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Ten Weird and Wonderful NSW Landmarks That You Should've Seen in Person by Now

Chase ancient waterfalls, traverse frozen mountainsides and venture deep underground to these must-see sites.
By Olivia Gee
May 18, 2022
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By Olivia Gee
May 18, 2022
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TEN WEIRD AND WONDERFUL NSW LANDMARKS THAT YOU SHOULD'VE SEEN IN PERSON BY NOW

in partnership with

Chase ancient waterfalls, traverse frozen mountainsides and venture deep underground to these must-see sites.

It's hard to ignore the glistening sails of the Sydney Opera House or the star-studded sands of Bondi Beach when compiling a bucket list of must-visit sites in New South Wales. But these beloved icons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to jaw-dropping landmarks in the state.

Whether carved by hand or etched out by the elements over millennia, there is a bounty of awe-inspiring sites across NSW. A trip to these destinations could see you trekking through the desert or meditating in secluded gardens, so match your adventure to your mood and map out a mission to these ten glorious landmarks.

  • 10
    Ebor Falls

    Waterfalls run in abundance along the aptly named Waterfall Way, which commences the scenic 185-kilometre drive between Coffs Harbour and Armidale. You’ll encounter dazzling cascades when passing through the New England and Dorrigo National Parks, but the shimmering double drop of Ebor Falls shouldn’t be missed.

    Watch the Guy Fawkes River roar down a 100-metre gorge from three viewing platforms that also provide sweeping views across the valley. Take an easy stroll between each lookout to spy wedge-tailed eagles soaring above golden strawflowers and rare ground orchids that bloom around the upper falls in the warmer months, before settling in for a break at one of the woodland picnic areas.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 9
    K7 Snow Camping

    Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, can be reached on a 13-kilometre round-trip hike once you jump off the chairlift from Thredbo. In the warmer months, this is an incredible way to explore the mountain’s historic settler huts, weathered snow gums, alpine wildflowers and lofty lakes.

    But if you’re keen to stand atop the 2,228-metre summit among mid-winter snowfall, book a K7 Snow Camping trip. Travelling on snowshoes (best for first-timers) or skis, you’ll traverse the mountain while learning alpine survival skills from your expert guide and watching spectacular sunsets over the snow-capped peaks. This truly luminous experience is only available for small groups (fewer than six people), so it’s a chance to make the mountain your own.

    Image: Destination NSW 

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  • 8

    Until the late 19th century, this reservoir was a vital water source for the growing population of Sydney. Now, after an epic restoration combining original fixtures and contemporary urban design, it’s a leafy oasis where the bustle of Oxford Street can be forgotten while you stroll among the ferns.

    As you move from the sunken rooftop gardens to the wide boardwalks below street level and down into the underground chambers with vast vaulted ceilings, you’ll feel as if you’re floating between the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and a Roman bathhouse. It’s definitely worth a visit, whether you need a five-minute reprieve or want to laze on the grass all day. Plus, entry is free.

    Image: City of Sydney

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  • 7
    Mungo National Park

    The Mars-like landscapes of the World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park are rich with Indigenous heritage and reveal eons of ecological development. At the heart of the park, the long-dry beds of Lake Mungo are home to the Walls of China — a series of gnarled clay towers that have been sculpted over millions of years by sand-bearing winds and water. The fluted pinnacles stand like a miniature mountain range across a 20-kilometre crescent or ‘lunette’ in the northeastern corner of the lake.

    Join an Aboriginal ranger on a tour to gain a deeper understanding of how this site sits within more than 40,000 years of Indigenous connection to the region. Tours happen most days and run for two hours for $50 per adult or $35 for children, concession and pensioners.

    Image: Destination NSW 

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  • 6
    Living Desert Sunset Sculptures

    The 12 sandstone sculptures at the Living Desert State Park sit atop a quiet hillside, catching and throwing rays of sunlight to highlight the skyline. Each has a different story to tell.

