New South Wales
Situated on the east coast of Australia, New South Wales borders Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. It’s the most populous state with just over or eight million people living there. Just under two-thirds of the state’s population live in Sydney and its immediate surrounding areas, which means that its still nowhere near the busy streets of London. With over 780 national parks and many more things to do, we’re going to cover Sydney in another post, because let’s face it; Sydney is awesome and deserves its very own post. For now we’ll cover the rest of the state and all the best places to visit in New South Wales.
Skiing in the Snowy Mountains
Now who would have thought that this would be possible. The continent where the sun can turn you into the same colour roast dinner my wife normally cooks, has mountains where you can go skiing. And not just that; they have the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that you get to do another world’s best, or in this case a Southern Hemisphere’s best and another thing that you can brag about to your friends at home. At 7310 ft, it’s also the highest mountain range in mainland Australia. Two birds.
After sprinting off the plane in Canberra Airport and jumping in your hire car, with an air-conditioning system, the 2h30min drive venturing into The Outback will seem like a blink of an eye compared to the 20-hour flight you had just endured flying to Australia. But unfortunately that is something all of us not living there, would have to do if you want to visit. It’s worth it though, trust me and for the first time since we’ve made our way from Western Australia and whenever we had driven into The Outback, you will have nothing but lush green surroundings to admire. The bare, barren deserts normally associated with The Outback, have not yet reached this far down south and east.
Perisher Ski Resort
The largest ski resort in the Souther Hemisphere is made up of four villages and their associated ski fields and accommodations. Depending on your budget, you can stay as long as you want, where you want and visit as many of the ski fields as you like. You would need to do your homework to make sure that you get the place that you want and not end up sleeping in the same room as your mother-in-law.
The Boonoona Lodge
As far as I can tell, The Boonoona Lodge ranks right up there with the best accommodation and at night, it looks like the North Pole, as seen on TV. Don’t be surprised if you come across Santa’s Little Helper. Situated smack bang in the middle of the resort, you will not have to walk too far to go anywhere and the Ski Tube Terminal and lifts are all just a few minutes away.
The rooms are neat and clean, not the biggest, but very cosy. It comes with free wi-fi, fresh linen (obviously), your own private en-suite and magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. It will make you feel like you stumbled into a fairytale. In the lounge you can enjoy a game of billiards or watch a movie and at the end of the day, after hours of skiing, relax in the bar with a warm drink, or something stronger, before making your way over to the hot tub. As always, I need to caution; this is a family lodge, so once you’ve had a few beers and relaxing in the hot tub, you still need to keep your swim trunks on. And it goes without saying; don’t pee in the water. You get out, walk into the darkness where no one can see you and make all the yellow snow that you want.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any prices at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but please check here in future for full details or for other accommodation.
Hit the slopes
The resort has over 300 acres of skiable terrain, 100 instructors, 47 interconnecting ski lifts and 240 snowmaking facilities called snow guns, to make sure that you have the time of your life. Nothing worse than skiing at full speed down a mountain and then getting your ski stuck on a rock, so the snow guns are there to supplement the normal snowfall and to make sure that you don’t break every bone in your body.
If you are a novice and would like to learn, various lesson packages are available for skiing and snowboarding and two-hour lessons for beginners start at around £52 or $63 per person from the ages of four and up. As for the little ones, unfortunately it doesn’t look like something is available at the moment, so why not nick one of those snow guns on your way down the mountain and fill up the bath tub in your room. They can stand on the edge of the bath and do a short run.
Two days of skiing, with access to all lifts will cost an adult £200 or $251 and children between the ages of 4-14, £105 or $130. With that many ski lifts and downhill runs, you will need at least two days. For full prices and details, click here.
Hiking to the top of Mount Kosciuszko
Depending on the time of year, you can do water skiing, fly fish for trout in the lakes and rivers, go rafting and kayaking or even mountain biking, but that can be done almost anywhere else in the world. What we want to do is a once in a lifetime thing and that’s to reach the summit of Mount Kosciuszko; Mainland Australia’s highest peak. And it’s not even that difficult. It’s just steep and all you’ll be doing is walking; unlike Everest where there are a million ways to die. So to sum it up, you walk up a steep hill with easy walkways and reach the highest point on an entire continent without a chance of dying. That’s definitely going on my bucket list. Just imagine the view from the top!!
Located just a short nine-min walk from the Perisher Ski Resort, you can access the start of the Summit Walk and make your way up the top with a 12 mi hike, which can typically last around five-six hours. You can also save two hours by taking the 10min chair lift up to a higher up starting spot. Depending on the time of the year, the last half a mile can be quite difficult, especially if there is snow. Summer temperatures can be quite hot, so make sure that you have enough to drink. Beer might make the journey seem shorter, but you would need to stop and pee more, causing the other people in your group to get annoyed. But who cares and if anyone gets annoyed with you; remember, the mountain is big and accidents happen. Not your fault if your mother-in-law takes a tumble where no one could see her…… or you.
Tails won when I flipped a coin, because I have limited space in each post. I had to choose between Hunter Valley or Kangaroo Valley and the first one won, but don’t let that stop you from looking into Kangaroo Valley yourself. Google is a great place to start.
