Welcome to New South Wales
Welcome to New South Wales - the oldest state in Australia. Now I will try to keep my loyalties to myself but I have to say if you want a state that mixes the best of Australia in one place, I think NSW is the place to start.
If you want a modern city with exciting night life, a beautiful harbour, world class entertainment and activities, Sydney will be just what you are looking for.
If you want beautiful beaches, you can either visit the North (Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay or further) or South (Batemans Bay, Narooma and down to Eden) to find pristine beaches and quiet communities to relax.
Lush green rainforest can be found a little from the coast - only 1-2 hours drive from Sydney. If you keep going west, you will reach the beautiful Blue Mountains which offers spectacular scenery as well as boutique accommodation and other attractions such as the Scenic Railway and many bushwalks.
A little further west across the mountains, you will reach the Western Plains area with many large farming communities (Griffith, Orange, Dubbo) and if you keep driving west still further you will reach the red dust of central Australia - Tibooburra, Wilcannia and Broken Hill.
All of these options are not far from Sydney - and as the International Airport and Ocean Liner Terminal are all in Sydney, it is really the starting point for every traveller landing in NSW.
History is all around you in NSW. Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay, on the southern edge of Sydney in 1770 and claimed the land as part of the British Empire, just beating the French from doing likewise. What a different place it would be if good old La Perouse had got here first! The first settlers arrived in 1788 with the First Fleet under the leadership of Governor Arthur Phillip. Really not a great career move to bring 11 leaking hulks of convicts halfway across the world to settle what they assumed was an empty island. Still, interesting positions in the Royal Navy must have been all taken that year.
Sydney bears the marks of the early settlement - its streets in the area closest to the harbour are small and cosy - the Rocks area contains buildings from the early 1800's as the settlement sought to become more established.
However if early history is more your interest, you can find information about the Koori people, original inhabitants of the area around Sydney in many walks and national parks that border the harbour. You see, Governor Phillip did not land in an empty land and he had a bit of a battle on his hands in establishing his new nation in those early years.
Sydney has grown a lot since those early days. Now the quaint terraces and sandstone warehouses on the waterfront sit comfortably alongside multi story apartments, hotels and offices. On the other side of the harbour is the famous Opera House which showcases local and international talent as well as a number of exceptional restaurants, with views that you won't find anywhere else on this earth.
So what can I say? Get out there and have a look around! Grab a car, a bike, a campervan, a bus or a train and just see where the road takes you. The locals are friendly, the accommodation and food is first rate and you will experience something you will not see anywhere else.