Adventure at Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains.
Adventure at Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains. Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism

Go bush: 3 top spots for outdoors adventure in NSW

Outdoors adventure is hiding in plain sight: We've taken a closer look at three top spots where you can go bush in New South Wales.

1. Coffs Harbour

Photos: Coffs Coast Marketing & Tourism New South Wales

If there was ever a 4WDers' paradise it'd have to be Coffs Harbour. Getting off the blacktop is such a large part of the culture around here the locals don't need to let their tyres down, they just never pump them back up!

If you're not familiar with Coffs Harbour it's a moderately sized coastal town about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, but instead of trendy restaurants and VW Kombis, there are beaches, five of them, within Coffs Harbour itself that you can legally drive and camp on.

This isn't half an hour out of town down a single lane dirt road, this is up and down the coast. If there's a beach, chances are you can camp on it.

The whole area is surrounded by national parks and state forests in just about every direction you can head. We're not exaggerating at all when we say you could camp every night for a year without pulling up to the same camp spot twice, all within an hour of town.

If you're after a twin-locked fix head to Mt Coramba just outside of town. Over the course of 10 minutes behind the wheel you'll rise from sea level up to around 600m.

The tracks in this area are no-joke, think twin locked, 35s, flexy suspension and still plan on winching. And with track names like Broken, Commando and Widowmaker you can't say you haven't been warned.

The surrounding areas offer tracks for every skill and modification level, so keep an eye out on the track markings and know exactly where you're heading. You can get away with a long weekend here, but to make the most of it plan on a week at least.

So where is it? Boambee Beach, Coffs Harbour, -30.312846, 153.140042

Facilities: Just about every track you can find will be within 45mins of town so you've got loads of places to stock up on supplies, have a pub feed for lunch at the Moonee Tavern and then stock the fridge full of supplies for another couple of days in the bush at the shops right next door.

Where to camp: There are plenty of caravan parks and cheap accommodation around town but if you're after the real Coffs Harbour experience you've got to set up on Boambee Beach for at least a night or two. There's no facilities, no running water and no coin-fed gas BBQs, but falling asleep to the sound of waves breaking on the beach makes it all worth it.

2. Blue Mountains National Park

The historic town of Hartley at sunrise.
The historic town of Hartley at sunrise. Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism

Located literally less than an hour's drive from the Harbour Bridge, the Blue Mountains National Park covers an impressive 160,000 acres of rivers, cliffs, escarpments and plateau's. While it's not known as the low range wheel lifting paradise of other more popular destinations, it does offer something no other place in Australia has. Everything.

Roothy's LowRange

The mountains are riddled with free camp sites and fire tracks heading off in every direction. The park itself offers world class mountain biking trails, waterfalls, hiking tracks from 1hr to 3 days, countless rivers to camp beside and if you're feeling a little fancy there's 4.5 star caves you can hire for the night at Bell on the western fringe of the park.

Take the kids for a ride on the steepest railway in the world to the floor of the Megalong valley, don a wet suit and explore the local canyons on a guided tour and then jump back in the 4WD and camp the night in the Capertee Valley, the second largest canyon in the world.

Views from Echo Point, Katoomba.
Views from Echo Point, Katoomba. Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism

If you're chasing a hardcore low range weekend with the boys there are better places, but if you're packing the wife and kids up for a few weeks of getting away from it all, the Blue Mountains should be firmly on your radar. You can head there with barely any modifications at all and have the trip of a lifetime.

Roothy's LowRange

So where is it? Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales. GPS -33.798613, 150.616026

Facilities: Within the Blue Mountains National Park itself there's seven dedicated campgrounds with close to 100 campsites between them. Most offer toilets and coin-operated barbecues although some are very basic. As there's a narrow corridor of civilisation winding through the mountains fuel, food and other supplies are available everywhere.

Where to camp: Euroka Clearing is by far the largest campground, although it does get busy and isn't free. Heading out of the mountains and into the neighbouring Turon or Cox's River areas will offer the best camping although Murphy's Glen campgrounds in Woodford will keep you in the thick of the action.

3. Mungo National Park

Mungo lookout in Mungo National Park. Photo NSW Government
Mungo lookout in Mungo National Park. Photo NSW Government John Spencer

When talking about hidden locations it's easy to get caught up in mundane parks and forests just out of town.  Tough 4WDing is normally the order of the day and not much more, but Mungo National Park, 9 hours west of Wagga Wagga is anything but mundane.

The 275,000 acre national park plays host to a variety of attractions, both man-made and natural, that'll rival anything you can find in Australia, or for that matter the world.

Out the front of the visitors centre there's human footprints dating back over 20,000 years, when you consider the Pyramids in Egypt are less than 5000 years old that really puts things into perspective. Locked inside the Visitor's Centre are the remains of Mungo man, the oldest remains ever found in Australia, dating back almost 70,000 years.

The Wall of China in Mungo National Park. Photo: DECC
The Wall of China in Mungo National Park. Photo: DECC Boris Hlavica

There's a 70km loop running around the park that'll take in the Walls of China and the historic homesteads build by Europeans and Chinese in the late 18th century. There's Aboriginal Rangers on hand from the three tribal groups of the Willandra Lakes region to show you deep inside the park and help share a part of Australian history often forgotten.

Like much of the outback there's not a great deal around Mungo National Park, but that's the beauty of it isn't it? If you're feeling adventurous turn north afterwards and head up the Dog Fence, or if you want things a little more scenic Murray Sunset, Wyperfield and Big Desert Wilderness Park are all within a day's drive south and will satisfy your outback youring urges.

Loop Road picnic area in Mungo National Park. Photo: DECC
Loop Road picnic area in Mungo National Park. Photo: DECC Boris Hlavica

So where is it? Mungo Park Visitor Centre, Mungo NSW, -33.723540, 143.026504

Facilities: The nearest town to get supplies is Balranald, 5hrs outside of Mungo on the road in from Wagga Wagga. At Mungo itself kitchens, barbecues and hot showers are available. You'll need to bring everything else yourself.

Where to camp: There's three options for resting your head at Mungo. The Shearers Quarters can bunk up to 27 people in five separate rooms although the kitchen and dining areas are communal. If you're dedicated to your swag you can roll it out at either Main Camp just 2km from the Visitor Centre or Belah Camp on the track itself if you're after stars from horizon to horizon.

Five bonus locations

Looking for more outdoors adventures? Try these for size.

  1. Brindabella Ranges
  2. Warrumbungle National Park
  3. Yalwal State Forest
  4. Turon River
  5. Kosciusko National Park