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Make new memories in Country NSW

Emirates One&Only Wolgan ValleyCREDIT: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Guests enjoying a stargazing campfire experience at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley.

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Make new memories
in Country NSW

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley CREDIT: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Guests enjoying a stargazing campfire experience at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley.

#feelnsw

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Country NSW has a diverse landscape offering everything from rugged country plains to the rolling hills of cool climate vineyards. Sprawled between the coast and Outback NSW, it's home to such drawcards as Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo, Mayfield Garden and Warrumbungle National Park, the first Dark Sky Park in the southern hemisphere. Feel energised with wondrous experiences, from marvelling at majestic animals to discovering the colonial history of country towns and sleeping under the stars in a bubble tent. So, pack your adventurous spirit and go west. 

Animal kingdom 

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, about five hours’ drive northwest of Sydney, is home to more than 5,000 animals from across the globe. Watch in awe as the lions, black rhinoceros, Sumatran tigers and elephants roam the zoo’s 300 hectares. Drive or ride a bike around the 5.3km circuit, stopping for zookeeper talks, animal shows and close encounters with the big cats and giraffes. At the halfway point, have a rest stop at The Waterhole, with a family-friendly menu and animal habitats. Savour a meal or a coffee at the open-air café while you watch meerkats and tortoises forage in their exhibits and the kids splash in the water play area. Climb aboard the Savannah Safari truck for a guided tour through herds of African animals and then stay overnight at the Zoofari Lodge.  

Hit the haunted heritage trail 

In the heart of the Great Western Plains, the historic town of Dubbo has a rich colonial history and has significant examples of Victorian civic architecture. Pick up a map of Dubbo’s heritage walks from the visitor information centre to learn about the city’s criminal history, including stories of the queen of the Sydney underworld razor gang wars, Kate Leigh. Visit Old Dubbo Gaol to connect to the past and experience what life was like for prisoners in the 19th century. Go on a Twilight Tour where a warden introduces you to life in gaol or try to be brave on the Beyond the Grave tour (for ages 16 and above) where you can attempt to commune with the spiritual world.  

Luxe country getaways  

Deep in Mudgee wine country, a 3.5-hour drive from Sydney, Sierra Escape is a breathtaking property with three five-star tents where you can escape from the world for a while. The glamping huts are luxurious and spacious, and some have deep, freestanding bathtubs on the deck, and an infinity pool overlooking the countryside.

For an escape that combines unsurpassed luxury with a remote location, head to Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley, a two-hour drive from Mudgee or 2.5 hours from Sydney. This conservation resort has established a reputation as one of the best retreats in Australia, with 40 heritage-style villas with private plunge pools and extraordinary mountain views. The resort boasts a stunning wellness sanctuary in a bushland setting with six private double treatment rooms, each with their own Japanese soaking tub.

Stargazers and romantics will fall in love with Bubbletent Australia’s magical domes overlooking Capertee Valley, on the inland side of the Blue Mountains. The three transparent spheres — named Leo, Virgo and Cancer — sit atop wooden decks and give guests a dazzling view of the stars at night and the vast valley during the day. 

Starry, starry nights 

The southern hemisphere’s first and only Dark Sky Park is in the Warrumbungle region, two hours’ drive northeast of Dubbo. Dark Sky Parks are recognised internationally for their outstanding nocturnal environment and clear, dark skies. Even without a telescope, you can marvel at the universe just by looking up. Camp under the stars in Warrumbungle National Park at various camping grounds and heritage huts and visit Warrumbungle Observatory, 9km from Coonabarabran at the foothills of the Warrumbungles, and Dubbo Observatory for night-viewing sessions. 

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo CREDIT: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Ring-tailed lemurs like to greet the zookeepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo.

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo CREDIT: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Ring-tailed lemurs like to greet the zookeepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo.

#feelnsw

Bubbletent Australia, Capertee Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple relaxing in their Bubbletent Australia accommodation in the Capertee Valley.

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Bubbletent Australia, Capertee Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple relaxing in their Bubbletent Australia accommodation in the Capertee Valley.

