Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best road trips around New South Wales
Car driving over bridge aerial view
Photograph: Dee Kramer

The best road trips around New South Wales

Pack the boot, start those engines and hit the open road on one of the best drives in the state

By Divya Venkataraman

If you've ever endured long haul travel – jetting through multiple timezones and a series of identical yet somehow still bamboozling airports – you may have found yourself questioning if it truly is about the journey and not the destination.

We've got just the thing to restore your faith in that old adage. Take a ride on one of these gorgeous scenic road trips around New South Wales. Pack the boot, roll down your windows and let gorgeous scenery whizz past you – be that soaring coastal cliffs, native bushland, or towering alpine forests. Trust us, no one will be asking if you're nearly there yet.

RECOMMENDED: Gorgeous natural wonders worth a day trip from Sydney

The best road trips around New South Wales

Kosciuszko national park aerial view
Photograph: Destination NSW

Kosciuszko Alpine Way

Route: Khancoban - Thredbo-Perisher, Kosciuszko National Park
As you weave your way from Jindabyne through the tall gum tree-lined forests of Kosciuszko National Park, this route is a mountainous, otherworldly journey into the heart of New South Wales. It's well-storied, too – heard of 'The Man from Snowy River'? Yep, this is where you'll breathe in that "clear as crystal" air Banjo Paterson was banging on about. During months with less snow, as the deep grooves of mountain-bike and hiking tracks resurface again, hop out of the car to stretch your legs with some exercise in the mountain air. To warm up, head to Black Sallee's for goulash, gourmet hot dogs and the best hot chocolate on the mountain. Oh, and make sure to pull over and take pictures of wildflowers – they grow by the roadside.

Mudgee vineyard with kangaroo
Photograph: Supplied

Sydney to Mudgee

Route: Sydney - Orange - Mudgee
There's a roadtrip route to suit everyone, and this one is clearly earmarked for the foodies amongst us. Follow breadcrumbs from Sydney for four hours towards the promise of unparalelled gastronomic experiences in the vineyard-bound town of Orange. Here, you can while away a day or two exploring high-elevation vineyards like Brangayne of Orange, or sip on light reds while tasting fresh, local produce at the Swinging Bridge cellar door. Jump back in the car for another two hours and head to Mudgee where you’ll find another plethora of wineries and restaurants – from the architectural fine dining haunts like the Pipeclay Pumphouse to creative local cafés like The Dancing Goat. Head back to Sydney, and try not to stop in at the exact same places on your way home.

Photograph: Destination NSW

The Waterfall Way

Route: Coffs Harbour - Armidale
With 185km worth of national parks, waterfalls and lofty lookout platforms between the Central NSW towns of Coffs Harbour and Armidale, you'll be glad you took a spin over this route. From Sydney, it'll take you around five and a half hours to snake along the coast to reach the regional hub of Coffs Harbour, where you can stop in for a caffeine hit at the cosy Depot Café or Sawtell's the Hilltop Store (owned by ex-Chiswick and 4Fourteen head chefs). Then you can turn westward towards Armidale. Make sure to pack a picnic to unwrap as you sit and gaze over the rushing streams of Dorrigo's majestic Dangar Falls, or the 220m-high Wollomombi Falls

Aerial view of sea and national park
Photograph: Supplied/Central Coast Tourism

Sydney to Avoca

Route: Sydney - Avoca Beach
For a short and breezy roadtrip option, look no further than the Central Coast's sleepy little township of Avoca Beach. You'll get there before lunchtime, which leaves plenty of time for seaside chills. It's not quite as cheeky as its namesake in Rio, but head to Copacabana for a surf, or the busier, more bustling Terrigal Beach further north if you'd rather just a dip. Set on a sprawling homestead out of town, Bombini is the spot for authentic Italian lunch fare, and, when it reopens, catch a flick at the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre before you hop back in the car to head home – it's been unwinding reels since 1948. If you have a little longer, put your hiking boots on and take in the views from a glorious coast-hugging trek through Bouddi National Park

Car driving over bridge aerial view
Photograph: Dee Kramer

The Grand Pacific Drive

Route: Sydney - South Coast
The Grand Pacific Drive hugs the ocean for much of its 138km span bridging the distance between Sydney and New South Wales' South Coast. Roll down your windows to feel the brisk, salty sea air on your drive through the pretty towns of Austinmer, Thirroul and Kiama. Factor in some time to stop by the road for crisp fish and chips from a corner store by the beach – Coledale's Sharky's or Thirroul's South Sailor should have you covered. Once you reach Werri Beach, turn right back around to head home, or wander westward to navigate to the idyllic scenery of the Southern Highlands – there's pastoral charm and wine aplenty waiting for you. 

Aerial view of rural NSW
Photograph: Destination NSW

Sydney to Wagga Wagga

Route: Sydney - Wagga Wagga
This five and a half hour drive into the heart of the Riverina region will take you past a lot of pretty pastoral scenery, but the real attractions are the nibbles along the way. Stash those petrol station chippies, because quality paddock-to-plate eateries line the trail between Sydney and the country town of Wagga Wagga. Grab some local jam and honey from the Little Hand-Stirred Jam Shop in Berrima; pick up a bottle or two of local wine from The Vintner's Daughter in Murrumbateman (and check out its sci-fi memorabilia); or why not sample some handmade fudge at the Junee Licorice and Chocolate FactoryOnce you arrive in Wagga, head over to the Thirsty Crow for a cool beer and a chinwag with the locals – or hit up one of Australia's secret 'beaches', and see if you can catch the single wave that supposedly passes over the enigmatic lake each day at 5pm. 

Looking for some winter warmth?

Bubbletent, Capertee Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

The best winter getaways from Sydney


With the colder months upon us, it's time to venture out of the big smoke in search of glorious winter sunshine, or succumb to the chill and embrace some brisk, mountain air – if only to ski right back down again.


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