NSW Road Trips
With the holidays approaching, there has never been a better time to plan a road trip to regional New South Wales. While COVID-19 may have dashed international travel plans, the good news is that we have a wealth of holiday destinations right on our doorstep – and you can forget about long airport security queues and strict baggage limits. Whether you’re looking for ideas for a short getaway or a longer trip, we’ve compiled a list of must-see places to add to your itinerary.
As the coastal fringe experiences a high number of visitors at this time of year, we’ve focused our sights on regional NSW. Not everyone may be able to take a physical road trip, so we’ve also included a range of fantastic virtual local tour options too, for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
Blue Mountains, NSW. Credit: Jacques Bopp (@jacquesbopp) via Unsplash.
It’s difficult to decide where to start when there are so many fascinating destinations across NSW, many just a few hours’ drive from Sydney. We source much of our produce and wines from Orange and Mudgee, so these two towns are tied for first place on our must-see list.
Both Orange and Mudgee are a 3.5-hour drive from Sydney and about 2 hours from one another. If you’re travelling from Sydney, High tea at the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath is a good place to break up the drive and enjoy the spectacular view over the Blue Mountains. If high tea isn’t your jam, the Bakehouse on Wentworth in Blackheath, or Lithgow’s Tin Shed both offer great coffee and delicious home-made pies.
Orange and Mudgee are two of NSW’s most exciting wine destinations and are home to many fantastic wineries. Local favourites in Mudgee include Logan Wines, The Cellar by Gilbert (Gilbert Family Wines), and the Lowe Wines Cellar Door. You can also book an indulgent long lunch at Lowe Wines’ Zin House restaurant. Keep in mind that many Cellar Doors have limited capacity (particularly with COVID-19 restrictions currently in place) so make sure to book your visit in advance.
To work off that lunch, head to Drip Gorge – on the outskirts of the spectacular Wollemi National Park–
where the walking trails weave in and out of stunning bushland and rock formations. Looking for a really special experience? A hot air balloon ride over the town is a truly unique way to watch the sunrise.
Orange is teeming with brilliant wineries, from big names like Philip Shaw Wines and Canobolas Smith to micro-wineries like Bloodwood. Our personal favourites include De Salis Wines (awarded 2020 Cellar Door of the Year by Gourmet Traveller), and Swinging Bridge. For food, the Agrestic Grocer offers a rustic breakfast and lunch menu made from local ingredients, and picnic provisions to go. Thirsty? Say g’day to Brewmeister Jon at the neighbouring Badlands Brewery.
Heifer Station is the perfect spot for families. Children can visit the animals on the property while parents’ sample some of the great local food and wine on offer. Before you leave, be sure to check out the Orange Adventure Playground– it’s a great way for kids to expend some energy before the drive back to Sydney.
For more inspiration, Visit NSW have put together a road trip along the food and wine trail departing from Lithgow: NSW Food & Wine Trail.
Central West NSW
Broken Hill, NSW. Credit: Trevor McKinnon (@bigmck56) via Unsplash.
There really is no place quite like the Aussie outback. From historic country towns to stunning stretches of desert, Central NSW has plenty to see for those seeking a longer escape.
The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is a firm family favourite. From Dubbo, you can take a detour to the CSIRO Radio Telescope in Parkes – the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere and star of the iconic Australian film The Dish (2000). Fun fact: it was one of several radio antennae used to receive live television images of the Apollo 11 Moon landing!
For a sunset to remember, head to the Broken Hill Sculptures & Living Desert Sanctuary, just 10km from the centre of town. Walking tracks weave through the stunning outback scenery and monolithic sandstone sculptures installed across an awe-inspiring landscape.
Fans of the Mad Max movies will recognise the dusty red terrain of Broken Hill. Mad Max 2 (1981) was filmed around Broken Hill and Silverton in 1980, and today you can visit the Mad Max Museum in Silverton. The exhibits feature costumes, behind-the-scenes photos, and movie memorabilia.
Shepherd Lookout, Canberra. Credit: Hugo Kneebone (@_hugo) via Unsplash.
For a city break, the nation’s capital has plenty on offer and is only a 3-hour drive from Sydney. Revisit national icons such as Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial, and for families, a pilgrimage to Questacon is a must.
For art lovers, we recommend the National Portrait Gallery, the National Film and Sound Archive, and the National Gallery of Australia, if only to see Australia’s most controversial art purchase – Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles 1952 – for yourself.
For day trips outside Canberra, pack a picnic and head to the Canberra Space Centre, nestled in the stunning Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. If you’re after something further afield, summer is a fantastic time to take the Mt Kosciuszko National Park summit walk, or explore the Yarrangobilly Caves.
Gundagai is synonymous with the Dog on the Tuckerbox, but this iconic stop is just the tip of the iceberg of all there is to explore in the stunning Riverina. This part of regional NSW is home to the Murrumbidgee River, surrounded by breathtaking natural bushland ideal for swimming, fishing, walking trails, and camping. One of our own former Canada Bay Club team members, Jacqueline Collins, often reminds us just how spectacular this part of NSW is, having relocated to the Riverina to take over the heritage listed federation style Ariah Park Hotel.
The Riverina also has a strong Italian heritage, and is the largest wine producing region in the state – responsible for 15% of Australia’s total grape production. While the Riverina is home to big household names like De Bortoli and McWilliams, we highly recommend Calabria Family Wines, housed in a beautiful Tuscan-style building, and up-and-comer Yarran Wines– named James Halliday’s 2021 Dark Horse Winery of the Year.
Looking for something further afield? Might we suggest the magnificent Mungo National Park. The ancient landscape of this World Heritage listed site is rich in Indigenous culture, and the stunning desert and grasslands are a must-see in this part of the country. There’s a camping site in the park, plus re-purposed shearer’s quarters with bunk beds and cooking facilities.
Taronga Zoo, Sydney. Credit: Terra Roro (@taoofterra) via Unsplash.
For those who can’t get away, Google Maps has taken its Street View to include a number of walking tracks throughout NSW. You can now take virtual scenic tours of Thredbo, Mount Kosciuszko, and Mungo National Park from the comfort of your own home. You can see a selection of their walks from the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.
For green thumbs, there are also some fabulous virtual Garden Walks.
Animal lovers can tune into a Taronga Zoo Virtual Tour. Check out animal live-cams and keeper chats!
Final Tips for the Perfect NSW Road Trip
Snowy Mountains, Kosciuszko National Park. Credit: Christine Mendoza (@cmnmendoza) via Unsplash.
Tourism Australia are leading the charge to help you visit those places that have long been on your wish list. Check out their Holiday Here This Year initiative.
An interesting aspect of the Tourism Australia campaign is to encourage travellers to not only take a holiday but to look into booking a local ‘experience’ as well, such as a surfing lesson or a guided walking tour. This is a fantastic way to help support local communities and small business impacted by bushfires and COVID-19.
Destination NSW has plenty of ideas and pre-planned itineraries for road trip inspiration. You can search by location or the type of experience you’re looking for.
Plan Your Trip at Canada Bay Club
If you’re planning a trip away with friends or family, why not come down to Canada Bay Club and work out your itinerary over a coffee? We’d love to hear about your adventures, and you may be surprised by some of the local tips our team members can offer.
Header: Jindabyne, NSW. Credit: Tarryn Myburgh (@tarrynm) via Unsplash.