Starting around 75 mi north of Sydney and stretching another 118 mi further up, Hunter Region or commonly known as Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys in the territory and known for its wineries, which means that we are going to get freaky…. again. It’s also the sixth most visited place in Australia with over 2.5 million visitors annually, so it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong going there. Since the valley is quite big and you can stay anywhere you want, I’m going to have to pick a place out of a hat and tell you about it. If you would rather stay somewhere else, please Google the valley and pick and choose anywhere you want.
This small, family run winery, has been operating since 2005 and as with all family owned businesses, the love and care that go into it, makes it stand out. They don’t use any fungicides or pesticides in their vineyards and all of their fruits are handpicked. Now, I don’t think that they use a magnifying glass to inspect each and every single grape before putting it on the yes pile, but a set of eyes, instead of a machine, can go a long way in ensuring that just the best fruit is used to make the wines. And without the fungicides and pesticides you will get a buzz without becoming a drooling vegetable.
What I like most about Harkham Wines is the fact that they genuinely seem to love what they do and that it’s not all about the money. As far as I could see, they are the only winery that let you sample their wine for free. How much each person is allowed to sample, I can’t be sure, but they will tell you when you make a reservation. And it goes without saying, don’t just go there to drink the free wine; they also have a bespoke chocolate liqueur and a mead that’s made from 24 carrot gold flakes.
Don’t drink and drive, stay over
Since you got to drink for free, the least you can do is buy a few cases of wine to take with or at least spend a couple of nights in the house or lodge. I would suggest the house, because it has won awards and is truly stunning. Prices start from around £480 or $565 per night during the week, with a minimum of two nights and maximum of six guests and young ones under two years get to stay for free. No pets are allowed, but that’s understandable. They don’t want you getting the dogs drunk and have them looking for fights. If you want to spend two nights over a weekend, prices are around £620 or $750 per night, but that’s a small price to pay since you don’t have to crawl too far once you are done with the wine tasting.
This cottage consists of four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It comes with a fully stocked kitchen, minus the food obviously, fresh towels and linen, unless you ask them to keep the previous guests’ sheets, which in that case you will be denied entry for being too freaky. The outdoor entertainment has a BBQ, which you are welcome to use; in fact, a few of those big Aussie steaks after a long day of drinking will go down very well. If you don’t feel like doing your own steaks and just want to relax, you can go for dinner in the restaurant and let them feed you. For full details and accommodation prices and menu, please check here, or you can check here to literally stay anywhere inside the valley.
Hunter Valley Gardens
Just a stone’s through from Harkham Wines, sits Hunter Valley Gardens. When you exit the winery, you turn left, then left and finally left again and nine minutes later you are there. Since you already have accommodation at the winery, you can just visit the gardens before making your way back in the evening. If you want to stay over, you can look for accommodation here.
The following are the significant numbers for The Garden:
- 4 – The number of years it took to build The Garden, lead by Bill and Imelda Roche.
- 40 – The amount of engineers, architects and landscape gardeners it took to build The Garden.
- 8km – The amount of walking paths created for you to explore this stunning garden.
- 10 – The amount of individually themed gardens.
- 14 hectares – The size of The Garden.
- 6000 – The amount of trees planted there.
- 600 000 – The amount of shrubs planted there.
- 1 000 000 – The amount of plants, waterfalls, murals and other things covering the grounds.
- 5 000 000 – The amount of headaches it caused to get this paradise up and running.
Go and explore
To explore the Garden of Eden won’t cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, I think that they are underpriced. At £25 or $30 per adult for the entire day and £16 or $20 for children between the ages of 4-15, you will get to enjoy much more than what you paid for. Once your feet start to drag, droplets of sweat start to form on your forehead, you get light-headed and push your baby out of the stroller to sit down, it can be one of two things:
- That spiderweb you wiped off your shoulder at the wishing well, had caused an unwanted hitchhiker to jump for it when you destroyed its home and then had given you a parting gift.
- You are hungry….. Which will probably be the more obvious reason, considering that your ball and chain had dragged you through an endless amount of trees, flowers and grass, which by then all look the same to you. Well, you’re in luck, because The Garden has four restaurants and eateries spread throughout, so you won’t have to search and walk too much further. Sit down, eat and drink as much as you like and once you are finished, tell her to hit the bricks and come and find you in the car once she’d seen it all.
The 10 gardens your wife is forcing you to endure are the following:
- Storybook Garden. As the name suggests, it contains statues and murals of storybook characters like Alice in Wonderland, Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty. If you go at night, Chucky will make an appearance.
- Formal Garden. With over 3000 Chameleon Rose bushes and a variety of manicured lawns and Manchurian Pear trees, this is one of the largest gardens of its type in Australia. It also has a wishing well…. if you believe in that kind of thing.
- Border Garden. Designed to imitate the French Parterre style gardens, it displays hand-carved Indian Marble statues and water features of the four seasons.
- Sunken Garden. Features a 10m high waterfall and hundreds of roses.
