16 January, 2021
Last updated on 06 January, 2022
When you hear that New South Wales is only 10% of the Australian landmass, you might think it is small. Well, you might be in for a surprise. There is so much to do in New South Wales (NSW). And we are here to help you find some of the best hidden gems and all the fun things to do in New South Wales that are hiding in plain sight. NSW is a great area to explore when roadtripping in Australia.
To make the size of New South Wales easier to understand, it’s slightly bigger than Texas in the USA and about 4 times the size of the UK. And it’s packed with so many things to do and see. Check it out. This list covers the best and most fun things to do in New South Wales.
See a gig at the Sydney Opera House (Sydney, NSW)
If you think that the famous Opera House in Sydney is just a landmark or an amazing building to take photos of, you are so wrong. The Sydney Opera House needs to be experienced. Not a fan of opera? No worries, there’s more to be seen and heard than just opera.
See the Sydney Opera House from the outside or experience the amazing acoustics inside
So many international artists have performed at the famous Sydney Opera House, for example:
A museum dedicated to firefighting with lots of old fire trucks and tools on display. After seeing the massive fires that hit parts of Australia last year, you know how important firefighters are for Australia. Visit the Museum of Fire in Penrith to learn more about it.
See a race at Mt Panorama (Bathurst, NSW)
Petrolheads, this is something for you. Of course, you are aware of the famous Formula 1 race in Melbourne but New South Wales also has plenty of racing action. Bathurst is the place to be. Events like Bathurst 1000, Bathurst 12 Hour, Bathurst 6 Hour and Challenge Bathurst take place here.
The track has an unusual shape with a 174-metre vertical difference between its lowest and highest point. It’s a public road so you can drive your Spaceships campervan on it on non-race days. Just be aware that there is a speed limit of 60 km/h in place, which is strictly enforced by police.
See the race action at Bathurst on your New South Wales road trip
Visit ghost town Joadja (Southern Highlands, NSW)
The ruins of a former mining town. It is one of the most important 19th century industrial and archaeological mining relics in Australia. See the ruins or experience the mining history by going for a tour.
It’s all in the name, there is no better place to spend winter in New South Wales than at Snowy Mountains. There are four amazing ski resorts to be found here:
Selywn Snow Resort
No matter your level, Snowy Mountains offers ski or snowboard fun for everyone. But no worries, it isn’t just skiing or snowboarding that can be done here. Almost any snow-related activity can be found or done here: snow-tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, or a relaxing & scenic chairlift ride.
Winter season at Snow Mountains starts yearly around mid-June (22 June in 2020), so make sure to plan your road trip if you want to experience snow in Australia.
If you are up for a challenge, then hiking Mt Kosciuszko is the must-do activity in New South Wales for you. Mt Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest mountain, on the mainland, at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. It’s a 19.5-kilometre track to the summit, which is classified as difficult. In summer you can take the express chairlift from Thredbo.
Hiking at Snowy Mountains, NSW: beautiful Sugar Pine Forest Trail | photo: Tim Donnelly (CC BY NC ND 2.0)
Visit a World Heritage Site: Willandra Lakes Region
The place to go for all Indiana Jones-like travellers. This immense area covers 2,400 km2 is home to a range of stunning dried saltwater lake beds. It like travelling in time. The area has such a rich history. The Willandra Lakes Region was previously occupied by ancient indigenous communities, with some dating back over 50,000 years ago.
Marvel at the creativity of Pro Hart (Broken Hill, NSW)
Pro Hart was an outback artist from Broken Hill. A painter that used various types of material as his canvas. He experimented with performance art before it became hip, for example, “dropping paint from hot air balloons, creating ice sculptures and even using a cannon to distribute paint on his chosen medium.” (read more about him on the official website)
A visit to the Pro Hart Gallery is like a journey through the creative life of this Aussie outback artist. His art really has captured the spirit of the outback. Everyone will enjoy a visit to this art gallery.
See the Sandstone Caves (Coonabarabran, NSW)
These sandstone caves are a walk through history. Either go for a self-guided DIY walk or go for an even better experience by booking a tour with an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger. Either way, it will be an impressive walk through the scenic forest to see the amazing sandstone hills. This truly is a special place. Check out the official website for more info.
Sandstone caves near Coonabarabran | photo: sydneydawg2006 (CC BY NC ND 2.0)
Amazing place for stargazing: Warrumbungle National Park
Several areas in New South Wales are perfect for stargazing. Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s first Dark Sky Park. It’s located near Coonabarabran. Here you can experience the night sky as never before.
