Road Trip Adventure in Regional New South Wales

Top 10 spots to visit

Planning a road trip in regional New South Wales? You’re in for a treat! This region is packed with stunning landscapes, charming towns, and hidden gems that promise an unforgettable adventure. Embarking on a road trip through regional New South Wales is an adventure filled with diverse landscapes, rich history, and unique attractions. From the rugged beauty of the Blue Mountains to the astronomical wonders of Parkes, the wildlife and heritage of Dubbo, or the natural splendour of Barrington Tops National Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Use this guide to plan your road trip, create an interactive map to keep track of your stops, and get ready to discover the hidden gems of this incredible region. Here’s your ultimate road trip guide to the top 10 spots to visit and some notable points along the way:

1. Exploring the Blue Mountains: A Natural Wonderland

Just a short drive West of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The drive from Sydney to Katoomba, the main town in the region, takes about 90 minutes. Spring and autumn are ideal for outdoor activities, with mild temperatures and stunning displays of wildflowers and autumn foliage. Summer can be warm, but it’s a great time to enjoy the region’s many water features and cooler high-altitude climate. Winter brings cooler temperatures and occasional snowfall, making it a magical time to visit for those who enjoy cozy fires and winter scenery.

This World Heritage-listed area is known for its dramatic landscapes, towering cliffs, caves, ancient rainforests, and cascading waterfalls. The Blue Mountains are renowned for their extensive network of walking tracks, catering to all fitness levels and interests. Whether you’re looking for a short, easy walk or a challenging multi-day trek, there’s something for everyone. Some popular hikes include the Grand Canyon Walk, a loop track that takes you through lush rainforest and past towering cliffs, and the Ruined Castle Walk, which offers panoramic views of the valley and surrounding peaks.

Road Trip in Regional New South Wales

Image via Destination NSW

For the adventurous, the Blue Mountains offer some of the best rock climbing and abseiling opportunities in Australia. The region’s rugged cliffs and deep gorges provide a stunning backdrop for these activities, which cater to both beginners and experienced climbers. Several local companies offer guided climbing and abseiling tours, providing all the necessary equipment and safety briefings.

The Blue Mountains area is also rich in Aboriginal culture and heritage. Several local tour operators offer guided walks and cultural experiences that provide a deeper understanding of the region’s Indigenous history and traditions. You can learn about bush tucker, traditional art, and the significance of the land to the local Aboriginal people.

With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and diverse range of activities, the Blue Mountains are a must-visit destination for anyone exploring regional New South Wales. Use this guide to plan your visit and make the most of your time in this incredible part of Australia. Whether you’re hiking to breathtaking lookouts, exploring ancient caves, or simply relaxing in a luxurious spa, the Blue Mountains offer something for everyone to enjoy.

Must-See Attractions:

Three Sisters

A road trip to the Blue Mountains wouldn’t be complete without visiting The Three Sisters. This is arguably the most iconic landmark in the area. This unique rock formation, located at Echo Point in Katoomba, consists of three towering sandstone pillars. Each sister stands over 900 meters above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the Jamison Valley. The site is steeped in Aboriginal legend and provides a fascinating insight into the cultural heritage of the area. The lookout at Echo Point is easily accessible and offers stunning photo opportunities at any time of day.

Blue Mountains

Image via Tourism Australia

Scenic World

Scenic World in Katoomba offers a range of thrilling experiences that allow you to explore the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains from different perspectives. The Scenic Railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world, takes you on a heart-pounding descent through a cliff-side tunnel to the lush rainforest floor. The Scenic Skyway, a glass-floored cable car, offers panoramic views of the Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and the Jamison Valley. Scenic World also features the Scenic Walkway, a 2.4 km elevated boardwalk through ancient rainforest, and the Scenic Cableway, which provides a gentle ride to the valley floor.

Jenolan Caves

The Jenolan Caves are a spectacular limestone cave system that dates back millions of years. Located just outside the Blue Mountains, this network of caverns offers guided tours that take you through awe-inspiring chambers filled with stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and underground rivers. The caves are home to a diverse array of wildlife, including glow worms and cave-dwelling creatures. For an added thrill, consider taking the adventure caving tour, which allows you to crawl and climb through less-explored sections of the caves.

Jenolan Caves

Image via Destination NSW

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls is a breathtaking waterfall that cascades over three tiers into the Jamison Valley below. The falls can be accessed via several walking tracks, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. The Wentworth Falls Track takes you to the top of the falls, where you can enjoy stunning views from the lookout. For a more immersive experience, follow the National Pass Trail, which takes you down a series of steps to the base of the falls, offering an up-close view of this natural wonder.

Lithgow – (Seven Valleys)

Lithgow is located in the Seven Valleys area and offers a multitude of attractions including the Zig Zag Railway, the Glow Worm Tunnel, the Blast Furnace Park and Hassans Walls Lookout, which gives you a panoramic view of the Blue Mountains. Constructed in the 1860’s, the Zig Zag Railway is a must see for train enthusiasts and offers a fascinating steam train journey through the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains. The glow worm tunnel is a former railway line which is now home to thousands of glow worms that create a mesmerizing star-like display on the tunnel walls. It’s a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers. Hassans Walls Lookout gives you a panoramic view of the Blue Mountains and provides stunning vistas over the valley, especially at sunrise or sunset.

