NSW explodes with eye candy.
While much of it earns ample attention, some seemingly shuns the spotlight.
Our highlighted attractions fit mostly into the latter category.
From the natural to the not, the secluded to the bold, these gems should be added to your next NSW road-trip itinerary.
This is one of the world’s largest hedge mazes, filled with intricacies and intriguing elements. While it might be tricky to capture the view pictured below, there are elevated vantage points from which you can marvel at the cleverly crafted creation. The adjoining winery overlooks the maze, and the site’s sprawling lawns provide the perfect picnic setting.
Where: 35km southwest of Port Macquarie.
Bouddi beams with visual treats, including secluded beaches, rainforest, and seasonal wildflowers alongside a bounty of dramatic coastal views. But it’s the addition of a tessellated pavement and surrounding funky rock formations that really stand out. These seaside works of art are exceptional photo subjects.
Where: 20km southeast of Gosford.
Stay at: NRMA Ocean Beach, Umina Beach.
Since its beginnings in 1966, Bevan’s has ballooned. Nowadays, it is among the southern hemisphere’s largest cactus nurseries, boasting a whopping 2500 varieties of the prickly plant. The nursery displays cacti from around the world, and many examples are more than 100 years old. Underrated!
Where: 2km from the Lightning Ridge CBD.
Stay at: BIG4 Opal in Lightning Ridge.
This wonderland-like attraction drips with charm. Covering 10ha-plus, it has various themed feature gardens that allow for superbly scenic strolls among relaxing surrounds. These include the family-friendly Storybook Garden with its colourful depictions of nursery rhyme characters and the glorious and serene Oriental Garden. Adding to its magnetism are carnival rides operational during school holidays and regular seasonal events such as the Christmas Lights Spectacular.
Where: Pokolbin central, 50km northwest of Lake Macquarie.
This must surely rank as one of the most enchanting town centres in the state. Gulgong has a rich gold-mining past, and its centre instantly transports visitors back to its heady days. The town is home to a dizzying 100-plus National Trust-listed buildings, including Australia’s oldest-operating opera house. The Henry Lawson Centre is another highlight, tracing the life of a famous writer and poet.
Where: 30km north of Mudgee.
Stay at: BIG4 Mudgee.
A tribute to those who served in World War I, the centrally located and lush garden is a peaceful place to while away an afternoon. It has various elements that add interest, including a lagoon and assorted memorials, but the headline attraction comes to life when dusk hits. The garden’s tallest pine tree is showered with 20,000-plus LED ‘fairy lights’, ensuring it bursts with brightness each evening. A selfie essential.
Where: Wagga Wagga CBD.
Stay at: BIG4 Ingenia Wagga Wagga.
The artificial lake is a photographer’s dream. Sitting just above the Murray River and straddling the NSW/Victoria border, Lake Mulwala is dotted with ghostly river red gums that protrude from the water. They help to frame stunning photos, particularly at sunset. Outside of photo ops, the lake invites a wide assortment of aquatic activity that includes fishing, kayaking, and waterskiing.
Where: On the banks of the twin towns of Yarrawonga-Mulwala.
Stay at: NRMA Yarrawonga Mulwala.
Australia is dotted with eye-catching silo art – a movement that has exploded in recent years – and many water towers have been given a colourful makeover, too. This is one such example, a poignant tribute to Australian servicemembers, with a particular focus on five individuals with links to the town and wider region.
Where: Hay town centre.
Stay at: BIG4 Hay Plains.
There’s a medieval likeness to this historical bridge, which carries an aura of distinction on approach. It’s largely helped by the addition of gothic Victorian sandstone towers that stand tall at either end. Fun fact: This is Australia's last-surviving wooden suspension bridge. The structure is a visual highlight within a valley and adjoining town that are outrageously picturesque.
Where: 45km southwest of Kiama.
Stay at: BIG4 Easts Beach, nearby in Kiama.
A cascading attraction within treasure-rich Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Dangar delivers an awe-inspiring sight as it plummets into a gorge below. A series of dedicated lookouts reveals the majestic falls from variable angles, reached on walking paths with differing distances and difficulties.
Where: 65km west of Coffs Harbour.