The New South Wales Bucket List

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

#70 - See the actual opera at the Sydney Opera House

Where is it? Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW

One may not think it given the considerable amount of attention and exposure its exterior facade receives, but the Sydney Opera House is more than a mere scenic landmark to pose in front of - the theatres contained within are home to world-class opera and musical performances of many styles and genres. Opera Australia put on shows that live up to the billing of their venue, and the talent on offer here is some of the best in the world - sets are generally excellent, costumes well-designed, orchestral skill is sublime, and the foyer both before and after is classy and abuzz with an atmosphere that's hard to match. Guests have the option of ordering anitpasto, wine and other accompaniments during show intervals, and the combined opulence of the Opera House's surroundings and the depth of talent on display make it one of NSW's most memorable evenings for dining and entertainment.

#69 - Take the kids to Luna Park

Where is it? Milsons Point, Sydney, NSW

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Sydney's only true permanent theme park, the long-running Luna Park on the shores of Sydney Harbour has been an icon of the city for decades and has entertained millions of visitors from both locally and abroad. As a result, several of the architectural items within the park are listed as heritage items, and its characteristic "clown face" entrance is easily one of Australia's most recognisable figures. Home to a number of rides including dodgem cars, ferris wheel, small-scale rollercoaster and multiple others, what the park lacks in overall size it more than makes up for in both charm and location. On the larger rides, riders are granted sensational views of the harbour, and its location makes it an easy itinerary item to include on the Sydney Harbour route for those bringing kids along for the trip.

#68 - The Beauty of Leura Cascades

Where is it? Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW

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Popular picnic spot but also so much more, Leura Cascades is highlighted by its impressive and beautiful waterfall that serves as an idyllic backdrop for enjoying some relaxation. The Cascades are accessible from the town of Leura both on-foot via a walking path that offers spectacular views and via buses that service the area, and the sheer lushness of the greenery on display here is even more magical if there's been recent rainfall. Wonderful vistas and sounds of birdlife round out the experience here, and it's possible to access nearby lookout points such as Echo Point for views of the Three Sisters for a wonderful combined walk. There's even a signature toilet block that has been built to resemble a carved-out boulder that blends into the landscape around - a lovely little touch.

#67 - Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Where is it? Port Macquarie, NSW

It's always an added bonus when entertainment doesn't come at the sake of conservation, and Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital walks the line between providing both wonderfully. Run by passionate and caring volunteers, the hospital takes care of injured or abandoned koalas in the local area and allows visitors to take a tour to see their treatment, feeding and nurturing back to health up close. The tour takes place at 3:00pm, during which a staff member will take you on a journey for some informative and entertaining insight into the hospital's operation and factoids on koalas in general. Visitors are able to "adopt" a koala, with the funds going towards future rescue and conservation efforts - the hospital runs on contributions without additional funding. This is a "real" animal experience without the glitz and glamour of a zoo; with a visit here, children in particular will come away with a new appreciation for the fragility and beauty of this Aussie animal icon.

#66 - Climb the Treetops at Adventure Park Sydney

Where is it? Sydney, NSW

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Offering a mixture of fun, physical challenge and some fresh outdoor air, Sydney's Treetop Adventure Park a fun way to explore the tree canopy for both adults and kids alike. Located in the green forests of the Western Sydney Parklands, the attraction features a number of tree-borne rides and challenges including flying foxes, zip lines and other activities that are designed to test your personal fitness and skills without being scary or overly intimidating. Courses are divided up separately for younger children and other visitors, with the courses themselves covering different difficulty levels to ensure comfort while still providing enough of a challenge. Participants are fully harnessed and full attention to detail is given to safety, and guests must complete their current difficulty level before moving on to more advanced challenges. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a monkey, this Sydney attraction offers the next-best thing.

#65 - Walk the boardwalk at Urunga

Where is it? Urunga, NSW

This excellent boardwalk that underwent significant extension in 2010 is widely regarded as one of the most scenic of its kind on the east coast of Australia, spanning 1 kilometre from Urunga out to the surrounding ocean. Running along the Kalang River, this long and narrow boardwalk's scenery includes a number of wonderful surrounding lagoons in which a large amount of native wetlands birds can be seen. Mangroves and floodplains feature predominantly here, and crystal clear water can be seen below populated by various kinds of fish. The township of Urunga on one side and nature on the other forms a nice balance to the scenery, and a 15-minute walk is all it takes to reach the ocean and gain access to the beach. In terms of spots to stop between Sydney and Brisbane if doing the drive up or down the east coast, the Urunga Boardwalk is one of the most underrated and essential highlights.

#64 - Do the Newcastle Memorial Walk

Where is it? Newcastle, NSW

Perched high atop the cliffs of Newcastle and constructed to coincide with the centenary of the ANZAC campaign at Galipoli, the Newcastle Memorial Walk combines stunning coastal views with a well-curated dose of Australian history. Throughout the walk are a variety of WW1 era-specific sculptures featuring excellent metalwork that pay appropriate tribute to our servicemen and women, and the walk can be done in a variety of ways or extended all the way past Newcastle's beaches. The panorama available to walkers includes a wonderful outlook over Bar Beach and the southern coastline of Newcastle reaching all the way out to neighbouring Lake Macquarie. On clear days, walkers can often spy whales and dolphins in the neighbouring waters. This is an excellent new addition to Newcastle of which its city planners and residents can be proud.

#63 - Go Canyoning in the Blue Mountains

Where is it? Blue Mountains, NSW

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Scenery and adrenaline combine on epic canyoning adventures in the Blue Mountains; the terrain here is not only picturesque from its signature tourist-friendly lookout points, as the more adventurous can harness up and explore the landscape in far more intimate detail. The array of rocky crevasses and cave systems in this part of NSW offer some breathtaking and challenging abseiling experiences surrounded by rainforest, and varying difficulty levels exist for both veteran and beginner alike to take part in. Trips provided by Eagle Rock Adventures mix a variety of activities including swimming, wading, jumping into pools ('waterjumps'), abseiling through waterfalls, bushwalking and scrambling over rocks and boulders to make for a varied range of movement types that will push your body while bringing along with it a true sense of accomplishment.

#62 - See a race at Mt Panorama, Bathurst

Where is it? Bathurst, NSW

As far as motorsports go, there are few spots in Australia with greater significance than the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst. Renowned for its unusually steep elevation, the track has seen numerous high profile racing events take place on its surface, dating all the way back to the fist NSW edition of the Australian Grand Prix back in 1938 and including the likes of the Australian Touring Car Championship, the Australian Moto GP, and presently the annual endurance-based Bathurst 1000 V8 supercar race. With its robust history and consistent event schedule, Bathurst is a Mecca for rev-heads Australia-wide.

#61 - Dive with Sharks at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Where is it? Manly, Sydney, NSW

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Those wanting to embrace the thrill of coming face to face with a shark without having to travel to some far-flung part of Australia can instead do so within the entirely safe and controlled environment of popular aquarium Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary. Participants can get up close with these often-misunderstood ocean predators in an experience that is both entertaining and educational, with instructors making the skittish feel comfortable through a combination of knowledge and humour. Once equipped with scuba gear and submerged under the water, the sleek and efficient beauty of the sharks becomes even more apparent - proving that nature does the best job at crafting living machinery. In addition, the other creatures in the tank are almost as impressive as the sharks, as massive rays that travel gracefully through the water, sea turtles and their slow yet purposeful glide, and a huge range of colourful fish round out the spectacle.

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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