Beach to bush NSW: a First Nations road trip experience

Stars and the Milky Way shining over the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens. Copyright: Destination NSW
Stars and the Milky Way shining over the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens. Copyright: Destination NSW

This epic road trip takes travellers from beach to bush via many of Eastern NSW's best Indigenous tourism experiences. Setting off from and returning to Sydney, we trace some 1500km around some of the most beautiful scenery and lesser known locations NSW has to offer.

Discover Aboriginal history and culture on the sand dunes of Stockton, experience a decadent 5-course bush food dining experiences in Mudgee and have a truly life changing experience as you explore Wollombi Country at sunset. These are just some of the incredible experiences this Aboriginal road trip has to offer.

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Day 1: Sydney to Stockton

2 hrs 15 min | 186 km

Explore Stockton

With many road trippers choosing Port Stephen’s beautiful beaches and seaside cafés, Stockton is often over-looked as a stopover. Situated 40 minutes south of Port Stephens, stunning Stockton is a hub of Worimi history and culture and home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest sand dunes.

The beach is 32 kilometres long with excellent swimming, surfing and fishing. Take the Shipwreck Walk out along the breakwall and see the wreck of the Adolphe. Children love the foreshore playground with a flying fox, skate park, variety of slides, swings and climbing equipment.

Coastal aerial of the southern end of Stockton Beach and Newcastle City. Destination NSW copyright.
Stockton Beach (Photo credit: Destination NSW)
Stop-over experience: Sand Dune Adventures

Release your inner adrenalin junkie with a quad biking experience through the southern hemisphere’s largest sand dunes, taking in the glorious views of the sweeping Port Stephen's coastline and learning about the Worimi history and culture of the land. You will also dig for fresh water, learn about sourcing bush resources, ride past ancient camp sites (Middens) and sand board down one of the largest sand dunes on the beach.

Stockton sand boarding quad bike tour with aboriginal culture
Quad biking experience on the Stockton Sand Dunes  in the Worimi Conservation lands (Photo credit: Destination NSW)

Day 2: Stockton to Wollombi

1.5hr | 86km

Experience transformative Mount Yengo

Journey through the Hunter region along scenic Wollombi Road to the boutique village of Wollombi. As you begin the drive you will see magnificent Mount Yengo overlooking the picturesque Australian bush and country farms, before winding your way into the park and experiencing the sacred and transformative feeling of the region.

The stunning Yengo National Park is sacred to the region’s Aboriginal peoples including the Wollombi. The area's Aboriginal cultural heritage sites are special places to visit. This is an often-overlooked region overshadowed by the nearby Hunter Valley wine country but its spectacular views and World Heritage-listed wilderness is well worth exploring.

Mount Yengo in Mount Yengo National Park Creator: John Spencer  Copyright: NSW Government
Mount Yengo, Creator: John Spencer  Copyright: NSW Government
The stop-over experience: Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences 

Yengo National Park was inscribed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Greater Blue Mountains and offers spectacular views, remote wilderness with steep gorges and rocky ridges and intriguing Aboriginal cultural heritage. Mount Yengo is as sacred to the peoples of Eastern Australia as Uluru is to those of Central Australia. Follow Dhurug woman, Leanne King and learn about Wollombi culture, Country and lore.

Wollombi has been, for millennia, an important meeting place, to which Aboriginal people would travel great distances for trade, social gatherings, and ceremony. The focus of these ceremonial gatherings was, and still is, Mount Yengo. 

Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences- via Welcome to Country
Dhurung woman Leanne King teaching about Wollombi culture. Credit: Welcome to Country

Day 3: Wollombi to Mudgee

3 hrs 10 min | 250 km

Discover the Wiradjuri Country of Central NSW

This scenic drive will see you discover the Wiradjuri Country of Central New South Wales. The Wiradjuri are geographically the largest language group in New South Wales, extending from Coonabarabran in the north, straddling the Great Dividing Range down to the Murray River and out to western NSW.

The region is known as ‘the land of the three rivers’, the Wambuul or Macquarie, the Kalare - later known as the Lachlan - and the Murrumbidgee, or Murrumbidjeri. Mudgee is a charming and historic country town, known for its wine region, excellent fresh produce and innovative fine dining. Mudgee offers something for every kind of country traveller.

Welcome to Wiradjuri Country sign a Dunns Swamp - Ganguddy in Wollemi National Park. Destination NSW Copyright.
 Welcome to Wiradjuri Country sign a Dunns Swamp - Ganguddy in Wollemi National Park. (Photo credit: Destination NSW)
The stop-over experience: Indigiearth Dining Experience

Immerse your senses in culture and tradition with Indigiearth’s Warakirri Dining Experience. Listen to the teachings of proud owner and Ngemba Weilwan woman, Sharon Winsor, as she shares her extensive knowledge of Aboriginal cultures.

Sharon’s passion for connecting to culture through food inspired the fusion of native ingredients intertwined with modern dining concepts. Taste delicate botanicals and robust Australian native flavours throughout an incredible 5-course degustation, featuring premium authentic bush foods including seafood and rainforest fruits from across Australia. 