    Gordon Pupangamirri’s work, Tiwi Totems, features carved birds, fish and tortoises that are emblematic of the traditional burial poles of the Tiwi people of Bathurst Island, off the Northern Territory coast. Meanwhile, Aztec Indian Antonio Nava Tirado’s imagery of the sun and moon encased in a standing stone, Bajo El Sol Jaguar, represents life’s dualities. These structures were erected by international artists in 1993 after the City of Broken Hill established the sprawling reserve as a conservation site for native flora and fauna.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 5
    Sawn Rocks

    Geology and music fans alike will be awestruck by the Sawn Rocks. This unusual wall of basalt is the result of molten rock cooling and cracking to create a structure that looks like a giant set of organ pipes. The flutes shoot up out of a shaded creek in Mount Kaputar National Park, ready to be marvelled at from the lookout that’s an easy 15-minute stroll from the main picnic area.

    Visit this northeastern NSW site at midday to capture the moment when the sun strikes the rock surface to fully appreciate the layers of columns — it’s hard to believe they’ve been crafted without human intervention.

    Image: Fiona Gray, DPE

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  • 4
    Barrington Tops National Park

    It’ll take more than a quick day trip to immerse yourself in this otherworldly temperate rainforest, but it’s worth multiple return visits to experience every side of the ancient landscape that’s part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

    Take the six-kilometre Aeroplane Hill walking track to breathe the high country air among the subalpine woodlands and enjoy sightlines to the faraway coast, before settling in at the secluded Wombat Creek campground for a night under the stars. Take a dip in the reviving waters of the Allyn River at Ladies Well in the foothills of Barrington Tops, surrounded by mossy sun-warmed boulders, or spend a day paddling through white water and calm pools on the Barrington River.

    Image: Destination NSW 

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  • 3
    Ball's Pyramid

    The average ambler wouldn’t want to hike up Ball’s Pyramid. At its peak, this incredibly steep structure is 551 metres above sea level, making it the largest volcanic stack in the world. The jagged spearhead juts out of the ocean around 23 kilometres southeast of Lord Howe Island, like a solo spine of a giant stegosaurus.

    You can visit the monolith up-close to snap truly epic pics on a sightseeing boat tour, or get to know the cave systems beneath on a scuba diving or snorkelling trip. You’ll encounter all manner of marine life on these underwater excursions, including sea turtles, massive schools of marlin and wahoo, and rare species like the ballina angelfish and the luminous spanish dancer sea slug.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 2
    Jenolan Caves

    This limestone labyrinth, set within the remote south of the Blue Mountains National Park, is the world’s most ancient open caves system, dating back 340 million years. There are numerous illuminated pathways to explore throughout the 40 kilometres of subterranean palaces, so you’ll need to book specific cave tours.

    Visit Lucas Cave to be challenged by more than 1000 steps that deliver you into the belly of the mountain to the system’s largest chamber that hums with acoustic vibrations. Marvel at thick drapings of crystal formations and Jenolan’s tallest stalagmite, ‘Pillar of Hercules’, in the Orient Cave, or see every angle of delicate crystal shawls and helictites that seem to defy gravity and grow greedily in every direction within the dreamy Temple of Baal Cave.

    Image: Destination NSW 

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  • 1

    The sugar-white sand and shimmering turquoise waters of Hyams Beach draw south coast seaside explorers in droves. And who could blame them? This pristine stretch of coastline sheltered in the protective curve of Jervis Bay is almost too perfect for postcards. The calm waters are ideal for snorkelling, swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking, and being part of a protected marine park means bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and little penguins are regular visitors.

    When you’re not waving out to sea at humpback and southern right whales on their annual migration, wander along the shaded Hyams Beach trail to spot local birdlife on the two-kilometre track.

    Image: Destination NSW

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If you are looking for more places to feel awe in New South Wales, head to visitnsw.com.

Top image: Mungo National Park, Destination NSW

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