Well, 2020 has turned out nothing like I had planned. But as we are all in this together, I am rescheduling the experiences I had mapped out, instead, I am turning my attention to local adventures. For the next little while, I am starting a self-imposed NSW travel challenge.
I have been researching where I can go within my own state of New South Wales (NSW). As much as I would love to jump on a plane and head off scuba diving in Mexico or prepare for another epic hike like the one I did up Mt Kinabalu. The reality of the situation is that long-distance travel is going to be difficult for a while. Even if Australia opens its borders internally, there will still be a number of difficulties getting around the country. Australia is quite large after all.
Travel is a huge part of who I am. I love everything from planning where to go and creating a trip budget, to the random people I meet, the food I eat, and the places I get to experience. These days even drop toilets hold a fascination to me… especially since I have been increasing my squat training with my personal trainer. Therefore, not traveling at all isn’t really an option for me. But a trip doesn’t have to involve going overseas, or even go too far from my home. Over the course of the next year (or so) I am planning on seeing as much of NSW as possible.
I do have to mention, that NSW is a bloody huge state. It is a lot bigger than I originally thought when I started mapping out the places I wanted to see. Straight away I put down places like Broken Hill on my list… only to realise that it will take me over 10 hours to drive there. Yikes. So I have created some parameters for my NSW Travel Challenge.
Parameters for the NSW Travel Challenge
Feel free to use these parameters to create your own NSW Travel Challenge list
- It is within easy distance from my home
- It is not a place I have been before under my own steam (if my parents took me there when I was a child and I don’t have a very clear memory of the place, it can still go on the list.)
- It must be budget-friendly (check out my post on creating a travel budget to assist with your planning)
- Preferably not a place on NSW top ten things to do, I want to see a different side to NSW
- My final parameter is that I will always go exploring within government suggested guidelines for defeating this pandemic. If we go back into lockdown, then naturally I will put this on hold for a while. As much as travel helps my mental health it isn’t worth risking my health or the health of those around me (whether I know and love them or not).
With this in mind, I have put together an unusual list of places to go and things to do in NSW. I am not sure if I will be able to do them all in the next 12 months. Especially as I am fortunate enough to still have a permanent job during this crisis. I hope to use my weekends and the odd public holiday to do as many of these as possible. Or it may stretch out for longer, that’s ok. I don’t like putting time restrictions on an adventure, because, in my experience around the globe, the adventure never happens on time. Hope to see you out there!
NSW Travel Challenge List
Climb Mt Kosciuszko
Why: You would think that climbing Australia’s tallest mountain would make most top ten lists. You would be wrong. Australia isn’t known for mountains, but rather beaches, rainforests, kangaroos and deserts. But that doesn’t mean our tallest mountain is any less spectacular. I am particularly drawn to the alpine region in Australia, partly because I grew up in Canberra, but mainly because I love the golden grass hills against the beautiful open skies.
Wine tasting in Orange
Why: Honestly, because I tasted an amazing wine the other day and it was from Orange, so now I want to go there. I have experienced the awesome wine tasting trails of the Hunter Valley, South Coast Wine Region and Mudgee. Time to add another wine locale to the list. Also, just looking at that list made me realise that Australia really does have a lot of wine.
Snorkel at Guerilla Bay
Why: As a child, I loved swimming in this protected bay. However, I haven’t been back as an adult and I am wondering if it is still as magical as my 10-year-olds memory makes it out to be. What’s more, I have a vague memory of there being a pretty amazing reef that I was too young to snorkel on, so naturally, I must go back and find out. Also, until I started researching for this list, in my memory this place was actually Gorilla Bay… I kinda wish that is what it was really called.
Kayak the Murray River
Why: For years I have watched YouTube videos of people who kayak down the Mississippi and found it fascinating. When I started this list I realised that NSW has some pretty epic rivers as well, none more important than the Murray. I would love to see it and get to know it up close and personal for a few days. The only catch is I am not very good at kayaking as I discovered when I explored the Lane Cove National park… but I am sure I can learn.
Star Gazing at the Warrumbungle National Park
Why: Because it sounds amazing! One of Australia’s best places to see the stars outside of the desert due to air clarity and reduction in light pollution. What’s more, the landscape of the Warrumbungle National Park is meant to be mind-blowing. What’s not to love?
Explore the Oceanside of Booderee National Park
Why: Everyone knows Jervis bay when they visit the South Coast of Australia. It contains some of the best beaches in the world (I stand by that comment, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone to challenge me). Most people experience this stunning natural wonderland from the bayside, which is amazing. I have heard though, that the ocean side is just as amazing, more wild and rugged and a lot less crowded.
Explore Wombeyean Caves and Mares Forest Creek Park
Why: Australia has some of the oldest cave networks in the world. I have explored the Jenolan caves after I finished the six-foot track and fell in love with these epic natural structures. Wombeayean Caves is further south and a lot less popular. I always see a sign to them when I drive home from a visit to Canberra and wonder what they would be like. Also, a friend bought me this awesome book on wild swimming in NSW and when I was flicking through I found this one trip that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. I personally love the southern highland area and so would love an opportunity to explore some of its unknown waterways.
Bondi to Manly Walk (the whole thing)
Why: This walk once its finished looks to be pretty epic. There are parts that will always be crowded with people, but how many can say they have walked the whole thing. There are a number of small beaches and inlets in Sydney that I have just never seen, this walk will give me a great opportunity to discover more of its natural swimming spots.
Swim at Little Marley Beach
Why: When I did the overnight hike from Bundeena to Otford, I reached Little Marley beach and instantly fell in love. Such a beautiful small cove with pristine sand and clear water. However, I was on a mission to reach my campsite so kept walking straight past. Since that day I have fantasised many times about swimming there.
Fruit picking in Young
Why: I love making tarts and pies, and I just think that there would be something extremely romantic (and tasty) if you pick the fruit before baking it yourself. Bilpin has a few different options, with the main attraction being cherries. It is seasonal though so checking when is the right time to go is highly important.
Carey’s Peak in the Barrington Tops
Why: A good friend has recommended this hike a few times. Unfortunately, bushfires and the COVID-19 has hampered our attempts to do the trek. But these views are calling to me!
Tomaree National Park Walk
Why: I know Australia is beautiful, I have seen so many places that are just amazing. Yet, I was still a little shocked when I saw pictures taken from the lookout at the precipice of this walk. It is cliche to want to go and see a place just because of a pretty picture, but it has really spiked my interest. I don’t just want to do the walk though, I want to explore the whole area. The beaches, the towns, and the bushland!
Wild Swimming Up Middle Harbour Creek
Why: I love the idea of going swimming in unexpected places. Getting out into the bush and finding a stunning creek or waterfall is always a magical experience. Now imagine if that beautiful creek was also in the middle of Sydney but completely deserted. That is what Middle Harbour Creek has been like every time I have gone bushwalking in the area. Next time I head out there, I am definitely packing my swimmers and going for a dip.
What’s the Verdict: This has to be one of my favourite spots to go for a swim on a hot day, especially after doing a hike in the area. Not only are you surrounded by nature, but the water is crystal clear and so refreshing. Check out my blog post on the Middle Harbour Creek Loop for more details
I am looking to add to this NSW travel challenge list as the year goes on, so if you have any ideas please send them through! I would love to see the parts of this state that you think is special and not given the right attention. There is so much to see and do that I can not wait to get out there and experience as much as I can, travel doesn’t have to stop. I am going to use the social media hashtag #NSWtravelchallenge if you want to follow along more easily on Instagram. Where are you going to travel to?