With intrastate travel restrictions no longer playing spoilsport this winter, it’s no surprise that Aussies are getting ready to explore their own states in these next few months.
From learning about the region’s rich heritage and re-discovering the great outdoors to engaging with Australia’s unspoilt nature and wildlife, NSW has something for every kind of traveller. Apart from the usual suspects, here are our pick of the six best destinations in the region.
Understanding colonial history in Goulburn
Endorsed by Queen Victoria in 1863 as Australia’s first inland city, Goulburn boasts over 150 years of rich history amidst picturesque natural settings. Two hours’ drive from Sydney and connected by rail since 1860, it originally started out as a wool production hub. By the late 19th century, Goulburn became the epicentre of commerce. Many buildings remaining from that period illustrate its bygone prosperity that resulted from wool farming and a short-lived gold rush.
The colour and charisma of the Victorian-Italian styled Courthouse immediately claim the attention of architectural buffs. When opened in the year 1887, it was touted as one of the most beautiful buildings in all “Her Majesty’s Dominions”. It’s still in use as the legal powerhouse of the region. Other notable landmarks are the Post Office building with a Clock Tower functional since 1880, the adjacent Town Hall, and several churches and cathedrals.
Learning the history of Aussie mining at Broken Hill
Nestled west of Sydney near the South Australia border, Broken Hill is the birthplace of Australia’s mining giant Broken Hill Proprietary, more commonly known as BHP. Back in the mid-1880s, BHP began with silver, lead and zinc mines in this outback region. More of Broken Hill’s mining history can be learnt from the geology exhibits at the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum or a visit to a disused 19thcentury pit at nearby Silverton.
The best history lesson of all would come from visiting the Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial that celebrates the life and work of more than 800 miners who lost their lives while working in these mines. This arresting dedicatory and lookout point also offers a commanding view over the city of Broken Hill.
Seizing a slice of Africa
Encountering wild animals like lions, rhinos, cheetahs, zebras and giraffes in African national parks is a dream for almost everyone. While it’s not possible to travel that far right now, you can still get a little taste of that thrilling experience at Taronga Western Plain Zoo in Dubbo, located in the Great Western Plains region of NSW.
Just seven hours’ drive from Sydney is this 300-hectare oasis of woodland and irrigated grasslands. Home to several hundreds of animals, the zoo allows them to roam freely in open spaces separated from visitors by concealed moats. This open style exhibition is as close to a safari experience as you can get down under.
Watching humpback whales in Byron Bay
Located almost at the fringe of the Queensland border on NSW’s far North Coast, Byron Bay is one of Australia’s best destinations to spot the majestic humpback whale. Between July and October, this distinctive species is on their annual migration from the cold Antarctic waters to warmer breeding grounds in the tropics. With around 17,000 of them crowding the coastline, most tour operators guarantee a close encounter when joining one of their daily cruises.
Home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse (and Hollywood superstar Chris Hemsworth), Byron Bay lives up to its reputation as a coastal town with a distinct character. Beyond whale watching, visitors crowd here to surf epic breaks at dawn, refine yoga moves on the sand hangout with aging hippies, idle at cafes, and gorge on good food and wine with the best of local produce.
Playing with snow at the Kosciuszko National Park
Not only is Mount Kosciuszko named Australia’s highest peak, it’s also the source of two of the country’s legendary rivers, the Murray and the Snowy. This daunting 7,300-foot mountain can be found in Kosciuszko National Park in southeast NSW.
In the winter, this parkland boasts of almost 7,000 square kilometres of snow, with its resort outposts at Thredbo and Perisher becoming sought-after locations for skiing, snowboarding and other snowy activities.
Relaxing in the South Coast
Blessed with a mild climate, this narrow coastal belt of around 550 km nearing the Victorian border is a relaxing haven. It’s home to some idyllic beaches, pristine lakes, rolling farmlands, and untamed national parks. The South Coast of NSW is also teeming with good food and wine outlets in small towns and villages. Places like Stanwell Park, Kiama, Berry, Huskisson, Vincentia and Mollymook are some of the hideouts popular with visitors seeking the laidback country lifestyle.
Getting There There are regular regional flights to Byron Bay, Broken Hill and Dubbo. Other places are easily drivable from Sydney
Stay Plenty of accommodation choices from hotels, motels to holiday rentals served by Airbnb (www.airbnb.com.au)
More Info www.visitnsw.com