The Glow Worm Tunnel, located in the Wollemi National Park, is a 400m long tunnel that was originally part of a railway line. As you walk through the tunnel, you’ll be greeted by the magical sight of thousands of glow worms lighting up the walls like a starlit sky. It’s an easy walk that can be enjoyed by all ages, and the tunnel’s cool, damp environment provides a refreshing break from the summer heat.

For breathtaking views during your road trip, Hassans Walls Lookout is unbeatable. It’s the highest lookout in the Blue Mountains, offering expansive views over the Lithgow Valley and beyond. The lookout is accessible by car, and there are picnic facilities and walking tracks nearby, making it an excellent spot for a relaxing afternoon in nature.

Where to stay in Lithgow: The Bowen Inn Motel offers comfortable 4 star accommodation with an on-site restaurant in a great location.

2. Bathurst: Race into town

Bathurst is located on the banks of the Macquarie River in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales and is a vibrant regional city brimming with history, natural beauty and a the home of Australian Motor Racing.

Known for its rich heritage, Bathurst offers visitors a unique blend of past and present. From the adrenaline of the famous Mount Panorama Circuit to the serene landscapes of its surrounding countryside, Bathurst is a must-visit destination that promises an unforgettable journey through time and terrain. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a scenic getaway, Bathurst welcomes you with open arms and countless adventures.

Must-See Attractions:

Mount Panorama/Wahluu

Mount Panorama, also known by its Wiradjuri name Wahluu, is a renowned motor racing circuit located in Bathurst, New South Wales. This legendary track, revered by motorsport enthusiasts, boasts a 6.213 km circuit that hosts the famous Bathurst 1000 and other high-profile racing events. Perched on the edge of the city, the circuit features challenging corners and steep gradients, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Beyond its racing fame, Mount Panorama/Wahluu is a site of cultural significance to the local Wiradjuri people and a popular spot for tourists, offering spectacular views and a chance to drive on a piece of Australian motorsport history.

National Motor Racing Museum

The National Motor Racing Museum in Bathurst showcases an extensive collection of classic race cars, motorcycles, and memorabilia that trace the thrilling history of motor racing in the country. From legendary Bathurst 1000 winners to the evolution of motorsport technology, the museum offers a comprehensive look into the past and present of racing. Interactive exhibits and detailed displays allow visitors to relive the excitement of the track and appreciate the legacy of Australian motorsport heroes. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just curious, the National Motor Racing Museum offers a fascinating journey through the world of speed and competition.

Bathurst

Image via Destination NSW

Abercrombie House

Abercrombie House, nestled in the heart of Bathurst, stands as a magnificent testament to Australian heritage and Victorian-era grandeur. Built in the 1870s, this historic mansion offers visitors a captivating journey through time with its opulent architecture, beautifully maintained gardens, and an array of period furnishings that reflect the elegance of a bygone era. Guided tours of Abercrombie House provide an insightful glimpse into the life of the Stewart family, who originally built and resided in this stately home. Today, it serves as a cultural landmark, hosting events, concerts, and exhibitions that celebrate Bathurst’s rich history and vibrant community.

3. Orange: Wine Country in the Central West

Winter or summer, orange is the perfect destination to visit year-round and a perfect stopping point for your road trip. Known for its wineries and vibrant food scene, Orange is a picturesque regional gem that beckons with its lush vineyards, charming countryside and vibrant food and wine scene.

Known for its stunning seasonal landscapes, Orange offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, making it a perfect destination for both relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re exploring its renowned wineries, hiking through the breathtaking Pinnacle Reserve, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll through its historic town centre, Orange provides a delightful escape from the everyday hustle and offers a perfect stop for wine tasting and gourmet dining. Come and discover why Orange is celebrated as one of Australia’s premier destinations for gourmet experiences and outdoor enjoyment.

Must-See Attractions:

Philip Shaw Winery

Nestled amidst the picturesque rolling hills of Orange, New South Wales, Philip Shaw Winery is a beacon of innovation and excellence in Australian viticulture. Founded by the eponymous Philip Shaw, a visionary with over five decades of winemaking experience, the winery embodies a passion for crafting exceptional, cool-climate wines. Visitors to the winery are greeted by lush vineyards and a state-of-the-art cellar door where they can sample an exquisite range of wines, including the flagship Shiraz, elegant Chardonnay, and vibrant Pinot Noir. The warm, inviting ambiance of the tasting room, coupled with the stunning landscape, makes for an unforgettable experience that beautifully showcases the art of fine winemaking.

Philip Shaw Winery

The winery’s grounds boast stunning views of Mount Canobolas and offer ample space for picnics, guided tours, and private events. Philip Shaw Winery also features a beautiful restaurant that serves locally sourced, seasonal cuisine, perfectly paired with their premium wines. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply looking for a serene escape, Philip Shaw Winery in Orange provides a delightful blend of hospitality, heritage, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination in the Central Tablelands.

