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Top 10 NSW experiences picked by a Masterchef

Ocean-loving celebrity chef Hayden Quinn – who was a recent Masterchef contestant – spills the proverbial beans on his top NSW picks. Fun-loving, foodie families will love these ten awesome activities and destinations, which promise tasty treats and outdoor adventures. Join Hayden as he explores these NSW experiences and more on his new NSW episodes of Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn.

Surfing at Dee Why Beach

When Hayden’s not wearing an apron, the surfer and trained marine biologist can be found by the sea.

“Dee Why Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is very special to me,” he says. “It’s where I grew up, and every time I get in the water there, I feel like a kid again.”

South-eastern facing Dee Why has great surf. Otherwise, test out Collaroy, Mona Vale and Bilgola which are on the same 40-kilometre stretch of sandy coastline.

Visit a farm stay

“NSW has some amazing working farms that have set up accommodation in old shearer’s quarters or worker’s huts, creating a unique way to see some of the best parts of rural NSW,” says Hayden.

He recommends checking out the 4000-acre Waterloo Station near Glen Innes, or the working Kimo Estate near Gundagai. For a day trip instead, visit oceanside Buena Vista Farm on the south coast.

The funky accommodation on working farm Kimo Estate. Credit: Destination NSW

Beach driving on the mid-coast

From Hawks Nest and Jimmy’s Beach to northern Crowdy Head lie wide sandy beaches perfect for some rollicking action in a 4WD. Need a break from the car? Climb Mount Yacaaba at Hawks Nest for stunning views.

Make sure you get the relevant passes as some areas require 4WD permits.

Hire a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River

Throw a line in and try to catch your dinner with a day trip or overnight getaway on a Hawkesbury Houseboat. There are a range of operators. Hayden recommends Hawkesbury Afloat.

Hayden Quinn captaining a houseboat on the Hawkesbury.

Pitch a tent and sleep under the stars

Pick a spot in a national park or holiday park to get back to basics on a camping holiday, one of the best NSW experiences you can have. Baulking at the prospect of setting up camp with kids in tow? Get the tricky bits taken care of by Great Camping Adventures, who operate overnight camp experiences in the Blue Mountains and Mogo Wildlife Park.

Hayden has a great camp set-up with the fire going for some dinner!

Explore NSW experiences underwater

Dive and snorkel to your heart’s content with the many operators who run swims with seals, turtles and manta rays in NSW. For strong, experienced teen swimmers, Hayden recommends swimming across from Manly to Shelly Beach in Sydney.

“It’s a marine park and the fish are everywhere!” he says.

The stunning Shelly Beach and Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve from the air. Credit: Destination NSW

“My most recent underwater adventure was with Craig Shephard, checking out sea urchins in the waters off Royal National Park south of Sydney.”

Go on a trail run (or walk)

Top of Hayden’s list is Garigal National Park and its Cascades trail. For the hardcore runners or overnight hikers, the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains is another favourite. It featured in our round-up of top multi-day hikes for teens around Australia.

Run or walk your way to some amazing lookouts in the Blue Mountains.

Stop at a farm gate

“I love learning about how our food is grown, and there’s nothing better than stopping at a farm gate stall to load up with their fresh produce,” says Hayden. Part of the joy is meeting the farmer – Hayden recommends chatting with Joe Sultana of Hawkesbury Vegetable Farm, Charlie Arnott in Booroowa and Steve and Rose of Rochford Organic Garlic.

Go gem fossicking

All that glitters is not gold in New England. It could, in fact, be sapphire! Try sapphire fossicking with local expert Alan Davis at Waterloo Station. But be warned – “once you find your first gem, you will get the gem fever!”

Strike it rich at Waterloo Station!


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