There’s no denying we’re emerging from what’s been a pretty tumultuous two years, but if there’s been one silver lining, it’s a renewed enthusiasm to see, do and experience as many of the fun things we missed out on due to Covid restrictions.
And something that's making it much easier to do so is the NSW Government's Savings Finder program – which is helping ease the cost of living by offering more than 70 different rebates and vouchers for all eligible NSW residents. These cover off everything from dining, recreation, hospitality, household costs, transport, activities for the kids and much more – there's really something for everyone! You can use the Savings Finder on the Service NSW website or phone 13 77 88 to find out how much you can save.
Within this program sits the Dine & Discover NSW vouchers, which (in case you needed a refresher) were launched to encourage the community to get out and support dining, arts and recreation businesses. It’s essentially an invitation to have a good time – and best of all, you don't have to pay full price.
Every NSW resident aged 18 and older is currently eligible to receive vouchers with a total amount on offer of $150. That's $75 towards dining and $75 towards discovering. They can be used seven days a week (including public holidays) at participating businesses and restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs and wineries. Dine & Discover NSW vouchers are redeemable until June 30, 2022. So hurry, you don't want to miss out!
The Discover NSW vouchers (which you can also use to book an activity at a later date, as long as you complete the transaction first), present a wonderful opportunity to explore new places and try new things. Ever wanted to go hot air ballooning? Get ready to tick it off your bucket list. Keen to check out the latest big-name art exhibition or musical that’s rolled into town? Now’s the time. What about taking a surf lesson, spending a day at an amusement park or enjoying a lawn bowls sesh? This is your chance to experience it all.
You can even use your Discover NSW vouchers at the cinemas or bowling alleys, or iconic attractions like the Sydney Tower Eye – where you’ll score a discount on your general admission ticket.
One incredible spot you may want to spend your Discover NSW voucher is at Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park in Doonside. Home to more than 2,000 native Australian animals, the park offers a number of special, one-of-a-kind encounters, including getting up close with a quokka, feeding the resident roos and snuggling with a koala.
According to Sara Ang, director of sales and marketing at the park, the Discover NSW vouchers are not only proving to be a popular way to entice visitors to the park, they’re also playing a vital role in helping keep Featherdale open, after it lost 65 per cent of its visitor intake due to the pandemic and international border closures.
“The program has been so beneficial to us during this period, and it just enabled us to keep going,” says Ang. “Had it not been for the vouchers, who knows what would’ve happened – we don’t really want to think about it.”
So how can you use your Discover NSW voucher at Featherdale? Entry to the park is normally $35 for an adult, but when you purchase using your $25 voucher, the remaining $10 fee is waived so that it’s completely free. You can also put the vouchers towards a three-park annual pass (which includes Mogo Wildlife Park and Hunter Valley Wildlife Park as well) and all animal encounters.
Another fab option is to jump aboard a sightseeing bus and become a tourist for the day. Big Bus Tours is the largest privately owned operator of open-top double decker buses in the world, and runs two different hop-on hop-off tours of Sydney: one in the city, and one out to the Bondi and bayside areas. Even if you’re a local, you’re guaranteed to learn something new on these 90-minute journeys.
For Pamela Staines, acting general manager of Big Bus Tours, it’s been wonderful to see tours resume and people return to the city.
“It’s such a great way to see the city,” she says. “A lot of people in Sydney might think ‘why would I take a sightseeing tour?’ but you get to experience everything from a completely different perspective. And the commentary provided is interesting and informative.”
The Discover NSW vouchers are redeemable across all ticket options on both tour routes, and you can either book online or purchase directly from the bus driver. Ask Staines for her recommendation, and she’ll tell you the Classic ticket is hard to go past.
“The Classic ticket is $48.80 at our discounted price, and if you use the Discover NSW voucher as well it’s really great value.”