Whether a road trip pitstop or the end destination, we reckon lookouts are an underrated happy place.
Flooded with panoramic views of oceans, rainforests, waterfalls, lagoons, valleys, beaches and land as far as you can see, NSW’s best bushwalk lookouts aren’t here to play around. And to help you bypass the foot traffic and the search time, we’ve picked out seven of the most jaw dropping juggernaut vantage points guaranteed to reward you with that stop and pause wow moment every time.
Here are the best lookouts in NSW
Wollomombi Lookout is one of the newer sky-high lookouts in NSW and is part of the NSW Government’s Improving Access to National Parks program, which is aimed at providing better accessibility for wheelchair users.
It’s located inside Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, an area which belongs to the Dunghutti (or Dunggadi) people, about a 25-minute drive from Armidale. This lookout will give you a super elevated view of both Wollomombi and Chandler Falls, the former being the highest waterfall in NSW—so yep, there are two waterfalls to see here. The Wollomombi cascades plummet 260-metres into the Chandler River and there’s even a walking track, appropriately named the Wollomombi walking track, to start once you’ve soaked up all the sky-high views.
Minamurra headland is one of the most magical places to sit and picnic in NSW. You’ll get to take in the absolutely breathtaking scenery of Stack Island (also known as Rangoon Island), the ocean and Minnamurra River. You can get up to the headland by taking the Kiama Coast Walk and this route also features as an epic cycling path. From late May to July and then September to November, this lookout gives you the best vantage point to watch humpback whales migrate with their calves. Minnamurra Lookout is also suitable for anyone with access needs.
Vale Of Avoca Lookout
You could spend an entire year just trekking it to the Blue Mountains and searching out all the incredible lookouts in the area. Vale Of Avoca Lookout is perched 250 metres above the Grose River, meaning you’ll be able to take in the massive landscapes of the Lower Grose Valley. There’s about a 140-metre walk from the car park and just note that the actual lookout consists of a number of unfenced sandstone rock platforms. If you’re here for the day, hit the Waterboard fire trail which leads on through Grose Valley and takes about three hours return.
Captain Cook Lookout
On the Central Coast, the lookout that takes the scenic-slice by far is Captain Cook Lookout. About a 20-minute drive from Gosford, this lookout juts out from Tudibaring Head. Here, you are able to feast your eyes on sweeping views up and down the coast, and on a super clear day, views extend from Norah Head in the north, all the way down to the Sydney CBD. If this is a pitstop for you, you also need to go hard on some kayaking and snorkelling antics in Cockrone Lagoon and get your dose of nature through a slew of bushwalks in Bouddi National Park.
Wind your way up to Dorrigo Mountain for some serious rainforest vibes. Connected to Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, Skywalk Lookout is perched on top of an escarpment and gives you views of Bellinger Valley (which by the way, is packed to the rafters with sprawling rivers). The lookout spans a 70-metre boardwalk and about 20-metres above the rainforest. When you reach the edge, the view is dominated by the double peak of McGraths Hump, also known as Old Man Dreaming. The area is traditionally home to the Gumbaynggir people and, legend says that the mountain shows the profile of a warrior’s face called Ngali. This lookout is also wheelchair accessible.
To be honest, the view from Yacaaba Head Lookout feels like you’re at the peak of Diamond Head in Hawaii’s Honolulu. Access is via Bennetts Beach in Hawks Nest, where you’ll travel south along the sand for about 20 minutes before reaching the somewhat hidden beginning to the Yacaaba Track. Yacaaba is the largest headland in Port Stephens—and the final summit is a seriously steep and rocky walk—so bring your hiking boots. It’s all worth it though when you reach the top where you’ll be able to peer across to Yacaaba’s sibling headland Tomaree, all up the Port Stephens coastline up to Broughton Island and Seal Rocks, back towards Tea Gardens and out across to Boondelah and Cabbage Tree Islands (Cabbage Tree is the only nature reserve in the world where the super rare Gould’s petrel bird nests).
Illawarra Fly Treetop Lookout
NSW's Illawarra region is home to one of the most magical walks: the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk. There’s plenty to do here (including casually jumping on a flying fox), the treetop walk and lookout need to be high on your weekend hit list. The walk weaves in and around the tops of the rainforest canopy on a steel walkway that also wraps around Knights Tower (which rises an epic 45-metres above the ground).
Gaol Point Lookout
For big ocean views, lap up the coastal scenes at Port Macquarie’s Gaol Point Lookout. Situated on the beachfront strip of Lord Street, the lookout gives you a 180-degree view of the river mouth and beautiful Town Beach. The footpath here is relatively new too and wheelchair friendly.
Image credit: Destination NSW