Streetscape of Argent Street, the main street in the outback mining town of Broken Hill.

7 Must-Visit Towns in New South Wales

New South Wales, more than its celebrated city, Sydney, is a mosaic of charming towns, each with its distinct character and allure. This southeastern Australian state unfolds a panorama of experiences, from sun-drenched coastal towns to heritage-rich country villages. In this journey across NSW, we delve into seven towns that stand out for their unique blend of natural beauty, history, and local culture. These are places where historical landmarks coexist with contemporary life, where culinary traditions are as diverse as the landscapes, and where every street, beach, or vineyard tells a story. Whether it's the artistic vibrancy of a coastal retreat or the rustic charm of a country hamlet, these towns are the heartbeats of NSW, offering insights into Australia's soul far beyond the usual tourist trails. 

Byron Bay

Downtown Byron Bay, NSW, Australia.
Downtown Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. Image credit Glen Berlin via Shutterstock

Nestled on the northeastern coastline, Byron Bay is synonymous with laid-back beach culture. Known for its iconic lighthouse, standing sentinel at the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, this town offers breathtaking ocean views, especially at dawn. The town’s vibrant arts scene is equally alluring, with numerous galleries and music festivals. The local culinary scene offers farm-to-table dining experiences, where one can savor organic produce and fresh seafood. Surfing is a way of life here, with beaches like The Pass offering world-class waves.

Byron Bay's hinterland, a short drive from the town center, presents a contrasting landscape of lush rainforest. Here, walking trails like those in the Arakwal National Park lead to secluded beaches and offer glimpses of local wildlife. The town also serves as a gateway to other regional attractions, such as the quaint village of Bangalow, known for its historic architecture and monthly market showcasing local artisans.


Street view in Orange, New South Wales
Street view in Orange, New South Wales, via Slow Walker /

Orange, known as Australia's 'Color City', is famous for its vibrant autumn foliage. This town, located in the Central Tablelands, is a haven for food and wine enthusiasts. Surrounded by vineyards and orchards, Orange's local produce is showcased in its cafes and restaurants. The region’s cool climate wines, particularly its Chardonnay and Shiraz, are celebrated during the annual Orange Wine Festival.

Historical landmarks like the Orange Regional Museum provide insights into the town’s rich past, including its gold rush heritage. For nature lovers, Mount Canobolas offers panoramic views and several hiking trails. The surrounding conservation area is home to unique flora and fauna, including several rare orchid species. The town's serene Lake Canobolas is a popular spot for picnics and water activities.


The architecture of covered walkways, arches, and wrought iron decorative balconies in Bellingen.
The architecture of covered walkways, arches, and wrought iron decorative balconies in Bellingen. Image credit James Davis Photography via Shutterstock

Bellingen, set along the scenic Waterfall Way, is a blend of heritage, nature, and culture. The town's main street is lined with Federation-style buildings, housing cafes, boutiques, and art galleries. The Bellingen Community Market, held monthly, is a congregation of local artisans, musicians, and organic farmers. The Bellinger River, flowing through the town, offers opportunities for kayaking and fishing.

The nearby Dorrigo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a short drive away. Known for its ancient rainforest, the park features the stunning Crystal Shower Falls and Skywalk, a canopy-level walkway offering panoramic views. Bellingen's music festivals, like the Bellingen Music Festival, showcase a range of genres, making it a hub for music enthusiasts.


Town center in Mudgee, New South Wales
Town center in Mudgee, New South Wales

Mudgee, located in the Cudgegong River valley, is renowned for its colonial history and exquisite wineries. This town, one of the oldest settlements west of the Blue Mountains, has beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings. The Mudgee Heritage Walking Tour offers insights into its historical significance. The region's vineyards, over 40 in number, offer cellar door experiences and wine tastings, making it a paradise for oenophiles.

The town's surrounding natural beauty is evident in places like the Wollemi National Park, home to the rare Wollemi Pine. Gourmet food lovers will appreciate the local markets and the Mudgee Food and Wine Festival, which celebrates the region's culinary delights. Mudgee's Observatory offers a unique experience for stargazers, with clear night skies perfect for observing the stars.


City centre in the coastal town of Kiama in New South Wales.
City centre in the coastal town of Kiama in New South Wales. Editorial credit: Jaaske M /

Kiama, located along the Grand Pacific Drive, is famous for its dramatic coastal cliffs and the Kiama Blowhole, a natural spectacle where water spouts high into the air. This small coastal town, with its pristine beaches, is ideal for swimming, surfing, and rock fishing. The Kiama Coastal Walk offers stunning views of the coastline and is a great way to explore the area's natural beauty.

The town's history is rooted in the dairy industry, evident in the historic Terrace Houses, now converted into charming shops. The Kiama Farmers’ Market is a showcase of local produce, from fresh seafood to artisanal cheeses. Nearby, the Minnamurra Rainforest in the Budderoo National Park offers a tranquil escape with its walking trails and waterfall.


Gundagai, New South Wales: The Dog on the Tuckerbox, an historical monument
Gundagai, New South Wales: The Dog on the Tuckerbox, an historical monument, via mollypix /

Gundagai, set on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, is steeped in Australian folklore. Known for its historic bridges, including the iconic timber trestle Prince Alfred Bridge, the town has a rich pioneering history. The Gundagai Historic Museum and Rusconi's Marble Masterpiece are testaments to the town's heritage. The Dog on the Tuckerbox statue, just outside the town, is a symbol of Australian bush culture.

The surrounding countryside, with its rolling hills and pastoral landscapes, offers picturesque vistas. The town's annual Gundagai Rodeo is a celebration of its rural roots. For those interested in indigenous history, the nearby Brungle is home to the Tumut Aboriginal Community, offering insights into the traditional custodians of the land.

Broken Hill

Main street in Broken Hill, New South Wales
Main street in Broken Hill, New South Wales, via gionnixxx /

Broken Hill, in the far west of NSW, is a living museum of Australian mining history. This town, the birthplace of the world's largest mining company, BHP, has a landscape marked by historic mines and mullock heaps. The Broken Hill Heritage Walk explores the town's mining past and architectural heritage. The Silver City Mint and Art Centre showcases local art and the famous 'Big Picture', a massive panorama of the outback.

The town is also a gateway to the outback, with the nearby Kinchega National Park offering a glimpse into the region's natural beauty and Aboriginal heritage. The Living Desert and Sculptures, a collection of sandstone sculptures set in a natural reserve, provide a unique cultural experience amidst the desert landscape.

In Conclusion

New South Wales is a treasure trove of unique towns, each offering a distinct experience. From Byron Bay's beach culture to Broken Hill's outback charm, these seven towns showcase the diversity and richness of this Australian state. Whether you're a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a gourmet traveler, NSW has something special for everyone. So pack your bags and set off on a journey to explore these must-visit towns, where adventure and discovery await.

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