One of the questions we’ve heard a lot lately, is what is there to see and do in New South Wales? Some of the NSW residents who were planning trips up north, or west – were at a loss to know must-sees in their own state.
So, we’ve put together a parcel of NSW road trips… they have various starting points, so just begin your trip in the part of the route, closest to you! Oh, and keep up to date with any hot spot areas, so those can be avoided.
Remember, all the overnight stops you will need are in the Camps Australia Wide App and books – Camps 10 and Caravan Parks 5. We haven’t set timelines on these, so you can stop and smell the roses, or add on more side trips! We hope you enjoy this selection.
Waterfalls and rivers
Coffs Harbour – Bellingen – Dorrigo – Armidale – Glen Innes – Grafton
This trip takes you from the coast into some of the most beautiful hinterland I have seen. Called the Waterfall Way, there are waterfalls literally on the side of the road!
Dangar Falls is only 2 km from Dorrigo, then you’ll come to Ebor Falls, and finally the second highest waterfall in Australia 220m at Wollomombi Falls.
Armidale in the New England Region is a beautiful university town, we lived here for three years. It is known for its seasons and cathedrals. There is plenty to explore here – including neighbouring towns of Guyra and Uralla.
Drive north to Glen Innes for bushranging history, standing stones, celtic history and fossicking.
Continue east through the Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Parks, one of my favourite drives, following rivers along the way. Grafton is known for the blooms of the Jacaranda Festival, when streets are lined with the colour purple.
Back of Bourke to Hay
Narrabri – Lightning Ridge – Walgett – Brewarrina – Bourke – Cobar – Wilcannia – Broken Hill – Wentworth – Balranald – Hay
You really know you’re out west when you are in the “Back of Bourke”. This route is iconic! the historic opal mining town, Lightning Ridge is a drawcard for travels – there is much to see in the area. You can start the ‘Darling River Run’ or bathe in artesian waters in Walgett.
We recommend a tour of Bourke – visit farms and see the cotton gin in action. There is also a paddle steamer! Broken Hill was not what I expected. It’s huge and vibrant. Drive out the Silverton for more history and scenes from Mad Max. Check out views from the The Line of Lode Lookout and Miner’s Memorial, and stop by the Palace Hotel.
See the Mighty Murray and how locks work in Wentworth or Mildura (Victoria). In Balranald you’ll first meet the Murrumbidgee River, a great place for fishers and boating.
Finally, make some time for Hay. It is full of fascinating museums – there’s a prisoner of war museum in the train station, and excellent information centre, history and the Australian Shearers Hall of Fame.
On the Road to Gundagai
Hay – Narrandera – Ganmain – Coolamon – The Rock – Wagga – Junee – Gundagai
Find the big Guitar at Narrandera, koalas in the sanctuary and the big Murray Cod at the NSW Fisheries Hatchery. What great work they are undertaking!
We’ve visited Wagga a few times, but enjoyed our last trip via Ganmain, Coolamon and The Rock. Look out for why The Rock is called that.
Wagga Wagga has an Olive Farm, and fantastic flying fox and playground and their university has a winery! We were well and truly singing “Road to Gundagai” by this stage (before the wine tasting)! The city centre is great for retail therapy and foodies will be happy, too! We were lucky enough to visit Kapooka, the Army Recruit Training Centre when our daughter was on an Army Gap Year. Explore the town, Wagga Beach, the churches and the Victory Memorial Gardens.
Junee is a lovely looking town – but the biggest attraction for me is their licorice factory. They make chocolate, too. A marriage made in heaven.
“The Dog on the Tuckerbox” is a revered sentinel for travellers. It was a thrill to finally see him. Gundagai has the longest timber viaduct in Australia, do check out the heritage listed Prince Alfred Bridge. There’s a freedom camp right near it!
Byron Bay – Brunswick Heads – Murwillumbah – Uki – Nimbin – Lismore – Ballina
People either love it or hate it – but Byron Bay still has Cape Byron – our most easterly point on the mainland. Start here or at beautiful Brunswick Heads – with beaches, estuaries and parks. Make sure you stop off at Bangalow, too.
Murwillumbah will take you back into history – take a booth at the Austral Cafe, enjoy a pint at riverside pub and definitely climb Mt Warning.
Uki has another friendly pub to visit, it is surrounded by lovely villages, Clarrie Hall Dam and by Wollumbin (Mt Warning), Border Ranges, Nightcap and Mebbin National Parks.
Nimbin is well worth a look-see, it can get busy! It’s a “hippy haven” with artists galore.
Lismore also has a diverse population, interesting shops and beautiful churches. I’d like to take the art, vintage and retro trail when the border restrictions ease up. There are lots of country drives and villages to see.
