Welcome to New South Wales
The late 1700s were a time when Britain was overflowing with people, poverty and prisoners. Desperate times called for desperate measures, which meant stealing sheep, bacon rashers and anything else that the impoverished could lay their grubby mitts on. It was for crimes such as these that convicts were transported to Australia. In 1788 the first ship-load of convicts arrived in New South Wales. The settlers struggled to establish anything liveable but persevered nonetheless. Today it is Australia’s most populated state and home to a variety of attractions both natural and manmade.
If it’s mountains you’re after, then 65km inland from Sydney you’ll find the Blue Mountains, part of the Great Dividing Range – a huge rocky backbone that spans three Australian states. The Blue Mountains are popular with Sydneysiders; they offer an accessible escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its gorges, gum trees and rock formations, it’s a primo wilderness retreat. Also on a mountainous theme, the Snowy Mountains, located on the NSW-Victoria border, are nestled within Kosciuszko National Park. This park is home to Australia’s tallest mainland peak, Mt Kosciuszko (2,228 metres).
After hiking or skiing in the mountains, you may want to indulge in a glass of vino in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region. With over 100 wineries, the valley is divided into upper and lower regions with the majority of the vineyards in the lower area. After you’ve clinked wine glasses and slept it off, the coast of New South Wales makes for excellent driving. Whether you’re heading south, towards the Victorian border, or else north up to Queensland, en route there are plenty of national parks to visit. Right up near the Queensland border is the hippy haven of Byron Bay, one of the few touristic places in the world where you won’t find a McDonalds. Local pressure groups have ensured the fast food giants can’t trade here. Indeed, life in Byron Bay is anything but fast. With its health-conscious, artistic community, the area is blessed with long beaches and consistently good weather.
NSW General Info
GMT plus 10 hours. New South Wales operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST) and has Daylight Savings from October to March (clocks go forward an hour).
NSW has a temperate climate. Summer in Sydney is hot and averages around 25°C, often with high humidity. Winters are mild and range from 10-20°C. Generally, the further west you go the drier it is. The further north you go the more you’ll be pulling on the Speedos and bikinis.
Tel: (02) 9240 8788 Web: www.visitnsw.com
Safari Pete’s NSW ‘Don't miss’ list
The best way to see Sydney is by cruising on . There are a wide range of relatively inexpensive cruises to choose from, or else take the ferry over to Manly and see Sydney’s sights along the way.
Walk amongst the gum trees, spectacular cliffs and rock formations of the Blue Mountains National Park.
Spend the day at one of Sydney’s famous beaches such as Bondi or Palm Beach, one of the great northern beaches an hour from Sydney.
Catch a wave at , a relaxed, hippy surfing Mecca and hotspot for backpackers. Byron has some beautiful beaches and if you’ve never surfed before there are heaps of operators that offer cheap lessons.
Which way Cobber?
The best way to find your bearings and get a feel for Sydney is by foot. There are guided walking tours of the historic Rocks and walking trails including the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk and The Spit Bridge to Manly Harbour walk.
Sydney’s train network is the fastest way to get around the city and does a loop under the city centre.
There are also ‘hop on, hop off’ buses and a monorail, which shuttles between the city and Darling Harbour. The bus network is fairly extensive, however, the most scenic way to travel around is by ferry on the beautiful Sydney Harbour.
Tel: Transport Infoline 131 500 Web: www.131500.com.au
Although it is Australia’s oldest city, Sydney is still the most hip, stylish and
glamorous place in the country; a place that keeps re-inventing itself. Sun-kissed and sophisticated, the capital of New South Wales is the country’s cosmopolitan and economic centre and home to many of the famous landmarks you’ll have seen on postcards. For starters there’s the architectural masterstroke of the Sydney Opera House – possibly the most famous domed roof in the world. Weighing a staggering 161,000 tonnes, it’s amazing the opera house can stand up at all.
Nearby is another Sydney icon, the harbour bridge. Shaped like a giant coat-hanger it spans the deepest natural harbour in the world with 504,000 mega litres of water. To catch a wave, head down to nearby Bondi Beach to surf or to steal a glance at the bronzed and buffed bodies lazing in the sun. In all, there are more than seventy beaches all within easy access of Sydney city centre, as well as numerous national parks. In the city centre you’ll find designer boutiques, arcades and street markets. There are plenty of bars and there’s nightlife and food galore; Kings Cross and Surry Hills are the hottest party spots in town.