Caution: Don’t drink and drive during your road trip! Make sure you have alternate transport to the winery if you plan on doing any wine tasting.

Pinnacle Reserve and Lookout

Pinnacle Reserve and Lookout offers a serene escape into nature and a breathtaking vantage point that captures the essence of the region’s beauty. Just a short drive from Orange’s city centre, this hidden gem invites visitors to explore its lush eucalypt forest, ancient fern gullies, and stunning panoramas that stretch to the imposing Mount Canobolas. The reserve’s 1.5-kilometer walking trail is well-maintained and suitable for all fitness levels, leading to the Pinnacle Lookout, where an awe-inspiring view of rolling hills, patchwork farmlands, and vineyards awaits.

The lookout, equipped with safety railings and benches, provides a perfect spot for relaxation and reflection, making it ideal for a quiet picnic or a moment of contemplation. Pinnacle Reserve is also a sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts, home to wallabies, echidnas, and a variety of bird species, enhancing the sense of connection with nature. Open year-round and free to enter, Pinnacle Reserve and Lookout is a must-visit for anyone seeking to experience the tranquil beauty of Orange’s landscape.

4. Parkes: A Town with Stellar Attractions

A road trip through regional Australia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Parkes. Parkes is a vibrant regional town that captivates visitors with its rich history, fascinating attractions, and warm country hospitality. Known famously for “The Dish,” its world-renowned radio telescope, Parkes plays a pivotal role in Australia’s astronomical achievements.

Beyond its scientific allure, the town is also celebrated for its lively cultural events, including the iconic Parkes Elvis Festival, which transforms the town into a hub of rock ‘n’ roll excitement every January. From exploring the scenic landscapes and historic sites to immersing yourself in the local arts and music scene, Parkes offers a diverse and enriching experience for all who visit.

When driving from Parkes to Wellington, you will drive through a little town called Yeoval, which has connections to Banjo Paterson. His family had a farm in the area and he spent the first 8 years of his life there. Make sure you check out the statue of Banjo Paterson, the jolly swagman from Waltzing Matilda and the big Banjo Hat on your way through!

Must-See Attractions:

The Dish: Parkes Radio Telescope

The town of Parkes is famous for “The Dish” – a 64 meter radio telescope at the Parkes Observatory Visitor Centre. This iconic structure played a critical role in relaying live images of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Today, it remains one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere, contributing to cutting-edge research in astronomy and space exploration. Visitors can explore the informative visitors’ centre, enjoy interactive exhibits, and marvel at the sheer scale and significance of this scientific landmark. The surrounding grounds also offer lovely picnic spots and walking trails.

Radio Telescope Parkes

Image via Destination NSW

Parkes Elvis Festival

Time your visit to Parkes to coincide with the annual Parkes Elvis Festival, held every January. This vibrant event transforms the town into a haven for Elvis Presley fans from around the globe, featuring live music, parades, Elvis lookalikes and themed competitions. It’s a fun and lively experience that attracts visitors from all over. From Elvis-themed parades and tribute shows to concerts, competitions, and even weddings, the festival captures the spirit and charisma of Elvis in full swing. Visitors can immerse themselves in the music, fashion, and culture of the 1950s and 1960s, enjoying a nostalgic journey that highlights Parkes’ enduring love for Elvis and its unique place in Australian cultural festivals.

Parkes Motor Museum

Car enthusiasts should stop by the Parkes Motor Museum, which offers a captivating insight through automotive history. The museum houses a diverse collection of vintage and classic cars, motorbikes and memorabilia and showcases the evolution of motoring throughout the ages. Visitors can admire beautifully restored vehicles, learn about their technological advancements, and appreciate their cultural significance. From rare models to iconic classics, the Parkes Motor Museum provides an enriching experience for car enthusiasts and casual visitors alike and is a great way to spend a few hours reminiscing about the golden age of automobiles.

Memorial Hill

For a bit of relaxation and reflection, take a walk up Memorial Hill which stands as a poignant tribute to Australia’s war heros. The lookout offers a serene spot to take in the panoramic views of Parkes and the surrounding countryside, making it an ideal spot for a picnic or a quiet moment to take in the scenery. The hill is home to a war memorial that honours the sacrifices of local service members and features an impressive obelisk which commemorates the men and women who served for our country.

Memorial Hill Parkes

Peak Hill

Just a short drive North of Parkes is the historic gold mining town of Peak Hill. The Peak Hill Open Cut Gold Mine is popular among tourists to the area and played a pivotal role in Australia’s gold rush era. Today, it stands as a testament to the region’s rich mining heritage. Visitors can explore remnants of the mine’s operations, including old shafts and processing equipment, which offer insights into the harsh conditions endured by early miners. The site also features informative displays detailing the mine’s history and its impact on the local economy.

