London, June 2018: Vibrant Sydney – a hub for globetrotters, and home to world-renowned beaches, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, lush national parks, and incredible food and wine. It’s often top of the list when it comes to a first visit to Australia for many young travellers – and with exam results and graduation just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to consider packing a backpack and heading off travelling.
While Sydney is a definite must-see, there is so much more to explore just a quick trip away. Once in a lifetime activities, views and moments – New South Wales is home to a wealth of experiences with World Heritage-listed rainforests, rugged Outback, stunning mountains and vast coastline. Nowhere is Australia’s incredible diversity more apparent than in its premier state, New South Wales.
Here’s just 10 of our favourite stops to add on to a trip to scintillating Sydney:
Day Trips from Sydney
Visit the Blue Mountains
Sydney is the perfect place to start an unforgettable journey, before heading off to explore the rest of this extraordinary state.
It’s hard to believe that the blue-hazed beauty of the Blue Mountains lies just over an hour and thirty minutes’ drive west of Sydney. One million hectares of waterfalls, eucalyptus forests, sandstone cliffs, rock formations and more awaits visitors. It’s easy to see a lot in a day – marvel at natural attractions like Wentworth Falls and the Three Sisters, hike up the Giant Stairway, then walk the historic Six Foot Track to Katoomba. Travel further west past the mountains to explore the underground rivers and chambers of Jenolan Caves that date back 340 million years.
Wildlife at Shoalhaven
The destination for explorers. Visit for white sandy beaches and wildlife at your fingertips in the Shoalhaven region. Enjoy the white-sand beaches of Shoalhaven and Mollymook; venture to Pebbly Beach to meet kangaroos, a national icon; or head inland to explore the lush hinterland with rafting in Kangaroo Valley or wandering through numerous pristine national parks. Shoalhaven can be whatever you want it to be.
Road Trip to Hunter Valley
For those who enjoy a tipple in the sunshine, the two-hour drive north to the Hunter Valley – Australia’s oldest wine growing region – is a must. Not only is it beautifully picturesque, but also has more than 150 wineries producing some of the finest wines in the world. Tours offer expert insight into the wine making process, as well as plenty of opportunity to try the product and even have a go at grape stomping.
Venture an hour from Sydney’s city centre to enjoy undeniably breath-taking views enroute to Wollongong. The charming Aussie seaside town sits perfectly between endless chains of beaches and the idyllic and vast rainforest-capped Illawarra Escarpment. Wollongong has the best of both worlds, and is a perfect escape for both an adventurous backpacker and a beach-hopping relaxer. All visitors must allow themselves a day to enjoy the majestic landscape and sample some of the huge range of restaurants.
A Little Further Afield
Hire a camper van
Hiring a camper van is a popular way to discover all the beauty New South Wales has to offer. The state has countless camping locations meaning travelling in a motorhome is a laidback and carefree way of exploring. Visitors have the pleasure of travelling in their own time, with their own itineraries and can meet fellow backpackers from all over the world along the way. Heading off the beaten track can lead to secluded beaches, hidden coves and lush rainforests home to an abundance of wildlife and plants.
The Grand Pacific Drive, just south of Sydney, is one of the best routes for those looking for self-exploration. Its 140km length makes it a delight to drive and there’s so much to see along the way. Visitors will be treated to jaw-dropping ocean views, rainforests, charming coastal towns and cities, and much more.
Get Lost in the Snowy Mountains
The Snowy Mountains are home to so much nature and wildlife. Gentle streams run into glistening lakes with a backdrop of sweeping hills and jagged mountains. There are ample walking opportunities to be found here, including the picturesque hike to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko – Australia’s highest point – where visitors are treated to far-reaching views of the spectacular Snowy Mountains. Horse-riding adventures are well established in the area and guides are on hand to share their wealth of knowledge with riders as they trot through scenic valleys.
Byron Bay is often a top choice for first time visitors. Just a five-minute boat ride away is the Julian Rocks Reserve, a protected nature reserve home to three species of sea turtle, manta rays, coral and over 400 species of fish. The habitat is extremely important for rare species such as leopard and wobbegong sharks, which can often be spotted on dives. The reserve provides sanctuary to whales as they pass through on migration and in Winter whale song can often be heard underwater. Alternatively, visitors can snorkel amongst the tropical species of the reserve. It’s a must visit.
The Mungo National Park
Head inland and explore some of Australia’s remote Outback and ancient landscapes, a place of awe-inspiring vastness and rugged wilderness. The Mungo National Park is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts and the site of the oldest skeletal remains ever to be discovered. Visitors can marvel at the red dunes, jagged rocks and unusual sand formations, whilst learning about the area’s rich Aboriginal history.
Head over to Jervis Bay as part of a scenic coastal drive and you won’t be disappointed. Home to some of the whitest sand in the world, this huge oceanic bay is the perfect place to unwind and take those iconic Australian beach pictures to send home. Take a quick dip, relax on the sand, or enjoy a day on the water aboard kayaks or paddle boards
Brisbane Water National Park
An ‘Instagrammable’ must, the Brisbane Water National Park is an awe-inspiring section of the central coast of New South Wales. Throughout the season the park comes to life with an array of wildlife that roams the woods and waters, alongside vibrant flowers that shape the most scenic views. The motorhome carpark allows you to beat the crowds every morning and evening.
With return flights to Sydney from £549, please visit
www.studentuniverse.co.uk/new-south-wales to book your trip to Sydney and New South Wales
Book a 5-day ‘Fly & Drive’ Grand Pacific self-drive trip with StudentUniverse from just £864 per person*
*Trip includes: Return economy class flights to Sydney, travel insurance and 5-day campervan hire
Book a 6-day tour of Sydney & the Blue Mountains with StudentUniverse from just £1,074 per person*
*Trip includes: Return economy class flights to Sydney, travel insurance, 6-day tour of New South Wales, wine & chocolate tasting session in the Hunter Valley, 4 breakfasts & 1 dinner
Book a 9-day Sydney Intro tour with StudentUniverse from just £1,267 per person*
*Trip includes: Return economy class flights to Sydney, travel insurance, working holiday visa, 9-day orientation tour package including an Aussie bank account, SIM card, enrolment in Medicare and a Tax File Number