Vibrant, good looking, sometimes a little snooty yet always multicultural, Sydney welcomes you with a kiss on each cheek ... darling!
Where to crash in Sydney
Situated in the heart of Sydney, Base is a quality hostel offering super clean, modern rooms and facilities, 24/7 reception, in-room luggage lockers. Ladies can relax in the 'Sanctuary', girls only section of the hostel. If you get thirsty, the Scary Canary bar is right next door. Happy Days! www.stayatbase.com
Positioned in the heart of Sydney, close to all attractions, restaurants and nightclubs, these guys have a large roof terrace with BBQ facilities, a sun deck and all rooms are air-conditioned. They offer a free breakfast, free wireless Internet, a friendly travel desk and have small free lockers in all rooms. www.bighostel.com
Casa Central Accommodation – 11 Regent St, Chippendale, CBD;
Ph 0404 246 003
This intimate hostel is set in a historic building just five minutes to China Town and Darling Harbour. There is a rooftop terrace with BBQ facilities, unlimited free Internet as well as tea and coffee, and washing machines at no charge. There are no rooms with more than four beds in them. Airport shuttles are available. www.casacentral.com.au
This bustling hostel has panoramic views of the city from their rooftop and outdoor area. There’s also a heated pool and sauna. Movie nights with free popcorn and BBQs. www.yha.com.au
- Right in the heart of Sydney, opposite Central Station. Only a few minutes from Chinatown and a fifteen-minute stroll away from Darling Harbour & Sydney Aquarium. There’s mixed or all-female dorms and entertainment seven days a week. www.wakeup.com.au
This Hostel has 11am checkouts and power points in lockers so you can charge everything without having to be there. www.790ongeorge.com.au
Located in the centre of Sydney, adjacent to the bustling Chinatown district, this place has spacious rooms and a security locker for each guest.
This hostel adjoins Central Station and some of their rooms are in railway carriages, or else inside a 1904 building. They have a spa, Internet café, indoor and outdoor communal areas and are in walking distance to Chinatown and Darling Harbour. www.yha.com.au
These guys are close to all the main attractions of Sydney including China Town and the famous Queen Victoria Building, as well as all the museums, galleries, and the Opera House. They have a soundproofed twenty-four-hour games room and a large BBQ rooftop area. www.sydneybackpackers.com
The Maze crew are party animals and there is something happening here every day of the week. A five-minute stroll from Central Station. www.mazebackpackers.com
These guys like to party! Only a five minute walk from Sydney Central Station, this hostel has lockers, 24 hour reception and a fully equipped kitchen! www.westendbackpackers.com.au
This classy hostel has an in-house bar and restaurant; an outdoor area with sun loungers, bean bags and a BBQ, and free 1/2 hour Wifi internet on arrival. Located near the city centre. www.bouncehotel.com.au
These guys have late checkouts, 24 hour free unlimited Internet access free tea and coffee and free Foxtel (pay-TV). www.easygobackpackers.com.au
Located in a restored terrace building, this hostel is within spitting distance to pubs, clubs and restaurants. They offer free tea and coffee, a free breakfast. Rooms have a TV, Fridge. www.woodduck.com.au/g-day-backpackers-sydney
Located 500 metres from the centre of Sydney and 500 metres to the nightlife of Kings Cross, these guys offer free linen and duvets and free continental breaky. They also offer Job info with affiliated companies and a rooftop with city views. www.australianbackpackers.com.au
This hostel has cheap meals and lockers in rooms and rooftop sunbathing facilities! www.elephantbackpacker.com.au
Pretty much brand new and run by two brothers with a real passion for their city. Plenty of entertainment during the week at this social hostel and free internet and breakfast is included. www.jackaroohostel.com
This place is plastered with funky murals and has a quiet rooftop garden with weekly BBQs There is also a currency exchange and 1 hour free Internet, plus free breakfast daily. www.funkhouse.com.au
This hostel is located in the hub of Sydney's nightlife so there’s no need for trains, buses or taxis. It has a café-style courtyard, offers city tours and has free airport pick-up between 5am-8.30pm. Plus you get a welcome pack on arrival (with a SIM card inside!), 1 hour free Internet and free breakfast. www.jollyswagman.com.au
Only a seven-minute walk to the city centre, this hostel has a twenty-four-hour mini supermarket, a cash machine and free breakfast. They also have a free pick-up service from Sydney airport as well as central bus and train stations. www.boomerangbackpackers.com
Just 3 minutes walk from Kings Cross station this budget hostel this funky budget
hostel offers free Wifi and brekkie and is right at the heart of the Sydney nightlife.
