There’s nothing quite like choosing a soundtrack, grabbing the car keys and venturing out on the open road. Luckily, New South Wales – a region that’s home to sleepy villages, secret beaches and cliff-top drives worthy of a James Bond film – offers every conceivable backdrop for a dream road trip. These five memorable journeys are a taster for the state that has it all.
Journey up the Pacific Coast
Combining postcard-perfect coastline, charming townships and vineyards that mimic the French countryside, the Pacific Coast – which begins in Sydney’s surf-mad Northern Beaches and spans the Hunter Valley and Byron Bay – is the type of travel route that ultimate road trips are made of.
Make sure you stop off at Toowoon Bay (a seaside haven that’s a magnet for platypuses, picnicking families and kayak enthusiasts) before driving up the Central Coast to the Hunter Valley. 'The Hunter', as it's locally known, is home to some 150 wineries including Pepper Tree, a fabled cellar dollar famous for its soulful Cabernet. After that, steer towards beautiful Byron Bay and, just beyond it, Bangalow: a nearby beach town dotted with historic buildings, pocket-sized galleries and colourful antique stores.
Lose yourself in the Australian Alps
If you take the five-and-half-hour journey south from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains, you’ll be met with all kinds of thrilling surprises – hidden alpine valleys, restaurant-hopping near Lake Jindabyne and the starlit thrills of camping on Australia's tallest peak, Mount Kosciuszko.
This region is also a snow-worshipper’s paradise. Kosciuszko National Park incorporates skiing trails spanning 230-kilometres and takes in much-loved resorts such as Thredbo, Mount Blue Cow, Perisher and Charlotte Pass.
Explore the Central West
The state’s Central West could double as an advertisement for the Australian landscape thanks to sprawling sheep stations, quiet mining towns and flat, ochre-and-green tablelands that boast an endless expanse of land and sky. Turning west at Lithgow and coasting at 110 km per hour down the Castlereagh Highway into the Blue Mountains is a no-fail cure for leaving city stresses behind.
Make sure you spend a day or two in Mudgee, a lively town featuring boutique wineries, intimate bed-and-breakfasts and a weekend farmers’ market heavy on local produce. Before you leave, venture into Gulgong, a nearby gold-rush town known for its sandstone buildings and perfectly preserved goldmines.
Discover the Greater Blue Mountains
Around two hours from Sydney, the Greater Blue Mountains Drive might be the kind of road trip destination that at first appears relaxing, but also happens to be high on adventure. Linger over poached eggs and coffee in Leura – all wood-panelled cafes and second-hand bookshops – before driving to the heritage-listedBlue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah.
Alternatively you could drive on to Oberon, a quiet township that serves as the gateway to the Jenolan Caves – a rambling underground hive that features ancient limestone formations and winding rivers.
Cruise southward bound
Dotted with golden beaches, offbeat fishing towns and dramatic cliffs, road tripping the state’s South Coast can feel like starring in a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Stop off at Sea Cliff Bridge – a cliff-top structure that offers vistas of crashing surf – on your way towards Batemans Bay, a coastal town tailor-made for eating oysters as the sun sets over the Pacific.