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New South Wales

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Revision as of 18:31, 14 March 2008

New South Wales [1] (NSW) is one of Australia's south-eastern states and with a population of 6.7 million, the country's most populous. As the core territory of the first British colony on the Australian continent (settled in 1788), NSW is home to the country's oldest and largest city, the state capital of Sydney. The state also encloses the Australian Capital Territory, the location of the Australian national capital of Canberra, in its south-east. NSW is bordered by three other Australian states: Victoria to the south, South Australia to the west, and Queensland to the north.



New South Wales boasts a number of large cities that are well worth the traveller's attention:

  • Sydney - the state capital and largest metropolitan area in Australia
  • Newcastle - located to the north of Sydney, NSW's second largest city and industrial capital of the Hunter Valley region
  • Wollongong - located to the south of Sydney and industrial capital of the Illawarra region

Other regional cities include:

Other destinations

Many of the prime wilderness areas in the state are administered by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) [2] - national parks and nature reserves in NSW currently number over 600 and cover over 7% of the state's surface area


No, there is not a New North Wales. The state is somewhat awkwardly named after Wales, a country in the United Kingdom, but was given the added name South to reinforce the fact it was a different place.


The home of a large number of Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years, New South Wales was only settled by Europeans - spreading outwards from Sydney - from the early 19th century. Inland settlement was at first impeded by the rugged Blue Mountains for a time: Sydney was established in 1788, but settlers did not cross the mountains until 1813 and the first inland town of Bathurst was only founded in 1815.


New South Wales is the most populous state in Australia. Most of that population is concentrated in Sydney, which has 4.2 million of the state's 6.7 million inhabitants. The next largest cities are (in order) Newcastle and Wollongong - after that the larger towns are merely moderately-sized country towns of 40,000-50,000 people. Hence, many of the cultural sights are concentrated in Sydney and nearby. That isn't true of historical or natural sights though. Many of the state's most beautiful natural sights, obviously enough, lie well outside the Sydney metropolitan area. Australian history and identity is to some extent tied up with rural settlement and lifestyle, and thus you will find many of the outlying regions of New South Wales base their tourism industry around pioneer and rural history.


In common with most Australians, the people of NSW have a tradition of great sporting rivalry with neighbouring states. This is expressed each year, for example, in the State of Origin Series of Rugby League matches between NSW and Queensland (NB: Rugby League, somewhat distantly followed by Rugby Union, is the winter ball sport of choice in NSW, as opposed to most of the rest of Australia - apart from Queensland - which follows Australian Rules football).

Get in

By air

Most air travellers arrive in Sydney, which has NSW's (and Australia's) largest international and domestic airport: Kingsford-Smith International Airport (SYD).

Some interstate flights also arrive at Newcastle's airport.

By land

Travellers arriving overland will usually pass through the (near) border towns of Broken Hill from South Australia, Albury-Wodonga or Eden from Victoria and Tweed Heads from Queensland.

By sea

For detailed information about sailing into NSW coastal ports:

Get around

Since 80% of the state's population lives in Sydney, much of the inter-city transport infrastructure is dedicated to taking travellers to and from Sydney. Hence transport connections along major routes from Sydney are very good.

Transport connections between other New South Wales towns are often much less convenient. There is usually a reasonably direct road route between any two New South Wales towns, but public transport links are likely to be abysmal or non-existent, unless the two towns are on the same route to Sydney. As in the rest of Australia, there is very much a culture of making your own way by car.

Expect intra-city public transport to be terrible outside Sydney: other New South Wales cities have small or non-existent commuter infrastructure aside from roads, and the public transport there is largely designed for school children. Travellers who wish to tour the outback regions of NSW would be well-advised to consider hiring a car or travelling within the main transport routes in and out of Sydney.

By plane

Even though most New South Wales cities are within a day's drive of each other, there are a number of airlines that connect cities in the state:

  • Qantas has flights between Sydney and cities in the North Coast, New England, Riverina, Central West and Far West regions.
  • Regional Express has flights between Sydney and cities in the North Coast, New England, Riverina, Central West, Far West and South Coast regions.

By car

East of the Great Dividing Range, along the heavily-populated NSW coastal strip, there are many dual carriage freeways and tollways connecting Sydney with cities and towns to the north and south. West of the mountains the situation is somewhat different. Road connections between towns of population 15,000 or more are likely to be reasonable quality, and towns that are on a major route will also have good access roads. Otherwise, road quality varies and if you travel extensively west of the mountains you will frequently find yourself on gravel and dirt roads. Dirt roads are usually marked on maps. You will not need a special vehicle to drive on them unless so marked, but you will need to drive carefully to avoid damage to your car. See Driving in Australia for more information.

Some popular NSW roadtrips:

By train

New South Wales has the following inter-city train routes operated by Countrylink (tel 13 22 32):

  • Sydney to Brisbane via the Central Coast, Hunter Valley and North Coast
  • Sydney to Armidale via the Central Coast, Hunter Valley and New England.
  • Sydney to Dubbo via the Blue Mountains and Central West.
  • Sydney to Canberra via the Southern Highlands.
  • Sydney to Melbourne via the Southern Highlands and the Riverina.

