What's On

Australian Travel News

Sydney and NSW Uncovered

  • Written by Marsha Rodrom

Here is the pick of the best new tours, experiences and accommodation opening in NSW, including exciting awards for NSW's leading hotels and restaurants.

What's new in NSW

Here is the pick of the best new tours, experiences and accommodation opening in NSW, including exciting awards for NSW's leading hotels and restaurants. 

New in food and wine

  • Set to open by mid-June is The Lookout, a restaurant offering stunning views and focused on local produce and is the latest from the team from Trippas White. Perched on the edge of the Blue Mountains' Echo Point Escarpment, the onsite wine bar features wine sourced entirely from NSW with all fourteen NSW wine regions represented, as well as a diverse range of NSW boutique producers and interesting varietals.
  • The Hydro Majestic has expanded its decadent high tea experience to include Mystic High Tea. All part of the history and charm of the newly reopened Hydro Majestic, guests have their tea leaves read in the dramatic setting of Cat's Alley after indulging in high tea in the indoor Wintergarden. 
  • The Hunter Valley's new EXP restaurant has opened to rave reviews. Local chef Frank Faulkner has created an exceptional menu using the best local produce from the region and an equally exciting wine list.
  • Discover Sydney's 16 craft and microbreweries and go behind the scenes to meet the brewers and learn about the craft of beer making on Sydney's only beer tour on Dave's Brewery Tours. Dave will guide you through Sydney's exciting craft beer scene with  six tours on offer and visiting North, South, East and Western Sydney. The tours visit Sydney's hottest and lesser-known craft and microbreweries. 
  • The Gantry Restaurant and Black Star Pastry are collaborating with NSW food and wine producers to host a series of Wine Dinners focusing on the wine regions of NSW. Upcoming dinners include Orange featuring Swinging Bridge Wines on 24 June; Hunter Valley featuring Keith Tulloch Wines on 22 July; Canberra District featuring Helm Wines on 26 August; and Mudgee featuring Well Mannered Wines on 30 September. 
  • New to Byron Bay is Taste Byron Bay, which is running food tour and cooking classes. The weekly cooking classes will be held at Fig Tree Restaurant, while there are three different Taste of Byron Bay food tours to choose.
  • The Central Coast has welcomed a new boutique brewery, Block'n'Tackle. The brewery and cellar door at Kincumber offers tasting by the glass or the paddle and is open Wednesday to Sunday each week. 

New accommodation and refurbs

  • Newtown's only hotel, The Urban, is one of Sydney's newest hotels and is ideally located for anyone wanting to stay in and experience the inner city suburb of Newtown. The stylish hotel is located just moments from some of Newtown and Enmore's must-visit cafes and restaurants including Hartsyard, Gretz, Cow & Moon, Brewtown and so much more.
  • Templers Mill in Orange has undergone a refurbishment and added on 36 additional Deluxe King rooms, giving this existing hotel a fresh and modern feel.
  • Albury has welcomed another new hotel, the stylish Quest Albury on Townsend. This adds to Albury's ongoing surge in development, which includes Atura Albury and a $10.5 million redevelopment of the Murray Art Museum Albury, MAMA, which is due for completion in late 2015.
  • Halcyon House, at Cabarita Beach, on the NSW North Coast is a renovated 21 room boutique hotel that was once a former surfer's motel. Now a luxury hotel, Halcyon House, features poolside restaurant, Paper Daisy, which is headed by chef Ben Devlin, who was awarded the Brisbane Good Food Guide young chef of the year in 2014.
  • Mansfield on the Manning, near Forster on the Mid-North Coast, has completed a refurbishment of its stylish accommodation, which includes a accommodation in a refurbed 1970's Airstream caravan, stylishly renovated cabins, an infinity pool as well as access to a Kombito go touring and camping on your own.
  • Elmsleigh Farmstay is a new farmstay experience between Deniliquin and Hay on the Long Paddock touring route. Stay in the historic shearer's quarters and explore the Hay Plains, nearby Booroorban State Forest which is excellent for bushwalking and book into one of the farm's eco tours.

