New South Wales

Surfing at Hat Head, Tourism New South Wales

Capital City: Sydney


New South Wales is a land of contrasts. Lush rainforests, pristine beaches, snowfields and the rugged beauty of the outback all vie for visitors’ attention.

Beaches are a clear drawcard, with those at Bondi and Byron Bay among the most popular. Surfing, swimming and whale-watching can be enjoyed almost anywhere along the coast, but Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay National Park is home to the whitest sand in the world.

The discovery of Mungo Man and Woman, the miraculously preserved remains of two ancient Aboriginal people found in a dune over four decades ago, prove that civilisation existed here 40 000 years ago. Numerous Aboriginal nations have called the state home, and still do. Well-preserved fish traps in Brewarrina are thought by some to be the oldest manmade structures in the world.

The state's settled history began after the American War of Independence spelt the end for British penal settlements in North America, and New South Wales became the solution to overcrowded prisons. Conditions were harsh; the first inmates of Maitland Gaol, who included many children, were forced to march the 6 kilometres from the wharf at Morpeth to the prison in shackles and chains.

Harsh conditions were not limited to the prisons. In 1845 explorer Charles Sturt lost his second-in-command, due to the pitiless terrain, and was stranded for six months in the outback near Milparinka. Today remote Silverton stands as a reminder of outback isolation, with its buildings and stark surrounds featuring in Australian films such as Mad Max II and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

In stunning contrast, Sydney’s bright lights and sophistication sit beside the sparkling waters of the largest natural harbour in the world. The iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, along with the successes of the 2000 Olympics and the popular Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, have ensured Sydney and New South Wales a place on the world stage.

Some more things to do while you're in New South Wales

  • Jindabyne

    Discover the quiet beauty of Lake Jindabyne or visit nearby Perisher, Australia’s largest ski resort, which caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge

    It’s hard to ignore this iconic structure, dominating Sydney Harbour with its soaring arch.

  • Taronga Western Plains Zoo
    Taronga Western Plains Zoo - Near Dubbo NSW

    With some 1500 animals, many of them endangered, this is one of Australia’s premier open-range zoos.

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Fishing spots

If your fishing rod tops your holiday packing list, you’ll love New South Wales. One of the country’s prime angling destinations, this state gives you everything from world-famous game-fishing at Bermagui to enormous cod in the Murray River; plus trout, salmon, tailor, redfin, yellowbelly, bream and leatherjackets – just to name a few!

Eco-friendly activities

Looking for a destination where you can dive with seahorses and dolphins, bushwalk through ancient rainforests, or explore a vast network of spectacular limestone caves? New South Wales’ eco-friendly activities will delight and surprise you: there’s something in this stunning state to suit every green-minded nature-lover.

Golf courses

When it’s time to tee off, golfers in New South Wales are spoilt for choice. Smash a drive down the fairway of Australia’s most beautiful inland course at Bonville, take advantage of the multiple teeing options on each hole at Macquarie Links or take on the ocean playing the cliff-line-hugging second and third holes at Narooma.

Restaurants & cafes

No matter what your budget or preference, you’re guaranteed a good feed in New South Wales. For superb waterfront dining, Sydney’s Circular Quay and Darling Harbour can’t be beaten, while the fertile Hunter Valley bursts with great vineyards and restaurants. Seafood fiends should make tracks to the nearest coastal town.

Eco-friendly places to eat

With ecotourism and sustainable travel on the rise, New South Wales’ eco-friendly dining options are gradually increasing. Sample bushtucker in the Blue Mountains and organic wines in the Hunter Valley, or keep it green with a picnic somewhere scenic. Meanwhile, celebrity chef Kylie Kwong is leading Sydney’s carbon-neutral, biodynamic dining movement.  

Eco-friendly places to eat by region


New South Wales’ brewing scene is booming, with a steady rise in craft breweries keeping things interesting. Boutique pioneers the Lord Nelson brew-pub, Scharer’s Little Brewery and Hahn Brewery (revitalised as the Malt Shovel Brewery) are going strong, and a new generation of regional craft brewers are showing great promise.


New South Wales beckons campers with the rugged beauty of its mountainous interior, the pristine rainforests and beaches of its tropical north coast, and some stunning wilderness experiences within easy reach of Sydney. Whether you like to pitch your tent far from civilisation or close to creature comforts, New South Wales delivers.

Caravan parks

Who hasn’t dreamed of hitting the highway and seeing what the horizon brings? With dramatic mountains and the outback, plus all that dazzling coastline, New South Wales is a caravanner’s delight. Its excellent network of parks ensures you’ll always have a comfortable base from which to explore the state’s myriad attractions.

Hotels, motels & B&Bs

New South Wales’ accommodation options cater to all types of holiday-makers. After a luxury escape? Choose from five-star city indulgences, high-end historic homesteads or stylish beachside escapes. Mid-range more your style? How does a heritage guesthouse or secluded mountain cottage sound? On a budget? Take your pick from B&Bs, country pubs … even underground motels!

Eco-friendly places to stay

As New South Wales’ ecotourism industry grows, so too does its range of eco-friendly lodgings. Whether it’s a wildlife-friendly place in Kangaroo Valley or cabins in the Snowy Mountains, a solar-powered cave deep in the bush or a coastal eco-village, you’ll find a green sleep to suit you.

Rest areas

From Broken Hill to Bega, New South Wales offers some amazing locations for the intrepid traveller to explore. But when you want some respite from the road, the rest areas lining New South Wales's highways offer a welcome chance to get out of the car and stretch your legs, and maybe even take a shower and stop for the night. You’ll then be ready to get back on the road and move on to your next destination!


What better way to get to know a place than by attending a local festival or sporting event? The jewel in Sydney’s sparkling cultural crown is its vibrant Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, while food, sporting, music and wildflower festivals are run throughout the state at various times during the year. 

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