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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Five Ways to Explore NSW When You Don't Want to Blow All Your Savings

From a three-night cruise to bike rides through vineyards, there's plenty to see and do in NSW that won't break the bank.
By Marissa Ciampi
March 25, 2021
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By Marissa Ciampi
March 25, 2021
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in partnership with

With staycations still firmly on the docket in Australia, there's never been a better time to explore our own backyard. New South Wales is filled with adventure, whether you've lived in the state for a few years or a few decades. From a luxury weekend cruise with P&O Cruises to self-guided winery tours on an e-bike, here are five ways to explore NSW on the cheap. These local excursions won't blow your entire bank account either — so you can keep saving up for that overseas holiday that will hopefully be on the cards soon.

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Destination NSW

TAKE AN E-BIKE TOUR OF THE MUDGEE WINE REGION

Instead of taking your umpteenth trip to the exxy Hunter Valley, head to another of New South Wales' incredible wine regions. Our pick is Mudgee. Set about three hours' drive from Sydney, this charming town is dotted with heritage-listed storefronts and surrounded by a range of top-notch wineries — many of which are accessible by bicycle. Make it a cruisy ride with the recently launched Ezyride electric bikes, with prices ranging from $65 for a half-day, up to $225 for a three-day hire.

On the wine front, keep an eye out for Portuguese-style drops from Mansfield Wines, organic wines from Thistle Hill and Italian varietals from Di Lusso Estate, plus the award-winning Robert Stein Winery and Lowe Family Wine Co. When you need a break from wine-hopping, get on your bike and head to some of the region's many wetlands, waterfalls and rolling hills.

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Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton, Destination NSW

TAKE A ROAD TRIP AROUND THE STATE IN A CAMPERVAN

While flights around Australia can continue to pose a risk to travellers, there's plenty of adventure to be had on the open road. For your next road trip, combine your transport and accommodation in one by hiring a campervan. Campervan hire in Sydney won't blow the budget out, and gives you the ultimate flexibility around how you plan your adventure. Operators like Spaceships and Jucy both come equipped with everything you'll need for a short or long road trip.

If you're looking to head down south, take the scenic route to the Victorian border via Kosciuszko National Park. Along the way, stop into Cooma for a truffle-inspired brunch and truffle hunt at Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines, explore the historic town of Jindabyne with a leisurely bike ride along the Lake Jindabyne Foreshore Trail, and head around the mountain to discover one of the region's many stunning hiking trails. Take the coastal route back to Sydney and enjoy the crystal clear waters of Pambula, Mollymook and Jervis Bay. Don't forget to stop into Tathra for some of Australia's very best oysters, before heading back into town via Clifton's stunning Sea Cliff Bridge.

Headed north? It's hard to go past dolphin and whale watching at Emerald Beach, majestic sunsets at Caves Beach and incredible waterfall walks at Dorrigo National Park, not to mention Cabarita Beach, which was named Australia's best beach in 2020. For more suggestions, check out our Road Tripper Guides.

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GO ON A COMEDY CRUISE

With international travel a no-go, you might think cruises are off the table — and you may not have the time or money to spend on a weeks-long vacation. Luckily for Sydneysiders, P&O offers short-break cruises, so you can spend a long weekend on the open seas without blowing your budget. For those with a funny bone, opt for P&O's three-night Comedy Cruise (starting at $398.50 per person), which brings together some of Australia's top comedians for gigs and workshops in the onboard comedy club. You'll even get to try your hand at your own stand-up routine, with performances judged by the celebrity comedians.

If you're in the mood for a more relaxing stay, you can while away the hours poolside from the comfort of a shaded cabana, or indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment. You can also enjoy one of the many restaurants, bars and nightclubs onboard before retiring to your luxury accommodation, with some rooms boasting private balconies.

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Donkey Mountain Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains, Destination NSW

MAKE A LIST OF NSW'S TOP TREKS AND TICK THEM OFF ONE BY ONE

With its diverse range of mountainous terrain, stunning beaches and breathtaking coastline, New South Wales has something to offer every trekker. Apart from feeding your adventurous spirit, hiking also has the added benefit of being a free-of-charge activity in most instances (park fees aside). We suggest making a list of your bucket list hikes in the state and ticking them off one by one. Not sure where to start? Lucky for you, we've done the research for you. Looking to conquer a mountain or two? Check out our picks for epic mountain hikes. Into the ocean? Our list of NSW's best coastal and seaside walks will get you started. And hardcore trekkers will love our overnight and multi-day hikes.

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Emerald Beach, Destination NSW

BOOK A BEACH ESCAPE — THAT'S NOT BYRON OR BATEMANS

There's more than one way to soak up the sun, sand and sea in our state. Sure, Byron and Batemans Bay are popular for a reason. But if you want to avoid the crowds (not to mention the jacked up tourist prices), look outside these spots to some of New South Wales' other gorgeous seaside locations. A few of our favourite coastal towns to rent a beach house in include Berry, Ulladulla, Tathra and Pambula down south, or South West Rocks, Crescent Head and Emerald Beach up north. All of these will offer an equally stunning beach getaway, without breaking the bank. You can even combine a few beach hut stays with your aforementioned campervan trip, giving you a few rest stops along the way.

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For more information about P&O Cruises, head to the company's website.

Top image: Sea Cliff Bridge, Destination NSW

Published on March 25, 2021 by Marissa Ciampi

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