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10 ways to feel New South Wales

The most memorable journeys are the ones that unfurl our world to reveal new views, connect us with our people and teach us something surprising – often about ourselves. And wherever you venture across New South Wales, you’ll find energising, life-affirming experiences to refresh your perspective. Here’s where to get started. Own your freedom There’s nothing more freeing than learning how insignificant you are – and NSW’s wild spaces are nature’s best school. As rolling hills give way to cracked earth, your road trip across Country NSW to the Outback becomes an awakening as the landscapes are imprinted in your mind’s eye. You feel beautifully tiny as the Warrumbungle’s blanket of stars drapes over you, as you watch the sunrise through the clear walls of your bubble tent in the world’s second-largest canyon; as you kick back on a secret Sydney Harbour beach only accessible by catamaran. And when you’re floating in an ocean pool, every sense fizzes as the gentle joy of freedom flows through you. The possibilities seem as limitless as the blue sky above. Fill your heart with stories  Powerful storytelling makes the world feel wonderfully small. In Sydney’s West’s, a melting pot of cultures puts the world on a plate, from classic Vietnamese in Cabramatta to Afghani street-food in Merrylands – and you won’t need a passport to discover them all on a foodie tour. On a Dreaming tour around the Harbour, you’ll hear of ancient Aboriginal stories embedded in the streetscape, while Bangarra’s dance performances showcase a rich cultural tale still unfolding. Friends come together to create new stories garnished with great wine in the Hunter Valley at Tyrrells and Brokenwood, in the Shoalhaven at Crooked River Wines and Cupitt’s Estate, and in helicopter flights between Tumbarumba vineyards. Bourke’s clear outback nights are made for spinning yarns and reciting bush poetry with friends around the campfire – and there’s kinship in the air as you quietly ponder the stories you’re yet to create. Feel a new rush   There’s a fresh sense of power when you surrender to a new adventure. It surges through you as you jump off the Thredbo chairlift to start your Kosciuszko summit trek; as the Hunter Valley awakens beneath your hot air balloon; as you abseil down orange sandstone in the Blue Mountains. Adrenaline washes away the everyday as you challenge yourself with a shark dive, when your jetboat spins on Sydney Harbour, and while hunting mud crabs alongside First Nations guides in the Tweed’s mangroves. And as you sandboard down Worimi’s golden dunes, your cheeks tingle as you fling yourself out of your comfort zone – and every sense feels unapologetically alive. Find your tribe   NSW’s welcome mat comes in a billion different designs.  So, you’re always among friends in Inner Sydney’s small bars and heritage pubs, when you catch a drag show at the iconic Imperial Hotel, or marvel at the sparkle of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. That inclusive embrace reaches all the way out to Broken Hill – where the Broken Heel Festival brings together diverse divas from all over Australia – and to the Riverina, where the Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival celebrates every spectrum of the rainbow. And in Country NSW, the Parkes Elvis Festival and Trundle ABBA Festival brings fans from all walks together. Even if you’re on the South Coast, learning to surf, strangers become mates when you catch your first wave together. Whoever you are, you’re at home in NSW. Let awe drop your jaw Awe is powerful – it stops you in your tracks and fills you with inspiration. It lives in the desert moonscapes of Mungo National Park, where Aboriginal rangers share sacred stories from 42,000 years ago, and as you walk through Gondwana Rainforests born long before this continent existed. It connects you to something deeper as you swim with whales in Jervis Bay and dolphins in Port Stephens; and when you’re perched on top of Sydney during a Bridge Climb or seaplane adventure, the world’s sparkliest living postcard shimmering below. The feeling lingers long after the sun setshttps://www.ariasydney.com.au/dinner-menu behind Barangaroo and you take your place in the twinkling skyline at Hyde Hacienda SydneySmoke, or Opera Bar, or feast at Bennelong, Quay or Aria. Wherever you visit in NSW, you’ll collect a priceless souvenir – a sense of inspiration you’ll hold on to. Grow together  There’s something so Australian about going outside to play with your children – the barefoot simplicity brings us closer, and there’s big joy in their little discoveries. Screens are forgotten as you connect during bike rides around your South Coast holiday park, treasure hunt in Opal Country, pick fruit on a Hawkesbury Farmstay or spot wildlife from your Murray River houseboat. You feel the warm and fuzzies as they see Port Macquarie’s koalas, or spend the night with the animals at Taronga Roar and Snore. There’s a wonder to share on every adventure around the Harbour – from Luna Park’s thrilling new rides to Darling Harbour’s fireworks, to seeing their faces happily shine under Vivid Sydney‘s kaleidoscope of technicolour. As your holiday memories layer up, you realise your kids have been teaching you to cherish every single moment. Reclaim your calm  From luxury retreats