Nan Tien Buddhist Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Currently located in Berkeley, about 80 km south of Sydney, it's the perfect distance for a day trip. Here's a sample itinerary. To start, take the M1 out of Sydney heading south.
The first stop on the pilgrimage south should be the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh. As one the largest Hindu temples in NSW, it is a great place for prayer, meditation, or to learn more about the Hindu religion. The temple also features a great café where you can purchase traditional Indian food, such as dosas, biryani, and steaming cups of chai. Prices range from between $5 to $8 for food, and $1 to $2 for drinks. After you've had your fill of spicy food, it's time to keep going.
Continuing down south on the Princes Highway, the next stop is Sublime Point Lookout. A beautiful coastal lookout, it offers great views of the beaches and hills in the surrounding area. There is also a small restaurant and café, featuring delightful modern Australian options, including my personal favourite, the chilli prawn spaghetti. Even if you don't want to eat to stop here for lunch, it's still a nice place to stop to enjoy the scenery and take photos.
Getting back on the M1, you continue to head south until you reach the Nan Tien Temple. This temple is one of my favourite places to visit, due to it's peaceful atmosphere and beautiful grounds. There are daily seminars, talks, meditation sessions, tai chi, and even the occasional parade. For those that want to learn more about the Buddhist faith, there are different retreats held throughout the year (the temple does offer accommodation). The Dining Hall (open from 11:30am to 2:30pm) offers amazing vegetarian food. There is also a teahouse, featuring amazing Eastern delights such as green tea pudding.
The best times to visit the temple are during the Nan Tien Cultural Festival on 25th December to 1st January, where different cultures are celebrates through the performing arts, or during the Chinese New Year Period. But, if you just want a peaceful road trip south, then any weekend will do.
Now it's time to head back to Sydney. If you have time on your way back, make sure you stop at Bellambi, a beautiful beach suburb in the Wollongong area. Even if you don't go for a swim, it's a great place to take in the beauty of the South Coast, while you congratulate yourself for your great effort in seeing so many sights in one day.