Things to Do in New South Wales - page 4
The Sydney Observatory is part of the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Built in 1858, the observatory is one of the most important places in Australian scientific history. Visitors can check out exhibits related to astronomy, meteorology, and timekeeping, as well as the planetarium and the oldest working telescope in Australia.
The largest working fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, Sydney Fish Market (SFM) rivals some of Japan’s biggest fish markets. Vendors sell approximately 52 tons of seafood per day, and the market is also home to some of the best fish restaurants and retailers in New South Wales.
The Australian National Maritime Museum features rich exhibitions ranging from the time of the Eora First People to the First Fleet all the way to the present. Here you can learn about how convicts traveled in dark and damp accommodations and how passengers sailing to a new life survived long ocean journeys.
Opened in 1826, Sydney’s State Library of New South Wales is the oldest library in Australia and a repository for a huge and diverse collection of books. The iconic building is also home to over 1 million photos, maps and manuscripts. Architecturally grand from the outside, inside is modern, bright and attractive, and the Mitchell Library looks straight out of a movie with its book-lined walls.
The library also has five historic galleries in the Mitchell Wing which host both permanent and temporary free exhibitions — from collections of 18th-century Australian natural history illustrations to the diaries of Australian men and women writing in WWI.
Next to Parliament House and the Royal Botanic Gardens on Macquarie Street, the State Library of New South Wales also has its own book club. And on a regular basis there are also talks on literary, historical, and contemporary issues. Film screenings and workshops are often held at the library too.
You can also get to know the library better on one of its tours — there’s an introductory one if you want to get to know the services and resources, and there are also regular history and heritage tours. In the verandah and reading rooms are express computers that can be used for up to half an hour without a library card. There’s also free wifi available throughout the library, and, as well as having an onsite bookstore and gift shop, the library has its own cafe, Cafe Trim where you can pick up coffee and cake or a sandwich.
Just on the outskirts of the city, the West Head Lookout offers panoramic views of Sydney, which many consider the best of the area. The bright, blue waters of the bay, headlands with lighthouses, the Lion Island Nature Reserve, Hawkesbury River, and beaches of the central coast are all visible from this point. Facing directly out from the lookout, one can see Broken Bay on the left and Pittwater on the right. Sandstone signs lead the way, benches allow for rest and relaxation, and an Aboriginal Heritage Walk allows for some insight into the origins of the area. The calm McCarrs Creek flows directly next to the lookout, or walk down to the West Head Beach to enjoy a small stretch of golden sand. In winter and spring, you may even catch a glimpse of some local wildflowers in bloom.
Just south of Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach offers all the appeal of its neighbor—golden sands, surf-worthy waves, and scores of sun-bronzed holidaymakers—but its smaller size and lighter traffic make it a local favorite. Head here to enjoy a beachside barbecue in Bronte Park, paddle in the rock pools, or put your surf skills to the test.
Whether you call it CBD or simply "the City," Sydney Central Business District is at the heart of the action in Australia's trendiest city. Home to iconic destinations such as Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Rocks, plus bars, restaurants, museums, galleries, and malls, it’s almost impossible to visit Sydney without swinging by.
Life in Sydney isn’t all about the beach and surfing, but about culture as well. Located inside the walls of a majestic building from 1788, the former residence of Gov. Arthur Phillip, the Museum of Sydney informs visitors about the history of New South Wales’ capital in an entertaining way. The collection displays archaeological finds, utensils from the everyday life of the Aborigines and the first settlers, as well as documents and pictures about the development of Sydney to Australia’s largest city.
Multimedia presentations and computer animations bring the history of the former penal colony to life, and although the museum mostly informs guests about the city’s history, it also takes a critical look at the clash of cultures that happened between the Aborigines and European immigrants.
The museum's location in itself is deeply symbolic. It was here that in 1788, the Cadigal, a group of Aborigines inhabiting the area, and the English first encountered each other. The sculptures in front of the museum, called the “Edge of Trees,” accordingly symbolize the Cadigal looking on from the edge of the trees as Arthur Philip’s fleet anchored in the Bay of Sydney and hoisted the Union Jack to formally found the first British colony on Australian ground.
Built for the 2000 Olympic Games, this world-class facility still draws travelers and locals looking to experience the Olympic spirit. The park is made up of several venues, including the ANZ Stadium, the Sydney Showground, the Athletic Centre, the Aquatic Centre (which is also open to the public for swimming, and even a skatepark.
Whale Beach is a beachside suburb of northern Sydney named for — yes, you guessed it, a whale that was once beached here. It is best known for an area of surf called “the Wedge,” which breaks off a rock reef on the northern edge of the beach. Besides, surfing, fishing and swimming are popular activities — though currents can be strong and it is wise to check conditions before entering the water.
