Hit the Road and Take on One of New South Wales’ Most Scenic Drives

best road trips nsw

Embark on exhilarating road trips in New South Wales, where you’ll traverse coastal routes amidst rugged landscapes, shimmering rainforests, dusty red roads, and enchanting wine regions. Immerse yourself in breathtaking scenery, pause in charming towns to explore cosy cafes and local produce, and then hit the road once more towards your ultimate destination.

No need for extensive planning; we’ve already done the groundwork to ensure you don’t miss out on the most incredible spots. Simply follow the road and let it guide you. That’s part of the thrill of a road trip, the other part being the perfect playlist.

It’s time to put in the leave and embark on these unforgettable and picturesque road trips through the stunning landscapes of NSW.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Sydney to Mudgee

Mudgee is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney along the Great Western Highway, a ribbon of tar that runs through small country towns and leads to a food and wine experience like no other. Now there are two ways to go: Bells Line of Road or through Leura and Katoomba.

We like the Bells Line because of the scenery, but each route has a similar ETA. If you’re going via Bells Line of Road, be sure to stop in Bilpin for cider, and you can stretch your legs apple picking at Bilpin Springs Orchard.

For an impressive flora display, stop at the Botanical Gardens on Mt. Tomah, and no road trip is complete without pie. Bill’s Old Fashioned Cakes and Pies in Lithgow is an old-fashioned pie shop—circa 1972.

From here, it’s an open road with rolling hills until you reach Mudgee, where you will find gourmet markets and several cellar doors pouring local tipples. Some of the best include First Ridge, Robert Stein Winery, Pieter Van Gant Winery, Lowe Wines, and Moothie Estate.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Alexandra Adoncello

Kosciuszko Alpine Way

Who says road trips are just for summer? They can be fun during winter, especially if you’re heading down Kosciuszko Alpine Way. Start from Canberra and make your way to the snowy mountains, where mountain biking, horse riding through the high country, and powdered slopes await. The trip is three hours if you start from Canberra or four hours and 30 minutes from Sydney.

Regardless of where you’re coming from, there are three stops you can’t miss. The first is an hour outside of Canberra, a little town called Cooma. It’s flanked by rivers and snow-capped peaks, and you can pull into Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines for a truffle-inspired brunch and truffle hunt.

Next stop, Jindabyne: Home to Lake Jindabyne and a smorgasbord of outdoor adventure. Spend a few hours canoeing, trout fishing, or mountain biking before heading to Kosciuszko National Park for crisp alpine air and mountain adventures.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Dubbo to Broken Hill

If you’ve always wanted to see the heart of Outback NSW, this road trip offers that and more. It starts at Dubbo, where you can stay the night before heading off on the eight-hour drive. Follow the Mitchell Highway towards Nyngan, where you can stop to see the natural habitat of knitted grassland and river red gum, before heading to Cobar.

Here, the town is famed for its golden sunsets, copper mines, and Heritage Trail, which you can walk. The trail leads to Fort Bourke Lookout for a view of the vast open-cut mine and red landscape.

The next stop is Wilcannia, a storied town boasting colonial architecture and a river that once led paddle steamers carrying wool or bale. Stay the night in a historic dwelling or caravan park before heading off to the last stop, Broken Hill. Explore the heritage-listed treasure, stroll through galleries, taste the restaurants, and discover museums.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

North Coast Hinterland Adventure

This four-day road trip, which can also be done in three hours from Sydney, will have you dipping your toes in the ocean, diving into lakes, driving through sleepy towns, showering under waterfalls, and tasting local wines, paired with farm-fresh meals.

Start on the Barrington Coast, in Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest. Here, plunge into the Pacific Ocean, kayak through mangroves and past shipwrecks, and spot a dolphin or two. The next stop, Gloucester, leaves the coast behind and immerses you in a rainforest with waterfalls and several sky-high advantage points.

Stop into Wingham, an English-style town square showcasing seasonal produce, house-smoked meats, sourdough, and more. Continue to Elands, Comboyne, and Byabarra for even more waterfalls, including Ellenborough Falls, the longest single-drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoyed from the viewing platform.

On your way to Port Macquarie, stop by Bago Bluff National Park, a 4,000-hectare expanse webbed with trails offering views over the Hastings Valley. After another 20 minutes of driving, you’ll arrive in Port Macquarie, where you can enjoy the beach, rainforest, restaurants, and more.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Riverina to Snow Valleys

Bring your appetite; this road trip starts in the heart of the state’s food bowl and ends in the idyllic snowy mountains. The adventure starts in Griffith, home to vineyards, orchards, and rich Italian heritage. Don’t leave without trying Limone Dining or tasting at least one cellar door in the area.

Twenty-five minutes down the road is the town of Leeton, known for its beautiful art deco architecture and gastronomic adventures. Pop into Whitton Malt House to sample whisky, craft beer, and baked goods, or stop in for a wine tasting at Lillypilly Estate Winery.

Take a detour into Narrandera and hop on board a vintage tractor-drawn carriage for an orchard tour. Hope back on the road and follow Canola Way until you reach Coolamon, where you can peruse through boutique shops, grab coffee or breakfast, and pick up cheese from Coolamon Cheese.

Junee is up next. Visit the Junee Liquorice and Chocolate Factory before reaching Wagga Wagga, where there is no shortage of food and wine experiences. Stay the night or continue to Tumut for a microbrewery tour before reaching the snowy mountains.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

The Kidman Way and Beyond

Inspired by pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman’s desire to open up inland Australia, this road trip cuts through rural NSW, offering rich farmland, majestic rivers, and small towns.