This place offers free breakfast and weekly BBQ every Sunday night in the courtyard over looking Sydney's city skyline with fantastic views to the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. www.kangahouse.com.au
This fun and affordable backpackers offers free Internet, free breakfast, and free weekly events. www.chiliblue.com.au
A great vibe and friendly staff - along with free wifi, free breakfast and Foxtel in the TV lounge. www.backpackershq.com.au
Set inside a beautiful Victorian mansion this hostel offers 100mb of free wifi a day and free tea and coffee all day. www.originalbackpackers.com.au
This hostel features a fantastic and social courtyard area as well as 100mb of free wifi per day and free breakfast In the morning. www.zingbackpackershostel.com.au
Eva's offers free wifi and a beautiful roof top area to lounge around and take in the amazing city views. www.evasbackpackers.com.au
Free wifi, free breakfast, airport pick-up available (check their website for details) and a fantastic rooftop area! What more could you ask for? www.sydneybackpackers.com.au
Located just around the corner from Kins Cross in beautiful Potts Point, this hostel offers free internet and their friendly staff can help you book a variety of tours and trips. www.blueparrot.com.au
With free breakfast, tea, coffee, as well as a variety of great activities and events held regularly, this hostel ticks all the boxes. www.bradosbackpackers.com
Located just a few steps from Central station, this place has free Internet and
Wi-Fi, free breakfast, a terrace area and a rooftop sundeck. www.homebackpackers.com
Set in a beautifully restored Victorian-style terrace, this place is right in the heart of multi cultural Surry Hills. Each bed has a lockable bunk box for valuables. www.kangaroobakpak.com.au
These guys have a rooftop BBQ with 360-degree views of the city. They also have free photocopying and faxing facilities and free parking. www.rooftoptravellerslodge.com There’s a fridge and computer in every room with free internet , plus free laundry facilities.
Situated in the middle of Glebe, this place has free breakfast and a games room.
These guys have a lounge/TV room, Internet and rooftop BBQ area with great views. www.yha.com.au
This hostel is located directly across from the beach. There are large balconies and a restaurant downstairs, which offers $5 meals. They have surfboards, wetsuits and rash vests available, free to all guests from 8am-11am every day, or for $7 outside these hours. www.surfsidebackpackers.com.au
This hostel has a rooftop balcony and Internet café, as well as free use of surf, body-board and snorkeling gear. www.yha.com.au
This hostel is situated just fifty metres from the beach and there is a large dining and social area. www.surfsidebackpackers.com.au
These guys have a rooftop BBQ area, TV lounge with cable TV, a restaurant and a party bar. www.noahsbondibeach.com
This hostel is in the heart of Bondi and offers free use of beach toys! www.bondibackpackers.com.au
Located in the heart of Manly, the beach is just a block away from this hostel. They have free, high-speed Internet body-board and snorkelling rental plus a large kitchen and common area (in and outdoor). www.manlybackpackers.com.au
Centrally located eighty metres from the beach and seven ‘kilometres from the city, this hostel has affiliations with local businesses and offers guests special deals. These include deals on surfboard hire, eating out and half-price beer at a local pub. www.boardrider.com.au
This boutique backpackers is located 50 metres off King St and is near cafes, restaurants, pubs, cheap eats, funky nightlife and live music venues. It has a tropical courtyard and a swimming pool. www.billabonggardens.com.au
This hostel has huge sundecks and offers free boards, free surfing and snorkeling gear. www.clarksatclovelly.com.au
Pete’s Primo Pastimes
Rising up like shark fins over Sydney Harbour, the world famous (Circular Quay) is the centrepiece of the city. Head inside the fins for a concert – from opera to circus, rock to cabaret there will be something for you to sink your teeth into. You can also do a one-hour guided tour of this architectural masterpiece and have a cup of tea while a soprano sings in your ear. La, la, la, la, love it! www.sydneyoperahouse.com; 02 92507111.
Pop quiz: What has six million hand driven rivets and is covered with enough paint to decorate sixty sports fields? It’s not Safari Pete’s Timeshare villa next to the PM’s house, it is, of course, the . The ‘Coathanger’ took six years to build and has straddled the harbour since 1931. You can amble across the bridge on the footpath via Cumberland St in the Rocks, but for the best views harness up and walk along the top of the bridge. Bridge Climb Sydney (3 Cumberland St, The Rocks) offers three climbs which will take you 134 metres above Sydney Harbour. For more information log onto www.bridgeclimb.com or call 02 8274 7777.