New tours, workshops and experiences

  • Beyond The Wharf and Sydney's First Fleet Ferries has launched an exciting new Ancestral Spiritexploration guide, which allows passengers to discover significant Indigenous sites such moments from wharves across Sydney.  Beyond The Wharf offer a range of exciting itineraries and information about Sydney Harbour that visitors can discover online and explore by taking a ferry, such as cheap eat on the waterfront, kids beyond the wharf and date night in Double Bay. 
  • Country music fans and Australiana lovers rejoice, as the Slim Dusty Centre is set to open its doors in Kempsey, on the NSW North Coast, in October. Celebrating the life and achievements of Australian icon and country music legend of Slim Dusty, the centre will be a world-class venue depicting the life and achievements of Slim and the way in which his music has reflected the changing face of Australia.
  • Orange based producer Sophie Hansen, from Mandagery Creek Venison and Local is Lovely, is holding new Pracshopswhere you can leave the art of food and lifestyle photography and styling and new story telling workshops. The workshops are in addition to the Farm Kitchen and field trips events that Sophie hosts regularly.
  • Yuraygir Walking Experiences runs guided tours of this North Coast track, which covers 65kms along the most undeveloped section of the NSW coastline. The four-day tour offers easy to moderate walking conditions along one of Australia's most stunning coastlines and accommodation in lodges along the track.
  • The Riverina has launched a selection of new themed touring trails showcasing the variety of agri-tourism and food and wine experiences in the region. With twelve trails to choose from there is something to suit all tastes, young and old. There is a Picnic Hamper Trail, Sweet Tooth Trail, Wool Trail, Beer and Cider Trail, Organic and Well-being Trail, Produce Pantry Trail and more.
  • River Cottage Australia, based in Tilba on the South Coast, is now running a Cooking School. Taking place at the River Cottage Australian farm, participants will meet Paul and hear about his philosophy. Courses include Meat, Bake, Cheese and the option and stay for dinner. 
  • Sydney Bike Tours have launched in The Rocks and are offering guided and self-guided tours. Bike hires starts from $9 for 1 hour, while tours include Sydney Fish Markets, Harbour Bridge and Hyde Park. Cycling is a great way to explore Sydney and take advantage of the cycle ways the city has to offer.

Hot off the press

  • In the recent Gourmet Traveller 2015 Australian Hotel Guide Awards NSW took out four of the twelve main awards with The Langham becoming the most awarded hotel in Australia. The Langham was awarded Hotel of the Year, New Hotel of the Year and Best Club Sandwich, while Park Hyatt took out Best Service. In addition, a number of NSW hotels were included in broader category list:  Best Spas -The Langham, Park Hyatt and QT Sydney; The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa; Best Budget Hotels – Central Station Hotel and Atura Albury; Top Lodges & Resorts – Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa and Pretty Beach House; Long-stay Lodgings – Fraser Suites; and Unique Properties – Paperbark Camp.
  • Sydney's Quay restaurant has been listed at number 58 on the coveted S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list with Sepia debuting on the list for the first time in 2015 at number 84. A respected group of more than 900 of the world's top chefs and food critics judge the placings which were announced at an awards ceremony in London. The accolade comes as Peter Gilmore prepares to open his new restaurant, Bennelong at Sydney Opera House in mid-2015. Gilmore's reimagining of the world-famous restaurant location will feature three levels of dining including a spectacular chefs table overlooking Sydney Harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sepia's inclusion on the list is the culmination of an exciting year for the restaurant, which was recently listed at number one in the inaugural Australia's Top 100 Restaurants list presented by The Australian Financial Review. Benn was also named Australia's Top Chef at the event – a title he also received in the Weekend Australian Magazine's Hot Restaurants Guide, and the 2014 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards.
  • Tathra Beach Family Park, a caravan park on the South Coast, has been awarded Gold for its service excellence in the recently announced 2015 Australian Business Quality Awards.

Must Do 'Only In NSW' Experiences

Winter is a fabulous time to get out into Regional NSW and discover a host of experiences and attractions that are special to the state and can't be experienced anywhere else.

Here are some 'only in NSW' experiences and attractions to be enjoyed over the colder months:

1. Don your snowshoes and climb Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko.

2. Book a weekend at Australia's most easterly point in the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages at Cape Byron, where you can watch the sunrise and see whales migrating from your balcony.

3. Book a long weekend to Lord Howe Island and discover the world's southern-most coral reef, which plays host to more than 500 species of fish and 90 different coral species. Lord Howe's native environment is rich and diverse, with new species of marine life regularly being discovered.

4. Looking for warm weather, then consider a short break to Lightning Ridge in Outback NSW. Enjoy daily winter temperatures of 20 degrees and try your luck at finding Lightning Ridge's illusive black opal. Lightning Ridge is thebirthplace of the exquisite black opal and the only place in Australia where the stone is found and still mined.

5. Discover why the Hunter Valley, which is Australia's oldest wine growing region, is still one of the most visited wine regions in Australia. June marks Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month, a month long celebration of impressive events, workshops, dinners and tastings that showcase why the Hunter Valley remains one of Australia's most prestigious wine growing regions.

6. Ride the world's steepest incline railway, the Scenic Railway at an incline of 52 degrees and a descent of 415m, at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains. While in the Blue Mountains, tick off another 'only in NSW experience' by visiting Jenolan Caves, which began operating in the 1880's and is the longest continually operating tourist destination in Australia.

7. Journey along the official Australia's Oyster Coast, from Greenwell Point in the Shoalhaven to Eden on the far South Coast, and visit 'oyster gates' brimming with fresh Sydney Rock, Pacific and the native Angassi oysters straight from the grower. 

8. Hike the world's second largest canyon, Capertee Valley near Lithgow. Surrounded by the wonders of World Heritage Listed wilderness, Capertee Valley is a bird lovers paradise and is considers as one of the top 50 birdwatching locations in the world. From the 13-14 June is the Glow Worm Tunnel Trail Running Weekend, a perfect event for amateur and experienced runners.

