Road Trip to the New South Wales South Coast
The NSW South Coast
A few of my readers might have already read my previous hub about my day trip to a town called Kiama and the southern hemisphere's largest Buddhist temple.
However, the beautiful South Coast of NSW actually has a lot more to offer than just a blowhole and a temple, as this hub will now explain.
Stretching over a distance of least 250 KM from Helensberg to Batemans Bay, this region is a land of contrasts - you have the coastline along the Tasman Sea (which in essence is the extension of the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand) followed dramatic rises in elevation on land (going as high as 700 m over sea level in a matter of 15 km from the shore.
Anyone living in Sydney (or even Canberra, which is pretty close from Batemans Bay) will agree that the first stop during a day trip to the South Coast (apart from Kiama and Wollongong) would be Robertson, the Macquarie Pass and the famous Sea-Cliff Bridge.
This is exactly what I did back in May-June 2014 when I traveled with a friend for a day-trip to essentially show her the basics of the NSW South Coast (as she was new to Sydney) and the following sub-sections would explain each leg in detail.
Macquarie Pass and Robertson's Pie Shop
As we drove from Sydney's famous St Marys Cathedral on a sunny Sunday morning after the weekly service, we decided to drive to Robertson to eat pies (which is a hardcore staple in Australia's diet). You can get pies anywhere but this particular place, called the Robertson Pie Shop (named after the town in which its located) is famous among holiday goers and road trippers (apart from the locals) who regular stop here to grab a bite and coffee and walk along the endless hectares of greenery.
To get here from Sydney/Wollongong and the Princess Highway, you need to take the Illawarra Highway at Albion Park and drive through a 10 km long treacherous mountain road named the Macquarie Pass - probably the most winding road in this part of the country (apart from what one would see in the Australian Alps) . As you hurtle westbound on the Illawarra Highway at 100 KPM (62 MPH), the pass appears suddenly with little warning and one needs to come to a screeching slow down to around 40-60 KPH as they make their way up along the pass. The narrow road has a series of hairpins (including two which require heavy vehicles to reverse and make way for oncoming traffic if needed.
As you make your way to the highlands on the other side of the dark tree-lined pass (which also has a long walking track), you're greeted with spectacular views of the distant sea and the hills and you just cannot imagine how beautiful it all looks.
Coming to the Robertson Pie Shop, you can get your pies in a giant pizza-sized size or a small cup-cake sized serving in almost any flavour conceivable (including Vegetarian and Curry Chicken!).
While at Robertson, you can decide to either visit the Jamberoo Theme Park (and drive along the Jamberoo Mountain Road) and visit the Illawarra Fly Tree Top (featured on the Travel and Living Channel), visit the town center of Robertson (where you can eat cheese) or return towards Wollongong/Sydney.
Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk: http://www.illawarrafly.com/
Jamberoo Theme Park: http://www.jamberoo.net/
The Sea Cliff Bridge
Built and opened for traffic in 2007-2008, the Sea Cliff Bridge was essentially constructed as a faster bypass around Coal Cliff on the Lawrence Hargrave Scenic Drive/ Princess Highway.
Since its inauguration, the Sea Cliff bridge has become a major attraction along the Lawrence Hargrave Scenic Route and as such the first stops that come to anyone's mind who're planning on visiting NSW's South Coast for the first time.
To get to this spectacular bridge and if you're driving south from Sydney, you need to take the exit to Lawrence Hargrave Drive off the M1-Princess Motorway near Helensberg and Otford and drive down the mountains for roughly 25 mins before the bridge appears suddenly.
The sight is particularly beautiful at sunrise or sunset (refer to the picture above which was taken during sunset) and the bridge has more or less become a favored location for filming for both movies and TV by international production houses including those from Hollywood and Bollywood.
The bridge is flanked by a pedestrian walkway throughout its 1.5 km (Approx) length and is constructed in two sections. Parking is available towards the southern end of the bridge (There's limited parking available at a distance towards the northern end too but this would mean a longer walk to the bridge).
Just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sea Cliff bridge is also noted for couples locking locks along its guard-rails as a symbol of their bond and as you walk along it, you can see a lot of locks along the length of the bridge (especially towards the southern end).
Even if you don't wish to walk along Sea Cliff Bridge, driving on it is an equal pleasure especially if you're driving a super car or a convertible as at a limit of 70 KPH (45 MPH), one can certainly explore a bit of cornering on this twisting snake-like marvel of architecture.
So there you have it, my top travel tips for the NSW South Coast if you're just planning on covering the important bits of it in one day - something which is definitely not impossible if you start early and are prepared to finish at sunset.
Hope my articles serve as an inspiration (and enticement) for anyone planning on visiting the country I've called home since February 2004 and am happy to provide further travel tips should you need any :)