Nature walks are a lovely way to experience the stunning coast and beautiful Illawarra Escarpment in the Shellharbour region, only 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney on the NSW South Coast. Explore rare littoral rainforest near gorgeous beaches, and on the Cascades and Clover Hill walks discover pretty rainforest waterfalls.
Begin your adventure in the heritage-listed Bass Point Reserve, just south of the charming seaside town of Shellharbour. The reserve is home to one of the few remaining littoral rainforests, and the vistas from the prominent headland of the coastline and the deep blue ocean are spectacular.
You can spot humpback whales between May and November from Bass Point, a popular destination for diving and snorkelling. The waters contain shipwrecks and are a haven for grey nurse sharks, while the undersea cliffs in the Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve are teeming with marine life.
There is a self-guided Aboriginal cultural walk in the reserve, which is one of the most significant indigenous heritage sites in NSW. There is archaeological evidence Bass Point was a campsite and meeting place for Aboriginal people some 20,000 years before the arrival of Europeans in Australia.
You’ll find more walking trails through littoral rainforest in the Killalea State Recreation Area, home to two famous National Surfing Reserves, as well as a campground and barbecue facilities. As you wander in the park, there is a lagoon where seabirds breed and vantage points for whale watching.
Another enchanting spot is the Blackbutt Forest Reserve, where walking tracks meander through the eucalypts in natural bushland. There are picnic areas and gas barbecues in the reserve. Or wander around the foreshore of Lake Illawarra and admire the abundant birdlife, from waders to pelicans.
The emerald green Illawarra Escarpment is a magnificent backdrop. To see the escarpment rainforest up close and spot or hear lyrebirds, amble along the easy Cascades walk in the