The New South Wales Bucket List

You haven’t truly “done” NSW unless you’ve done these 100 experiences.

#10 - Dolphin Watching at Jervis Bay

Where is it? Jervis Bay, approx. 3 hours' drive south of Sydney, NSW

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Jervis Bay, several hours to the south of Sydney, is well worth a visit for a variety of reasons - its Hyams Beach alone is a major drawcard featuring wonderfully pristine sand and water - however it's main lure for travellers is the incredible array of marine life that populate the bay's waters. Dolphins, in particular, are the stars of the show here, and the Jervis Bay Marine Park is home to a large population of Bottlenose Dolphins which can be seen up close with a tour with Jervis Bay Wild. These intelligent and inquisitive creatures often like to play in the wake and at the bow of boats, and as such its possible to get wonderful, up-close views of pods of the marine mammals as they frolic and play.

#9 - Do the Manly Scenic Walk

Where is it? begins at Spit Bridge, Mosman, Sydney, NSW

This wonderful public walk shows off many aspects of what makes Sydney especially beautiful as a capital city. The blended beauty of bush and beach are displayed in their entirety here, and the walk - which starts from the Spit Bridge - showcases picturesque parks of the city's middle and north harbours with plenty of scenic spots and small detours to take in along the way. A relatively leisurely walk, there's lots to see on the Manly Scenic Walkway; keep an eye out for lovely and colourful wildflowers, large lizards basking in the sun, rocky shores and of course, vivid blue waters. The walk culminates in the suburb of Manly itself, which carries an upbeat and upmarket atmosphere with plenty of nice spots to dine as a reward for your efforts.

#8 - Explore Jenolan Caves

Where is it? Jenolan, Blue Mountains, approx. 3 hours' drive from Sydney

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New South Wales has its share of natural wonders, but there are few quite as distinctive as the intricate Jenolan Caves network within the greater Blue Mountains region. Comprised of an amazing mixture of 10 spectacular accessible show caves that feature ultra-pure underground rivers and amazing limestone formations, Jenolan Caves are Australia's most impressive cave network. As a remarkable phenomenon that ranks among the finest and most ancient in the world, they can be reached within a reasonable 2.5 hour drive from the heart of Sydney, with regular guided tours offered of various caves throughout the day.

#7 - The International Cricket Hall of Fame

Where is it? Bowral, NSW

This dedication to one of Australia's most longstanding sports is impressive in both its curation and its scope, documenting the entirety of Australian cricket history in interesting and detailed fashion. Established in 2010 using many exhibits from a previous museum dedicated to the great Donald Bradman, it's an attraction that covers all aspects of the cricketing world in-depth. But why does such a specific-interest attraction rank so highly here? The International Cricket Hall of Fame takes on additional weight this year with the recent passing of cricketing icon Richie Benaud, who is set to be honoured by the Hall of Fame this November.

#6 - Visit the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

Where is it? 3 hours' drive south-west of Sydney

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One of the core highlights of the expansive Blue Mountains National Park, the Three Sisters rock formation outside Katoomba is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks. Named after a tale detailing the saga of 3 sisters who were turned to stone in native aboriginal folklore, the triad of rock formations were formed by erosion over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. Most commonly viewed from the lookout at Echo Point, the three sisters take on a different look at different times of the day, and reach over 922m above sea level at their highest point.

#5 - Visit and Hike Lord Howe Island

Where is it? 600km east of mainland NSW

As far as Australian island paradises go, it's hard to find a destination that compares with NSW's stunning Lord Howe Island. Located roughly 600km off the coast of Port Macquarie, this exclusive and pristine slice of paradise comes with a more than justified World Heritage listing, a maximum visitor cap of 400 people at any one time, and an incredible volcanic/reef mix that has to be seen to be believed. Its pristine beaches and their vibrant waters offer quality snorkelling and diving opportunities, and the dominating peak of the island's Mount Gower offers a trek that results in one of Australia's most beautiful views. Hiking to the top rewards the effort with a dramatic, 360 degree panorama of Jurassic Park-style natural wonder, and as such it's a destination that's well worth the high price point.

#4 - Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Where is it? Sydney Harbour, NSW

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Sydney's famed harbour is full of landmarks, and one of the most obvious is the Harbour Bridge which dominates the panorama and serves as both an iconic sight as well as a practical means for thousands of Sydneysiders to travel across the city each day. It's also one of the best possible vantage points to take in the highlights of the harbour and city skyline, and its Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb experience offers travellers the chance to suit up and ascend to the top at various times of the day. One of only 3 such experiences in the world, if you want to feel "on top of the world" while soaking in a wonderful panorama of Oz's most famous city, the Bridge Climb checks all the boxes.

#3 - Catch a live NRL game

Where is it? Misc. locations, Sydney & surrounds

Rugby League is to New South Wales what Aussie Rules is to Victoria; a state-wide institution, it's by far NSW's most popular sport and as such is ingrained into the state's culture. Teams may have relocated and the names may have changed, but the sport at its core has remained the same and draws massive crowds, particularly to finals games and the annual State of Origin that pits New South Wales against northern neighbour Queensland in a multi-game series. Whether it's at a smaller venue like Cronulla's "Shark Park", Newcastle's mid-sized Hunter Stadium or the massive ANZ Stadium in Sydney, watching an NRL game (accompanied by a beer and a meat pie) is "New South Wales" at its essence.

#2 - The Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk

Where is it? Begins at Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW

This wonderful coastal route winds its way along the clifftops of the lovely eastern suburbs of Sydney, and offers some truly gorgeous views in return for a relatively relaxed walk other than a few steep sections and the occasional flight of stairs. Spanning roughly 6 kilometres in total, the panorama grants walkers with magnificent views both north and south, with scenery that intermingles vibrant water with sheer cliff faces, rock pools and pristine beaches below. Given that it's easily accessible via ferry and offers amazing returns for relatively little effort, this is an essential experience for all fitness levels. Our tip: be sure to bring a quality camera, and go during the week when it's less crowded.

#1 - Snap a selfie in front of the Sydney Opera House

Where is it? Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW

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New South Wales' most famous piece of architecture is also one of Australia's most world-renowned landmarks, with the Sydney Opera House ranking right up there with Uluru / Ayers Rock on the international stage. Famed for its blend of distinctive design and picturesque location on the waterfront at Sydney Harbour's Bennelong Point, the Opera House is annually the most-photographed spot in Australia and thus there are few more "token Aussie" experiences than snapping a pic in front of it. Just be sure to mind your fellow tourists, and keep those darn selfie sticks away!

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nswmapNew South Wales is a state that’s far more than simply home to Australia’s most famous city, Sydney – it’s a large and varied state that offers stark contrasts between its coastal, central and inner regions, with a diversity of both landscapes and people that makes for some impressive variety in travel opportunities.

From its often wild and beautiful coastline dotted with some of the country’s best beaches to its inner reaches that transition from lush greenery draped in national parkland and eventually give way to the harshness of the Australian outback, New South Wales’ diversity is remarkable. It’s this variety that make for such an extensive range of experiences, and due to popular demand and frequent requests by our customers – and as the result of years of both feedback and extensive polling – we’ve put together this list of the “Top 100 NSW Experiences to do before you die”.

There is so much to see and do in the whole of New South Wales but we managed to cut the seemingly never ending list down to 100. We’ve covered the gamut of experience types here – from free, to paid, to natural, to man-made – and from both urban centres through to more hidden regional treasures.

So go through the top picks to see what experiences you have already ticked off your list and what New South Wales sights, activities and attractions are next!

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The New South Wales Bucket List Map

The Best of New South Wales on Instagram

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