for. Just don’t look down.
Hot air ballooning in the Hunter Valley
A couple of hours’ drive north of Sydney, the gorgeous Hunter Valley is home to some of Australia’s finest boutique vineyards. While many visitors come to sup on an assortment of wines, from dry whites to sparkling and even fortified varieties, a far more unique experience is to float above the vines at sunrise, taking in the rolling hills and warm mellow colours as the day begins, before touching down to a sumptuous champagne breakfast.
Touring Sydney by seaplane
For a unique treat, guaranteed to turn any New South Wales holiday into the trip of a lifetime, hop onboard a seaplane and soar high above the rooftops of Sydney. Gain a whole new perspective on the glittering blue harbour below, taking in Circular Quay, the Rocks and Bondi Beach, before gliding over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and touching down in a secluded sandy cove for a romantic picnic lunch. Whether you’re celebrating something or just spoiling yourselves, this memorable experience is not to be missed.
Getting away from it all on Lord Howe Island
Leave the hustle and bustle of the mainland behind and jet off to the dense forests and jagged volcanic rock formations of Lord Howe Island, 372 miles east of the New South Wales mainland. At just seven miles by 1.5 miles, Lord Howe may be a small island, but it’s big on natural wonders, not forgetting its rare birdlife and tropical plant-filled forests. Boasting crystal-clear waters and a stunning coral reef, it’s a great place to discover more than 500 fish species that inhabit the undersea world, whether that’s by glass-bottomed boat, snorkelling, diving or kayaking. Lord Howe is also home to Australia’s most picturesque golf course, overlooking mountains, palm forests and the ocean waves.
Posing by the Big Banana
When driving New South Wales’ coast, you can’t miss the roadside Big Banana, even if you try. Found near Coffs Harbour, this tacky but brilliant tourist attraction does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a giant banana. The original of Australia’s collection of Big Things (others include a pineapple, a prawn and a rocking horse), you can pose for photos here while eating banana cake, banana bread, and banana smoothies, before buying copious amounts of banana-themed souvenirs. Along with the record-breaking banana itself (it’s the largest in the world), there’s an ice-skating rink, a waterslide, mini golf course and laser quest.