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Published October 1st 2019
Discover the beautiful coastal escarpment & beaches
Located just 80km south of Sydney, Wollongong is the third-largest city in New South Wales. This day trip from Sydney can be fun and adventurous as you discover the natural beauty along the route and at Wollongong.
Wollongong is known affectionately by the locals as 'The Gong', and home to plenty of spectacular beaches, lookouts, gardens, adventure sports, and more making this a lovely day escape or of course, a weekend getaway.
The Grand Pacific Drive is a journey starting just 45 minutes south of Sydney CBD at the entrance of the spectacular Royal National Park (world's second oldest National Park). The drive takes you through the wonderland of mountains to the sea as you traverse tropical rainforests and emerge on the coastline which follows into Wollongong.
You do not need a map, follow the Grand Pacific Drive directional signage.
The full drive takes you through the beautiful coastal towns of Shellharbour and Kiama, driving along the famous Sea Cliff Bridge, and ends in the awe-inspiring Shoalhaven region.
Below is a step-by-step guide featuring highlights from the Grand Pacific Drive:
1. Royal National Park to Wollongong Journey time: 48 minutes approx. – 60km
The Royal National Park is one of the oldest National Parks in the world and covers around 37,065 acres (15,000 hectares) of lush rainforest. The Park hugs Australia's east coastline from the Port Hacking River (near Cronulla) down to the southern tip at Otford, a northern suburb of Wollongong.
Highlights include secluded beaches, bushwalks, rowboats on the river, cycle trails, picnic spots, camping grounds, birdwatching and wildlife spotting, swimming holes and scenic drives.
2. Sea Cliff Bridge In 2005, the Sea Cliff Bridge replaced a particularly dangerous part of the road, and this $52 million project has become a tourism hotspot. There is a walking path along the Bridge, which is the perfect rest stop as well as to take in a different perspective of the stunning coastline.
This impressive natural landmark is home to 5km loop track, Mount Kembla Ring Track, Mount Kembla Heritage Centre, and lookouts.
The Mount Kembla Heritage Centre was founded in 2008 and houses a collection on the centenary of the 1902 Mt Kembla Mine disaster when 96 men and boys lost their lives. The tragedy remains the worst mining accident in Australia's history. The Centre opens every second Sunday of the month 11 am-4 pm.
Places to stay in Wollongong:
There is a wide range of hotels, apartments, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and luxury resorts available. Most accommodation options are conveniently located close to popular shopping, dining and attractions. Click here for Wollongong accommodation options.
Wollongong Travel Guide:
Wollongong is renowned for its beautiful natural environment and is a popular holiday destination. It boasts gorgeous beaches, features an array of leisure and recreational activities, offers excellent shopping, home to many beachside dining, and even a brewery by the beach.
For the adventurous, you can find luxury car cruises, skydiving, paragliding, hand-gliding, waterskiing, sailing, fishing, and canoeing options.
Other attractions include parks, gardens, lookouts, museums, and art galleries. The Nan Tien Temple is another attraction that is a must-see as it is the Southern Hemisphere's largest Buddhist temple.
Wollongong has fast become one of the best eatery destinations on the coast of New South Wales. You will find plenty of eateries, and barista brewed cafes, small bars (over 60 bars), beachside dining and bars and more.
With over 80 different cultural groups calling Wollongong home, the food scene makes you spoilt for choice for visitors and locals alike.
Other ways of getting to Wollongong:
Wollongong is located on the Sydney Train's South Coast Line. From Wolli Creek Station is it an approximately 90-minute journey. Click here for the Sydney Trains website.
There are several companies available to show you the local must-sees sights as well as pickups from Sydney.