The Top Ten New South Wales Tourist Destinations
The state capital and the international icon that has become representative of Australia, Sydney is a world class city with world class attractions. Marvel at the Opera House, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or spend the day browsing renowned shopping precincts such as The Rocks. The friendly and cosmopolitan people of Sydney are just crazy about their beaches, and its easy to see why when you visit hotspots such as Bondi, Manly or Bronte. Enjoy other attractions such as Taronga zoo and the Sydney Aquarium, and try and coincide your trip with big events such as the Mardi Gras or the Sydney Film Festival.

Byron Bay
A haven of bohemian and alternative culture, Byron is the ultimate NSW coastal resort. Set on a beautiful still bay and surrounded by miles of secluded beaches, this small town has a festive buzz all throughout the year. Adventure sportsmen will be in their element here, with sky diving, kayaking and even circus trapeze training available. The thick forests that drape the hills around the town are a surefire hit amongst bushwalkers too. Located in the lush north of the state, Byron is home to large festivals such as the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, and the Splendour in the Grass Festival.

Blue Mountains
The thick bush and the rugged views of the Blue Mountains are just over an hours drive from Sydney, and are ideal for a romantic getaway or a family escape. Get pampered in luxurious resorts in towns like Katoomba, Woodford and Lawson, and be sure to visit the famous attractions such as the Three Sisters, Jameson Valley, the Jenolan caves and the Katoomba Falls. The Blue Mountains Music Festival takes place annually in March and is worth timing your trip with.

Coffs Harbour
Coffs Harbour is the kind of holiday destination that caters to everyone, from young families to romantic couples to old age pensioners. 500 kilometres north of Sydney, this is where the mountains meet the sea, providing plenty of opportunites for bushwalking, surfing, or just relaxing amongst the stunning scenery. Family attractions include the Big Banana, the Coffs Harbour Zoo and the Pet Porpoise Pool. There is a vibrant buzz to the city in the day and the night which will delight the young and the young at heart!

Port Macquarie
Just under 400 kilometres north of Sydney is the water wonderland of Port Macquarie. Here beautiful beaches are complemented by a rich hinterland protected by numerous nature reserves and dotted with small and interesting settlements that make for a great driving holiday. Windsurfing and other watersports are a favourite, and can be enjoyed at Big Bay, Pilot Beach and Trial Bay. The rich history of the town is reflected in the Port Macquarie Historical Museum, and nature buffs and bushwalkers will love the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park.

Newcastle is rapidly becoming a tourist force in NSW. Its close location to Sydney and the majestic Hunter Valley (a premier wine growing regions) have facilitated this, as have its beautiful beaches and diverse city attractions. Located where the Hunter River flows into the sea, it is popular amongst surfers who ply their sport on the famous Nobby's Beach, or at Bar Beach, which is floodlit at night. A heritage tram will take you to the main attractions in Newcastle, and if you fancy a bit of exercise and a view then climb up to Mt. Sugarloaf Lookout.

450 kilometres from Sydney, and just 170 kilometres from Canberra is Jindabyne, a popular town in the Snowy Mountains. In winter tourists flock here because it is close to ski resort towns in the Kosciuszko National Park such as Thredbo and Perisher Blue, and in the summer Lake Jindabyne becomes a haven for water skiing, wake boarding and fishing. Whatever time of year you visit, something unique will be happening, but if you can combine your visit with the Lake Jindabyne Flowing Festival in February then youre in for a treat. There is Dragon Boat racing, fireworks and heaps of live entertainment.

Jervis Bay
Located in the Shoalhaven District on the Southern Coast of NSW, Jervis Bay is renowned as having the whitest beaches in the state. A favourite amongst surfers and sunbaskers, Jervis Bay also has a rugged hinterland covered in mountains, waterfalls and creeks that will please bushwalkers no end. Kayaking, fishing and boating amongst the secluded bays and inlets around the town are popular pasttimes, as are many other outdoor activities. There are a wide range of friendly accommodation options, and it is only 190 kilometres from Sydney.

Hawkesbury Valley
One hour north west of Sydney the Hawkesbury River winds its way through the Hawkesbury Valley, through National Parks and past historic townships. The rustic rural life of the valley is charming and relaxing, and its a great place to enjoy some fine fresh food, locally produced wines and of course some peace and quiet. Hiring a houseboat on the river is a great way to explore the Hawkebury and its tributaries under your own steam. Try coincide your visit with the St Albans Folk Festival, or the Orange Blossom Festival.

Sprawled along the banks of the Macquarie River in Central NSW is Dubbo, home to the infamous Western Plains Zoo. This open range zoo is divided up into the five continents and lets the animals live in habitats remarkably similar to their natural ones. See lions, tigers, giraffes and elephants, and the kids will love the monkey enclosures. There is lots more to do in Dubbo, including the Military Museum, the Observatory and the Old Dubbo Gaol.

Gavin Wyatt