Seven winter experiences in New South Wales

There’s no shortage of amazing winter activities in New South Wales. Relax in an off-grid cabin, trek through pristine forests or shred the slopes of the biggest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere.

Here’s our list of New South Wales' best winter experiences.

Go Night Skiing at Perisher

Perisher Blue is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, and home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country.

It’s almost a rite of passage for Sydneysiders to learn to shred the slopes down in the Snowy Mountains. The best way to maximise your time doing this is to hang out at Perisher, where you can ski right up until dinner.

Perisher has the best night skiing setup of any resort in Australia, meaning you can really make the most of your lift ticket by getting in as many laps as your legs can handle.

There’s no better way to enjoy a sunset than by linking turns down the best runs in the Snowy Mountains.

Shred up the pow pow at Australia's biggest ski resort
Shred up the pow pow at Australia's biggest ski resort

Watch Out for Whales in Byron Bay

Not all winter experiences in New South Wales involve mountains. This time of year is also famous for the humpback whale migration that happens just off the coast.

Every year in winter huge numbers of humpback whales migrate north from Antarctica, seeking warmer waters near the equator. Their journey takes them right past New South Wales, and if you head to the ocean cliffs and wait for a bit, there’s a good chance you might just see a few swim by!

Hanging out at the lighthouse in Byron Bay – the easternmost point of the Australian mainland – is a fantastic spot to do a bit of free whale watching.

Wrapping up warm in a sleeping bag at Byron
Wrapping up warm in a sleeping bag at Byron

Spend the Night at Jenolan Caves

Exploring Australia’s most famous limestone caverns is a must-do at any time of year, but visiting in winter is a special experience.

The Jenolan Caves are located in the Blue Mountains, and are a perfect place to take the family or your significant other for a weekend away. Far less people visit in the wintertime, meaning you can sometimes have the caverns all to yourself, and the mist that drapes the valley is truly beautiful.

Most of the caves are accessible and easy to visit, but a few require more of an adventurous spirit to navigate, with ladders and rough terrain around every corner. To really make the most of your trip, stay in one of the hotels next to the Jenolan Caves.

Hiking in Dorrigo National Park

New South Wales has some truly marvellous national parks, and one of the best for getting out into nature is Dorrigo National Park near Coffs Harbour.

While you can explore the waterfalls and forests of Dorrigo at any time of year, hiking in the winter is particularly lovely as:

  • the weather is much cooler
  • there’s less insects
  • the trails are actually drier.

There’s also a huge number of awesome places to visit around Dorrigo once you get out of the park. We recommend staying somewhere like Spirit of the Rainforest to make a beautiful bush retreat your base for adventures.

The rewards of hiking
The rewards of hiking

Snowtunes Music Festival in Jindabyne

The Snowy Mountains are the hub of all winter adventures in New South Wales, but one of the best things to do doesn’t actually involve carving up ski slopes.

For two nights every winter, the base of Thredbo turns into a dance party with Australia’s only music festival held in the snow, Snowtunes. Boasting a lineup that includes massive names from both Australia and overseas, the Snowtunes Music Festival is a great event for all music lovers. Ski by day, dance by night.

Enjoy Yulefest in the Blue Mountains

Just because it doesn’t snow at Christmas time in Australia, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun our Northern Hemisphere friends have.

Every winter the Blue Mountains come alive with the legendary Yulefest – a celebration of all things Christmas. Local businesses really get into the spirit of things with:

  • log fires at night
  • singing carols
  • Christmas treats
  • live music.

If you’re real lucky you may even get a little bit of snow while you’re up in the mountains. A truly unique winter experience in New South Wales.

When winter comes, search for snow
When winter comes, search for snow

Get Off-Grid in the Moonbah Huts

One of the best winter experiences you can have in New South Wales involves spending the night in one of the sensational off-grid Moonbah Huts close to Jindabyne.

The two rustic, traditional timber huts are really like stepping back in time – complete with 80-year-old woodfire stoves and iron bathtubs. There’s no electricity and no phone reception up here, so what better way to get away from it all than bringing the partner or family up for a weekend.

They’re open year-round, but you simply can’t beat sitting by the fire reading a book while snow gently falls outside. You’d never guess that you’re still in Australia!

Get all your essential gear for winter

Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and the founders of Australia’s biggest adventure travel blog, NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off the beaten path destinations.