Lismore, New South Wales: Historical Post and Telegraph office building, via Alex Cimbal /

7 Most Welcoming Towns in New South Wales

Often referred to as the "First State" or the "Premier State," New South Wales is renowned for its diverse landscapes and vibrant towns; its coastline and inland regions are home to many charming destinations.

Consider exploring the many welcoming towns, such as Merimbula on the beautiful Sapphire Coast. This region, also part of Australia's Oyster Coast, offers a vibrant boardwalk featuring seafood restaurants and the family-friendly Spencer Park Beach and playground. Tathra, known for Kianinny Bay, a protected area with clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling, offers a variety of beaches to suit all preferences.

Ulladulla, a significant fishing port since 1859, is a charming town on the South Coast in the Shoalhaven region. In contrast, Mudgee, located in the Central West region, offers rural charm with activities ranging from wine tasting at Lowe Wines to camping and hiking in Drip Gorge and the surrounding wetlands. Whatever your heart desires for a stress-free vacation, NSW has got you covered.


Lismore, New South Wales,: Main street with the town's emblem as a heart
Lismore, New South Wales,: Main street with the town's emblem as a heart, via Alex Cimbal /

Lismore, a town on the far north coast of NSW, is a gateway to outdoor adventures with numerous national parks in the region. You can explore a section of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia in Wollumbin National Park, enjoy horseback riding in Mebbin National Park, or follow the Bangalow palm forest trail to Protesters Falls in Nightcap National Park. The nearby Richmond Valley area offers diverse attractions including rainforest walking tracks, secluded beaches, and the art deco town of Casino on the Richmond River.

After immersing in nature, Lismore's painted backstreets, weekend farmers markets, and fairs like the Channon Craft Market, the nation's oldest for art and craft, offer a cultural experience. The town, known for its inclusive and creative spirit, hosts events like the Lantern Parade Festival and the Nimbin Poetry World Cup. The Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens and the coastal landscapes of Bundjalung National Park provide serene environments, while cafes like Flock and the LGBTIQ-friendly club Tropical Fruits add to the town's vibrant social scene.


Merimbula lake, Merimbula a beautiful town on the south coast of NSW Australia
Merimbula lake, Merimbula a beautiful town on the south coast of NSW Australia

Merimbula, an enchanting seaside town whose name means "two lakes" in the Aboriginal language, is nestled along the sparkling Sapphire Coast, bordered by Merimbula Lake to the south and the smaller Back Lake to the north. A favorite spot for sailors, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders, the town invites you to enjoy these activities along its vibrant boardwalk, offering breathtaking sea views that will amaze you. Short Point provides consistent surf with spectacular views, while Bar Beach is perfect for snorkeling. The shallow waters of Spencer Park Beach and its playground are a magnet for families. For those seeking more thrills, Magic Mountain is a kid-friendly theme park, and the 1.2-kilometer Goodenia Rainforest Walking Track offers an easy stroll amidst melodious birdsong.

As part of Australia's Oyster Coast, Merimbula boasts a rich array of sea tours, a variety of beaches, and the central Merimbula Wharf, known for its oysters. The area is replete with trendy coffee shops and waterfront fine dining establishments, where the ocean swell provides a backdrop for surfers, including at the sandbank at the northern end of Main Beach. The Merimbula Aquarium, perched on a rock shelf near the sea, displays a vibrant array of marine life and is adjacent to the Merimbula Aquarium & Wharf Restaurant, an excellent choice for dining. Potoroo Palace offers an interactive experience with Australian wildlife, including kangaroos and snakes, and just to the north, Bournda National Park showcases the beautiful Wallagoot Lake.


Mudgee, NSW Church and Clock Tower viewed from behind a White Cherry Blossom Tree
Mudgee, NSW Church and Clock Tower viewed from behind a White Cherry Blossom Tree, via Annalucia /

Mudgee, a town brimming with down-under authenticity, invites you to immerse yourself in its local atmosphere along historic cobblestone laneways. The annual Mudgee Wine and Food Month, a springtime culinary celebration, is an ideal time to visit. The town also hosts the annual Sculptures in the Garden outdoor exhibition. Brett Niven Ceramics, a working studio with a shop, lies at the heart of Mudgee. The town is renowned for top vineyard restaurants like Pipeclay Pumphouse and The Zin House, as well as cool wine bars such as Roth's Wine Bar. Local crafts are showcased at The Mudgee Brewing Co. and Three Tails Brewery and Smokehouse.

Visiting this beautiful town in NSW's countryside is highly recommended, especially for those interested in historical charm and fantastic cuisine. Alby & Esther's is a lovely cafe to start your exploration. The Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers’ Market, held on the third Saturday of each month at St. Mary’s, offers fresh products from surrounding farms. The Mudgee Arts Precinct, Australia's newest state-of-the-art regional gallery, features contemporary exhibitions and workshops, situated near the Cudgegong River and the scenic Lawson Park Sculpture Trail.

Port Macquarie

City centre street with a hotel, apartment buildings and shops in the coastal holiday town of Port Macquarie.
City center street with a hotel, apartment buildings, and shops in the coastal holiday town of Port Macquarie.

Located on the NSW North Coast, Port Macquarie is a haven for nature enthusiasts and food lovers. It offers mesmerizing coastal scenery, wildlife interactions, and landmarks like Tacking Point Lighthouse. Visitors can meet recuperating koalas at Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital and see healthy, happy animals at the Billabong Zoo, Koala, and Wildlife Park. This beautiful town, situated at the mouth of the Hastings River, is famous for its fresh produce, oysters, and strawberries. At the Sea Acres Rainforest Center, you can discover elusive species, and Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries offers berry picking along with their award-winning jams and preserves.