9. Ride the world's longest and Australia's first rollercoaster zipline on the Central Coast. The incredible TreeTop Crazy Rider Xtreme is the longest in the world at 1km long, four times the length of any other.

Events update 

Sydney and New South Wales' events calendar is set to impress young and old over the coming months. 


Until June 14: The 62ndSydney Film Festivaloffers another exciting season of cinemaamidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, panel discussions, international guests and more. The Festival takes place across greater Sydney: at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Casula Powerhouse, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall and SFF Outdoor Screen.

June 27 – 28: The FIVB World League is an annual men's international volleyball tournament and is the biggest Volleyball event outside of the Olympic Games. Over two days, the world's best men's volleyball team, Brazil, will take on Australia's Volleyroos in Sydney a Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.

July 27: The 15th annual Helpmann Awards will see the stars of the live performance industry come together with fans for a remarkable night at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney. The awards recognise distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia's live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, dance and physical theatre, children's presentations, regional touring, and cabaret.

From July 18: Matilda The Musical will make its Australian Premiere at Sydney Lyric Theatre in July. The winner of over 50 international awards, including 12 for Best Musical, Matilda The Musical is based on the beloved novel by best-selling author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox). It is the story of an extraordinary girl who armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

August 7 – 16: Sports fans will have an amazing opportunity to see the world's best netball teams and athletes compete for the ultimate prize - the Netball World Cup. Watch defending champions Australia battle with top-ranked teams such as New Zealand, England and Jamaica

August 8: The ultimate trans-Tasman battle continues when the Qantas Wallabies face off against arch rivals the All Blacks to try to win back the Bledisloe Cup. To celebrate the annual battle, a week-long Sydney-based festival of rugby will include a lunch, golf day and Australian Turf Club event at Royal Randwick.

September 20: Runners, as well as walkers and joggers of all ages take part in the annual Blackmores Sydney Running Festival. Described as one of the most scenic and spectacular courses in Australia as all four events cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

October 4: After 26 rounds and an electric Finals series, it all comes down to 80 minutes to decide who will stand tall as the 2015 NRL Premiers. The Grand Final has set the stage for some of rugby league's most famous moments including the South Sydney Rabbitohs' historic victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last season that ended 43 long years of premiership agony.

November 28 – 29: The Australian Open of Supercross combined aspects of indoor, bar to bar supercross racing with Freestyle Motorcross in which the world's best rider go head to head for their opportunity to land the biggest and best tricks 


Until June 30: Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month is the perfect antidote to cure those winter blues. It provides you with the chance to wine and dine with leading Hunter Valley Winemakers and Chefs, take part in an array of fun and interactive classes to fine-tune your culinary skills or, if you're after a more relaxing experience, simply curl up beside an open fire with a glass of premium Hunter Valley wine and a cheese plate. 

June 13-14: Glow Worm Tunnel Trail Runningin Newnes National Park near Lithgow, has events for the whole famils. From shorter family runs to a full marathon, this weekend is all about family, friends and this spectacular running trail.

June 26-July 12: See the Hunter Valley Gardens transformed with Snow Time in the Garden. Expect to see huge ice-skating rink, 25 metre ice toboggan run and a man-made Snow Play Zone.

July 31-August 17: The Australian Surf Festival, at Coffs Harbour, will see over 500 competitors from around the nation migrate to Coffs Harbour for a shot at being crowned an Australian Champion, with many prestigious Australian Titles will be decided across multiple surfing disciplines. Out of the surf, the Hoey Moey will be hosting a great range of live music, artwork, and presentations across the event. 

August 10 – 13: The beautiful Coffs Coast of New South Wales will play host once again to Rally Australia, the annual Australian leg of the FIA World Rally Championship. Only Australia's second world championship event, alongside Formula 1, this epic competition features some of the world's greatest drivers battling for supremacy in the toughest and most varied conditions on the planet. Multi-million dollar "factory" teams from Germany, France, Korea and Britain, plus the cream of privateer outfits from around the world and Australia tackle open-country and forestry stages across 300 kilometres in spectacular sub-tropical scenery.

August 15 – 16: The Offshore Superboat Championships is Australia's national series for Powerboat racing, consisting of a six round series between April and November held in Coffs Harbour

September 6: The only running event that take place in a zoo anywhere in Australia, the Dubbo Stampedeis the opportunity to run close to zoo animals on a course that suits your level of fitness, from a 5.5km walk to afull marathon. 

September 3-6: Celebrate all health and goodness of the NSW Northern Rivers at the Sample Food Festival in Bangalow when more than 200 restaurant owners, farmers and local food producers set up residence in the main-street of Bangalow to showcase the region's impressive produce and chefs.

September 19-26: The tenth Woolgoolga Curryfest is on again to celebrate Woolgoolga's unique Punjabi heritage. A week of family-friendly events precedes the main festival day when over 100 stalls take over the streets of Woolgoolga showcasing  curries from around the world, exotic spices, multicultural cuisine, Woolgoolga's famous blueberries, mindfulness and meditation, music, dancing and cultural performances.

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