Peak Hill Open Cut Gold Mine, Peak Hill

Image via Destination NSW

Sculptures Down the Lachlan

Sculptures Down the Lachlan is a must-see permanent public art trail spanning 100 kilometres from Forbes to Condobolin NSW. Experience art intertwined with nature, showcasing the untamed beauty of the rural landscape that surrounds these larger-than-life installations. Featuring over twenty sculptures created by some of Australia’s top artists. Designed to showcase the raw, unmanicured beauty of the rural landscape in which envelops the larger-than-life art installations.

Sculptures along the Lauchlan

The Goobang National Park

The Goobang National Park is a great stopover between Parkes and Dubbo with walking tracks that are guaranteed to get your heart rate up. The park is a sanctuary of natural beauty and diverse wildlife, spanning over 42,000 hectares. This park offers visitors a chance to explore rugged terrain, dense woodlands, and tranquil creeks running through the area. It’s renowned for its unique mix of flora and fauna, including rare species like the brush-tailed rock-wallaby and various bird species. The park is also home to ancient Aboriginal rock art, showcasing its cultural significance.

Where to stay in Parkes: Parkes International Motor Inn or Station Motel in Parkes both offer comfortable 4 star accommodation with on-site restaurants for your convenience.

5. Dubbo: Wildlife and Heritage Wonderland

If you are road tripping with kids, Dubbo is a fantastic place for them to explore. Dubbo is a dynamic regional city that beckons visitors with its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and a touch of adventure. As the gateway to the central west, Dubbo offers an array of attractions that cater to all interests, from the renowned Taronga Western Plains Zoo, where you can encounter exotic wildlife up close, to the historic Dubbo Gaol, which provides a fascinating glimpse into Australia’s penal history.

Whether you’re exploring the expansive parks, enjoying the vibrant arts scene, or indulging in the local culinary delights, Dubbo promises a memorable and diverse experience for every traveller.

Must-See Attractions:

Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Dubbo is home to the renowned Taronga Western Plains Zoo which is renowned for its open-range design, which allows rare and endangered animals from all around the world to roam in expansive enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. You can explore the zoo’s 5km circuit by car, on foot, by bike, electric safari cart or even pedal boat and get up close with the elephants, giraffes, rhinos, lions, monkeys and hippos via a behind the scenes tour. The zoo also houses a wildlife hospital where you can discover how the zoo’s team heals wild animals.

Baby Giraffes at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, NSW

Image via Tourism Australia

Old Dubbo Gaol

Step back in time at the restored Old Dubbo Gaol, a well-preserved 19th-century prison. The gaol offers guided tours, interactive exhibits, and a fascinating look into the harsh realities of colonial justice. It’s both educational and eerily intriguing. The gaol is a state heritage listed site, which remains intact, where you can wander the cell blocks, gaze upon the gallows and take in the birds-eye-view from the watch tower. During the school holidays the gaol comes alive with costumed characters who perform thrilling escape re-enactments.

Dubbo Observatory

For a stellar night out, visit the Dubbo Observatory and become an Astronomer for the night. Here, you can stargaze and learn about the wonders of the night sky from knowledgeable guides. Situated in the clear skies of regional New South Wales, it offers visitors a chance to peer deep into the cosmos of the milky way, with its state-of-the-art telescopes and guided tours. Whether you’re a novice astronomer or a seasoned stargazer, the observatory provides a unique opportunity to observe planets, stars, distant galaxies and celestial phenomena under the guidance of knowledgeable astronomers. It’s an educational and awe-inspiring experience for anyone curious about the mysteries of the universe.

Royal Flying Doctor Visitor Centre

The Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre in Dubbo offers a captivating glimpse into Australia’s iconic aerial medical service. Visitors can explore interactive displays, engaging exhibits, and multimedia presentations that highlight the heroic efforts of the Flying Doctors in providing vital healthcare to remote outback communities. Learn about the history of this essential service, witness firsthand the life-saving technologies used on their missions and gain a deeper appreciation for the dedication of the medical staff who serve Australia’s vast and rugged landscapes. The Visitor Centre is fully accessible and appropriate for all ages.

Wellington Caves

Wellington Caves offers a fascinating underground adventure amidst ancient limestone formations and captivating natural wonders. Visitors can explore the Cathedral Cave, renowned for its stunning stalactites and stalagmites, or venture into the nearby Phosphate Mine for a glimpse into the area’s mining history. The caves also house the Wellington Caves Complex, featuring a museum that showcases 400-million year old marine fossils and 1-million year old megafauna fossils as well as the remains of Australia’s giant marsupials. With guided tours available, Wellington Caves provide an educational and awe-inspiring experience for nature enthusiasts and history buffs.

Where to stay in Dubbo: The Aberdeen Motel offers comfortable 4 star accommodation right in the centre of Dubbo.

6. Narrabri: Pilliga Forest & Mount Kaputar National Parks

If you are wanting to hike in stunning National Parks during your road trip through regional New South Wales, then Narrabri is a key spot to explore with multiple parks throughout the area. Narrabri offers unparalleled access to the majestic Pilliga Forest and the awe-inspiring Mount Kaputar National Park.