Parking your Spaceship at one of the campsites in the park will be an amazing experience. This is something you have never seen on the northern hemisphere where people live closer together and cities create light-pollution. This is taking your road trip to the next level. Just sit outside, enjoy a nice Australian wine and lookup.
There is a range of campsites to be found in the park, so check the free camping app or book that comes with your Spaceship to see which campsite you fancy.
Another place to go stargazing in New South Wales is Parkes (356km west of Sydney). Parkes is another top spot to see the amazing night sky in Australia. Parkes is also home to the annual festival of astronomy (AstroFest). This festival takes place each year in July when the night skies are at their clearest.
Lots of great places in Australia to experience a night sky like never before
Hunt for Black Opals at Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge is a classic mining town and home of the rare black opal. Here you can learn more about the mining process and how the black opals are carved and how jewellery is created. Of course, there are also options to purchase beautifully crafted pieces of jewellery. And maybe you will even find some opal yourself in Lightning Ridge.
Spend a night at the Burren Junction Bore Baths and Campground (100 metres off the Kamilaroi Highway) and experience a bore bath. Naturally heated water from deep inside the Great Artesian Basin flows into an outdoor pool. The temperature of the water averages 41.5 degrees Celsius and has therapeutic qualities. It is the perfect way to relax sore muscles after several days of road-tripping and hiking,
Surf’s up at Byron Bay, NSW
Experience the beach life at Byron Bay and catch the awesome waves there. It is probably one of the most iconic places in the world to surf. Go for a surf lesson if you are a beginner or bring your board and go for it if you’re a (semi) pro. It’s a beautiful place to relax and to have some fun.
Surf's up... Experience the beach life of NSW on your road trip
Walk the longest boardwalk at Urunga, NSW
Walking the plank was never a good thing back in the days of oldskool pirates, but it is a good thing to do in Urunga, NSW. Urunga is the home of the longest and best boardwalk. Well, probably the longest in the world. We didn’t bring a tape measure to check it. See for yourself.
Ellenborough Falls: tallest single drop waterfall in NSW
This amazing waterfall is a must-see when exploring the Manning Valley region in the Barrington Coast. Depending on how fit you are, there are 4 ways to experience Ellenborough Falls.
From the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, near the car park.
Walk from there to the viewing area near the waterfall drop-off. Another easy way to view this waterfall.
This option is only a 10-minute walk along a wooden walkway to a viewing platform that will give you a top-to-bottom view of the waterfall.
Now it gets really exciting. This viewing option will take more effort but is so worth it. Use the steps to descent into the valley. It’s 641 steps to the base of the waterfall, where you will find a rock pool. It will feel like being on a science-fiction film set or on stage during a rock concert. The area is misted by the spray of the icy water. It will feel like you are far away from civilisation.
Ellenborough Falls: a must-see on your NSW road trip | photo: russellstreet (CC BY SA 2.0)
Take the scenic route to Hunter Valley via Wollombi Valley
When exploring the Hunter Valley area, considering to take the scenic route will be worth your while. Who doesn’t like to get off the beaten path? See more and do more is the road trip motto. So get away from the popular roads on your New South Wales road trip and go for Tourist Drive 33, the scenic gateway to Hunter Valley.
Tourist Drive 33 will take you to some of the most amazing countryside in New South Wales. It’ll be like stepping back in time. No DeLorean needed for this back in time trip. You will see classic stone walls, oldskool bridges and culverts still in use today. Make sure to stop in one of the towns of Peats Ridge, Kulnura, Laguna, historic Wollombi and the wine regions of Broke Fordwich, Lovedale and Branxton.
Have fun at Lake Macquarie in the Hunter Region, NSW
When your New South Wales road trip takes you to Hunter Valley also known as the Hunter Region, a visit to Lake Macquarie is a nice way to relax and to cool off. The lake is Australia's largest coastal saltwater lake with lots of opportunities for water activities like fishing, boating, kayaking, water skiing and swimming. There are patrolled beaches that are popular with surfers and swimmers.
Create your own amazing NSW road trip
We told you, there are lots to do & see in NSW. The amazing things on our list are just the tip of the iceberg. Start planning your NSW road trip and you'll see there's, even more, to do & see in between these stops. Have a great time exploring New South Wales.