Indigiearth Dining Experience, Mudgee
Indigiearth Dining Experience in Mudgee, NSW - from Welcome to Country and Indigiearth

Day 4: Mudgee to Cowra 

3 hrs | 230km

Take in the vast plains of central NSW

Travelling across the vast plains of central New South Wales, you will experience just how big the state really is. Wide-open spaces, fresh air and country towns dot the drive to Cowra.

A quintessential small country town with wide streets, old-fashioned pubs and sprawling verandas, Cowra is a great stopover ringed by beautiful National Parks with a number of unique experiences from relaxing along the extensive waterways to exploring the tranquil Japanese Garden.

The scenic countryside in Cowra - Destination NSW copyright
The scenic countryside in Cowra - Destination NSW copyright
The stop-over experience: Indigenous Art Murals at Cowra 
Cowra also boasts beautiful Indigenous art murals on the Cowra Bridge Pylons on the Lachlan River. The murals were painted by local Aboriginal artist, Kym Freeman. and depict the history of the Wiradjuri people who inhabited the Cowra area before English settlement. The size of the murals and the attention to fine detail make them a must-see when visiting Cowra. 
Aboriginal murals painted by indigenous artist Kym Freeman on the Cowra Bridge Pylons located beneath the Lachlan River Bridge. Destination NSW copyright
Indigenous art murals on the Cowra Bridge Pylons - Copyright Destination NSW

Cowra to Wagga Wagga

2.5 hrs | 250km

Known as the 'place of many crows' to the local Wiradjuri people, Wagga Wagga is New South Wales's largest inland city and it's a gem. 

Welcoming Wagga Wagga is a great place to spend a couple of days. Nestled on the broad banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the heart of the Riverina, Wagga is another major town in Wiradjuri Country. It boasts excellent wines, a vibrant farm to plate food scene, its own boutique brewery and arty eclectic laneways. 
Wagga Country
Cattle in a field in Wagga Wagga, NSW - Copyright Destination NSW
The stop-over experience: Bundyi Cultural Tours - Wiradjuri Culture and Winery 

See beautiful inland forests, historic sites and learn about the traditions and culture of the Wiradjuri during your exclusive private winery and cultural tours. This exclusive private tour is focused around you and what you want to learn about the 60,000 years of culture that your private tour guide will share with you. 

On the tour you will also stop at an exclusive Winery, Courabyra Wines, for a private wine tasting and a lunch time dining experience. Courabyra Wines is a family-owned and operated vineyard nestled in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, producing some of the finest cool-climate wines. After lunch, the tour journeys back to Wagga, dropping into several places where you can learn more about the ancient Wiradjuri culture and places.

Bundyi Cultural Tours - Wiradjuri Culture and Winery
A Bundyi Cultural Tour in action in Wagga Wagga - Copyright Welcome to Country 

Wagga Wagga to Jervis Bay

4.5 hrs | 400km

It's time to leave country New South Wales and Wiradjuri Country and head back to a coastal breezes and white beaches of spectacular Jervis Bay on the South Coast.

Have lunch in the Jervis Bay area from Mirritya Munda food truck featuring classic food truck favourites with an ‘Indigenous Twist’! They use native ingredients and infusing in to Aussie Classics, think fish and chips or a bacon and egg roll but different. The menu changes seasonally and the truck visits some of Jervis Bays best spots, a food adventure with a world class view. 

Then visit Booderee National Park which is co-managed with the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community. The Booderee Botanic Gardens is the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia. Knowledge is passed down from family member to family member, including information about the identification, management, use, and protection of foods, medicines, birds, animals, seasons, and climate changes. This body of information is constantly growing, changing, and being passed to new generations. There is no richer source of knowledge of the land than that of Aboriginal people. 

Mirritya Mundya means ‘hungry blackfish’ and is a catering events partnership, with wholesome homemade cuisine with a core essence of an Indigenous Twist. Copyright: Mirritya Mundya Facebook
The sign outside Mirritya Mundya food truck at Jervis Bay, NSW. Credit: Mirritya Mundya Facebook page

Jervis Bay to Sydney

3 hrs | 200km

Take the world famous Grand Pacific Drive

Drive up the beautiful South Coast and take in delightful beach side towns, excellent surf breaks, old fashioned corner stores with malty milk shakes and fish and chip hot out of the paper.

Truth be told, there is enough to see and do on this 200km scenic coastal drive that you could spend a few days soaking it all in! But even if you choose not to stop, it is still an unforgettable road trip experience through the townships of the Shoalhaven, Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong, with the glistening Pacific Ocean a constant companion.

Once you reach Sydney, experience magnificent Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden and Gadigal culture and history.

Seacliff Bridge NSW
Sea Cliff Bridge, Wollongong, NSW. Copyright Destination NSW
The experience: Bush Food Lunch at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney 
Soak in the Harbour City and join your Aboriginal guide to discover how to identify and collect a bounty of bush foods as you meander through the stunning and peaceful surrounds of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Then enjoy an elegant al carte lunch using seasonal bush food ingredients that you identified with your guide. 
Bush Food Lunch at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney - offer from Welcome to Country via NRMA
The Bush Food Lunch Experience at Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, NSW. Credit: Welcome to Country

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