The coast south of Sydney has some quite spectacular scenery ranging from steep cliffs and headlands with amazing views to gorgeous beaches, pretty towns and the southern metropolis of Wollongong.
There is no better way to best enjoy the South Coast than to take a trip along the Grand Pacific Drive. This 140 kilometre drive takes you through coastal rainforests, quaint seaside villages and traverses along the iconic 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge. Grand Pacific Drive then makes its way into the bustling city of Wollongong and through to the beautiful coastal towns of Shellharbour and Kiama, passing rolling hills, wineries and dairy farms on your way to the Shoalhaven.
If you start your journey from Sydney, then you soon enter the Royal National Park.
Located on the southern fringe of metropolitan Sydney, the Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world, offering spectacular scenery from sub tropical rainforests and sandstone heathlands, to dramatic coastal cliffs and unspoilt ocean beaches. Assuming that you are not in too much of a hurry, take the time to visit Bungoona Lookout where you can enjoy outstanding views of the Port Hacking River. There are also good beaches at Wattamolla and Garie.
The Royal National Park literally leads you onto one of the most spectacular lookouts on the drive, Bald Hill. Spend some time soaking up the atmosphere before heading down the cliff hugging roads hanging above the ocean. With the 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge, which is built out over the ocean, a highlight, enjoy the amazing driving scenery, quaint coastal villages and uninterrupted views of the ocean as you head south towards the township of Thirroul. Bald Hill is where pioneering Australian aviator Lawrence Hargrave took to the skies on giant kites; today his legacy is continued as it is a popular hang gliding spot, where you can try a tandem hang glide if you dare.
From the seaside town of Thirroul with its boutique shopping, to the bustling coastal city of Wollongong, this section of the drive will take you into the third largest city in New South Wales. Offering adventure activities, great beaches and shopping, fantastic restaurants and cafés and a huge mix of accommodation options from international hotel brands to quaint and unique B&B’s and backpacker accommodation. If you have time visit the science centre and planetarium at Fairy Meadow or head to the Nan Tien Temple, which is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere, for a bit of meditation.
From Wollongong you continue your journey south. This section of the drive leads you into Shellharbour, a charming beachside town offering a relaxing escape with various beachfront accommodation, award winning restaurants and also boasts the regions only marine aquatic reserve; Bushrangers Bay at Bass Point. With a variety of shopping outlets, golf courses, museums, galleries, parks and reserves, Shellharbour is a popular place to visit. Shellharbour also contains an interesting aviation museum and the Light Rail Museum.
In stark contrast from the cliff hugging landscape of the north, here you will find the breathtaking scenery of rolling hills that connect with the coast. Kiama is an absolute paradise for water lovers offering surfing, diving, fishing, canoeing, windsurfing and much more. Couple this with delightful eateries, boutique shopping, coastal walks, the nearby areas of Jamberoo and the unhurried seaside villages of Gerringong and Gerroa, this part of the drive will not disappoint. Kiama is best known for its Blowhole, which can give quite a spectacular spurt when the seas are running from the south east.
From Kiama the Grand Pacific Drive leads you to the Shoalhaven which marks the official end of the drive, but don’t let this detail stop you from exploring this magnificent region. The lush 160 km arc of the Shoalhaven sweeps from the beaches and bays of a jewel-coloured coast to rich green, almost luminescent valleys inland. Nowra, Jervis Bay, Mollymook and Ulladulla are among the region’s coastal delights, while Kangaroo Valley and Berry are some of the Shoalhaven’s hinterland gems.