The North Coast
New South Wale’s northern coast from Sydney to Byron Bay is dotted with swimming beaches and bush fields. Between Sidney and Newcastle, 170 km north of Sidney (300,000 residents), there is a hiking path that will take two weeks for those who want to traverse its full length.
Port McWery is a large vacation resort at the river delta (430 km from Sidney). This can be another great place to stop on your way north.
The northernmost stretch of the coast is mainly populated by surfing lovers, and by people who want to get away from the big cities and are looking for an alternative life style. The town of Cops Harbor is an exception in this regard, with the variety of challenging sports activities it offers: rafting, diving, free fall parachuting, and even trips on a Harley Davidson.
In addition to excellent surf beaches, Byron Bay offers a rich nightlife and leisure culture. Main Beach is the beach closest to town, but if you are looking for lonely beaches, go south to Tallow Beach or even to Kings Beach.
We also recommend visiting Cape Byron with its impressive lighthouse (built 1910), a short nature walk, and even whale watching (from June to November) when the season allows it.
Byron Bay attracts both international tourism as well as local Australians who take their vacation at this picturesque town. People coming to live here are looking for an alternative, more relaxed and carefree way of life. The place has developed a lot in recent years and bustles with tourists and visitors almost all year round. There is also a nice restaurant situated at the waterfront.
Byron Bay is located a 2 hours drive from Brisbane and 40 minutes away from Gold Coast. By the way, the drive itself is a thrilling experience, as it passes through an interesting and lush mountain landscape and isolated homes that enjoy endless quiet and green expanses. The weather is tropical all year round, and even in winter, temperatures do not drop below 20C.
Byron Beach’s main attractions include the lighthouse, which is Australia’s westernmost point. The tower is built around a huge rock, and a walk in the area, with its churning waters hitting the beach and the beautiful landscape, is something you will not forget for a long time. You can also take trips around the area, and, if you are lucky, you can also spot a dolphin in the ocean. Besides all this, visitors can enjoy the popular beaches and the shops and markets in the main streets near the waterfront. Byron Beach’s night scene is bustling, and there is no problem finding a lively bar or pub in the center of town.
This town is situated inland, to the west of Byron. It is famous mainly for its Mardi Gras Festival in April and the Marijuana Harvest Festival towards the end of that month. At the “Cannabis Embassy” in the center of town, you can find information material on the different uses of cannabis.
The name of this national park comes from the bluish mist, which the eucalyptus trees in the park give off. It is a popular spot among Sydney’s residents because of its relatively short distance from the city (65 km). This mountain range, which in the past was a hurdle for white men in their advance to the west, offers many hiking paths and amazing views.
You can even travel on mountain bikes, and possibly combine biking with another challenging sport like snappling or canoeing.
The road to this area leads through several villages; among the most popular are Leura and Katoomba, both excellent stopovers on the way to the park.
Besides hiking and camping, there is also shopping. There are lots of markets in the area, such as Glenbrook Village’s interesting art fair, Magpie Markets and Leura Markets, as well as shops specializing in antiques. You will also find coffee shops and restaurants, like the Hotel Imperial, situated on Mt. Victoria. It received a prize for attracting so many tourists. It also houses an information center, a coffee shop, and a wedding hall.
For those interested in golf, the Blue Mountains offer the best golf courses in Australia. Golf fans will certainly be happy to hear that these courses offer challenging terrain and beautiful wild animals, which can be observed between turns. Many golfers come to these courses and enjoy the nearby accommodations, as well as coffee shops and restaurants.
The Snowy Mountains
This mountain range is in the state’s southwest, on the border with neighboring Victoria. Mt. Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on the continent, towering to a height of 2228 m.
In the winter, the Snowy Mountains attract skiers to a variety of sites. The most popular of these are in the south of Mt. Kosciuszko National Park, which spreads over an area of 7000 sq. km. In the summer, you can travel the vast bush and even take a rafting trip on one of the park’s rivers.
For more than 20,000 years, the Snowy Mountains were the home of groups of Aborigines. During the summer months, they would come to the mountains to hold different rituals and festivals, but at the beginning of the 1800’s, European settlers arrived in the area. In 1860, hundreds of Australians had mainly one dream: to find gold. This area, too, was not spared by the trend, and gold prospectors came here as well. In the beginning of the 1900’s, engineers and hydrographs arrived, who wanted to harness the rivers’ energy for producing electricity. To this very day, the area produces electricity for three states in Australia. Today, it is not only a source of energy, but also attracts tourists from all over Australia and the world.
During the summer months, the mountain snow melts and reveals breath-taking views. During the warm months, meadows of wild flowers cover the area, and the mountain air is clear as wine. You can go horseback riding or take challenging hikes. The melting snow creates a lovely landscape, and you can water-ski or simply have an appetizing picnic.
Speaking of appetite, anybody interested in cheddar cheese production can learn about this too, at the Bega Cheese Factory, which offers tours of its famous premises. Another attraction is the Naval Aviation museum in Nowra. It is open every day. You can see a large collection of displays about the Australian navy. If you like to watch special animals such as seals and dolphins you can take a tour all year round of Eden’s Twofold Bay.