The Pilliga Forest, with its vast woodlands and mysterious sandstone formations, is a sanctuary for wildlife and a paradise for bushwalkers and birdwatchers alike. Just a short drive away, the Mount Kaputar National Park unveils breathtaking views, dramatic escarpments, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna, making it a must-visit for hikers and photographers.

Must-See Attractions:

Pilliga Forest

The Pilliga Forest, located near Narrabri in New South Wales, is renowned for its expansive woodlands and diverse ecosystem. Covering over 500,000 hectares, it stands as one of Australia’s largest and most significant inland forests. The forest is rich in biodiversity, housing an array of native flora and fauna, including the iconic Pilliga mouse and various bird species. It’s also home to ancient cypress pine trees, some of which are estimated to be over 300 years old.

Pilliga Forest Lookout Tower, Pilliga

Image via Narrabri Shire Council

Beyond its ecological importance, the Pilliga Forest holds cultural significance for local Aboriginal communities, who have inhabited the area for millennia. The forest offers visitors a chance to explore its natural wonders through a network of walking trails, showcasing its rugged beauty and providing opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. For those seeking a deeper connection to nature and history, the Pilliga Forest offers a serene retreat into the heart of inland New South Wales.

Mount Kaputar National Park

Whether you’re seeking adventure on its challenging trails or simply wishing to immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature, Mount Kaputar National Park is a spectacular natural gem renowned for its volcanic landscape and diverse ecosystems. At its heart stands Mount Kaputar, an ancient volcanic peak that rises to 1,510 meters, offering sweeping vistas of the surrounding countryside. The park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting a network of walking tracks that wind through lush rainforests, rugged slopes, and dramatic rock formations. The perfect spot to stretch your legs during your road trip! One of its highlights is the Summit Walk, which leads to the summit of Mount Kaputar and rewards hikers with breathtaking panoramic views stretching as far as the eye can see.

Mount Kaputar National Park

Image via Narrabri Region

The Sawn Rocks, a unique rock formation that looks like a giant organ pipe, is a highlight of the park and a must-see for visitors. Beyond its scenic beauty, Mount Kaputar National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, and a myriad of bird species. The park’s diverse habitats, from dry eucalypt forests to subalpine woodlands, support a rich array of flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Where to stay in Narrabri: The Adelong Motel in Narrabri is a 4 star motel which offers warm, country service.

7. Tamworth: Country Music Capital

Tamworth in regional New South Wales, often dubbed the “Country Music Capital of Australia,” is a vibrant town that offers much more than just melodies and guitar twangs. Nestled amidst rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, Tamworth boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning outdoor attractions, and a warm, welcoming community.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast drawn by the renowned Tamworth Country Music Festival or an adventurer eager to explore the scenic trails and historic sites, Tamworth provides a delightful blend of urban charm and rural beauty. With its iconic Big Golden Guitar and a plethora of local experiences, Tamworth is the perfect destination for travellers looking to immerse themselves in the heart of Australia’s country soul.

Must-See Attractions:

Tamworth Country Music Festival:

Every January, the Tamworth Country Music Festival draws hundreds of the world’s top country music stars and thousands of enthusiastic fans. This iconic event transforms Tamworth into a vibrant hub where music enthusiasts from around the globe gather to enjoy live performances, busking competitions, and a myriad of country-themed activities. From up-and-coming artists to seasoned legends, the festival showcases a diverse lineup that caters to all tastes in country music. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of lively concerts or the chance to discover emerging talent, grab your cowboy boots and prepare to sway to days and nights brimming with unforgettable entertainment.

Big Golden Guitar

Standing tall at 12m high, the Big Golden Guitar at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre is an iconic symbol of the city’s deep-rooted connection to country music. Erected in 1988, this giant guitar monument is a replica of the famous Golden Guitar Award and pays homage to Tamworth’s status as the “Country Music Capital of Australia.” Adorned in a shimmering coat of gold, it attracts visitors year-round who come to admire its impressive stature and snap selfies with one of Australia’s “Big Things”.

The Big Golden Guitar

Image via Destination NSW

Taste Tamworth Festival

The Taste Tamworth Festival is a vibrant culinary celebration held annually in Tamworth, New South Wales, showcasing the region’s finest produce, wines, and gourmet delights. Spanning several days, the festival features an array of events including the Pop-Up Bar, Taste in the Park, High Tea in the Gardens, Farm to Table Dinner, and the Long Lunch, where local chefs and artisans present delectable dishes and products. With live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and market stalls, the festival offers a perfect blend of food, fun, and community spirit, making it a must-visit for food lovers and those seeking to savour the rich flavours of Tamworth. The Taste Festival attracts approx. 10,000 visitors to the area every April.

8. Barrington Tops National Park

Located in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Barrington Tops National Park is one of the largest temperate rainforests in Australia, spanning more than 83,000 hectares of unspoilt wilderness. The National Park forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia which is a World Heritage Site and is home to hundreds of species of birds, insects and larger animals.