Twice as high as the Harbour Bridge is the syringe-like (100 Market St). You can climb to the top of this 268-metre tower for amazing views of the city. Those with steely nerves can take a skywalk on a see-through platform which takes you to the edge of the building. Spare underpants are not included in the price www.sydneytowereye.com.au 02 9333 9222.
For a taste of colonial Sydney, head to the cobbled streets, old buildings and alleyways of . This is the oldest part of the city and nowadays it’s a tourist precinct. Catch a weekend market, stargaze at the Observatory (www.sydneyobservatory.com.au; Watson Rd, Observatory Hill; 02 9921 3485) which has guided night tours, and peruse through craft shops and art galleries.
One of the best galleries in the city is the (Art Gallery Rd, The Domain). On display are some incredible pieces of Aboriginal art, as well as range of contemporary, Western, Asian and Australian art. www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au; 1800 679 278.
For a bite to eat, head to where you’ll find restaurants, walkways, buskers, parks, the Museum of Contemporary Art (www.mca.com.au; 140 George St; 02 9245 2400) and the Sydney Opera House.
If the hustle and bustle of downtown Sydney is getting too much, head east of the CBD and chill out in the . This large grassy area adjoins the Royal Botanic Gardens and is a great place for picnics. It has daily, free guided tours. For information about the tours call 02 9231 8111. Speakers Corner is where you’ll find impromptu speeches being made by anyone who has something to vent.
More often than not there will also be hecklers. A lot of Sydney’s outdoor events are held in the Domain, such as the (www.homebake.com.au) and (www.tropfest.com), the world’s largest short film festival.
Heading in the other direction, west of the city, is a waterfront leisure park with loads of primo pastimes. Check out the 11,000 sea creatures inside the Sydney Aquarium (Aquarium Pier; www.sydneyaquarium.com.au;
02 8251 7800); the Aboriginal canoes and history about the First Fleet at the (2 Murray St; www.anmm.gov.au; 02 9298 3777); watch a movie on the world’s largest screen at the
(31 Wheat Rd; www.imax.com.au; 02 9281 3300), and the (500 Harris St; www.powerhousemuseum.com; 02 9217 0111) has an impressive collection of just about anything you can think of.
For some peace and tranquillity, head to the opposite Tumbalong Park.Bondi Beach is the place where Safari Pete works on his tan and likes to eat fish and chips. He also likes to catch a wave and suck down a cone at the ice-cream parlours. A short walk north, there are Aboriginal rock engravings.
If you’re keen to bathe with the beautiful then head to , or if you want to let everything hang free skip along to the nudist beach at Lady Jane Bay.
Manly is also a good surf spot.
(just off George St near Chinatown) is a good place to pick up fresh fruit and veggies as well as last minute souvenirs. It’s open Wed-Sun, 9am-5pm. For more info on Sydney’s markets visit www.sydneymarkets.com.au.
Sports buffs may want to take a tour of , the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, or else spend an afternoon watching a live league or rugby union footy match. If AFL or cricket is more your style, then head to the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground).
has great Asian food to suit all budgets and is located near Central Station on Liverpool St. Menya Noodle Bar (Shop TG8 Ground Floor, 8 Quay St, Haymarket) is easy to find – just follow the noise of satisfied slurps.
The city’s cafe and restaurant strip is on Victoria St in . If you have a chocolate fetish, then Boon (251 Victoria St) is the place to go for a waffle or a chocolate pastry.
has loads of choice: Asian, European – you name it, it’s here. Safari Pete likes to go for a Brazilian at (219 Oxford St). Thankfully he leaves with all of his hair intact, although his belly is swollen by scoffing several meat skewers. has plenty of fast food and cafes that are popular with backpackers.
If you’re running on empty, stop for some (82-94 Darlinghurst Rd) which serves up vegan and gluten-free options as well as catering to hungry carnivores.
is a student haunt and dishes up good value tucker without pretence. Head to the (41 Glebe Point Rd) for some Tibetan cuisine.
Cheap pizza and pasta lovers should head to , which is Sydney’s little Italy. Stuffed amongst the Italian restaurants you’ll find (14 Norton St), a little taste of Hungary which serves up Hungarian pancakes and goulash. Bondi has bistros, cafes and restaurants by the sea or you can just grab some fish and chips and sit on the beach. (Shop 2, 148 Curlewis St) is a casual affair where you can design your own dish from a selection of rice, sauces, herbs, nuts and main ingredients. King St in Newtown has a range of funky eateries, such as (501 King St) which has a Zimbabwean, Egyptian and Sierra Leone inspired menu.
