We’ve partnered up with Battery World to inspire you to take on some quintessential Aussie road trips.
Everyone’s fleeing overseas for some Northern Hemisphere summers for the first time in years. But, not all of us can do that right now, which makes now the perfect time to focus on the beauty of our own state. Now more than ever, we’re discovering our own watering holes, mountains, and headlands—and so we should.
New South Wales is home to rolling vineyards, untouched World-Heritage Parks, sapphire coasts and so much more. We have access to world-class wines in Hunter Valley, towering waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, ancient National Parks, and world-renowned surfing spots. Those are just the more known locations. You’d be surprised what you might find hidden in our diverse landscape. From a tiny island in the Tasman Sea to peculiar-looking rock formations, our state has it all.
Before taking in all New South Wales has to offer, be sure to head to your local Battery World to have the health of your van’s battery health checked, or even get fitted with a new one.
Now your battery is all ready to go, it’s time to plan that epic NSW road trip you’ve been talking about for years.
You can’t exactly drive to this destination, but it’s top of our list for an epic adventure in NSW. Lord Howe Island is a tiny island in the Tasman Sea, home to around 400 people, including a capped limit on tourists at any time. The ancient volcanic remnant boasts a relatively untouched landscape. Challenge yourself with an 8-hour hike up Mt. Gower, swim with the local fish at Ned’s Beach, hike Malabar Hill for sunrise and Goats Cave at sunset, and scuba dive at over 60 world-class diving spots, including one near the world’s tallest sea stack. So, if you’re looking to escape, and when we say escape we mean no cell service or Wi-Fi— just nature— then this island should be top of your list.
Sure, the Caribbean has beautiful beaches, but Australia has the whitest sand in the world and it’s a mere three-hour drive from Sydney. Hyams Beach is in the Shoalhaven region on the southern shores of Jervis Bay Marine Park. Take a dip in the calm blue waters, which is perfect for swimming and snorkelling or walk the stretch of white sand or plan a gourmet picnic on the beach through Hyams Beach Hampers. You can set up a beach hut and cushions on a secluded stretch of sand and enjoy the beach to yourself.
We meant it when we said that NSW has it all. Mungo National Park resembles a certain red planet, fourth from the sun. The ancient dry lake basins and sand formations have to be seen to be believed. The crusty, dry landscape is home to towering dunes, formed from quartz and clay, and is the site of thousands of artefacts dating back to 50,000 years ago. It’s rich in Aboriginal history which makes a tour one of the best ways to explore the land. You can also drive the 70km Mungo self-guided tour, which passes through the main attractions including the Walls Of China Boardwalk, and Red Top Lookout. A 4WD vehicle is recommended for this tour.
The Blue Mountains which gets its name from the blue horizon of eucalyptus trees is a million hectares of sandstone cliffs, canyons and waterfalls. It would take years to cover every inch, but there are plenty of hiking trails and iconic sights that help you discover its best parts. Set out on a trail to find waterfalls and rivers to cliffs with sweeping views of the mountains. The Three Sisters is an iconic rock formation and easy to get to. The scenic skyway gondola is also a great way to get an eagle-eye view. Other highlights include Govetts Leap Lookout, The Blue Lake along the Jenolan River Walk, Jenolan Caves, and a glow-worm tour that is always a spectacle.
Orange is a place to delight your eyes and your senses. Apart from its wine and local produce, Orange puts on a colourful display, which changes during the seasons. Expect sun yellow canola fields, and burnt orange leaves during autumn, which is best seen from Pinnacle Reserve and Lookout. Some winters, the central tablelands region turns white, putting on a magical display for locals and visitors. Orange is also home to many gardens, some pretty enough to inspire paintings. Visit the Orange Botanic Gardens, Orange Regional Gallery, and Cook park.