Barrington Tops offers a variety of trails for avid hikers or casual walkers, that showcase its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely walk through pristine wetlands or an adventurous hike to a breathtaking peak, this park has something for everyone. The Gloucester Tops Circuit, Polblue Swamp Walk, and Careys Peak Track are just a few of the many trails that offer unforgettable experiences in this magnificent wilderness. Pack your gear, grab your map, and get ready to discover the grandeur of Barrington Tops!

Must-See Attractions:

Gloucester Tops Circuit

Walk through snow gum woodland and ancient rainforest to lookouts and waterfalls, along the Gloucester Tops circuit. This 8km loop combines 3 separate popular and scenic tracks (the Antarctic Beech Forest Walk, the River Walk, and the Snow Gum Track) through lush landscapes in Barrington Tops National Park.

Starting from the Gloucester Tops picnic area, the trail takes you through enchanting rainforests adorned with ancient Antarctic Beech trees, across crystal-clear rivers, and into open snow gum woodlands. This circuit encompasses the stunning Gloucester Falls which cascades gracefully over the rocks, creating a serene setting and breathtaking photo opportunities. The trail is well-marked and suitable for hikers of moderate fitness levels, offering spectacular views, serene forest ambiance, and the opportunity to spot unique wildlife.

Polblue Swamp Walk Mount

Polblue Swamp is teeming with unique flora and fauna, providing a tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll along its boardwalk. Located at one of the highest points in the park, Polblue Swamp is a stunning subalpine bog surrounded by eucalypt forests and snow gums.

Just a short walk from the swap, Polblue Falls offers a mesmerizing view as the water cascades down rocky tiers surrounded by dense forest. These falls are a must-see for their serene beauty and pristine water cascading through the lush landscape.

Both locations provide a serene escape into nature and are accessible via well-maintained walking trails, making them ideal for a day of exploration and relaxation amidst breathtaking natural beauty. The Polblue Swamp picnic and camping area provides a great base for exploring the area, with facilities including toilets and picnic tables.

Careys Peak Track

Standing at an elevation of around 1,544 meters, Careys Peak is a stunning lookout point renowned for its breathtaking vistas over the Barrington Wilderness, Hunter Valley and the coastline on clear days. It’s one of the highest peaks in the region and a popular destination for hikers seeking panoramic views and a sense of serenity.

The trek to Careys Peak (accessible via the Corker Trail or the Aeroplane Hill Trail) is challenging but rewarding, offering a rich tapestry of experiences, traversing lush rainforests, ancient beech trees, and open highlands. Once at the summit, visitors are rewarded with expansive, uninterrupted views that stretch out across the landscape, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers alike. The peak has historical significance with the remnants of a heritage hut near the summit, adding a touch of historical interest to the hike.

9. Nelson Bay to Newcastle: Coastal Wonders

The stretch from Nelson Bay to Newcastle along the New South Wales coastline offers road trippers a stunning array of natural beauty, historic landmarks, and vibrant communities. Nelson Bay, nestled in Port Stephens, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, making it a paradise for water enthusiasts.

As you journey south to Newcastle, you’ll pass through charming coastal towns, pristine beaches, and scenic landscapes that epitomize the beauty of the Australian coast. This region is not just a feast for the eyes but also a haven for those seeking adventure and relaxation. From the thrill of exploring vast sand dunes to the serene beauty of hidden islands, this region invites you to discover its many treasures.With its vibrant marina, bustling waterfront eateries, and stunning views from Tomaree Head, Nelson Bay is a must-visit for anyone seeking a blend of relaxation and adventure along Australia’s stunning east coast.

Nelson Bay offers more than just its stunning coastline though. Visitors can explore the vibrant local markets, showcasing fresh seafood and artisanal crafts, perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll. For those seeking a bit of history, a visit to the nearby Nelson Head Heritage Lighthouse and Reserve provides insights into the area’s maritime past and offers panoramic views of the bay and beyond.

Must-See Attractions:

Dolphin and Whale Watching in Nelson Bay

Nelson Bay is famed for its resident population of bottlenose dolphins. Visitors can embark on a dolphin-watching cruise and see these playful creatures up close. During the migration season, the bay also offers spectacular whale-watching opportunities, with humpback whales often breaching close to shore. The calm, clear waters of the bay also make it a perfect destination for snorkelling, kayaking, and boating.

Nelson Bay

Image via Destination NSW

Tomaree Head Summit Walk

For panoramic views of the coast, the Tomaree Head Summit Walk is a must. This relatively short but steep walk offers breathtaking vistas over Port Stephens, the offshore islands, and the surrounding beaches. It’s a great spot for photography and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

The summit of Tomaree Head stands 161 meters above the entrance to Port Stephens. The trail to get there offers stunning vistas of Port Stephens and its picturesque coastline. At the summit, marvel at the expansive views extending to Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah Islands, crucial nesting sites for the endangered Gould’s petrel.

From the Northern platform you can soak in panoramic scenes of Yacaaba Head, Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah, and Broughton Islands. Meanwhile, the South platform affords breathtaking views of Zenith, Wreck, and Box Beaches, as well as Fingal Island and Point Stephens Lighthouse.