#feelnsw

Secret Garden

Less than three hours’ drive from Sydney, beyond the Blue Mountains, sits the Mayfield Garden in Oberon, a botanical garden designed to be eye-catching through all seasons. The cool-climate garden sprawls over 16 hectares and includes a mobility-friendly Camellia Walk for wheelchairs and prams. Take your time marvelling at the expansive water garden dotted with lilies; the cascading sandstone cliff; the Valley of the Five Ponds’s charming woodland meadows shaded by oak, maple and beech trees; and the English box hedge maze (the second largest in Australia). Stop to refresh at the bustling Mayfield Cafe which serves farm-to-table produce, before selecting a little piece of Mayfield to purchase from the nursery. 

Country weekender  

For a getaway of grand proportions, venture into the Southern Highlands to Osborn House. Built in the 1890s, this five-star boutique hotel has been stunningly reimagined by Linda Boronkay, former design director of Soho House, London. Immerse yourself in the verdant surrounds by staying in one of their swanky self-contained cabins with fireplace and outdoor tub. In Tamworth, soak up the sophistication at the city’s only five-star hotel, Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at Coal Bunker Bar and a sumptuous dinner at The Workshop Kitchen. Near Tamworth, a five-hour drive northwest of Sydney, Goonoo Goonoo Station is a New England historical gem. Dating back to the 1830s, Goonoo Goonoo was one of the colony’s first sheep stations, which slowly grew into a small village. The restored station offers a 19th-century chapel, modern restaurant, event spaces and accommodation for 54 guests. Visit for lunch and take in the views from the award-winning Glasshouse Restaurant, or stay overnight in the romantic Shearer’s Quarters or the majestic Homestead, which sleeps 10 and has a private pool, billiard room and five king bedrooms.  

Wine weekend away 

Spend a delightful weekend at Rowlee Wines in Nashdale, just outside Orange, 250km west of Sydney. At this single-vineyard winery nestled at the base of Mount Canobolas, 950m above sea level, the grapes are harvested by hand and crafted into delicious wine in small batches.

Visit the cellar door and sample vintages such as pinot gris, pinot noir and riesling or book a picnic hamper to enjoy in the vines. Roll out your rug and tuck into artisanal produce from local makers, like charcuterie from Cured deli, Fresh Fodder dips, marinated olives and cheese — plus, of course, a bottle of Rowlee wine.

If you’d like to linger even longer, stay overnight at the luxurious guesthouse where every detail has been considered, from fluffy bathrobes to a well-stocked pantry. Another of Orange’s most celebrated wineries, Printhie Wines, has opened a decadent restaurant and cellar door. The tempting space offers premium ‘beyond the cellar door’ experiences, including a range of tastings, vineyard picnics, and a sparkling masterclass. 

Catch a country music festival

Dusty boots, glittered skin, Elvis lookalikes and dancing under the stars. The music festivals across New South Wales are as diverse and intriguing as the landscape. Feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1950s at the iconic Parkes Elvis Festival, a celebration of the life and music of Elvis Presley. During the extravaganza, more than 200 events take place at venues in and around Parkes, and the festival attracts headline national and international Elvis tribute artists.

In Deniliquin, the Deni Ute Muster attracts almost 20,000 people to celebrate all things country every year. Watch the dust kick up from the plains during the Ute Circle Contest and hear international and local country stars on the Muster Stage. If you’re seeking solitude after the throng of the muster, rest your head in a sweet vintage caravan – luxurious Olina the Caravan can be set up in the Deniliquin area, combined with catering packages.

From busking newcomers to Australian legends and the Golden Guitar Awards – the legendary Tamworth Country Music Festival voices the authentic soundtrack of rural living with 2800 shows across 120 venues. 

Rowlee Wines, Nashdale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a scenic walk through the vineyards at Rowlee Wines, Nashdale.

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Rowlee Wines, Nashdale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a scenic walk through the vineyards at Rowlee Wines, Nashdale.

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Mayfield Garden, Oberon CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spring colours on display at Mayfield Garden in Oberon.

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Mayfield Garden, Oberon CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spring colours on display at Mayfield Garden in Oberon.

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