Day trips from Sydney. No 3. Wollongong

For overseas visitors, there is always the risk of trying to do or see too much and then you miss other things. This is the first of a series of day trips from our major cities. Some will be recommended as overnight to really get the most out of your trip. The concept is to help you decide what to do and see nearby to the city. For visitors from large cities, Australian cities will feel empty and you will question why people would need to escape these empty urban environments. The wide open spaces nearby are awe-inspiring and should not be missed.

For locals – get out there and see you’re own backyard.

Wollongong.

The only way to enjoy your trip to Wollongong is through the Royal National Park. The road meanders through scrub and semi-rainforest and spits you out at clifftops overlooking the wide spaces of the Pacific Ocean. It’s delightful. The soothing tones of the green forest area is a great pit stop. Pick one of the many walking trails near to the road and go for a wander for as long as you are happy to walk – turn around and return to your car.

It’s an easy drive from Sydney so you have time to indulge in a good stretch of the legs. I recommend the The Forest Way Track. It has a good wide path that allows you comfort you will be missing leeches! And spiders! The peace and quiet is something to savour. Enjoy some time out.

TipI use Wildwalks.com.au  for all hiking and walking around Sydney. Their app is the best for walks. Having said that, Google maps often doesn’t recognise what they are talking about. The language is often different. BUT, the app works in the National Park and Google maps may not. To navigate your way The Forest Way Track is on your right just before Sir Betram Stevens Drive becomes Lady Wakehurst Drive. 

Once you are out of the forest you come to an Otford lookout. You should be able to find a park that is safely off the road. Weekends do get busy but please be safe when getting in and out of your car. There is a short walk up the hill to gain a better vantage point but I am not sure you need it. You can see about 10-15km down the coastline from here on a fine day.

Make a booking at the Scarborough Hotel for lunch. Ask for a table inside if the weather is against you but bask in the sun outside in the beer garden. In this day and age when making a living is difficult and gaining an advantage over your competitors increasingly difficult, you will enjoy that they have not tried to pack as many tables in as they can but rather left space for lawn and for the view to be enjoyed by many. This is what pubs beer gardens were like when I grew up. Large open spaces for the family and not just the local or visiting drunks.

2016-03-26 13.30.15.jpgThe menu is nothing but expansive. I won’t say you will have a five-star meal. The food is good. The portions are large. The view is better and space is better again. Whilst you sit and enjoy your meal you may see a paraglider or two which is great fun for the kids. Being on a hill at a level with a motorised hang glider. One a summer’s day, pack hats and sunscreen. We were there in autumn and it was bitey. (For those outside of Australia this is a common expression of when the sun is burning you quickly)

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After lunch, I would drive further south and find a beach. Any beach. They’re all lovely and they are nowhere near as crowded as Sydney’s beaches. Enjoy the fewer people while swimming. The surf will vary at each beach but several of them have salt water pools for those with smaller kids or weaker swimmers.

For those that want to see more or do more, you could leave earlier and drive to Kiama and then wind your way back to Wollongong and the pub for lunch. You want to be sure that you don’t swim too long as you will miss the National Park in the dark.

Once you are feeling refreshed you can hit the road back for an easy drive back to Sydney. I don’t think you will need a stop but rather be able to push on home for a relaxing night on the couch with some takeaway!

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