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.

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
Set on a 7,000-acre reserve between Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa is a luxury ecolodge backed by the dramatic canyons of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area. Roughly a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney, the resort consists of 40 stand-alone suites and two homesteads built from traditional timber and sandstone under steel roofing. Most materials were sourced within a 60-mile radius; the fence posts were found on the property, and fallen eucalyptus trees were milled into unique furniture pieces that make up the Wolgan Valley Furniture Collection. Environmental initiatives extend to rainwater collection, water recycling, solar panels for water heating, and the use of traditional windmills instead of electrical pumps. The resort was also built by local tradesmen and decorated with iron lamps and furnishings, artworks, and porcelain jugs created by artisans from the area. Aside from its setting, 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 Aboriginal, settler, and agricultural history of the valley. A fruit orchard and edible garden supplies the kitchen with organic herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

A comprehensive program of activities was designed to take advantage of the inspiring Wolgan Valley region, which offers peaks to climb, glowworms to ogle, and many memorable food and wine experiences.
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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