The Best of New South Wales

New South Wales is much more than just Sydney. Venture out to the mountainous western side of the state and the stunning coastline north of the famous city.

Highlights
1 Skinners Shoot Rd, Byron Bay NSW 2481, Australia
There is no place in the whole of Australia more laid back than Byron Bay, a once sleepy town on the New South Wales coast that now hosts yearly blues festivals. Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge is an extension of the vibe found throughout the town. Tucked behind the main drag on a long unpaved road, I was warned that I should bring mosquito spray, which I was soon glad to have. The backpacker haven is one of the most unique hostels you’ll find, as there are dozens of types of rooms, including tents, teepees, and even your standard dorm bunks. Amenities include a pool, courtesy shuttle, free yoga classes, laundry, kitchen and a cafe.
2600 Wolgan Rd
It doesn’t get more quintessentially Australian than this: waking up to a symphony of kookaburras and the heady scent of eucalyptus, the sight of kangaroos roaming freely about the 7,000-acre nature reserve. You might be tricked into thinking you’d slept under the stars—if it weren’t for the four-poster bed, flicker of a warm fire, and sunrise reflected from the glittering private pool. A three hours’ drive west of Sydney, this luxury ecolodge feels worlds away, surrounded by sandstone bluffs and sweeping plains filled with leafy gumtrees and Wollemi pines. It has 40 homestead-style villas that are as eco-friendly as they are indulgent: materials sourced within a 60-mile radius, solar panels for hot water and lighting. Highlights include the Aussie cuisine, mostly grown and sourced within 100 miles of the resort (and included in the all-inclusive rate, along with a premium minibar). A fruit orchard and edible garden supplies organic herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.


The most intriguing aspect of the property is an original farmhouse, built around 1832, that hosted Charles Darwin in 1836. Today, the homestead functions as a museum that highlights the Indigenous, settler, and agricultural history of the valley. The comprehensive program of activities gets guests off the homestead: There are peaks to climb, glowworms to ogle, and horses to ride. Following a landslide in 2022, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has faced access issues. It is temporarily closed.
Newcastle NSW, Australia
Take the train less than two hours north of Sydney for a relaxing weekend in Newcastle, a town of historic pubs, welcoming cafes, and beautiful beaches. A visit to the oddly named Bogey Hole is a quintessential Newcastle experience, as you can swim in the rock pool on the ocean carved by the convicts that populated the area. Known also as the Commandant’s Baths, it was constructed for the Commandant of Newcastle’s personal use in 1820.
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