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New South Wales Wine, wilderness and natural wonders

By Ellie Schneider

The vibrant capital city of Sydney is your base for exploring New South Wales. Discover unspoiled beaches up and down the east coast or take a road trip to see Australia's oldest wine region and beautiful wilderness. See it over a few days or a few weeks. There's good reason New South Wales is Australia's most visited state.

Map of New South Wales

See Sydney's star attractions and hidden gems

The Harbour City, as its commonly called, is home to many of Australia's must-see attractions – such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach – but also abounds in sophisticated dining, secret harbour beaches and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops off the eaten path. Discover the hip inner city neighbourhoods of Potts Point and Surry Hills, beach hop through exclusive Vaucluse and drink and dine in artsy Chippendale. You'll find cultural riches such as galleries, museums, theatre companies and alternative cinema, without ever being too far from those glistening million-dollar views.

Chill out in Byron Bay

Byron Bay is mainland Australia's easternmost town, world renowned for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and laid-back lifestyle. Domestic flights arrive at nearby Ballina Airport, and take about one hour 20 minutes from Sydney. In and around town you'll find a thriving food scene that celebrates local produce. Don't miss breakfast at Three Blue Ducks in Byron, set on a working farm. Walk the 3.7-kilometre (2.3-mile) Cape Byron track for breathtaking views across the ocean and hinterland, keeping your eyes peeled for humpback whales, which migrate along the coast between June and November. In Byron there's plenty to get your heart racing, from surfing to skydiving, but you'll be just as happy doing nothing at all.

Get into nature in the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area has abundant natural beauty, and offers excellent hiking, spectacular scenery and quaint towns and villages, making it a popular getaway from the big smoke. Walk to the foot of the Three Sisters on the 998-step Giant Stairway, or glide between clifftops on the Scenic Skyway, 270 metres (886 feet) above ancient ravines. Stroll around picturesque villages Leura and Blackheath for antique stores, quirky cafés and top-notch restaurants, then spend the night in a luxury lodge or charming B&B. The Blue Mountains are only a 90-minute drive west of Sydney

Eat and drink through the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is home to more than 120 wineries, gourmet restaurants and luxury retreats, and is conveniently located just two hours drive north of Sydney. Taste a diverse variety of wines at the Hunter Valley's cellar doors, including semillons at the 1886-built Audrey Wilkinson winery; the Graveyard Shiraz at Brokenwood Wines; and Tyrrell's famous Vat 1. Delve into a degustation menu at acclaimed restaurants such as Muse and EXP., or improve your skills at a pasta-making class. You can float above it all on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise with Balloon Aloft.

Swim at Australia’s whitest beaches

Drive three hours south of Sydney to Jervis Bay, where the beaches are known for having some of the whitest sand in Australia. The clear, turquoise waters of the Shoalhaven region are high on many holdaymakers' hit lists. Follow one of the walking trails through serene Booderee National Park, explore the historic township of Huskisson and spend the night in luxury safari-style tents at Paperbark Camp.

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