Exploring Home – Our New South Wales Road Trip

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It’s not often we get the chance to be a tourist in our home country. Having spent the better part of the last decade outside of Australia, we’ve sadly forgotten just how beautiful the place really is.

While Alesha is from the west coast, where we have spent the most time when we are “home”, I am from the east; two vastly different worlds with unique beauty.

My home state of New South Wales boasts a rugged coastline punctuated with jutting headlands, sandy coves, historic settlements, dense rainforest, sprawling farmyard and vibrant surf towns.

I had long wanted to explore it. So when we found ourselves back in Australia for a few months we embarked on our very own New South Wales road trip through the state – a trip we dubbed #RoadTripasaurus

READ MORE: Check out our brand new travel to Australia guide!

We picked up a rental car from Penrith through the agency Economy Bookings, and we had just over three weeks to drive as far and as deep as we wanted. We first headed south, following the coast to Wollongong and onwards to the nation’s capital Canberra.

Hiking Mount Kosciuszko National Park was our big goal that far south, and once we had completed it we headed north

Hugging the coast as much as possible we stopped at some of the nation’s most iconic beach towns: Bondi, Manly, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Yamba and of course Byron Bay.

Our dates coincided with two massive surf competitions, the Australian Open of Surf in Manly and the Quiksilver Pro in Snapper Rocks, which we were stoked to attend.

We cruised inland to visit Dorrigo National Park, check out the hippie and counter-culture capital of the nation, Nimbin, and see what the lush farmland had to offer.

Our furthest destination in the north was the Gold Coast in Queensland, where we parked the car and rested for the first time in months. We couldn’t stay stationary too long though, as the call of nature beckoned us back on the road.

Heading back to Sydney we took the inland route, stopping by Armidale, Tamworth, Bathurst and finally over the Blue Mountains.

Our entire New South Wales road trip totalled about 4000km, and besides in the Gold Coast we camped every single night – Sometimes for free in national parks or on a river’s edge, sometimes in paid caravan parks.

This on-a-whim #RoadTripasaurus had the curious result in making us fall back in love with our own country. While there are a huge variety of East Coast Australia packages for various tours, we really enjoyed the freedom to drive at our own time. We’ve travelled a lot, and been to some stunning places in our time.

But to this day we still maintain that Australia has some of the absolute best beaches and beautiful forests in the world. More than once Alesha and I talked about “moving back home”.

The call of travel eventually took hold, and before we knew it we were taking the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth and then onwards to Thailand once more. But we’ll always look back on this New South Wales road trip as the time we began to appreciate Australia once again…