Which way, cobber?
The best way to find your bearings and get a feel for Sydney is by
There are guided walking tours of the historic Rocks and walking trails including the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk and the Spit Bridge to Manly Harbour walk.
is the fastest way to get around the city and does a loop under the city centre. There are also hop on-hop off buses and a monorail, which shuttles between the city and Darling Harbour. The is fairly extensive; however, the most scenic way to travel is by on the beautiful Sydney Harbour. Log onto www.131500.com.au for timetables, fares, information and other general information about how to get around Sydney. Their phone number is 13 15 00.
Sydney has a vibrant with great pubs and bars in the inner city areas like Bondi, Glebe and Surry Hills. To mix with backpackers and locals alike, (next to Base Hostel, 469 Kent St), is touted a Sydney's #1 party bar and given my experiences, there's no arguing with that. For a classic 'Irish Pub' experience right in the heart of Sydney, you can't go past (Cnr King & York Sts), great food and awesome times. (YHA Basement, 4 Rawson Pl) remains one of Sydney most popular backpacker party venues and offers a range of themed nights sure to please the party crowd.
has some of the oldest pubs in Australia. Check out the convict-built (81 Lower Fort St, Millers Pt) and its old-world charm, as well as the (19 Kent St) which brews six boutique beers and has a traditional pub atmosphere.
is a big party hub and is home to plenty of pubs, clubs and bars featuring all manner of entertainment. One of my favourites, (24 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross), remains one of Sydney's most unique bar and night club experiences, free entry on Thursday nights with your international passport. is where you’ll find the gay club scene. DCM (33 Oxford St) is a late night dance club and has popular drag shows. If you’re after something more upmarket, then is the place to go. (Harbourside Shopping Centre, Shop 225, 225 Darling Dr) has live music on the weekend and draws a hip crowd. Arguably Sydney’s biggest dance club is (Cockle Bay Wharf, 1 Wheat Rd), and if it’s a good laugh you’re after, head to the (Building 207, 122 Lang Rd, Moore Park).
If you’re not sure what to see or where to go, then log on to www.halftix.com.au to access great discounts on concerts, opera, comedy and other entertainment in Sydney
Check out Australia’s up and coming bands at some of the pub gigs around town. They’re often free. Thumb through the Metro section in or check free street press publications, and .
"Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride"
Perhaps Banjo Paterson had been munching on some country mushrooms when he penned his famous poem, The Man from Snowy River.
While there are many brumbies (wild horses) galloping across the plains, none that Safari Pete has seen have ever blazed a trail of fire. In winter, guess what: the slopes of the Snowy Mountains are covered in snow. This is one of Australia's , especially Thredbo which has downhill skiing and . Summer time in Thredbo means and festivals, as well as mountain biking, rafting and horseback riding. www.snowymountains.com.au
So called because of the blue haze created by the oil of the eucalyptus trees. The picturesque Blue Mountains are a one-and-a-half-hour drive west of Sydney. Stroll through peaceful and beautiful scenery, or, if you are more adventurous, try . Check out the spectacular rock formations of the at Katoomba, or go underground and explore the limestone architecture of . If you are more into sipping lattes and enjoying baked goods, the towns of Leura, Wentworth Falls (check out the German
bakery) and Blackheath make for pleasant stops on your way up or down the mountain.
Once you are up in the Blueys (as the locals call it), offer the best way of getting around with their hourly hop on, hop off, seven day a week bus service. This service visits 29 cracking attractions around Katoomba and Leura – pretty much all the places you would want to see.
They also run the only coach service from out to the Splendorous Jenolan Caves, which are one and a half hours drive away. There are three caves you can choose from, Lucas Cave, the Orient Cave, or, for those who like a little more adventure, the Plug Hole Tour, which involves abseiling and a few squeezes.
By way of a tip for the thrifty, Trolley Tours recommends purchasing a rail ticket to Katoomba (rather than a Link ticket), then buying your Trolley Tours ticket on arrival, as it is a lot cheaper.
For more information on Blue Mountains Trolley Tours, prices and timetables visit www.trolleytours.com.au It is also worth visiting www.visitbluemountains.com.au for more general information on the Blue Mountains' many attractions.