Also of note is a small bungalow home at Careel Head designed by architect Alexander Stewart Jolly. It was built with sandstone that was quarried on site in 1931, and is recognized for its heritage and significance. Take a walk along the beach, enjoy the surf, or simply relax. With trees providing some shade, it’s not a bad idea just to take a seat in the sand and enjoy the scenery.
More Things to Do in New South Wales
In addition to the Bridge Climb, there is a cheap alternative to get the famous view from the top of town on the Sydney Harbour Bridge–the Pylon Lookout. The bridge walkway leads to the South East Pylon and to the entrance of the lookout, from where 200 steps lead up to the viewing platform located 285 feet (87 meters) above sea level.
From here enjoy fantastic panorama views of the Opera House, Circular Quay and the two arches of the Harbour Bridge. You'll also be able to observe the daring bridge climbers.
The Pylon Lookout doesn't only consist of the viewing platform though, but is made up of three levels of exhibits. A visit to the small museum located inside the Pylon is included in an admission ticket and includes information about the history and construction of the bridge, including the dangerous working conditions of the riveters, stonemasons and riggers who constructed it. Hear incredible stories, such as the tale of a worker who survived a fall from the bridge, and watch a film that features the building process and artifacts that were crucial to the accurate construction of one of Australia’s most famous icons.
Not to be confused with Port Macquarie—the popular holiday destination just 3 hours north—Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon. Covering an area of 42 square miles, it’s connected to the ocean via a narrow channel that wasn’t discovered until an early explorer made a wrong turn mapping the coast. Today the lake has given rise to the town of Lake Macquarie, which is known as a popular vacation destination for boating and splashing in the water. When visiting the town of Lake Macquarie, hire a sailboat, kayak, or fishing boat and experience life on the lake, or go surfing at one of the white sand beaches just a few miles away on the coast. There are hiking trails paralleling the cobalt shoreline and more in the nearby hills, where visitors can get views of this lake that’s double the size of Sydney Harbor. Or, take a day trip to the heart of Hunter Valley to sample some of Australia’s best wines, before returning for sunset over the water in Central New South Wales.
Spread out over four spacious floors, Sydney's trendsetting White Rabbit Gallery is the largest collection of Chinese contemporary art found outside of China. Privately owned by Judith Neilson, the gallery features work from hundreds of artists and completely changes every six months to feature a new collection.
The White Rabbit Gallery styles its exhibitions from over 2,000 pieces of modern art personally sourced by Neilson on trips to China and Taiwan. Thought provoking and visually fierce, the featured art has included everything from paintings and sculptures to calligraphy, photography, and games. Opened in 2009, the White Rabbit Gallery as become a fixture in Sydney's art scene and is a popular stop on private art tours in the city.
Set in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, the cool climate of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (previously known as Mt. Tomah Botanic Garden) nurtures thousands of species of plants, from all over the world. The plants are arranged geographically, allowing for a walk among the greenery of different regions of the southern hemisphere. At 1,000 meters above sea level, there are magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and World Heritage Park. At this higher elevation rich volcanic and clay soil called basalt, along with heavy rainfall, creates conditions perfect for producing and cultivating unique plants found only in this climate. The 28-hectare estate has both manicured gardens and wilder “jungle” sections, as well as accommodation for those wishing to stay in the park.
The Blue Mountain Botanic Gardens are also focused on conservation, with a World Heritage Exhibition Center has educational displays for a variety of plants, animals, and for local history.
Known to locals as “the Royal” or “the Nasho,” Australia’s Royal National Park has been a favorite nature escape for Sydney locals since 1879—and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its diverse landscapes range from eucalyptus forests and ancient sandstone cliffs to wildlife-rich wetlands and sandy beaches beckoning for a swim.
Nested inside a quiet lagoon, Wattamolla Beach is a popular spot to stop in for a picnic or a swim within Royal National Park. It takes it name from the Aboriginal words for “place near running water.” The waters provide excellent conditions for snorkeling, swimming, and fishing, while cabbage tree palms provide shade for a more leisurely beach afternoon.
Particularly suited for families, there are barbecue facilities to make a beachside lunch, seaside tracks to explore or take a walk along the coast. There is also a quiet freshwater lagoon, separated from the sea by a long sandbar. The beach is unpatrolled, welcoming appearances from local wildlife and keeping with its peaceful nature. Though it is centrally located within the park, it often feels secluded and calm.
The Grand Pacific Drive is a scenic coastal drive that stretches from the Royal National Park about an hour south of central Sydney, through the seaside New South Wales villages and towns of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, and Shoalhaven. Visitors can choose their own adventure with numerous coastal and rainforest walks, surfing, swimming, shopping, and endless dining options along the route.