Most popular during the spring and summer holidays, the Mid-North Coast waters around Port Macquarie are stunning for swimming, with whale and dolphin sightings common in the pleasant weather. Autumn, with its fewer crowds, is perfect for a leisurely stroll and tastings at Douglas Vale Historic Homestead and Vineyard. Exploring Port Macquarie’s rich 19th-century history is like walking through an earlier era of Australia, with landmarks such as St. Thomas' Anglican Church and the Port Macquarie Museum. Many old-school buildings are open for tours. Located just a four-hour drive from Sydney, Port Macquarie is also accessible by air, with convenient transportation links to major cities.


Aerial view of Tathra, New South Wales
Aerial view of Tathra, New South Wales, By Cimexus, CC BY 2.0,  Wikimedia Commons

Popular with fishermen, divers, snorkelers, and photographers, Tathra, a tantalizing town along the Sapphire Coast, welcomes families, nature lovers, and creatives with activities for everyone. Whether it's bushwalking, swimming, surfing, or simply soaking up the sun and views in picturesque spots along the sandy bay, Tathra offers sumptuous seafood and the historic Tathra Wharf, an icon from 1862 and the only deep-sea timber wharf on the national east coast. The trail between Tathra Headland Walk and Tathra Wharf features viewing platforms for breathtaking views, photoshoots, and whale watching between May and November. The heritage-listed Tathra Hotel, with its renovated rooms, provides a comfortable stay.

Tathra is an excellent base for exploring Mimosa Rocks National Park and Bournda National Park, with their rugged waterfronts and campgrounds, allowing visitors to experience the Australian night symphony. Families enjoy the easy walking track from the village to the mouth of the Bega River at the northern end of Tathra Beach, offering activities like swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. There's also a new walking and cycling track from Kalaru to Tathra, and the popular Kangarutha Walking Track through Bournda National Park offers views of Kianinny Bay. This protected bay is excellent for swimming and snorkeling in its clear waters, and Chamberlain Lookout offers stunning views, especially at sunset.


Temora Court House, constructed in 1902
Temora Court House, constructed in 1902, By Mattinbgn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Temora, situated in the beautiful Riverina region of southern NSW, is "The Friendliest Town in NSW." Located between Sydney and Melbourne, Temora Shire lives up to its reputation with amazing facilities, sporting prowess, and educated locals. Despite the regional center of Wagga Wagga being just an hour down the road, Temora is a central hub with its grand heritage buildings, ranging from colonial to Art Deco, and a rich history of gold, including gold rush sites from the 1860s and the Canola Trail. The Bundawarrah Centre features ambulances from the last two centuries and the original family home of cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman.

Home to the world's finest collection of flying vintage warplanes, the Temora Aviation Museum offers spectacular weekend flying displays, eye-catching exhibits, and audio tours. You can explore the historic Railway Temora with memorabilia from 1893 and follow the winding trail along the tracks with a bronze statue of Boofhead, a fox terrier who famously rode the state train network in the 1960s. Living in naturally inspiring surroundings where fields transform into eye-popping canary yellow every spring, Temora really knows how to welcome visitors in rural style! Nearby, the picturesque Lake Centenary offers a 7-kilometer round trip with clean water for cooling off and relaxing, or enjoying activities like fishing, swimming, and water skiing.


Ulladulla Harbour Landscape - South Coast, New South Wales, Australia
Ulladulla Harbour Landscape - South Coast, New South Wales

Ulladulla, a major fishing port since 1859, is a pretty port town on the South Coast, perfect for an easy-going coastal escape in the Shoalhaven region. It boasts heritage walks, nature reserves, and staples like interesting galleries and surf shops. Although Ulladulla itself does not have a beach, nearby options include the Ulladulla Sea Pool, Mollymook Beach to the north, and Burrill Beach to the south. Visitors can still enjoy fishing, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing at Dolphin Point, hike to Warden Head Lighthouse, or whale-watch the migrating humpbacks along the NSW South Coast from the South Pacific Heathland Reserve.

Ulladulla is home to unique shops and delicious cafes, and its welcoming atmosphere prevails with a very laidback vibe outside of summer. You can join a local Aboriginal guide for immersive Indigenous culture along the Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail, winding from the lighthouse to Rennies Beach for some southeast-facing surfing. The picturesque harbor immerses you in the local culture and present-day lifestyle with welcoming restaurants offering seafood feasts of freshly caught oysters and fish, fish shops, and the monthly Ulladulla Wharf Market. A short drive south to Meroo National Park leads to a walking track known as 'Pot Holes,' while to the west, Pigeon House Mountain Didthul in Morton National Park offers another great walking track with panoramic views.

Did you know that actors Hugh Jackman, Rebel Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Toni Collette, along with models Miranda Kerr and Elle Macpherson, were all born in NSW? Mudgee, known for its fine foods, wine, sights, and art, invites you to indulge in a local atmosphere enriched by its 19th-century heritage, evident in its historic cobblestone laneways.

In Temora, you can explore its historic railway, passing by a bronze statue of Boofhead, a fox terrier known for riding the state train network in the 1960s. In Port Macquarie, you can visit the Koala Hospital to see recuperating koalas, enjoy the mesmerizing coastal nature, and explore the Tacking Point Lighthouse.

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