Heading west from Sydney, red dirt tracks stretch for as far as the eye can see and the sky stretches beyond the realms of your imagination. Drive through Australia’s oldest inland settlement at where they still have gas lamps and you can pan for gold. Visit at and have a glass of wine at the nearby wineries. Then there’s the (www.taronga.org.au; 02 9969 2777), an African safari style experience set on 300 hectares of bushland. Film buffs should head for the artistic community of Broken Hill, the area in which the movies Mad Max and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert were shot.
Inland Route North
Taking the inland route north of Sydney, you’ll pass through Australia's rural heartland with landscapes ranging from rolling pastures to the dusty At Australia's country music capital, you can see the famous golden guitar and visit the nearby jackaroo and Jillaroo School where you can learn the techniques of being a stockman. has World Heritage–listed national parks as well as nature based 4WD and horse-riding activities. Also check out the along which are a series of gorgeous national parks including Cathedral Rock NP, Guy Fawkes River NP and Oxley Wild Rivers NP.
Sydney to the Victorian Border Coastal Drive
This route is laced with hidden beaches, coastal walks, national parks and snug
seaside villages. If it’s long, white sandy beaches and marine wildlife you’re into, then taking some time along this stretch of coastline is a must. Activities range from w and . Whenever Safari Pete’s down this way he likes to stop over in , , (near Bournda National Park) and Ben Boyd National Park. Dipping inland, you can visit the nation’s capital, Canberra, before resuming your coastal capers. From the Victorian border it’s roughly 500km to Melbourne and there are a variety of primo coastal towns to visit en route (see the Victorian section for more details).
Sydney to Byron Bay
Heading in the opposite direction, just north of Sydney is the where you’ll find Aboriginal art sites. You can also and Nearby is the mighty where you can or . Continuing north, you’ll come to the heritage architecture of which has a good art and live music scene. It’s also New South Wales’ second largest city and a good base from which to explore some of the ’s 4,000 acres of vineyards. To build a thirst to slake, you can go bushwalking, cycling and horse riding in the national parks here. Hot-air ballooning is a fantastic way to get a different perspective of the area. One hour north of Newcastle, the harbour is full of bottle-nosed dolphins and whales at certain times of the year.
Halfway between Sydney and Byron is , a great place to indulge in some adventure activities. The area has lakes, beaches and activities such as
, and . Crocodile Dundee fans will enjoy – home of the film star’s famous akubra hat. Although the akubra factory is in town unfortunately it’s not open to members of the public. Instead, head to nearby where you’ll find isolated beaches flanked by sand dunes and coastal heaths (macleayvalleycoast.com.au). Wander for 24km through this deserted coastline, or if you want to get into the water don your flippers and waddle like a penguin to the (134 Gregory St, South West Rocks) where you can plunge into a range of dive sites and swim alongside a host of marine species. www.fishrock.com.au; 02 6566 6614.
is the place to explore some rainforest or go and . And, of course, pay a visit to the famous (www.pubwithnobeer.com.au) which is just south and inland of Nambucca Heads at Taylors Arm (turn off the highway at Macksville). Back in the WW2 era when weary troops staggered into town they found the pub had run out of beer. Nowadays they brew it onsite there’s no chance of that happening!
Coffs Harbour/Coffs Coast
I often get asked what my favourite thing about Australia is. Is it the beaches, is it the National Parks, perhaps it’s the mountains or the ocean? Well the simple answer is, I love the fact that it's all here, and there are few places which shows off all those best bits of Oz in a smaller area than the Coffs Coast.
Those of you, who thought Australia’s national icon was the emu and kangaroo, think again. Coffs Harbour has gone bananas. And to prove the somewhat messiah-like quality of this boomerang-like fruit (although the locals will argue that it’s actually a herb), they’ve erected a gigantic concrete banana outside the
complex. It is compulsory to try their home-made banana ice cream. To get rid of the kilo you’re likely to put on, grab a surfboard and head into the water. Or perhaps get your diving gear and explore the pink corals ator raft down the . You can also . The hinterland of Coffs Harbour is swathed in rainforest and contains some gorgeous panoramas which you can view from the air when you skydive.
So, your surfing skills need some work and you need a place to stay, no dramas, just a short trip north of the City Centre is Arrawarra, (46 Arrawarra Beach Rd), where you can either book some absolute beach front accommodation or explore their 'surf n stay' options.
To get the best out of Coffs Coast you need to have local knowledge on your side. To know what’s great right now, simply head to www.coffscoast.com.au to make the best out of this subtropical paradise.
