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New South Wales

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Oceania Australia New South Wales

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Introduction

Opera House at dusk

Opera House at dusk

© All Rights Reserved Sander

New South Wales is Australia's most populous state and has great appeal to travellers worldwide. Landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, to the Blue Mountains in the west, the Hunter Region and its wineries, the coast and its countless beaches, the Snowy Mountains and Mt Kosciusko as well as over 600 national parks and reserves to explore.

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Geography

About two-thirds of New South Wales mostly consists of plains that stretch west and northwest behind the Great Dividing Range which is about 100 kilometers inland from the coast. It's generally called the Outback, although this is quite a broad term actually. The coastline is where most people live and which is also the most fertile area with soils suitable for vineyards and agriculture. In the west you will also find quite mountainous regions like the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and the Snowy Mountains in the south of the state. Here you will also find the highest mountain of Australia: Mount Kosciuszko at 2228 metres above sea level. The Murray and Darling are the most important rivers meandering westwards across the plains.

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Cities

Sydney

Sydney is the state capital and the largest city in Australia. The iconic Sydney Opera House and the world famous harbour it overlooks are some of Australia's star attractions.

Other Cities

Other significant towns and cities include Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Goulbourn, Grafton, Griffith, Katoomba, Lismore, Lithgow, Nowra, Richmond and Taree.

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Sights and Activities

National Parks

There are 126 National Parks in New South Wales and several hundred additional parks and reserves, covering 7% of the total state area. Some of the most popular include Kosciuszko National Park, Blue Mountains National Park, and Sydney Harbour National Park.

Read more about it in the National Parks in New South Wales article.

The Blue Mountains and the Snowy Mountains are one of the more popular areas for outdoor activities, including skiing from June to August.

  • Hunter Valley Wineries
  • Byron Bay
  • Outback near Broken Hill and Silverton

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

The climate in New South Wales ranges from subtropical in the northeastern coastal area to a more varied climate (at least regarding temperatures) towards the southwestern inland parts. Generally, the summermonths are from November to March and winter is from June to August. Temperatures range from 25 °C to 30 °C during the day in summer to average nightly temperatures of just a few degrees above zero more to the south, especially at somewhat higher elevations. That said, in summer, temperatures can rise to more than 45 °C during the day in the northern and northeastern Outback. The northeastern border area with Queensland has a distinct wet season from November to March, but not as pronounced as more to the north of Australia. Sydney is somewhat average for the whole of New South Wales, with average daytime temperatures between 17 (July) and 27 (January) degrees Celsius, and between 9 (July) and 19 (February) degrees at night. The first half of the year is wetter than the second half of the year, but differences are not that big.

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Getting There

By Plane

International
Sydney Airport (SYD) is the main gateway to New South Wales, with flights from Europe, Asia, North America, South America, South Africa, and other parts of Oceania.
Domestic
From Sydney, you can also fly domestically to Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Canberra and other airports across Australia.
Domestic airlines include:
- Qantas with flights to 62 airports across Australia.
- Virgin Australia services 27 airports across Australia.
- Jetstar is a budget airline servicing 21 airports across Australia.

By Train

The XPT links Sydney with Melbourne and Brisbane.
The The Indian Pacific travels between Sydney and Perth, via Adelaide, twice a week in both directions, taking about 3 days.

By Car

Well maintained roads lead into New South Wales from neighbouring states as well as from the ACT (Canberra). There are many crossings from Victoria and several good ones to and from Queensland. To and from South Australia, the main crossing is west of Broken Hill.
Many other outback roads that lead into New South Wales require a 4wd vehicle.

By Bus

Greyhound has buses north to Queensland and east and south to the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia.

By Boat

Cruiseships, cargoships or yachts are the way to go.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Sydney Airport (SYD) is where most flight across New South Wales originate and terminate. Airlines serving destinations within the state include:

By Train

CountryLink Explorer provides services within New South Wales to various destination, mainly to and from Sydney. Other cities served include Wagga Wagga and Broken Hill.
The XPT has services between cities and towns in New South Wales as well, and also the famous Indian Pacific stops in various places within New South Wales.

By Car

New South Wales is well served with many good tarmac roads and renting a car is a good way to see a lot of the state. Most dirt roads are in the outback, which can require a 4wd. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.

By Bus

Greyhound has buses throughout New South Wales.

By Boat

Mostly yachts if you want to travel along the coastline.