to wilderness playgrounds, NSW refreshes you inside and out. Right at water’s edge on Sydney Harbour, Park Hyatt Sydney’s spa treatments harness the teachings of the Dreaming to revitalise you from head to toe. Grand-scale nature nourishes your soul as you unwind in luxury in the High Country at Nimbo Fork Lodge, around the Blue Mountains at Spicers Sangoma and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, and at Halcyon House, where the Cabarita Beach’s gentle breeze is as refreshing as the luxury accommodation. Soak in healing hot springs at Yarrangobilly and Moree; and cleanse your spirit with a forest bathing trip to Budderoo National Park. As you meander through Minnamurra’s subtropical rainforests, the purity of Nature’s handiwork cleanses away stress and fills you with energy – you feel tall, calm and ready for anything. Live in the joyful moment   A feeling of connection ripples through the crowd as you sing along with bush royalty at the Tamworth Country Music Festival; when you’re all kicking up dust at the Deniliquin Ute Muster, or bouncing in sync at the Barrington Coast’s bEATS Festival. Strangers feast as friends at the Eat Merimbula Festival –where the local oysters and delicious Bega cheeses are award-winning – and clink glasses at the Orange Wine Festival. Camaraderie connects the crowd as you watch Hamilton or La Traviata, when you’re giggling at a comedy club, and watching seals clown around on Montague Island. The good vibes continue when you meet friends for drinks at YCK Laneways, and late-night meals in Chinatown and Haymarket. But the real magic is in that moment when the long laughs pause and you all happily sigh – and you realise you never want to let go of this night, these people, this place. Be renewed by old ground  NSW wears its heart on its colonial streets, sacred mountains and desert plains – you feel its pulse underfoot wherever you travel, and it fills you with energy. It beats through The Rocks, where cobbled streets hand-crafted by convicts weave between ultra-modern skyscrapers, and you can tune into each rich layer on a Sydney Architecture Walk. Across Country NSW, charming colonial villages showcase the nation’s coming of age. Discover Forbes’ colourful Gold Rush history on a Heritage Walk through the town, learn about bushrangers in Gundagai and Braidwood, or visit Carcoar, where convict-built structures still stand proud. You tune into the bush’s timeless heartbeat as you hike sacred Mount Gulaga’s; while motorcycle touring through Wiradjuri Country with Bundyi Cultural Tours; and as you soak in sparkling river pools at the Brewarrina Fish Traps – a meeting place for Aboriginal people for more than 40,000 years. As you relax at your Culgoa campsite afterwards, surrounded by coolabah trees, the endless rhythm of the bush pulses through you. Refresh your view  When you step out of the ordinary to look for a new perspective, life awakens around you. Paddling through Coffs Harbour’s waterways with your Wajaana Yaam guides, you see the land as the ages-old keeper of stories, the giver of life. Standing atop Mount Gower, and taking in Lord Howe Island’s wilderness, you marvel at how the Earth looked in the beginning – and when you’re staying underground in White Cliffs, you discover how it feels inside. Your mind opens as you explore South Eveleigh, where culture, sustainability and innovation come together in everything from world-class eateries to performance and urban farms. Be energised by towering artworks at the Riverina Outdoor Art Trail and Broken Hill Living Desert and Sculptures gallery; challenge your ideas in Chippendale’s street-art-filled laneways; and revel in the raw power of creativity at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Whichever artistic, cultural or natural view you choose, NSW is always revealing invigorating ways to see the world.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Often I’ve heard it said that when we travel we should experience a place with all five senses. This post has really whetted my appetite for exploring New South Wales.

    A great piece of travel writing that makes me want to pack my case and get on a plane as soon as I can.

  2. I am hoping that refresh your view also will include recharge your glass with some of the state’s excellent vintages?

  3. On my last visit to Australia I felt that Aborigine culture was seriously underrated. Great to hear about the Dreaming Tour redressing the balance.

    Remember that a lot of us were brought up reading Walkabout and watching the film too. That’s part of the Australia we expect to see.

    1. Thanks for your recommendation/endorsement, Monica! I understand it’s the eucalyptus ‘mist’ that causes the blue colour that gives the mountains their name.

  4. For years I had been planning a big trip to follow my retirement. When I finally retired no one was getting into Australia because of Coronavirus. That delay could have been a good thing as there are plenty of ideas here to make it the trip of a lifetime when it finally happens. I’m hoping that will now be sometime next year.

  5. I was hoping you’d mention sailing!! My partner surprised me with a sailing trip through the Sydney Harbor just after New Years a few years ago and it was truly an unforgettable experience. Love this wholesome post. Thank you!

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