2020 has been a never-ending year, and if you are one to get out and explore on the weekend… it might have felt even longer. With the New South Wales and Victorian border restriction lifting in the last week of November, it’s time to start planning a trip to the many regional NSW destinations accessible by a short-ish drive. Here are our top picks of the best regional NSW destinations that offer a country flavour and some gorgeous green spaces to reverse that lockdown stress.
Orange, Central Tablelands
8hrs 17mins, 764km
Orange is a city found in the Central Tablelands region and isn’t too far from Sydney. For those who have visited Orange before, this NSW regional destination is truly memorable for its many natural landscapes, gardens, caves and lakes. Enjoy the fresh produce and bright native flora when you visit in the warmer months, or sticky around for snowy winters as you hope from one winery to the next. What’s unique about Orange is it’s duality, offering a truly boutique experience or a rustic and simple escape – it depends where you stay and what you are after.
There are some great hotels and Airbnbs in the area, and you will enjoy yourself no matter what time you visit. If you are coming from Melbourne, here are our suggestions for the best spots to visit in this incredible NSW regional destination of Orange:
- Philip Shaw Wines Cellar Door
- Rowlee Wines
- Heifer Station Wines
- Lake Canobolas
- Pinnacle Lookout
Armidale, Northern Tablelands
13hrs 48mins, 1,237km
Armidale has a beautiful old-world charm, known fondly in Australia as the Cathedral City for its 19th-century aesthetic and location within the New England Country. This is a very elegant regional NSW destination with the entire town abiding by the same character code, from new modern Australian restaurants and cafes to the classic churches and galleries. Whether you are bewitched by the heritage style of Armidale or not, you will find many things to do, with Autumn the most popular time to visit as the red and yellow trees come alive.
Travellers can find a number of homestays and Airbnbs that offer an escape to a past century, as well as boutique hotels on the main strip. If you are coming from Melbourne, be sure to visit these hot spots in the regional NSW destination of Armidale:
- Wollomombi Falls
- Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
- Cathedral Rock National Park
- Ebor Falls
- Aboriginal Cultural Centre & Keeping Place
9hrs 6mins, 829km
Not too far from Orange, you will find Dubbo, which is located in Macquarie Valley. Dubbo is a fantastic regional NSW destination for a young family or a couple who love adventure, so many outdoor experiences to be had. You likely know Taronga Zoo is a big drawcard for Dubbo, with animals from all over the world prowling the zoo and ready to be seen up close or from a distance. The heritage architecture of Dubbo is another defining feature of the regional NSW destination, so be sure to look up and around at the untouched character of this town.
Choose to stay near the zoo or base yourself in another great area of Dubbo, with Airbnb likely to be the best options for travelling families. Save enough time on your itinerary for these experienced in the regional NSW destination of Dubbo:
- Taronga Zoo
- Old Dubbo Gaol
- First Lesson Cultural Tours
- Dubbo Observatory
- Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens
Yass, Southern Tablelands
6hrs 26mins, 602km
Yass is more than a stop along the way from Melbourne to Sydney, as is a regional NSW destination in itself. The Yass River that runs through this peaceful town sets the tone for a restful stay, as the agricultural beauty sets the scene for outdoor fun and wine tasting as some gorgeous venues. Yass is growing to be one of the most visited areas for Sydney-siders, and Melbourne folk might compare its beauty and pace with Yarra Valley. If food and drink generally dictate where you go and what you see, then add Yass to your list of must-see regional NSW destinations.
If you think you will get your fill of wine and great food after a few days, there are many more ways to fill the day and long evenings, and some great Airbnbs to place you in the centre of it all. Be sure to tick these off your Yass bucket list:
- Grazing at Gundaroo
- Dog Trap Vineyard
- Careys Cave
- Yass Community Market
- Yass and District Museum
Goulburn, Southern Tablelands
7hrs 18mins, 684km
If you grew up in Australia, then Goulburn would be a familiar name to you, known for the juice brand hailing from this regional NSW destination. Goulburn is a special town in Australia as it was the first inland city in 1863, which the population wears proudly through their historic architecture and rich history. The best part about Goulburn is that you can experience it from the country as you make your way through vineyards, or you can stay in the city centre and visit the beautiful galleries and restaurants that are nationally renowned.
From caving, abseiling to passing through for a festival – there is a lot to fall in love with in Goulburn. Here are our picks of the best way to enjoy this one of a kind regional NSW destination in style:
- Big Merino
- Laggan Village Markets
- Lerida Estate
- Riversdale Homestead
- Bungonia National Park
There are many regional NSW destinations that we can now escape to, many of them offering a completely different experience to some of Victoria’s well-known regional towns. Have we missed any of your favourite regional NSW destinations? Let us know in the comments and keep an eye on What’s On in and Around Melbourne, as well as our Travel picks.