Why waste your weekends sitting at home and bingeing Netflix when you can drive along the South Coast of New South Wales and explore its many picturesque offerings.
When I came to study in Sydney in 2013 from Singapore, I was in for a major culture shock. Singapore is vibrant and full of life 24/7 with shops and restaurants open all night. So, when I reached Sydney, I felt overwhelmed and frankly a little upset at the fact that shops shut by 5pm and the suburbs become a ghost town post 7pm. It was not until I decided to rent a car and explore Sydney and its outskirts by road that I realised how beautiful the city and coast really are.
I decided to rent a car and pack as much of the NSW tourist destinations I could cover in an epic road trip spanning over two days. It is time that I share this itinerary with everyone out there, so they too can explore NSW over a weekend.
So, let’s start with the South Coast of NSW –
Royal National Park
Just under an hour’s drive from Sydney, Royal National Park offers unique heritage attractions, along with various exotic plants, animals and birds. The winding roads interspersed with greenery and pristine lakes, makes for an amazing drive that will leave you wanting for more. Make sure to stop at Reids Flat Picnic area to take in the pristine Hacking river views and enjoy a meal at their picnic benches along the river.
Bald Hill Lookout
After a 36-minute drive through the winding roads of Royal National Park, alongside the lush greenery and Hacking River, you will reach Bald Hill Lookout. This lookout offers one of the most breath-taking views of the Southern Coastline, coastal cities and townships of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven and the famous Grand Pacific Drive. The area is also internationally popular for hang gliding activities. One can look out at the vast expanse of ocean on one side and the hilly terrains of Illawara and Wollongong on the other side with the Trains running across the hilly terrains. For all the Instagrammers out there, this is one spot you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Sri Venkateswara Temple
Just a 6-minute drive away from Bald Hill Lookout, Sri Venkateswara Temple (a.k.a Helensburgh temple) is one of the biggest Hindu temples in the Southern Hemisphere, built on top of a hilly area 400 feet above sea level. According to Hindu mythology, the gods reside at places surrounded by groves, mountains, rivers and springs and thus Helensburgh was the most divine spot for the construction of this temple in the year 1978. With beautiful old Indian architecture and 18 deities present in the temple, it is frequented by Indians and non-Indians likewise and their canteen offers some of the best South Indian vegetarian cuisine one can possibly get their hands on in Australia. With cheap and good quality food, positive energy and vibes in the temple grounds and plenty of Cockatoos nearby, this is the perfect stop to relax and connect with your spiritual self.
Sea Cliff Bridge
Continuing on the Grand Pacific Drive and a 12-minute drive away from Sri Venkateswara Temple, the 665-metre-long Sea Cliff Bridge offers stunning views of the ocean on one side and cliffs on the other. One can step out of the car, stretch their legs and if you’re lucky you can spot whales heading north/south during migrating season.
A 1.5-hour drive away from Sea Cliff Bridge, experience the adrenaline rush of driving through the mountainous roads leading to Kangaroo Valley, full of sharp turns, hairpin bends, deep gorges and abundant wildlife and forests all over. If you’re not fond of hill drives and hairpin bends, then skip this one as it is not for the faint hearted. With its cascades, waterholes and rockpools, Carrington Falls, a part of the Budderoo National Park, is the perfect place to pull up and relax amidst nature.
After a 45-minute drive from Carrington Falls, you will reach the charming and pretty sea-side town of Kiama, most famous for its Blowhole. Kiama Blowhole, one of the world’s largest blowholes, offers a fascinating natural spectacle where a sea-cliff cavern sprouts sea water 20 metres or more in the air. The rumbling seas and calming natural beauty of the Kiama Lighthouse point makes for a surreal experience. Pop into one of Kiama’s many restaurants and bars for lunch or dinner and relax by the sea or at the ocean pool to experience the quintessential Aussie beach life.
Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay
Just a 1 hour 20-minute drive away from Kiama, Hyams Beach at Jervis Bay offers tourists their world famous white sand beaches. With crystal clear blue waters and fine white sand, Hyams beach is the perfect spot for swimming, snorkelling, fishing and stand-up paddle boarding. Soak in the sun and relax here and rest up for the journey back to Sydney, as this is the last stop for Day one.
Total drive time to Hyams beach and back – 7 hours approximately (give or take 30 mins)
Total distance to Hyams beach and back – 462 kilometres
With this itinerary, you can tick off the main attractions along the southern coast of NSW. Happy Travelling! Watch out for the next article in this series, where I cover the main attractions in Northern NSW.
Feature image via Chrystal Hutchinson