The Hunter Valley is home to more cellar doors than any other wine region in Australia, which makes it a destination as well as a beautiful place to visit. Awe at the rolling hills and rows upon rows of vines. The sunrise here is best taken in from above, in a hot air balloon to be exact. Set down on a patch of grass to take in the sights with a cheese board, or saddle up and go horseriding through a vineyard. Other beautiful places in the Hunter, besides the wineries, include the Hunter Valley Gardens, and Yengo National Park. At Barrington Tops National Park you can hike through a rainforest, chase waterfalls, and take in the mountain views.
It’s dubbed one of the prettiest roads in NSW, maybe because it follows along the coast and leads to lush rainforests, a peppering of seaside towns and a beach with the whitest sand in the world. The 140km stretch of tar kicks off from the Royal National Park, following a windy path of pacific vistas. The Sea Cliff Bridge is definitely a highlight and popular among tourists looking to snap the coastal road, which sits over the water. The road leads to Jervis Bay, Batemans Bay, Kiama and so many more towns. Stop in to try the local cuisine, go for a dip or hike one of the many national parks along the way. Adventure awaits.
Gerringong is a place where land meets the sea, offering the best of country and coastal lifestyles. Perched on a dramatic headland, you will find ocean views, countryside charm, rolling farmlands, and vineyards. Go for a swim at Boat Harbour Rock Pool, or take a stroll along Seven Mile Beach. Inland, head to the wineries and visit cellar doors, pick up fresh produce and pick up a pie from Gerringong Bakery.
Photo Courtesy Of Destination NSW
Broken Hill has been the backdrop for many movies, yet travellers are reluctant to make the trip to the outback. In recent years, the small red dust town has introduced hotels, attractions and museums—making it a destination, rather than a stop. A visit to Broken Hill reveals a rich history and art culture, but more importantly natural beauty. Its landscape is dry and rough, but it’s also delicate and painted in orange and red hues. The Sundown Nature Trail is the best place to view the horizon and some impressive rock structures. The road trip to Broken Hill passes by some impressive sights of their own including copper mining town Cobar, Warrawong on the Darling, White Cliffs, and Mundi Mundi Lookout.
Photo Courtesy Of Destination NSW
If we told you there was a never never region in NSW would you believe us? This secret gem on the North Coast promises swimming holes with crystal waters, rope swings scattered throughout the forest, and white water rafting. Although, its claim to fame is the Never Never River, a distinctly blue river. It gets its colour from the minerals in the rocks below. The river is located in the town of Bellingen, a 28-minute drive from Coffs Harbour. The river is quite easy to find, after a short walk through the Promised Lands, but feels a whole world away—more like something from a fairy tale. To take full advantage of the place, spend a night in your own chalet overlooking the natural paradise.
Photo Courtesy Of Faraway Domes
Take a trip to NSW’s countryside, for rolling hills, grazing livestock, and one of the best nights of stargazing you might ever experience. The small town of Warialda is closer to Brisbane than it is to Sydney. It has a rich gemstone heritage, and a wealth of nature reserves, but the Faraway Domes are definitely the reason to make the trip out here. Set in bush settings, you can stay in a geodesic dome that overlooks the valley, and gets you up and close with the local wildlife. Each dome is about high-tech modular living in the 21st Century, without leaving a footprint on its land. The domes are built for two, but most importantly are set in the best stargazing advantage point. While here, you can hike the region, explore Macintyre Falls, Copeton Dam, Cranky Rock Nature Reserve and, many more natural sights.
If this isn’t the most beautiful dunny you’ve seen, you’re lying. This outhouse in the Kangaroo Valley services a small cabin for overnight stays, so if you want to visit, might as well stay there and take full advantage of this beautiful place. During the day, the outhouse disappears as it reflects the surrounding lush landscape, visible only via the subtle lines of the edge of the cube. The outhouse itself sits low on a hillside and can be accessed via a pathway through dense forest. If you’re wondering, if you can see outside when you are utilising the facilities, the answer is yes. It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that, especially from the toilet seat.
Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s first and only Dark Sky Park, making it a prime stargazing destination. You can camp under the stars at campgrounds such as Camp Blackman or Camp Wambelong, but remember, it’s a dark park, so you will have to watch where you shine a light. The Dark Sky Park is not only for public enjoyment, but specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, and cultural heritage. At night, watch the sky light up, revealing a glistening milky way guaranteed to skip a heartbeat. While the main attraction is at night, during the day you can explore the rugged volcanic mountains, rising out of the desert plains. It’s a sight to behold.
If you’re road-tripping down the South Coast, stop into Eurobodalla, a small town boasting beaches, and iconic viewpoint with a rock resembling Australia. Bar Rock Lookout is where you can see Australia Rock, a unique rock formation, that when looked at from the right angle, resembles a map of Australia without Tasmania— sorry TAS. There are a few stories about its origin, but the one that is most likely true is the result of thousands of years of erosion. Although, one of the more exciting explanations is that a ship was moored to the heads with large chains, and slowly wore away the rock to create its shape. You can find the lookout on Bar Rock Road.
Kosciuszko National Park is most famous for those who love snow sports, but it’s also home to some of the most stunning caves in Australia. These caves are no ordinary caves if that’s even a thing. Here, you will find six caves created from a belt of limestone laid down around 440 billion years ago. The largest cave, South Glory, can be explored on your own, but the other two, Jersey and Jillabenan, are guided tours. Tickets can be purchased from Yarrangobilly Caves Visitor Centre. If you want to spend the weekend exploring the caves, thermal pools and other hidden gems, stay in this award-winning heritage guesthouse.
Lake Mulwala sits on the border between VIC and NSW, in the town of Corowa. Apart from its attractive foreshores that provide year-round recreation, the lake offers a pretty majestic sight. Think ghostly river red gums, and golden hues at sunset, which also happens to be the best time to visit. It’s a wonderful experience and sight, that is best taken in by kayak. You can hire or join a group and glide through the waters of Lake Mulwala. Underwater, you’ll find Murray Cod, Silver Perch, Murray crayfish and more.
On your next trip south, take a tour of Riverina’s highly-Instagrammable canola trail. Best viewed during August’s season bloom, the trail takes you through a sea of sun yellow canola, begging for a selfie. Although, most of these fields are working canola farms, so it’s best admired from afar. The region is also known for its food and wine, so it would be a shame to miss those experiences. For more spectacular sights of sweeping valleys, rolling hills and more, drive around, there’s plenty to see.
Armidale is a small city, home to 24,000 people, but it’s surrounded by awe-inspiring natural sights from forests to winding roads hugging waterfalls. Explore Armidale Pine Forest, spread over 170 acres or take in the towering Wollomombi Falls, which also offers views of other waterfalls in the area. Speaking of waterfalls, one of the most beautiful spots in this region is Waterfall Way, a road between Armidale and Bellingen, boasting waterfall views and surrounding scenery. It’s well worth a road trip.
Swap rolling green hills for rolling golden hills at Worimi Conservation Lands, a place of cultural significance to the Worimi Aboriginal people. The land is recognised as the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, so every time you visit, it might look a little different. Have fun exploring the dunes, some even towering 30 metres above sea level. The shifting sands reveal ancient Aboriginal cultural sites, including middens, which contain shell deposits and tool-making artefacts, campsites and burial sites. Here, you can explore Stockton Beach, which sits in front of the dunes or head to the forest to discover 1,800 hectares of blackbutt, smooth-barked apple gums and paperbark. The 4WD and quad bike tours are the best way to take in the sights.
Horse Head Rock speaks for itself. The 500 million-year-old rock is among the oldest rocks in NSW, which was barely known beyond the Sapphire Coast until the last few years when photos started popping up on Instagram from photographers. In 2020, there was a viewing platform added, so you can easily see the rock formation. You can also head around the rocks from Camel Rock Surf Beach for a great photo, but it’s only accessible during low tide and when the sea is calm.
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This article originally appeared on Thrillist.