Nature Walks in Shellharbour
The booming region of Shellharbour, on the NSW South Coast has a surprising amount of walks that showcase incredible scenery, from beautiful beaches to lush rainforest. Many are in or around the vertiginous and verdant Illawarra Escarpment, with others by the sea. Just 90min from Sydney, you can tackle one or two of these walks in a day, or stretch it out for a longer break in this charming area.
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 Macquarie Pass National Park near Albion Park. For a more challenging walk, take the Clover Hill trail which follows an old logging route to the top of the Rainbow Falls.
In the enchanting Blackbutt Forest Reserve walking tracks meander through the eucalypts in natural bushland, and there are picnic areas and gas barbecues should you wish to have lunch accompanied by birdsong.
Begin your adventure in the Heritage-listed Bass Point Reserve, just south of seaside Shellharbour Village. The coastal walking trail runs along a prominent headland, from where you will enjoy spectacular vistas of the coastline and the deep blue ocean. You can even spot migrating whales between May and November. It is also a popular destination for diving and snorkelling. The waters contain six shipwrecks and are a haven for grey nurse sharks, while the undersea cliffs in the Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve are teeming with marine life.
Bass Point is one of the most significant indigenous heritage sites in NSW and there is a self-guided Aboriginal cultural walk through the reserve. There is archaeological evidence that 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 which is also home to two famous National Surfing Reserves, The Farm and Mystics, as well as a campground and barbecue facilities. As you wander in the reserve, there is a lagoon where seabirds breed and vantage points for whale watching.
Further north, wander around the foreshore of Lake Illawarra and admire the abundant birdlife, from waders to pelicans. The lake foreshore also provides insight into local cultural identity through a series of sculptural totem poles depicting stories of the city along the Art Trail.