The New South Wales Bucket List

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

#60 - Wildlife and scenery at Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve

Where is it? Coffs Harbour, NSW

Outstanding birdwatching is made all the more impressive by the wonderful surrounds that border each side of the wildlife-rich Muttonbird Island off the coast of NSW's Coffs Harbour. The island, which can be accessed via an interconnected jetty from the main wharf - no boat required - is an essential visit in Coffs Harbour and provides a gorgeous return for minimal effort. Ascending to the top of the island results in an outstanding lookout point where not only its signature colony of muttonbirds, but also whales during their annual migratory season can often be seen. Add to this the panorama of the town of Coffs Harbour, its pristine beachfront, and the fringing mountain ranges in the distance. The island particularly shines at sunrise, so early risers or aspiring photographers will want to head out at dawn to see the view at its best.

#59 - Go Horse Riding in the Snowy Mountains

Where is it? Snowy Mountains, NSW


Horse riding and the Snowy Mountains region go hand in hand, having shared a long and intertwined history with European frontiersmen who first colonised the region. The humble horse has thus played a core role in Aussie folklore revolving around the Snowies, and options exist for present-day travellers to follow in the "hoofsteps" of the Man from Snowy River and take a ride through the pristine region themselves. Local operator Snowy Wilderness offer a range of horse riding tours in the Snowy mountains suitable for a range of ability levels, and the blend of scenery and animal interaction makes for a truly organic way to explore the region.

#58 - Admire exhibits at the Art Gallery of NSW

Where is it? Sydney, NSW

One of Australia's leading museums of art, the Art Gallery of NSW is an extensive and impressive collection of permanent exhibits intermingled with temporary themed exhibitions that makes it well worth a visit - particularly on rainy days in Sydney. Comprised of five different levels divided up by both period and artistic style, the gallery's permanent collection features a blend of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, colonial and 20th century European-influenced Australian offerings, and galleries with tributes to old European and Asian masters. This beautiful building is a truly world-class art gallery befitting Sydney's status as a global city, and those with even a passing interest in art would be well served spending a few hours here - all for entirely free admission.

#57 - Visit Old Dubbo Gaol

Where is it? Dubbo, NSW

This heritage-listed penitentiary in the town of Dubbo is a representation of the sometimes-cruel nature of Australian prison life, with a history that dates back to 1847 and a grim facade that reflects its intended purpose. Having been fully restored and repurposed as a tourist attraction, Old Dubbo Gaol allows visitors to tour a range of exhibits and real-life facilities that detail its past operations and living conditions of its inmates. Modern technology has been incorporated to provide additional levels of curation for the building, and those who have a thing for the paranormal can take part in ghost tours which detail the pasts - and the demise - of some of the prison's most notorious inmates all for a very reasonable price.

#56 - See a Show at the Capitol Theatre

Where is it? Haymarket, Sydney, NSW

After a dose of skilfully-performed culture in a historic and classy venue during your time in Sydney? Haymarket's Capitol Theatre, with its traditional atmospheric style, is a truly excellent venue for stage shows in the city and is a grand architectural attraction in its own right. The art-deco interior serves as a wonderful backdrop to the performances of song, dance and performance art, and the theatre has been the site of renditions of some of history's most widely known and well regarded plays and musicals including Les Miserables, West Side Story, Miss Saigon and many others. The combination of ornate decor and wonderful acoustics mean there's not a bad seat in the house at the Capitol, so theatre fans should ensure this gets a spot on their list.

#55 - Lake Jindabyne relaxation & watersports

Where is it? Jindabyne, NSW

The Snowy Mountains region may be most renowned for its wintersports, however the region also shines in the warmer months due to the pristine nature of its landscape. One of the key features that makes up its geography is the pure and glassy Lake Jindabyne, located alongside one of the region's most popular resort towns and is one of the finest spots in Australia for trout fishermen to drop a line. Its inviting waters are also a haven for boating enthusiasts with multiple possible launch points, while other outdoor aquatic activities such as kayaking, sailing, canoeing and windsurfing are all viable ways to enjoy what it offers. There are various options for staying near the lake, with holiday parks and camping both viable options. If you're looking for a laid-back, natural escape in NSW then this lovely lake with its perfectly clean waters serves as a great base to do so.

#54 - Explore Mungo National Park

Where is it? Mungo, NSW

Home to both one of Australia's most striking landscapes and a significant site of indigenous history, Mungo National Park in the innards of NSW is both beautiful and eerie, with a moon-like terrain that is further enhanced by the passage of the sun through the sky. Thick layers of sand and clay have worn away and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and today consists largely of dry lake beds populated by salt bush where kangaroos and emus can be seen wandering across the surface. Getting there requires a significant drive from most of the eastern coastal NSW destinations, but the trip is worth it - upon arrival you'll be able to walk, camp or even picnic near the lake, or take a tour to see the iconic Walls of China (pictured) formations that best symbolise the park.

#53 - Feed the Pelicans at The Entrance

Where is it? The Entrance, NSW

Laid back and scenic NSW central coast town The Entrance is renowned for many things including its wonderful beaches, fishing, markets and golf, however there's one trademark event that sets it apart from some of its nearby neighbours - its daily pelican feeding. Taking place at 3:30pm each day, the feedings take place in the town's Memorial Park and sees dozens of the massive seabirds gathering on the waterfront hand-fed fish by dedicated staff 365 days a year regardless of weather. The feedings serve the dual purpose of entertainment for onlookers as well as a health check for the pelicans themselves, as during the feedings the birds are monitored for tangled lines or fish hooks, injured wings, or other maladies. A definite favourite for those with kids!

#52 - Drink a beer at the Glenmore Hotel rooftop bar

Where is it? The Rocks, Sydney, NSW

What's better for a traveller than great views of Sydney Harbour? Great views of Sydney Harbour accompanied by an ice cold beer, of course. Those looking to enjoy this coupling can head to the historic Glenmore Hotel which is home to a wonderful rooftop bar with an uninhibited 180° panorama of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyline. Aficionados who love their beer will be in their element here, as the hotel boasts a wide and varied selection of both local and international craft beers along with a food menu that offers great variety for overall reasonable prices given the location. They'll even provide you with sunscreen should you be visiting on a hot and sunny Sydney day - a nice touch.

#51 - Do the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk

Where is it? Port Macquarie, NSW

The mid-coast town of Port Macquarie is more than just a scenic stopover between Brisbane and Sydney - it's a wonderful coastal area with a picturesque shoreline pocketed with sections of beautiful beach. Those wishing to see this spectacle in all its glory can embark on a wonderful 9km walking trail that encompass a blend of river, beach and an iconic lighthouse. The walk also mixes in a dash of history with a range of plaques that detail past occurrences of the region, and each section of the walk has enough highlights to prevent any monotony. The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk can be done in approximately 3 hours - and walking from the Lighthouse to the town itself and capping the walk off with a refreshing beverage comes highly recommended.

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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