Head further north to the water wonderland of where you’ll find isolated beaches and lake systems. Above that is which has 38km of beaches and contains the longest natural coastal ecosystem on the north coast of NSW. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing in Byron Bay.
By the time you roll into the Bay, a bohemian, (some say) utopian and hedonistic haven, you may feel like you want to drop anchor for a while. Many backpackers fall in love with Byron and there are several reasons why this environmentally conscious town is so popular. There are kilometres of unspoilt beaches, heaps of walking and cycling tracks, cool nightlife spots, unspoilt rainforest and the priceless Byron vibe. Riders of the surf should head to and beaches. To let your bits dangle in the Byron breeze, head to – a popular place for nudists. And check out the craft and produce market, held at the Butler St Reserve on the first Sunday of each month. www.visitbyronbay.com
There are few places better to get stuck into than Byron, so whether you are a total beginner or a boarding veteran get in the surf. The waves round the bay are perfect for all standards to if you are going to learn to do it anywhere, why not do it at the spiritual home of Aussie surfing.
It’s also one of my favourite places in the world to get , so even if you are up as far as Brisbane get yourself down here because you aren’t going to get many better views than this one over Byron and the other northern beaches.
The best way to get around Byron is by , and there are plenty of amazing trails to get lost along and enjoy. If you love spicy herbs and is fairly ‘high’ on your to do list, then there are plenty of days trips inland from here as well. But there is a lot more to do around here than you might think. There are plenty of fantastic throughout the week, a good and a whole host of alternative throughout the year. If you prefer the rainforest to the surf, hire a car or a camper and head out along the . This series of drives through the national parks takes you right up into Queensland through more World Heritage sites than you could shake a didgeridoo at!
Where to crash in Byron Bay
This hostel is in the town centre and only 400m from the beach. There are large decks to relax on, Internet access, a TV room, a locker room, surfboards for hire and free tea/coffee. There are also hostel bikes and body-boards available and a pool in which to have a splash.. www.yha.com.au
Centrally located, Holiday Village offers free bicycle & surfboard hire. Enjoy the pool area and the twice weekly Aussie BBQ or get active in the volleyball and basketball areas. Great vibe and awesome crew! www.byronbaybackpackers.com.au
Set in five acres, this place offers a range of accommodation types: tepees, island
bungalows, dorms and jungle camping. They also run didgeridoo-making workshops and yoga classes. For the musically inclined, you can record your own songs at Buzz Studio, the Arts Factory’s very own recording studio. www.artsfactory.com.au
Just 200m to the beach, you will find a relaxed backpacker atmosphere with common areas surrounding a large heated pool & BBQ area. Get out and about with free use of hostel bikes and boogie boards.www.yha.com.au
This place has a swimming pool set in tropical gardens, frequent entertainment evenings, boogie boards and bikes for hire. www.capebyronlodge.com
This hostel is set in a palm-filled courtyard with large grass lawns that surround a pool and a volleyball court. They are the only backpackers in Byron Bay with direct beach access. www.backpackersinnbyronbay.com.au
These guys offer free body-board hire, free pancakes and free nightclub entry for
affiliated clubs (includes one free drink per night). There are also hammocks on a large balcony.
Located in the heart of Byron, Nomads features an onsite cafe/restaurant, rooftop terrace and Jacuzzi a bar and outdoor cinema along with clean and modern rooms. www.byron-bay.com/nomads
With a swimming pool, café. and a fully licenced bar during the summer, this is a great place to stay - and it's only 1 minute from the beach!
Pete’s Primo Pastimes
It's impossible to escape the unique 'ambience' as soon as you arrive at Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay is a virtual playground for the young and adventurous spirit. I like to begin any trip to Byron with a sunrise visit to the and soak in the spirituality of this special place. Some hostels offer a shuttle service, or it's an easy bike trip from the centre of town.
Gazing out from Main Beach, you will see a random rock structure sticking out of the water, the two rocks, (or islands), were named by our good mate Captain Cook on his trip through the area in 1770. Julian Rocks boasts world class diving and snorkelling and is home to a dazzling array of marine species, we've even protected the area for your enjoyment by establishing a Marine Park which prohibits commercial exploitation for 500 metres around the site.
Several operators in Byron Bay are offering snorkelling and diving experiences around this 'ripper' site, you'd be bonkers not to get 'wet' in this marine playground. For those who like to spend more time above the water, then you could do a lot worse than surfing, (2/65 Cenntenial Circuit,
02 6639 5100), or sea kayaking, (, opp. 60 Lawson St, 02 6680 9555), from one of the areas pristine beaches.
