6 unique & unusual places you should visit in New South Wales

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If you’re after a little inspiration for your next adventure, why not explore a different part of New South Wales? There are hundreds of incredible places visit and things to see, some only 2.5hours out of the Sydney CBD.

Or you could visit somewhere that provides a bit of food for thought. The list below encompasses places to go and learn about Sydney’s criminal past, explore art trails, discover the Museum of Human Disease and more.

Plus we’ll show you how to get there via public transport, that way you can spend more time exploring and less time trying to find that elusive parking spot.

1. Explore the creative Bundeena and Maianbar art trail

On the first Sunday of each month, local artists from Bundeena and Maianbar open their studios to the public. The picturesque ferry ride from Cronulla is a highlight and will take you no more than 30 minutes.

Once you arrive you’ll find over 20 artists working across a variety of mediums, each welcoming you into their creative space so you can see the magic behind their creations.

There’s plenty on display here, you’ll find pottery, jewellery, prints, drawings, paintings and even wood carvings. Entry is free and many of the artworks are available for purchase.

The art trail is just a short distance from the Royal National Park, so it’s a great opportunity to go for a bushwalk too.

  • Where: Bundeena & Maianbar Art Trail (29km south of Sydney CBD)
  • When: The first Sunday of every month.
  • Getting there: From Cronulla Wharf take the Bundeena Ferry direct to the start of the art trail. Total travel time is 30 minutes.
  • More info: arttrail.com.au

2. Visit the fascinating Museum of Human Disease

A trip to the Museum of Human Disease might only be suitable for those with a strong constitution. Housed inside glass jars and sealed displays are over 2,000 specimens of human tissue.

Each has been used to help students study the impacts of human diseases, providing a shocking insight into the effects they have on the body. The specimens have been obtained either from previous autopsies or were surgically removed – everything you see is from a real body.

Gruesome they may be, but each specimen comes complete with an intriguing description about its clinical history. From amputated hands filled with cancerous cells to the shocking result of alcohol abuse on the liver – it’s a shocking visual reminder of just how fragile life can be.

  • Where: Samuels Building, UNSW, Chancellery Walk, Randwick
  • When: Open weekdays from 10am until 4pm
  • Getting there: From Museum Station take bus routes 392, 394, 396, 307, 399, L94 or M10. Depart at Stand D at UNSW then walk 950m to the museum. Total travel time is 30 minutes.
  • More info: med.unsw.edu.au/museum-human-disease

3. Go for a cruise on the vintage Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler

One of the most tranquil and beautiful river cruises in Sydney must be a ride on the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler. For over 36 years since her launch in 1982, the Belle has been gently drifting down the picturesque Nepean River in Penrith entertaining families and tourists alike.

Stepping inside the iconic Paddlewheeler is akin to travelling back in time to slower more peaceful era. Along with its vintage timber interiors, there’s also plenty of viewpoints to take in the full splendour of the river itself. You can order also lunch or dinner on your cruise or simply unwind with a warm cup of Devonshire Tea and watch the world slide by.

It can book out quickly (especially during the summer months) so purchase your tickets a few weeks ahead to make sure you don’t miss out.

  • Where: Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Jamisontown
  • When: Cruise times do vary each month. Check website for details.
  • Getting there: From Central Station take the Blue Mountains Line for 4 stops and exit at Penrith Station. Head to Stand C at the bus stop and take the 795 Warragamba Bus for 8 stops. Hop off at Trench Ave opp Trench Reserve It’s then a 3 min walk to the boat. Total travel time is 77 minutes.
  • More info: nepeanbelle.com.au

4. Learn about the creepy history of Mortuary Railway Station

Situated on Regent Street in the heart of Sydney sits a relic from a by-gone era with a chilling secret. The now disused Mortuary station transported Sydney’s dead to their final resting place in Rookwood cemetery.

The ornate Gothic building first opened in 1869 and was designed by architect James Barnet. Aside from some minor maintenance its original facade and design is still preserved to this very day.

There were no first class carriages or any luxuries on this particular journey. Instead, mourners would be allowed to board the wooden train and sit on chairs – a modest trip for a sombre occasion.

A separate wagon housing the dead was attached to the back of the train. While families had to pay for the ride, the coffin travelled for free.

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Where: ‎Regent Street, ‎Chippendale
When: The station is open for various events including the  the Sydney Open Festival.
Getting there: From Central Station Railway Square walk 600m down Regent St to the station. Total travel time is 8 minutes.
More info: sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/sydneyopen

5. Try your hand at a Burlesque life drawing class

Each fortnight on a Tuesday, The Arthouse Hotel on Pitt Street in Sydney’s CBD hosts the famous Dr Sketchy’s event, where cabaret meets art. There are dames, drawing, live performances, comedy skits and some good old fashion debauchery to be had here.

You’ll be given the opportunity to sketch and creatively interpret some of Australia’s most beautiful burlesque performers, cabaret singers and vintage models who will pose for you on the night. It’s open to all skill levels, so don’t feel you need to be the next Picasso to attend. All you need to bring is your sketch pad and pen to be part of this fun-filled life drawing class.

You can either book in advance (the event often sells out) or simply walk-in on the night. Either way you can be sure of an evening filled with laughter, creativity and all round ridiculousness.

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  • Where: Dr Sketchy’s The Arthouse Hotel 275 Pitt Street Sydney
  • When: Tuesdays from 6.30pm until 9.30pm
  • Getting there:  From Town Hall Station just walk 3 minutes via Park St and Pitt St directly to the venue. Total travel time is 3 minutes.
  • More info: facebook.com/drsketchysyd

6. Uncover NSW’s criminal past at the Justice and Police Museum

Take a journey back into the underworld of Sydney’s dark criminal past with a trip to the Justice & Police Museum. Here you’ll find captivating stories from judges, crooks, drifters, cops and thugs who describe a city gripped by lawlessness and wild abandon.

One of the most interesting aspects of a visit here is being able to see the holding cells which date back to the 1890s, including the infamous courtroom itself. From the guilty to the innocent and every shade in between – it’s an eye-opening peek into the lives of Sydneysiders during the 1900s.

Discover the illegal world of Sydney’s sly grog movement, the violent razor gangs who turned the streets blood red and learn how early forensic science was used to solve the most heinous of crimes.

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  • Where:  Phillip St & Albert St, Sydney CBD
  • When: Open weekends 10am until 5pm
  • Getting there: From Circular Quay Station walk 230m directly to the museum. Total travel time is 3 minutes.
  • More info:  sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/justice-police-museum

Plan your next trip

There are several ways to help you plan your next trip using public transport. These handy travel apps are available for both iPhone and Android smartphones. Each uses real-time data to give you up to the minute travel information at your fingertips.

Or you can always use our Trip Planner tool below to see the different routes and services available to you.


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