Afterward, relax at the lookout’s picnic table with a leisurely lunch or morning tea, making the most of the panoramic vista. On the descent, explore the Fort Tomaree walk and its historic World War II gun emplacements, adding a fascinating historical dimension to your outdoor adventure.

Hidden Gem – Fingal Island

Just a short distance from Shoal Bay, Fingal Island is a true hidden gem known mostly to locals. Fingal Island boasts pristine beaches and rugged coastal scenery. Accessible by a short boat trip, the island features the historic Point Stephens Lighthouse and offers secluded beaches and excellent snorkelling spots. It’s a tranquil retreat that feels worlds away from the more tourist-heavy areas with views from the island back to the mainland worth the effort to visit.

Standing 20 meters tall, the lighthouse was built in 1862 and looks out across the rocks of Fingal Bay. The lighthouse was originally operated by resident lighthouse keepers and provided a crucial navigation aid for vessels traveling through the waters off the New South Wales coast. Over the years, the lighthouse has been automated, but it remains an iconic landmark in the region, offering stunning views of the surrounding coastline and the Pacific Ocean. Today, visitors can explore the area around the lighthouse, learn about its history, and take in the picturesque vistas from its vantage point. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Ruins are closed to the public for safety reasons.

Fingal Island

Image via Destination NSW

Warning: The island is attached to the mainland by a natural sand spit during low tide, however it is not advisable to walk across, due to the high risk of drowning during the changing tide and swell of the ocean. The safest way to explore this island is by an organised boat tour. Do not cross the sand spit in any direction if there is any water over the sandbar.

Stockton Beach Sand Dunes in Port Stephens

Experience sand boarding on the largest continuously moving coastal sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. Located near Anna Bay, the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens is a natural wonder that stretches for over 32 kilometres along the coastline.

Visitors can explore these magnificent dunes on a guided quad biking, camel or horse riding tour or take a thrilling 4WD adventure across the sand. These impressive dunes, towering up to 40 meters in height, provide a unique playground for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike, attracting visitors from all over to experience the thrill of sliding down the slopes or exploring the rugged terrain.

Beyond its recreational appeal, Stockton Beach Sand Dunes hold significant cultural and environmental importance. The area is rich in Aboriginal heritage, with ancient middens and cultural sites scattered throughout the dunes, offering insights into the region’s indigenous history. Conservation efforts are ongoing to preserve this delicate ecosystem, home to diverse flora and fauna adapted to the harsh coastal environment. Visitors are encouraged to explore responsibly, respecting the cultural significance and natural beauty of Stockton Beach Sand Dunes while enjoying the exhilarating experiences it offers.

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Heading South from Port Stephens, driving down the picturesque coastline of New South Wales you will find the historic Newcastle Ocean Baths, built in the 1920s, which offer a unique swimming experience to visitors to the area. These art deco saltwater pools are a popular spot for both locals and tourists to relax and enjoy the sea in a safe environment. Visitors flock here not only for a refreshing swim in the saltwater pool, but also to soak up the panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Whether lounging on the surrounding grassy knolls or taking a leisurely dip in the baths, this seaside oasis offers a perfect blend of relaxation and scenic beauty. The adjacent beach is perfect for a leisurely walk, and the area’s vibrant café scene adds to the charm.

Newcastle

Recently renovated, the City of Newcastle has committed to preserving the aesthetic charm of the Inter-war striped classical/art deco façade of the baths, along with the iconic bleacher seating. Simultaneously, they have enhanced public amenities by adding more shade, improving disability access, increasing seating options, and installing new public changerooms equipped with hot water showers. The change rooms and public amenities are open from 5.30am to dusk. Lifeguard patrol hours are between 9am and 5.30pm Monday to Sunday, except during periods of pool cleaning.

Please note: The Newcastle Ocean Baths will be undergoing their annual sand removal and maintenance regime from 7th August 2024 – 28th August 2024 when the baths will be closed to the public.

10. Central Coast New South Wales

The Central Coast of New South Wales, stretching between Sydney and Newcastle, is a coastal paradise brimming with natural beauty, charming towns, and a laid-back atmosphere. Known for its golden beaches, lush national parks, and a thriving arts scene, this region offers a delightful mix of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re looking to bask in the sun, explore rugged coastal trails, or indulge in fresh seafood, the Central Coast has something to offer every traveller.

The Central Coast’s blend of natural beauty and quaint coastal towns makes it a perfect destination for those looking to explore some of the best that New South Wales has to offer. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, the region’s diverse attractions and laid-back vibe will leave you enchanted and eager to return.

Must-See Attractions:

Lake Macquarie

Between Newcastle and the Central Coast, you will find Lake Macquarie, Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning over 110 square kilometres, this picturesque water body offers a myriad of activities such as sailing, fishing, and kayaking against a backdrop of lush bushland and rolling hills. The lake’s serene waters are perfect for swimming, while its numerous sandy beaches invite relaxation and family picnics. Scenic walking and cycling trails weave through its shores, providing panoramic views and opportunities to spot native wildlife. With charming lakeside villages dotting its perimeter, Lake Macquarie promises a tranquil escape amidst natural beauty.

lake macquarie

Hidden Gem: Caves Beach near Swansea

Just East of Lake Macquarie, is a little-known beach mainly known to locals. Caves Beach was named for the network of sculptural sea caves which spread along the beach but can only be accessed during low tide.