Forget the urban, corporate bustle of Sydney’s CBD, and escape to the artsy, brick alleyways of the nearby Newtown suburb. Once a rough and tumble area to the south of downtown Sydney, the gentrified suburb has been completely revitalized as an outpost of foodies and shoppers. When walking the streets of funky Newtown—which are often speckled with graffiti—browse through trendy shopping boutiques or hip little corner cafés. Enjoy live music at the dozens of pubs and theaters scattered across town, and absorb the eclectic, creative vibes of this bohemian Sydney suburb. On King Street, vintage bookshops and music stores ironically sit next to antique shops, and the alternative, grunge, counterculture collective makes for some of the city’s best people watching. From here, it’s only a short drive to Sydney’s beaches or the lights of Darling Harbor, but given Newtown’s creative grit and casual sense of refinement, there’s an indie sense of disconnect from the Sydney most travelers know.
Home to some of Sydney’s best shopping, Oxford Street is an edgy thoroughfare that runs east from Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) toward Bondi Junction. Lined with trendy shops and boutiques, it has become a central hub of Sydney’s late-night club scene, as well as the unofficial center of Sydney’s LGBT community.
In the 1930s, when early conservationists and Australian bushwalkers were lobbying for a National Park, you could argue that places like Govetts Leap ended up making it happen. With its sweeping view of the Grose Valley and swath of forested wilderness, Govetts Leap is often considered the most scenic Blue Mountains viewpoint. Surely, while standing at the top of the sheer rock face, and gazing out at the undulating hills that are completely covered in blue gum trees, lawmakers and bush walkers could all agree that this was a place to be saved.
What makes the lookout so exceptionally stunning is 600-foot Bridal Veil Falls—the tallest single-drop waterfall found anywhere in the National Park. There is a narrow hiking trail that descends the cliff face down to the base of the falls, although the sheer drop-offs and steep climb make it a trail for serious hikers. Most visitors will be better off just gazing out at the view—or stopping at the Blue Mountains Heritage Center at the end of Govetts Leap Road.
If you’re visiting Sydney and watching the sunset while standing out on the sand, then you must be standing on Shelly Beach—the only westward facing beach on Australia’s eastern coast.
Located south of popular Manly, Shelly Beach is a smaller and quieter place to soak up some sun. The waters here in Cabbage Tree Bay are part of a protected reserve, where a small reef creates calm conditions for snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Over 150 species of marine life inhabit Cabbage Tree Bay—and the shallow waters of 30 feet or less means there’s actually a good chance of finding them.
On Shelley’s western end, out towards the reef, watch as surfers rip apart waves at the surf spot known as “Bower’s,” and even when the waves are overhead, Shelley Beach is still protected when compared to east-facing Manly. On the short stroll from Manly to Shelly, stop to admire the Fairy Bower pool that juts out into the sea, or grab a bite at Le Kiosk restaurant across the street from the sand. Above the beach, on the rocky headland, a small bush trail leads to a viewpoint gazing back towards Manly, where the pine-lined shore and golden sands combine to form one of Sydney’s most classic coastal scenes.
Located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, the historic village of Berrima is a welcoming destination for visitors looking to experience the charms of small-town Australia. It boasts Georgian sandstone buildings, historic pubs, vineyards, local shops, small boutiques, and a variety of accommodation options.
Camp Cove is a small golden beach popular with swimmers and families. As the turquoise bay is for the most part protected from surf and winds, it is often completely calm. Often less crowded than other nearby Sydney beaches, it is considered a bit of hidden gem by locals. Indigenous rock carvings made by Aboriginals of whales and fish can still be viewed on the rocks lining the beach. Officers of the First Fleet frequently visited Camp Cove as well.
Just sitting on the beach allows for a great vantage point of the surrounding sea and Sydney skyline. Boats docked just off shore dot the coastline. Furthermore, the calm conditions provide an opportunity to easily view the natural wildlife. Fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving from the shore is common.
Founded as one of Australia’s most miserable and deplorable early penal colonies, Port Macquarie today is one of Australia’s most enjoyable and comfortable cities. Set 4.5 hours north of Sydney on the coast of New South Wales, Port Macquarie is known for its beaches and famously temperate weather. It sits at the gateway to the subtropical north, and has coastal rainforests with wooden boardwalks just steps from white sand beaches. The forests teem with birds and koalas, and “The Port,” as it’s known, has so many koalas, that it’s home to a Koala and Wildlife Park that draws visitors from around the globe. Between June and October, whales are seen migrating and swimming offshore as surfers slash through the waves, and on shore you’ll find churches and colonial buildings that date to a time when Port Macquarie was one of Australia’s first settlements. Bolstered by its status as a wine and food outpost, Port Macquarie is now one of Australia’s fastest growing cities, with a wealth of vineyards, breweries, restaurants, and cafés for visitors to choose from. Add in the network of coastal trails and string of sandy beaches, and Port Macquarie is one of the most popular places in New South Wales.