Caroline Clements knows regional Australia better than most.

As the co-author of Places We Swim – and its Sydney-specific companion – Clements regularly travels across Australia with her partner and co-author, American photographer Dillon Seitchik-Reardon, seeking adventure in places off the beaten track.

“We have a campervan, so we often head out for the weekend,” says Clements. “We’ve only lived in Sydney for four or five years, so it feels like there are a lot of new places to explore. And we’re pretty drawn to the coast, but it’s also nice to go inland and be near the mountains.”

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Here are five of Clements’s favourite regional destinations in New South Wales to explore.

Warrumbungle National Park, north-west NSW

The Warrumbungle region lies about six hours north of Sydney. Named for the Warrumbungle mountain range, which comes from a Kamilaroi phrase meaning “crooked mountains”, the region’s volcanic terrain is free from light pollution, making it an awe-inspiring destination for stargazing.

“The [main] town is Coonabarabran, but it’s all focused around the national park and bushwalking,” says Clements. “There’s a really great walk called the Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk, which is about 14 kilometres. So it’s possible to do in a day, but you can also camp overnight. It’s very mountainous, but it comes out of nowhere. It’s all these scattered peaks that have erupted from the land, with very dramatic pillars and domes and wafer-thin ridges.”

Avoca, Central Coast

Sleepy towns spill along this stretch of the Central Coast, dotted with bakeries like Burnt Honey in Copacabana and The Fat Goose in Killcare. Clements also singles out Bar Botanica, the gelato and coffee bar operating out of the garden-rich Distillery Botanica in Erina.

“It’s a very lush coastal landscape, full of beautiful beaches and great walks,” she says, pointing to the 8.5 kilometre walk through Bouddi National Park, starting at Putty Beach and finishing at Macmasters Beach.

Bundanoon, Southern Highlands

Located in the Southern Highlands, and easily accessible by train, Clements likens the landscape at Bundanoon to the Blue Mountains. But there’s plenty more to explore beyond. “There are lots of farm gates at the end of driveways selling flowers and produce,” she says, while the quaint town itself has curated a certain timelessness. “They’ve maintained this art deco look, with hand-painted signs. It looks like it’s been quite considered.”

Clements singles out the rustic luxury hotel Osborn House for quirky accommodation, and the nearby Sutton Forest Inn as an inviting backdrop for a rejuvenating afternoon spent outside. Morton National Park offers walks between landmarks like Echo Point and Bonnie View. “It feels like it’s going to be discovered, or maybe it has been already,” says Clements.

Taralga, Southern Tablelands

Taralga is a tiny town surrounded by cattle farms, less than three hours’ drive from Sydney and just a 30 minute drive from the Wombeyan Caves. Located on Orchard Street, The Argyle Inn is a standout pub refurbished by Sydney chef Hugh Wennerbom and his wife, architect Mary Ellen Hudson.

“It’s worth driving out of your way to get to,” says Clements. “The food is amazing – they grow and gather a lot of the produce locally. And they have hotel rooms upstairs. It’s a nice place to go for the weekend and chill out. You can go for a walk at the neighbouring national parks [Tarlo River and Abercrombie River], but you can also just sink into the hotel and walk around the main strip. It’s a very special little spot.”

Broulee, South Coast

Just a few hours south from Sydney, coastal towns like Moruya and Broulee provide a welcome intersection of farmland, beaches and family-friendly small businesses. Further south in Narooma, there are several restaurants and cafes offering city-level drinking and dining experiences. Have a drink at the beachside beer garden at the Broulee Brewhouse, explore the Mogo Wildlife Park or hire kayaks and paddle boards at The Boat Shed in Mossy Point, just 20 minutes south of Batemans Bay.

“The South Coast of New South Wales is a zone that you can miss if you’re driving from Melbourne to Sydney,” says Clements. “There are all these funny little odds and ends. You can go for drives to all the neighbouring towns too. We like to go to Bodalla Dairy Shed for a peanut butter milkshake.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.