A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published January 23rd 2017
Beautiful views plus a little Illawarra history
For a digital detox and break from the big smoke of Sydney, I ventured 1.5 hours south to Mount Keira in the Illawarra. It was hike time! Starting small this visit, I headed up to one of the lower lookout points from the foothills beside the University of Wollongong (about 30 mins either way), however with a little training, base to summit (3-5 hours return) is officially going on the bucket list.
I did this via the Ken Ausburn Track, which travels from the bottom of Mount Keira up to the summit ring track, 1.57 kilometres above. Enter from the end of Northfields Avenue, which sits parallel to the University of Wollongong and Botanic Gardens. It was right to it from here as we traversed a steep ascent of grass (I'd say around a 40 degree angle) before reaching a wooden staircase up to the Lawrence Hargrave sculpture.
Crafted from stainless steel in 1988-89, this sculpture has remained a part of the university's art collection. Forming a stunning backdrop to this are open grassy slopes and the coastline: you can see up to Stanwell Tops. This is but one of many spectacular lookout points along the climb up the mountain. Take in panoramic views of the South Coast along your journey.
This track was opened as a memorial to Dr Kenneth John Ausburn, head of the university's school of physics, who had a great love for the escarpment. It is also part of a plan to help preserve this natural beauty for the long term. Speaking of history, find remnants from when coal was mined in the area, an operation that lasted 143 years. See old chambers, train carriages, and passageways along the hike.
Sliding down this may look fun but it's harder than it looks to climb back up
The Ken Ausburn track will not only treat you to some great Pacific views, but will show you some important pieces of Illawarra history, as the area pioneered mining equipment and transportation at the time. With sculptures at various points on the mountain you'll get a taste of creativity in Wollongong. These, plus a great exercise opportunity, made for a fulfilling weekend experience.
I'm looking forward to climbing even higher next time. I can only imagine the views if they are already quite the visual feast from these lower points. Just note that beyond here you're looking at around 3 hours return.