Best enjoyed over five days, the drive is nine hours and starts in Albury. If you head northwest along the Riverina Highway, you’ll happen upon Jerilderie, a historic town Ned Kelly raided in 1879. Stop in for the history before moving onto Coleambally to check out a cellar door and the wine-shaped water tower.

Spend the night in Darlington Point, then move on to Griffith for more wine experiences. Hillston is a great spot to stretch your legs across a swinging bridge and by the river.

The next destination is Cobar, the heart and soul of rural NSW, known as a mining town. Stay for a day or two, exploring its history and landscape and meeting the people. The last stop is Bourke, situated on the banks of the Darling River, offering stories of the outback, stockmen, and bushrangers.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Dee Kramer Photography

Grand Pacific Drive

If you’ve ever driven to Wollongong, you would have been on the part of the Grand Pacific Drive, a scenic piece of road that winds through the Royal National Park, through verdant valleys, and ends with the whitest sand beach in the southern hemisphere. As you leave the city in the rearview mirror, you will find yourself in the Royal National Park, where you can stop for a swim or continue to the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge near the towns of Thirroul, Bulli, and Austinmer.

The next major stop is Wollongong, where you will find beaches, cafes, and restaurants perfect for lunch. Head to Kiama to see the blowhole and Shoalhaven for the views. Jump back on the road to reach Jervis Bay, where pure sand and turquoise waters await. Stay for the night, or go for a splash in the calm waters. It’s all worth it.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Greater Blue Mountains Drive

While the Blue Mountains are just over an hour from Sydney, there are many small towns and attractions to see, and this trip could be expanded to four days. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive to Leura, the foothills of the mountains, where you can grab a seat at the Leura Garage for locally-sourced cuisine.

Continue to Katoomba to visit the Three Sisters, and then onto Megalong Valley to indulge in high tea at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Stay the night before heading off to Lithgow, an emerging destination offering history and food experiences.

Explore Jenolan Caves, or drive to Oberon and stroll along the Blue Lake, where you might spot a platypus or two. Another highlight in this town is the Mayfield Garden, a 65-hectare estate boasting vibrant plant life, artistically planted.

Stay the night in one of the glamping tents before taking off for Bilpin, the last stop on the agenda. Bilpin is most known for apple cider, but it’s also a great place to go apple picking, have a picnic, or try one of the many great restaurants in town.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Sydney to Halfway to Melbourne

Driving from Sydney to Melbourne is just one of those things you have to do at some point. From coastlines to ancient volcanos and bountiful food experiences, this drive is one to add to the bucket list.

Follow the Grand Pacific Drive, stopping in Wollongong for lunch or Jamberoo to stretch your legs. You can also stop at Jervis Bay for a dip at Hyams Beach. The coastal scene slowly turns to green farmland, of which you can stop into Ulladulla for seafood.

If swimming with seals is something you’ve always wanted to do, be sure to stop into Narooma before settling in Tilba. Explore the markets, grab some handcrafted gifts, watch them make artisan cheese, and taste the local wines.

The last stop on this trip is Merimbula, a seaside town famous for its oysters, water sports, and marine life. Learnt the secrets of oyster farming, feed the fish at Merimbula Aquarium, or explore the Sapphire Coast’s beaches. There’s plenty to do, and it marks the halfway point to Melbourne. It’s less than an hour to the border and around seven hours to the Victorian capital.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Darling River Run

Experience the best of the outback and some of the most peculiar named towns we’ve seen. The drive begins in the countryside of Walgett, which delivers country charm and natural thermal springs.

The towns on this trip are few and far between, so a stop in Brewarrina is highly recommended. Explore the 40,000-year-old Fish Traps before heading to Bourke to discover river travel history and colonial heritage.

Stay the night, then head off to Louth, a hamlet on the banks of the Darling River. You’ll find great food, cold beer, and walking trails. Stay in the stockman’s cottage or continue to Tilpa, a former paddle-steamer port. Drop into Tilba Hotel, one of Australia’s last true bush pubs, or wander around town. Menindee is where you will encounter Australian history, including the legendary tale of Burke and Wills. The sunsets here are beyond mesmerising.

You will also find Mungo National Park in the next town over: Pooncarrie. Finally, Wentworth awaits on the confluence of the Mighty Murray and Darling. Here, explore the riverside wineries, ancient sandhills, and heritage paddle boats.

best road trips nsw
Photo: Destination NSW

Sydney To Tweed Heads

Whether you’re already on your way to Queensland or just want to escape to the beach, far from Sydney, this road trip to Tweed Heads pulls you through hinterlands to coastal scenes on an epic 10-hour drive.

Start in Sydney, and stop in Newcastle for lunch or surf before making your way to the Hunter Valley. Sample some wines, or pick up a bottle for a celebration at the end of the trip; you can’t go past the wine here. Port Macquarie is the next stop. This family-friendly destination offers a lot of activities, food experiences, and beaches, as does the next stop—Coffs Harbour.

Yamba offers great surfing spots, but you can’t go past Lennox Head. If you’re here for the surf, you won’t regret it. You can also stop for the view before heading to Byron Bay, the more well-known seaside town home to celebrities, kid-friendly beaches, whale watching, and some impressive restaurants.

Stay the night at a caravan park or opt-in for a luxury experience at Elements of Byron before setting off to Tweed Heads. This beach town is one of the more under-the-radar spots on NSW’s far north coast, offering river and ocean experiences. The food here highlights local seafood and tropical fruits and is definitely worth a look.

Related: Do Go Chasing These Easy-to-Reach NSW Waterfalls

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