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New South Wales

Australia's most populous state is home to its largest city: glitzy, vibrant, intoxicating Sydney, an unforgettable metropolis in a privileged natural setting. Bondi Beach and the harbour are justly famous, but in reality the whole NSW coast is simply magnificent: a mesmerising sequence of beach after quality beach backed by a series of excellent national parks and interesting coastal towns.

Inland, the scenic splendour of the Great Dividing Range, including Australia's highest peak as well as the spectacular Blue Mountains, separates the coastal strip from the pastoral hinterlands, which gradually give way, as you move west, to a more arid outback landscape dotted with mining towns. Many visitors stick to the enticing coast, but it's worth getting out west too, where the big skies and country hospitality are as much part of the New South Wales soul as Sydney's surf scene, diversity and staggeringly good food.

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