There are more villages on the way to Ballina, a busy centre that has more rivers and beaches to enjoy. Surf, kayak, cycle and enjoy the seafood and Big Prawn!
Gold Digging History
Bathurst – Sofala – Mudgee – Gulgong – Dunedoo – Dubbo – Orange
From the home of the Bathurst 1000, this drive will take you back through history. Sofala is supposed to be Australia’s ‘oldest surviving gold mining town’. Everywhere has history here. You need to walk to soak it all in. Plus there are three free riverside camps near town.
Mudgee is my father and sister’s birthplace, so holds a lot of memories. It is surrounded by hills – and… cellar doors! Too many to visit all of them. A town built on the Cudgegong River, perfect for history buffs and foodies.
Gulgong has even more heritage – 130 National Trust-listed buildings, including Australia’s oldest Opera House. As well as pioneer stories, you can learn about great Aussie writer, Henry Lawson.
You just have to visit Dunedoo because it has one of the best names! Dad had friends here, this poetry loving community you can check out the country pub, antiques and a museum. Explore Coolah Tops National Park and the Warrumbungle region isn’t far as well.
Dubbo is best known for the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Well worth a visit. There are more wineries, cafes and shops and other attractions.
Orange has more award winning wines, produce and history. Visit caves, try cycle trails or ballooning!
Great Lakes and Tops
Buladelah – Forster- Tuncurry – Taree – Gloucester
Buladelah is an RV Friendly town with a hilly backdrop and lovely places to picnic within walking distance of the shops. Just the drive alone into the twin towns of Forster-Tuncurry is worth it. There are lots of places here for anglers and if you like to play on the water. Also check out their beaches, there’s a great little protected cove in Tuncurry as well.
Gloucester is best known for Barrington Tops. Rug up, it can be quite chilly here. Rainforests belong to the World Heritage Area – part of the Gondwana Rainforests. enjoy waterfalls, views and birdwatching.
Fingal – Pottsville – Lennox Heads – Yamba- Maclean – Wooli – Valla Beach – Nambucca Heads
My home turf is Tweed Heads, the most northerly beach in NSW. Although I have stopped at many beaches over the years, it is a dream of mine to head south down the Pacific Ocean and stop off at every single beach! There are some idyllic camping havens on this leg.
This route stops at Nambucca but I would like to meander all the way to Bittangabee Bay, in Ben Boyd National Park, south of Eden.
This is just a smattering of suggested stops – with awesome views and surf, tea tree stained lakes, estuaries, crossing NSW’s widest river, the beautiful Clarence. It includes little hamlets surrounded by nature with rivers on one side and the surf on the other, like Wooli. There’s the lagoon bridge at Valla and walking tracks and rockwalls at Nambucca.
Snowy River Run
Green Cape – Bombala – Jindabyne – Thredbo – Cooma – Canberra
You can stay at Bittangabee Bay, but please make sure you see the lighthouse at Green Cape. This is in Ben Boyd National Park, and just south of Eden. We spent a night in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, entertained by the wombats and wallabies. Looking south you can see the end of the beautiful NSW coast, which some say rivals Tasmania’s Wineglass Bay.
We took the Monaro Highway and saw a sign for platypus. So drove just outside of Bombala and lo and behold – there they were at the viewing platform!
Continue onto Jindabyne, picnic or walk by the lake like we always do. There is lots to explore around this town.
If it is winter you’ll need to be fitted for chains to make the trek up to Thredbo – in summertime, climb Mount Kosciuszko. It was amazing and something every Aussie should do – scale the highest mountain in our country. Be sure to visit Smiggins Holes and Perisher as well. This is a favourite playground for my snow-loving family.
Cooma’s must see is the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre (and Birdsnest for the ladies – they have their operations centre here, it’s fashion!). But there are also a Distillery, Hatchery, lovely town park and retail precinct.
You have the option to leave NSW and finish this road trip in the ACT. Our nation’s capital is a treat. We love Canberra, and visit family here most years. There are so many attractions – and so much is free. Parliament House – old and new, the Mint (make your own coin), Questacon is the science museum and not just for kids, galleries, the new National Arboretum is a real surprise and another awesome location, like Black Mountain to view this beautiful city. Just relaxing by the man made Lake Burley Griffin – especially in Floriade time is a delight!
So – that is a few of our recommended road trips around NSW. BUT – a very important but – we know from our travels that regardless of where you go, you will meet interesting people and find fun places to see. Stop at Visitor Information Centres – you always pick up more tips when you chat to the locals! It also helps to keep your itinerary flexible, because there will always be those extra things to discover! Have fun…