- Italian Grotto. Lemon, orange and olive trees, pink Wisterias and cascading Geraniums are some of the flora you can feast your eyes on when visiting this garden. But do not pick any of the fruit, because a statue Saint Francis of Assisi is overlooking the grotto and legend has it, that comes alive if you misbehave.
- Indian Garden. You enter through the 160-year-old antique Indian Gates and are hit with aromas of Indian Curry plants and Purple Ajuga. You can it down for a cuppa in a traditional Indian Tea House and admire the garden with the two bronze elephants standing guard that are there to make sure that you are not naughty.
That’s not all
- Chinese Garden. Entering through a traditional Moon gate flanked by two Temple Guardians, it will feel like you missed the turn off to Australia and ended up in China instead. Bamboo, Cumquats, Azaleas and Conifer, surrounded by decorative gravels and slow growing grass will keep you entertained while making your way through the garden.
- Rose Garden. Over 8000 roses. Need I say more?
- Oriental Garden. A two-story traditional Japanese pagoda, surrounded by a koi pond.
- Lakes Walk. 1.5 km of pathways and water, this garden is the starting point for many fairytales and nightmares. They have weddings there.
Don’t go home yet
There are so much more to see in Hunter Valley, but unfortunately I cannot tell you about all of them…. well not in one post anyway, but I can give you a quick bullet point list and they are:
- Kayaking in one of the many rivers.
- Hiking. Many trails and walkways throughout.
- More wine tastings at various wineries.
- Hot air balloon rides.
- Helicopter rides.
- Wine escape room. If you drink too much, you’ll never find your way out.
- Various national parks.
- The Australian Infantry Museum.
- Various spas to relax and rejuvenate in.
- Hunter Valley Zoo.
- Golf. But this one might be tricky and your missus might not talk to you for a few days. So, I’ll say, go for it. Win, win.
Welcome to paradise. Just a couple of hours north of Sydney and in the heart of Hunter Valley, you can expect to see gorgeous sand dunes, stunning white sandy beaches with turquoise waters and more national parks than you can handle. If you are lucky, you can even spot whales and dolphins from the beach on one of your walks and Port Stephens is also one of the top fishing destinations on the entire continent, especially for big game fishing. Just don’t try and hook a whale; they might take offence. I heard about this one fisherman that accidentally hooked a Humpback. It swallowed the man whole, but luckily he managed to escape by running all the way to the back until he was pooped out.
Nature and coastal walks, surfing, kayaking and swimming for your life to get away from sharks, are just some of the few things you can expect to do there and if that’s not enough, the bay is also situated between two volcanic hills. So between the sharks getting you in the water and the possibility of molten lava getting you on the land, you will always be on the edge. Luckily you are in wine country, so stock up before you go.
If you don’t want to sleep on the street, do yourself a favour and look here for a place to rest your head.
Whale watching and swimming with dolphins
Watching the world’s biggest mammals in their natural habitat is a bucket list item for many people and there are just a few places in the world that you can do that. So when you visit a country that offers this, you have to do it. For most people, especially people that do not live in such a place or country, this truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But as I cautioned before in another post; remember, it’s a whale and not a horse. Stay in your boat!
To watch these beauties in all their glory, you would need to pay around £50 or $65 per person, which I don’t think is much. There are a few cruise ship operators in the area, so with a bit of searching and calling around, you might find a better deal. Here is a good place to start.
You can also do a dolphin watching cruise for £23 or $29 per person or you can be more adventurous and swim with them. For that privilege you would need to fork out £250 or $329 per person. It sounds pricey, but when would you ever have the opportunity to do that again and how many of your friends back home would have done that? If you want added excitement, you and whoever swims with you, can line up these dolphins and race them. All you would need is a rope and a whip and I’ll be your bookie, so call me anytime.
Various packages and combos are available, so please click here for full details. You can choose from sandboarding and dolphin watching combos to camel riding and diving combos.
Surfing and Sand-boarding
Ever wanted to learn the art of surfing? Well here’s your chance. Four perfect locations and a surf school with over 35 years of experience to teach you all the tricks. Choose between Fingal Bay, One Mile, Dutchmans and Birubi Beach to hang loose… and I don’t mean catching the waves in your birthday suite. If you don’t own a board, you can hire one. I can’t seem to find any prices at the moment. I think that you would need to call them and due to what’s going on at the moment with the Corona pandemic, they are closed.
If you can’t surf the waves, Poindexter, you can try the dunes. The good news is that no sharks can get you out there, but you can get sand in your eyes. Nothing a pair of sunglasses cannot fix. I’ve done this in Port Alfred in South Africa and I can tell you, it’s a lot of fun. Sure the walk up is tiring, but the way down is awesome and at £16 or $20 for as long as you want to play, you will need a stretcher and two carriers to take you home at the end of the day. If I could do one modification, I would get a quad bike to take the sandboarders back up the hill. You would have to pay extra, but it will make for an even better experience. For full details, please following the same link where you watched the whales and swam with the dolphins.
And that’s it for New South Wales. I know that we didn’t cover Canberra and Sydney, but they follow in a different post. Please don’t forget to share this page with everyone you know. It will show them that you care.
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