If you've arrived in Byron and need to let off some steam, then let the adrenalin flow with a . While skydiving anywhere is awesome, Byron Bay offers a memorable scenic experience that will have you coming back for more, at the right time of year you might even spot a Humpback Whale on the way down! (S 1300 800 840).
One of my favourite uniquely Byron pastimes is a trip to Nimbin, (see Nimbin section). Operators such as (0438 269 076),offer a tour which highlights the stunning hinterland of Byron and the 'hippie' wonderland of Nimbin, do it in a day or stay and play in Nimbin.
If the bohemian lifestyle gets all too much, like me, you may need a beverage to strike the right balance. Luckily for us, Byron is a top location to chill out with a beer or cocktail if that's more your speed.
is located right on Main Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean and this unrivalled location offers a chilled out beer garden and plays host to some awesome international acts. Strolling back down Jonson St, you can't help but notice the (Cnr Jonson & Byron Sts), an old style hotel offering traditional 'pub' services, the 'Backroom' is renowned as one of the best live music venues in Australia and plays host to local, national and international artists. Located on the site of the old Byron Bay Railway Station is the or as the locals say, 'The Rails'. This bar great meeting place and offers live entertainment 365 days a year. While Byron Bay is host to many other funky bars and eateries, you may feel the need to visit the bar that backpackers built. , (115 Jonson St). This Backpacker focused restaurant and nightclub features cheap meals, table top dancing, competitions and different themed nights.
The hippy Mecca of nearby Nimbin has to be visited to be believed. The town was created by students and dropouts who converged on the area in 1973 for a festival that celebrated the Age of Aquarius.
Some of them had such a good time that they never left. Check out (Cullen St) if you're keen to find out how the students who stayed behind forged the town. For more of the local culture, a visit to the is a must and if you are in Nimbin in early May you can't help but get caught up in the 'buzz' of the annual , www.nimbinmardigrass.com. National parks worth visiting in the area include and the World Heritage listed which includes Mt Warning, the first peak on the Aussie mainland to feel the sun’s rays each day.
Where to crash in Nimbin
An island of tranquility nestled amongst lush tropical gardens and surrounded by 25 acres of the magical Nimbin Valley, you can relax by the pool in the hammocks or wander into nearby Nimbin Village. A wide range of accommodation styles available. www.yha.com.au
One to Three-day Loop:
Beautiful Byron Shire
Set against a landscape of rolling hills, green fields and macadamia farms,
if Byron Bay gets too crowded then you’ll find some relief in the majestic If you’re keen to spend a couple of nights in the hills then make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
From Byron Bay make your way inland to , a twenty-minute drive southwest of Byron. This small, friendly township is nestled in the hills. Nineteenth-century brick buildings line the main street where cafes and antique shops are in abundance. The old pub on the top of Bangalow Rd is always a good place to watch live music.
A windy forty-minute drive west of Bangalow will see you in , and from here head south towards Lismore and then take Dunoon Rd to .
This route takes you through some beautiful macadamia valleys. Stop off at for a quick dip in a freshwater spring.
is known as the ‘biggest little town in Australia’. It lies in a tropical valley along the Brunswick River. The beautiful surroundings encourage organic farming and sustainable living. Wear your happy pants because this town has a very natural, positive climate.
From here, head northeast to via Ocean Shores. Brunswick Heads is a coastal town of about 2,000 people. Situated on the mouth of the Brunswick River, the town lies next to a protected rainforest. There are a few great cycling tracks and some good surf beaches just to the south.
From here it’s a breezy twenty-minute drive back to Byron Bay.
Safari Pete’s Top Tip:
Don’t miss out on the local Byron Shire markets. They’re held every Sunday morning (finishing up around midday) and alternate between Byron Bay, Bangalow, Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads. Hand-crafted goods, local art, second-hand clothing and yummy food are all for sale. Along the way you’ll undoubtedly hear the beat of bongos and get caught up in the dancing and festivities.
Pete loves a Party!
- here's some of the best places in Sydney to mix it up
with the locals and other backpackers!
- Traditional Irish Pub hospitality
corner of King St & Kent St , Sydney
- crab racing, pool comps, live music and drink/food specials
7 Nights a week
- just near the Town Hall and Darling Harbour.
$12 Burgers and great vibe.
- Open 7 days, funky bar with party nights & drink specials
- Pub of the year 2010 with cheap food & drinks 7 days