Countrylink trains are air-conditioned and equipped with comfortable seats. The overnight interstate trains have limited sleeping room available. Food, including hot lunches and dinners, is available from a buffet car onboard. It is essential to book Countrylink tickets in advance.

Sydney's Cityrail (tel 13 15 00) commuter train system also runs inter-city trains to areas within three hours of Sydney. Tickets on Cityrail trains are much cheaper than Countrylink tickets, but you will not get an assigned seat. Countrylink does not serve many of the stations within the inter-city Cityrail network. The network covers the following areas:

  • Sydney to Newcastle via the Central Coast
  • Newcastle to Scone and Dungog via Maitland and the Hunter Valley
  • Sydney to Lithgow via the Blue Mountains
  • Sydney to Goulburn via the Southern Highlands
  • Sydney to Nowra via the Illawarra and South Coast.

See the Sydney article for more information on Cityrail and Cityrail ticketing.

By bus

The bus routes in New South Wales are more extensive than the train routes but share the same fundamental design: they take travellers to and from Sydney, or to the region's major hub. Many towns have a bus service especially to meet the trains to and from Sydney in a nearby town.


Sydney Harbour by night
  • Sydney Harbour is one of the state's favourite postcard scenes. See it from the side of a ferry or from one of the islands in the centre.
  • See animals at
    • Western Plains Zoo, an open-range zoo in Dubbo. See Australian and exotic animals roaming in large paddocks rather than pacing in small cages.
    • Taronga Zoo, across the Harbour from Sydney.
    • Featherdale Wildlife Park, in Western Sydney. Smaller than Taronga, but flat and emphasising Australian fauna. Visit
    • Australian Reptile Park, about an hour north of Sydney, with much more than reptiles. Visit (Hint: Go early, move slowly, stay quiet and you can pet the roos.)
  • Go on a dolphin cruise in Jervis Bay


View of the Three Sisters and Jameison Valley in the Blue Mountains
  • Surf your way up the coast from Sydney to the North Coast.
  • Go on one of the bushwalks from Katoomba into the Jamison Valley.
  • Hire a houseboat in any one of many bays, lakes and rivers.
  • Ski in the Snowy Mountains in winter.
  • Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and see the sun set over Sydney.
  • Go to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
  • Byron Bay's annual Blues and Roots festival is the state's largest roots music festival.
  • Tamworth is Australia's country music capital and holds a country music festival in January each year.
  • Camp in one of the many National Parks. (See


The capital city of Sydney, unsurprisingly, represents the main food lovers' haven in New South Wales. It's the best place in the state to seek out both gourmet food and international cuisine. Particular highlights are Sydney's growing wave of Thai and fusion restaurants, and those top end restaurants whose chefs were often trained in some of the best international kitchens. Sydney's cosmopolitan population guarantees that just about every major cuisine on the planet is authentically and easily available - and generally at a great price.

Most coastal regions, including the North Coast, Central Coast, Sydney and the South Coast are a good place for seafood lovers to eat. Inland the prices will be high, the variety limited, and obviously the catch will be a little less fresh.

Parts of the Central West are specialising in meals made from local produce. Several of these restaurants feature regularly in the Sydney restaurant reviews, and they are beginning to have prices to match.

Vegetarians should be able to find a meal or two to suit them in almost every restaurant in the state, but are best catered for in Sydney and after that, on the somewhat "alternative" far North Coast.


Grape vines in the Hunter Valley
  • Sydney has much busier nightlife than the rest of the state and is the best place to find everything from international touring acts to backpacker bars and big beats.
  • The Hunter Valley is the state's major wine-growing region, and has a wine tourism industry to match. There are many winery tours from genteel wine-and-cheese tasting trips to minibuses full of partying backpackers and girls out on hens nights.


These are many hotels in New South Wales. You may check out the particular city you wish to visit, or refer to the list below:

  • Meridian Resort Beachside is located in Old Bar, NSW, Australia. It is situated on 1.25 hectares of beachfront land of which 6000sqm is a private beachfront reserve. <sleep address="32 Lewis Street

Old Bar Beach, NSW 2430" phone="+ 6553 3441 or 02 6553 3200">

39 – 41 Head Street, Forster NSW 2428. Shores facilities include a family-friendly heated swimming pool, BBQ and entertaining area, a games room with TV, DVD and pool table, and a children's playground. Best rates online start at AUD 350.

Stay safe


Smoking cigarettes indoors is under increasing restriction in New South Wales. A substantial number of buildings are required to be smoke-free by law. This includes indoors in shopping centers (malls), theaters, cinemas, schools and hospitals. Most workplaces are also smoke-free. All public transport is smoke-free. Smoking indoors in restaurants and cafes is banned. Smoking in pubs is slowly being restricted, as of July 2006 pubs are required to have two thirds of their indoor space smoke-free and in July 2007 indoor smoking will be banned in pubs.

Get out

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!