Wollongong and Surrounds
It doesn’t take much time driving south from Sydney to find one of NSW’s most under-rated destinations; Wollongong and the Illawarra region. Just follow the Grand Pacific Drive touring route over the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge and discover rugged coastline, secret beaches and striking mountains.
Places to go
Wollongong is NSW’s third-largest city and is home to the University of Wollongong, an impressive selection of restaurants and a vibrant arts precinct. The Keira Street ‘eat street’ is a short walk from the Wollongong Art Gallery, which has one of Australia’s best regional collections of Aboriginal art.
Discover charming towns with postcard-perfect beaches, like Thirroul, Austinmer and Bulli, a village which retains its colonial and mining heritage. And don’t forget the cliffside Scarborough Hotel, which opened in 1887. The pub has ocean views you won’t believe.
On the water
There’s so much to do on the waterways of the Wollongong region, from relaxing on gorgeous beaches and swimming in more than a dozen ocean pools, to sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The area is also home to some of the country’s best surfing beaches, with plenty of surf schools to choose from.
Bring your bicycle and explore 42km of shared paths or bushwalk in rainforest on the Illawarra Escarpment. The Sublime Point walking track near Thirroul leads to a lookout with incredible views. Hike to the top of Mount Kembla, a significant site for the indigenous Wodi Wodi people.
Things to do
Throw yourself from the cliffs at Stanwell Park, an internationally acclaimed hang-gliding spot where you can strap yourself in for a tandem adventure. For the ultimate panoramic views, skydive with Skydive Sydney – Wollongong.
If you’d prefer to stay on the ground, tour the area behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 with Cliff to Coast Sports Car Drives or on Harley Davidson motorcycle with Just Cruisin’ Tours. Then make friends with koalas, meerkats and dingoes at the Symbio Wildlife Park.
Spend time at the state’s only dedicated immersive science experience, the Science Space museum. Or get zen by visiting the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Also check out the events calendar for festivals, shows and markets.
Getting there and where to stay
The Wollongong area is located just south of Sydney and the drive takes around 90min. You can catch the train from Sydney, which also takes around 90min and stops off at most coastal towns in the region. There are lots of places to stay from luxury hotels and serviced apartments to motels, beach houses, holiday parks and waterfront campgrounds.