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Eat

The city of Sydney, unsurprisingly, represents the main food lovers' haven in New South Wales. It's the best place in the state to seek out both gourmet food and international cuisine. Particular highlights are Sydney's growing wave of Thai and fusion restaurants, and those top end restaurants whose chefs were often trained in some of the best international kitchens. Sydney's cosmopolitan population guarantees that just about every major cuisine on the planet is authentically and easily available - and generally at a great price.

Most coastal regions, including the Mid-North Coast, Northern Rivers, Central Coast, Sydney and the South Coast are a good place for seafood lovers to eat. Inland the catch may be a little less fresh.

Parts of the Central West specialise in meals made from local produce. Several of these restaurants feature regularly in the Sydney restaurant reviews, and they are beginning to have prices to match.

Vegetarians should be able to find a meal or two to suit them in almost every restaurant in the state, but are best catered for in Sydney and after that, on the somewhat "alternative" Northern Rivers.

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Drink

Sydney has much busier nightlife than the rest of the state and is the best place to find everything from international touring acts to backpacker bars and big beats. Other cities like Wollongong and Newcastle also have a diverse scene, with lots of choice of venues.
Towns that cater to travellers and backpackers, like Byron Bay, Tweed Heads, Batemans Bay, also have a selection of venues to choose from.
Just about every country town in New South Wales will have at least one pub to choose from, from historical to the modern and upmarket. There is usually at least one club, being a bowling club, services club, etc. Visitors are welcome at pubs and clubs, and clubs usually have a sign out the front saying so. Meals and drinks are usually cheaper in the club, and depending on the town it can be slightly less rough and ready. Even country pubs will often have a band one or two nights a week, a pool table, juke box etc.

Tooheys New (Lion) and Victoria Bitter (Carlton United) are the two big brands that will be on tap in most pubs around the state. Tooheys being the traditional New South Wales brand. Beer is served in schooners (smaller than a pint), or middies (about half a pint), so it is entirely reasonable to walk into most pubs and ask for 'schooner of new', and one will appear on bar. Beer glass sizes have different names and sizes in other states. On a hot day in a hot pub in the country, you will find more people drinking middles, as they stay colder. James Squire is a now premium brand of Lion, generally making richer beers, and commonly available by the bottle and sometimes on tap, much awarded a better quality beer than the mainstream, with a consistent flavour.

Bluetongue is a New South Wales independent brewer also commonly available, with a taste remarkably similar to the major brewers.

There are around a dozen other independent microbreweries in New South Wales. The beers aren't hard to find if you look, but you'll have to seek them out rather than relying on the local pub to serve them. Outside of Sydney, try Scharers Little Brewery, in Picton for a high alcohol content Bock that was guaranteed by the original brewer to leave you hangover free the next day.

Wines are grown in many parts of New South Wales:

  • The Hunter Valley is the state's major wine-growing region, and has a wine tourism industry to match. There are many winery tours from genteel wine-and-cheese tasting trips to minibuses full of partying backpackers and girls out on hens nights. It's a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, and is just a little too far for a comfortable day trip, although it can be done.
  • Mudgee is another area of wine production, over the Blue Mountains.

Although tasting at the cellar door has a certain appeal, the wines themselves will certainly be cheaper at the bottle shop down the road.

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Sleep

Outside of weekends and school holidays it is usually possible to just drive and find accommodation along the road. Most towns of any size will have a motel or two on the road into town. Sometimes in low season they will display discounted standby rates at the gate as your drive past. If not, sometimes if they are not busy, a little discount can be negotiated at the counter. Generally expect motels to be cheaper the smaller the town, and the further away from the coast, the mountains, and Sydney that you are. Expect to pay a steep premium on weekends for those motels that are a "weekend away", for Sydneysiders.

Just about every town has a pub offering accommodation. The standard varies from newly renovated to run-down, with many quaint places in-between. In winter it can even be an idea to take a small heater, as the heating in some can often be a little inadequate.

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References

  1. 1 June 2007 estimate. Source: ABS

Quick Facts

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Capital
Sydney
Size
800,642 km
Population
6,889,100[1]
Time zone
UTC+10 (+11 DST)

Contributors

as well as Peter (14%), fires (2%), dr.pepper (2%), VATeam (2%)

New South Wales Travel Helpers

  • majito

    I'm the ex-General Manager of Oz Experience. I know the coast and all the acitivity suppliers very well. I am NOT biased towards Oz Experience at all. I have 17-years experience in the Australian Backpacking industry. I'm based in Sydney

    Ask majito a question about New South Wales

This is version 46. Last edited at 9:20 on May 2, 16 by Utrecht. 52 articles link to this page.

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