When Siu On and I decided to stay in New South Wales, originally thought we’d stick around until we’d saved enough money to keep going around Australia, but close to two years later we’re still here. Not because we love the place, but because, well… life just gets in the way. Over those two years we’ve looked at it as a chance to really explore this State and get past the tourist trail and find different and interesting places off the beaten track. And of those places, time and time again, we find ourselves returning to a handful of them when we want to escape the city, get away from and the crowds, or show visitors around, and that leaves us with these four favourite NSW spots. 

A view of Sydney’s skyline from across the harbour


We didn’t end up living in Newtown for no reason! And it’s the only favourite of ours in the list that’s actually located in Sydney. Newtown is interesting, vibrant and homey as its reminiscent of my beloved Fremantle with its weird and wacky characters and hippy yet hipster vibe. Siu On and I have our favourite places to eat, drink and shop at here and all of it along two walkable strips of liveliness.

  • When we’re craving Italian we head to Macaroni.
  • When we feel like a cold one we make a beeline to Young Henry’s for a Newtowner or stop by the Union Bottle-O for a larger selection of local brews (espeically to stock up on Batch Brewery’s Dank Jnr Summer IPA).
  • When there’s a band or show coming to Sydney that we want to see, they’re usually playing at the Enmore Theatre.
  • When we want to go for a shop there’s Newtown St Vincent De Paul, U-Turn Recycling Boutique, Cream on King and the Red Cross Store.
  • And when we’re in need of a caffeine fix we head to Coffee Alchemy for both their take away and their beans (our favourites are the Hairy Chest and Goodness Galilleo).

Seriously, I love Newtown.

Kosciuzko National Park

Kozzie is not like anywhere else I’ve been in Australia and it is fast becoming one of my favourite places in Australia. I can’t think of anywhere else where summiting the nation’s tallest peak is almost effortless (you can get a lift up to the main train from Threadbo)! We did the main track last year with our friend Tim, and made it an overnight affair with a camp on nearby Mount Thompson then checked out some of the shorter trails in and around Threadbo.

Team Pumped Up Trike complete the Main Range Trail at Kosciuzko National Park

Last December  we ended up back in Kozzie for our anniversary (this time without Tim) and explored the northern part of the park where we soaked in the Yarrangobilly Thermal Pool and hiked half of the Blue Water Holes trail in between wild Brumby spotting. And most recently, Siu On and I returned at Easter to tackle our second multi day hike in the middle of the park, where we completed a two night circuit in the Jagungual Wilderness Area and ticked off a bucket list item of mine by staying a night in one of the mountain huts.

Siu On crossing the Blue Water Holes in Koscuizko National Park

Ahhh, I already want to go back!

Jervis Bay

I don’t think there is anywhere else in NSW where you can go that offers inexpensive and scenic camping close to spectacular rock climbing off sheer sea cliffs, as well as access to an underwater paradise for freediving. We always camp in the Beercroft Peninsula as it’s not only cheap, but also a short walk or drive to areas for climbing (notably at Point Perpendicular) and free diving. Jervis Bay is also very close to the holiday towns of Huskisson, Hyams Beach (the whitest sand beach in NSW!) and Vincentia; all with a selection of shops, cafes and more beachside goodness for you to check out. As a side note, Jervis Bay is also not that far from the Booderee National Park, though this is technically the Australian Capital Territory, but makes for a nice “day trip” to the ACT.

Jelena and Magda getting ready to free dive at Jervis Bay

The Blue Mountains

As rock climbers in New South Wales we’ve probably spent most of our time in the Blue Mountains bushbashing through dense scrub, scrambling along chossy loose sandstone and hauling ourselves up the sides of the Bluey’s cliffs. Even if you’re not interested in the rock climbing, there is so much natural beauty to see here that one visit will never be enough.

Hiking through the Megalong Valley will bring you through old patches of rainforest like flora, and along cool softly running streams that are perfect for a dip on a hot day. Then there are the mountain towns of prim and proper Leura, touristy Katoomba and the rustic Blackheath which have some jewels hidden in them. Some of our favourite places to eat and drink in the Blueys includes the Megalong Valley Tea Rooms for their scones, the best range of well priced sandwiches and cup of coffee at Altitude in Blackheath, and not to mention pies at the Bakehouse on Wentworth.

Siu On rock climbing in the Blue Mountains

Our next visit to the Blueys will definitely include trying out the Japanese style hot springs at the Blue Mountains Sparadise, and a coffee overlooking the valley at the Hydro Majestic (though we’ll probably BYO since that place is well over our budgets!).

We still have a few more places that we are planning on checking out and if you have some different places that you love, we’d love to hear them! Head over to our Facebook or Instagram pages and leave us a comment, maybe we’ll go there next.

Be safe and happy adventuring,

Jelena and Siu On

All photography by Jelena Stipanicev.