Coast To Farmland – New South Wales Road Trip

Sydney View New South Wales Road Trip
One of Australia’s most iconic sights – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, side by side on Sydney Harbour.
Bondi Icebergs New South Wales Road Trip
The famous Bondi Icebergs at the end of Bondi Beach. You must be a member to use the pool and facilities, or pay for entry, but millions of people flock to the nearby beach every single year for free.
Sea Cliff Bridge New South Wales Road Trip
As we headed south from Sydney we took the famous Sea Cliff Bridge just outside of Wollongong, between Coalcliff and Clifton. This bridge cost $52 million to build and was opened in 2005.
Big Merino Goulburn New South Wales Road Trip
Australia has an affinity for “big things”, and you can find these huge monuments all over the country. This is the Big Merino in Goulburn.
Gundaroo Sunset New South Wales Road Trip
Our first night on our #RoadTripasaurus took us to the small country town of Gundaroo, one hour from Canberra. We set up our tent next to the football oval for a small donation, and managed to catch this epic sunset over the wheat fields.
Gundaroo Milky Way New South Wales Road Trip
5 star hotel or 5 billion star hotel – which one would you choose?
Gundaroo Royal Hotel New South Wales Road Trip
Gundaroo is a fascinating town that was settled in 1825. We spent one night there, and were absolutely blown away with the welcoming nature of the locals. We were invited to join a football game, had people stop to tell us all the great spots to check out around the area, and a quick beer in the local pub (one of the oldest in Australia) ended up in us staying for two hours chatting to the owners and the patrons. People in country Australia are among the friendliest in the world.
Mount Kosciuszko Green River
A river scene in Mount Kosciuszko National Park.
Camping Spot Kosciuszko New South Wales Road Trip
Our second night camping was for free at the Island Bends campground in Mount Kosciuszko National Park. Came complete with toilet facilities and picnic tables.
Cool Camping Sunrise New South Wales Road Trip
A captivating sunrise after a massive storm rolled through in the night.
Snowy River New South Wales Road Trip
One of the beautiful scenes from climbing to the top of Mount Kosciuszko – crossing the Snowy River.
Inside MSR Tent New South Wales Road Trip
This was our home for three weeks. We have absolutely loved our MSR Mutha Hubba tent and Therm-A-Rest sleeping mats and bags, and they have kept us dry and warm in some miserable conditions. They’ve also allowed us to stay in some of the most beautiful places imaginable!
Old Trees New South Wales Road Trip
Blue skies and barren trees across the New South Wales plain.
Manly Surf Comp New South Wales Road Trip
Heading back to Manly we were offered VIP passes to attend the Australian Open of Surfing competition. Big thanks to our new friends (and cool as hell chicks) Victoria and Elaina from The Freedom Travellers for hooking us up!
Narrabeen Beach New South Wales Road Trip
Views from the top of Narrabeen Headland on the Northern Beaches of Sydney – One of the places Jarryd grew up.
Tent On River New South Wales Road Trip
Sunset, anyone? The Croki Tourism And Caravan Park just north of Taree, was one of our absolute favourites on our road trip.
Dock Sunset New South Wales Road Trip
Quiet scenes over the Manning River in Croki.
Breaking Waves Port Macquarie New South Wales Road Trip
Port Macquarie has some stunning coastal walks.
Port Macquarie Beach New South Wales Road Trip
We hiked for a few hours along the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk and couldn’t believe how gorgeous this area is. There were goannas wandering freely in the parks and only a handful of families and travellers enjoying the stunning beaches.
Ocean Sunset New South Wales Road Trip
The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean in Nambucca Heads.
Winding Road New South Wales Road Trip
This was the kind of scenery you encounter when you take the “Waterfall Way” from Coffs Harbour to Armidale.
Jungle Hike Dorrigo National Park New South Wales Road Trip
We went for a bush walk in Dorrigo National Park, and were blown away by the lush forests.
Dorrigo National Park New South Wales Road Trip
Views over the 60-million-year-old Gondwana Rainforest in Dorrigo National Park.
Waterfall Dorrigo New South Wales Road Trip
Behind the Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National Park.
Big Waterfall New South Wales Road Trip
This is why it’s called “Waterfall Way” – Ebor Falls, Dorrigo.
Car Tent MSR Economy Bookings New South Wales Road Trip
Benefit of having your own vehicle and tent – being able to sleep in gorgeous country scenes like this. Economy Bookings made getting a car for this road trip incredibly easy and stress-free.
Big Banana Coffs Harbour New South Wales Road Trip
Perhaps Australia’s most iconic “big thing” – The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
Nimbin Happy High Herbs New South Wales Road Trip
The counter culture capital of Australia, Nimbin, is home to huge collection of hippies, alternative folk and the nation’s biggest pro-marijuana movement. We have to be honest – we thought we would love this town. It basically screams everything that we stand for. However we found Nimbin to be quite commercial, and far too many people who had just taken too much acid in their lives thinking they were saving the world and themselves by eating goji berries and preaching anti-establishment mantras while Snapchatting on their iPhones. Still, a worthy stopover.
Byron Bay Lighthouse New South Wales Road Trip
Byron Bay’s amazing lighthouse. This headland marks the easternmost point of the Australian mainland, and is one of the most popular destinations for travellers in the country.
Snapper Rocks Quiksilver Pro New South Wales Road Trip
After the excitement of the Australian Open of Surfing, we picked up media passes for the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. The world’s best surfers were carving up the steady but slightly small conditions. Congrats to Aussie Matt Wilkinson who took out the comp!
Wombat Gold Coast New South Wales Road Trip
A Marvel Comics-themed koala in Broadbeach, Gold Coast. Urban walks are filled with these commissioned pieces of art.
Natural Bridge Springbrook National Park New South Wales Road Trip
The Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park is only an hour from the Gold Coast, and definitely worth checking out.
NSW QLD Border New South Wales Road Trip
Parked up on the border of New South Wales and Queensland. Absolute beauty in every direction.
Open Road Uki New South Wales Road Trip
The open road outside of Uki, NSW.
Long Road New South Wales Road Trip
Another beautiful view driving on the inland route through New South Wales.
Cool Courthouse New South Wales Road Trip
Even though Australia is a young nation (in terms of European settlement, we’re not speaking of the 40’000 years of Aboriginal history, which is a very important part of our country’s identity), there are still plenty of amazing buildings around New South Wales and Victoria.
Tree Cool Clouds New South Wales Road Trip
Clouds for days – snapped as we drove through the countryside of New South Wales.
Old Shack New South Wales Road Trip
A typical country scene on the inland route.
Working With Tent New South Wales Road Trip
Finally finding time to settle down and get a bit of work done, in this beautiful campsite right next to a small creek.
Old Tractor New South Wales Road Trip
An old tractor left as a museum relic in one of the small towns we stopped off at for a coffee break.
Valley Views New South Wales Road Trip
Looking back towards Bathurst from the Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountains Lesh New South Wales Road Trip
The Blue Mountains are famous for these types of views…
Blue Mountains Views New South Wales Road Trip
Only two hours from Sydney, the Blue Mountains can be done as a day trip from the state capital, or if you have more time you can hang out and go canyoning, hiking and climbing. Besides sheer, wondrous beauty, it is an adventurer’s playground!
Narrabeen Sunrise New South Wales Road Trip
Arriving back in Sydney this was the final sunrise in Narrabeen before our #RoadTripasaurus officially ended. 25 days, 4000km, 18 nights in our MSR tent and one epic state. New South Wales, we will be back.

Our rental car was supplied by the good folks at Economy Bookings. Our MSR Mutha Hubba Tent and Therm-A-Rest camping gear was sent to us by Cascade Designs. All opinions, thoughts, kilometres driven and warm nights spent sleeping in fields are of course our own. 

About the author

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Milena

    I loved your post! Could you please tell me what camera you use? Many thanks!

    Inna

    Stunning photos and Epic roadtrip!
    You guys saw so many places in one trip – that’s amazing. Very inspiring.
    Love road tripping around Australia 🙂

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