While there’s plenty to do in and around Sydney, there’s a whole country out there to be explored: from the sparkling waters and pristine coastline surrounding this mega-island, to the legendary and endless outback.
Here’s just a small handful of the fabulous adventures you can have across Australia while you’re here for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Around New South Wales
Australian wines are celebrated all around the world. Come and see where it all began, with a visit to our oldest wine region. A two-hour drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is home to more than 150 cellar doors and some of the best restaurants in the country, where paddock-to-plate dining is the norm. And the accommodation options are plentiful: from cute bed & breakfasts, to luxury hotels and finely appointed Airbnb’s.
The drive to Broken Hill is about as outback as the outback gets – expanses of flat plains, empty apart from the kangaroos and emus. Once you’re there, you’ll see why this frontier mining town featured in the Aussie queer cinema classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Since its starring role in the film, Broken Hill has become a bit of an LGBTQIA+ destination: it’s home to the Broken Heel festival, and you can stay in the colourful hotel featured in Priscilla.
Located on New South Wales’ north coast, just before the Queensland border, Byron Bay is the coastal destination of choice for those looking for a little luxury. There’s a reason why all three Hemsworth brothers have houses up here: not only is it a beautiful part of the world with stunning beaches and parklands to explore, but it’s seen a recent explosion in fine dining and boutique shopping. The quickest way to get to Byron Bay is to fly.
The South Coast has long been a popular holiday region for Sydney locals looking to pack up the car and escape the city for a few days. Drive down the coastal route and stop in at beach towns like Kiama (which also has a good train service), or go inland for charming historic towns including Berry, and the stunning green mountains of Kangaroo Valley. There are plenty of sleepy towns where you can opt to stay, each with their own character, but one thing in common: gorgeous oceans and stunning scenery.
Two and a half hours north of Sydney, the Port Stephens region has some of the greatest coastal walks in the country, as well as New South Wales’ longest beach: Stockton Beach. Go for an adventure on Stockton’s famous sand dunes, or head up to Nelson Bay to swim with dolphins and watch whales frolic amongst the waves.
While you’re unlikely to find much snow on the Snowy Mountains in February and March (when Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is held), the region is always worth a visit for gorgeous walks and bike trails. Spend some quality time with nature in Kosciuszko National Park, home to Australia’s highest peak: Mount Kosciuszko.
The Rest of Australia
There are no words that do justice to the experience of visiting Uluru. This enormous sandstone monolith, sacred to the local Pitjantjatjara, and the National Park that surrounds it, are unlike anywhere else on the planet. Fly direct from Sydney to the Ayers Rock Airport, and stay at one of the hotels just a short drive from Uluru.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the great wonders of the world – an underwater world home to spectacular coral formations, giant clams, and over 1,600 species of fish. The best way to explore is with a scuba tank, but if you haven’t got your licence, there’s plenty to see with a simple snorkel.
Just a short flight from Sydney, Melbourne is Australia’s second-biggest city. It’s known for its brilliant galleries, theatres, gorgeous laneway bars and cafes, and street art. Explore the CBD’s laneways and galleries, or head north to the famously queer suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy.
Tasmania is an island 240 kilometres south of the Australian mainland, known for its rugged natural beauty. The biggest city on the island, Hobart, is the perfect place to start. Catch a ferry to Bruny Island, where you can explore the wilderness and sample local artisan cheese, wine and oysters, or visit MONA, a fabulously eccentric and wildly popular modern art gallery.
Sydney Day Trips
Sydney is a city built for day trips. The coastline is dotted with natural wonders and charming seaside communities, while if you venture further inland you’ll discover sleepy towns and rugged bushland as far as the eye can see.
Travelling from Overseas
We know our sunny shores can be a bit of a journey to get to, but we promise it’ll all be worth it once you’re here! If you’re after information on international travel requirements and where to learn more, this page is for you.
Sydney is perched on Australia’s south-east coast, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a busy metropolis built around one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. Click here to find out more.