Head down the path to the beach, turn right and you’ll see a track over the rocks which leads to the caves below. There are a variety of different sized caves to explore, some of which are so small that you will need to crawl through the opening. The kids will love exploring all the rock pools within the caves, eager to discover any resident creatures (periwinkle shells, crabs or small fish) living within them.

The Entrance

Mention the Central Coast to anyone and they will definitely bring up The Entrance. The Entrance is a family-friendly destination famous for its picturesque waterfront with crystal clear blue water, bustling markets, and picturesque picnic spots. It’s a great place to relax by the water and enjoy the local wildlife.

Visitors flock to this charming seaside town to stroll along its bustling esplanade, dotted with cafes, shops, and entertainment venues. The Entrance is also famous for its daily pelican feeding, a popular attraction that draws crowds of all ages to witness these majestic birds up close. With pristine beaches and a range of water activities on offer, The Entrance offers the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for visitors seeking a coastal getaway.

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the serene Tuggerah Lake, this beloved destination on the NSW Central Coast beckons families to enjoy a range of water activities, from fishing and boating to swimming, ensuring a complete experience by the waterside. There are two heritage-listed ocean baths located at the Southern end of the beach at the Entrance which are popular amongst locals and visitors. The best way to explore the area is to bring your bike or hire one and cycle along the Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway.

Terrigal Beach

One of the Central Coast’s most popular beaches, Terrigal is a haven for sun-seekers, paddle boarders and surfers alike. Its vibrant beachfront promenade is lined with cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely day out. Terrigal Beach is famous for its golden sand beach which stretches along a crescent-shaped bay and is dominated by a line of Norfolk Pine Trees. The beach houses a tranquil lagoon, providing a safe swimming environment, complemented by a small ocean rock pool nestled within the cliff at its southern end.

Terrigal Beach, Terrigal

Image via Destination Central Coast

Terrigal is also famous for The Skillion, a striking headland that offers panoramic views of the coastline from the lookout at the top and is popular for its walking trails. Nearby, visitors can explore the Terrigal Haven, a sheltered inlet perfect for boating and fishing enthusiasts.

Terrigal Beach is definitely a must-visit destination for travellers looking for a relaxing sea-side vibe that encompasses a myriad of restaurants, cafes and rooftop bars.

Bouddi National Park

This coastal park is a treasure trove of natural wonders, including secluded beaches, dramatic cliffs, and scenic walking trails along lush coastal bushland. The Bouddi Coastal Walk is particularly famous, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and opportunities to spot dolphins and whales in the wild.

Located near Gosford at the Southern end of the Central Coast, the National Park offers guests an abundance of spectacular views of beaches, cliffs and rainforest – all in the one area. Hikers can explore scenic trails like the Bouddi Coastal Walk, which winds along cliff tops with sweeping ocean views, or delve into the rainforest on the shorter Flannel Flower Walk.

One of the park’s highlights is the stunning Maitland Bay, accessible via a steep track that rewards with a secluded beach ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Take some time to explore the old paddle steamer wreck that the area was named after. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot native birds and animals amidst the park’s eucalypt forests and heathlands. Bouddi National Park is not just a place of natural beauty but also a retreat where visitors can reconnect with nature and enjoy a peaceful escape along the New South Wales coastline.

Hidden Gem – Pearl Beach

Tucked away on the southern end of the Central Coast, Pearl Beach is a secluded and serene spot known mostly to locals. This idyllic beach is framed by lush bushland and offers a tranquil escape from the more crowded tourist spots. Its calm waters are perfect for a peaceful swim, with the well-loved ocean rock pool ideal for lap swimming, and the nearby Crommelin Native Arboretum provides lovely walking paths through native flora.

The Pearl Beach rockpool, Pearl Beach.

Pearl Beach exudes an allure of exclusivity, with its high property prices attracting famous playwrights, TV personalities, and advertising executives who maintain holiday homes here. Locally, it’s proudly touted as “the most beautiful beach-side village on the Central Coast.”

Embarking on a road trip through regional New South Wales promises an exhilarating journey through diverse landscapes and vibrant towns. Visit rural towns such as Orange, where vineyards sprawl across rolling hills and culinary delights await in every corner. Visit towns like Tamworth, where lively festivals and rich cultural heritage resonate throughout the year. End your trip by exploring locations along the Central Coast, renowned for its pristine beaches, lush national parks, and a laid-back coastal atmosphere that invites relaxation and exploration. Each destination offers its own unique charm and experiences, making regional New South Wales an ideal road trip destination for every traveller.

Hopefully, this comprehensive list of the top 10 regional destinations in New South Wales has inspired you to plan an unforgettable journey. If you’re looking to book accommodation along the way, please visit our website to explore the motels we have available at each location.

Some other posts you may like…

Road trip in regional australia
Regional Australia