The New South Wales Bucket List

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

#30 - New Year's Eve Fireworks at Sydney Harbour

Where is it? Sydney Harbour, NSW


As one of the first countries in the world to ring in the new year each year as a result of its timezone, Australia does so in often spectacular fashion - and Sydney Harbour's celebrations top the list. Incorporating icons - particularly the Harbour Bridge - into the proceedings makes for a wonderful backdrop to the extensive fireworks displays that take place throughout the night. The "family" fireworks display takes place at 9:00pm, followed by the "grand finale" to ring in the New Year at midnight, and the fireworks themselves are incredibly elaborate. The only downside? If you want a top viewing spot, you'll either have to pay significantly, for it or fight the crowds getting back home.

#29 - The Minnamurra Rainforest Loop Walk

Where is it? Budderoo National Park, NSW

The lush, rainforest-laden Budderoo National Park lies between Wollongong and Nowra on the southern NSW coast and is home to a wonderful walking circuit that takes explorers through rich sections of wet greenery. Featuring a dedicated man-made walkway, the path is extremely well maintained and varies from straightforward level-ground walking to scenic viewing platforms, across suspension bridges and all culminating in the lovely Minnamurra Falls which can be reach via a side diversion. It's a track that's slightly hilly, but eminently beautiful - ancient and pristine flora interspersed with wildlife make this a living, breathing natural gem that's easy to appreciate for all ages.

#28 - Enjoy the sand and surf at Palm Beach

Where is it? Pittwater, NSW

Forget the fame of Bondi - if you're looking for a quality beach within the greater Sydney area then expend a little extra effort and head up the coast to Palm Beach instead. Famed as the site of the fictional "Summer Bay" from long-running TV series Home and Away, the beach is much more than a mere tourist attraction and features incredibly clean sand, is typically uncrowded, and offers cheap parking in stark contrast to some of the inner-city beaches of Sydney. The beach lies roughly 40km from the Sydney CBD and is both well sheltered and patrolled making for quality swimming near to shore, while its beautiful headland with its characteristic lighthouse cap off the panorama.

#27 - Hit the slopes at Thredbo or Perisher

Where is it? Snowy Mountains, NSW

The Snowy Mountains region more than earns its name, and is the home of perhaps the best skiing and other winter sports opportunities on offer in Australia. While it's home to four major ski resorts, the duo of Perisher and Thredbo are by far the most famous and offer the largest array of both facilities and runs for ski enthusiasts. While you likely won't be disappointed by either of the fields, each of their offerings differ slightly; Perisher is the larger of the two and boasts the most variety for beginning skiers, while Thredbo is more focused and better for the advanced. Both resorts are well laid out and well equipped, so if you're after a dose of powdery goodness during the winter season, making the trip to either one will more than satisfy your urges.

#26 - Take a Sydney Harbour cruise

Where is it? Sydney, NSW


Viewing this iconic waterway from various lookout points on land is all well and good, but getting out on the water of Sydney Harbour and immersing yourself in the 360 degree panorama a cruise offers provides a whole new lease on the landmarks and general vibrant atmosphere the harbour emanates. There are numerous options for those who want to take a cruise - the city's excellent ferry system is a great way from getting from A to B, while options such as lunch and dinner cruises, vintage pirate-style vessels, and even floating theatre-shows are all available. There's 240km of shoreline to view in total, and a cruise offers a great aspect from which to do so.

#25 - Hike Mt. Warning

Where is it? Tweed Coast, NSW

This distinctively-shaped peak on the northern NSW coast lies amongst an expansive national park that is home to some of the world's oldest subtropical rainforests. A truly ancient area to explore, hiking to the summit of the mountain is a fairly difficult but ultimately rewarding proposition that takes roughly 5 hours return but results in some epic views. During the walk you'll see wildlife stirring nearby, occasionally interspersed waterfalls, and after a final chain-assisted scramble at the end be presented with a wonderful 360° panorama of the surrounding mountains and coastline - as well as a justified sense of achievement and self-satisfaction.

#24 - Explore the historic Rocks district

Where is it? Sydney, NSW


While it may be Australia's flagship city and an ever-developing modern metropolis, there are still sections of Sydney that hark back to the colony's original roots, with The Rocks district being one of the most renowned and well-preserved. All the evidence of old construction techniques and city design is still here to be witnessed with a stroll, and the cobblestone laneways and sandstone-brick buildings are a reminder of how far the city has come in the years since. There are numerous charming attractions and quirks to explore here including markets, indigenous art galleries, and charming cafes which make spending a day in the area a satisfying trip back in time, with guided tours available with The Rocks Walking Tours to provide further insight.

#23 - The rides at Scenic World

Where is it? Blue Mountains, NSW


The Blue Mountains are one of New South Wales' most impressive natural highlights in and of themselves, however they are enhanced further by the excellent rides and experiences offered by attraction Scenic World contained within. The attraction features multiple different ways to view the various stunning panoramas of the Blue Mountains from a range of different angles, including a glass-windowed-and-floored Skyway trip that provides views directly below, a scenic cableway that carries you over the expansive Jamison Valley, a walkway carving its way through sections of magical rainforest, and the world's steepest passenger railway. Well-priced and offering the Blue Mountains' best views, it's well worth the investment.

#22 - Visit Fort Denison

Where is it? Sydney Harbour, NSW

A key fixture in Sydney Harbour for over 150 years, Fort Denison has seen numerous changes in function throughout its history yet its picture-perfect location remains a staple of its appeal. Its distinctive Martello Tower is easily recognised by any Australian, and can be toured upon arriving via a short ferry ride from popular transport hub Circular Quay nearby. The 30 minute guided tour of the island provides additional insight into its history and past function, while it's now also home to a restaurant that can make for some picturesque waterfront dining while you wait for the return ferry back to the mainland. Try to stick around for the daily cannon firing that takes place at 1pm!

#21 - Do the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk

Where is it? Illawarra outskirts, Southern Highlands, NSW


The full beauty of the Australian bush is on show in the Southern Highlands region of NSW, and the excellent Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk allows you take it all in via an experience between 20 and 30 metres above the forest canopy. Conducted via a strong - and stable! - scenic walkway, panoramic views can be had that extend all the way out to the Pacific Ocean, while those with no fear of heights can take things a notch higher and climb a tower which provides an even more breathtaking spectacle. Those looking to take things further than a mere walk also have the option of a zip line eco-tour through the wilderness that will see you zipping through the treetops from one station to the next.

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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