There are two distinctly different travel alternatives if you want to head south of Sydney – travel along the coast road or travel inland on the Hume Highway that leads to Canberra.
Traveling South – means heading down past Sydney Airport past Botany Bay and over the Georges River through Sutherland on the Princes Highway turning off to the left into the Royal National Park – where the road will lead you through the Park, with tracks leading you to some small isolated beaches.
Alternatively, by staying on the Princes Highway/Southern Freeway turn off to Helensburgh where you will find the Symbio Wildlife Park – with a Sumatran Tiger, kangaroos, koalas and other native animals. (See www.symbiozoo.com.au ). From Helensburgh head to Stanwell Tops where you will find the Bald Hill lookout that has great views looking out over the ocean and down the coastline. This is where hang gliders and paragliders jump from the top and use the upward thermals to enable them to fly. It makes for great viewing, and it is also possible to have lessons and take a flight too.
Heading south you will come down from the Lookout and travel past Stanwell Park and Coalcliff over the Sea Cliff Bridge – built out over the ocean rather than the land on what is called the Grand Pacific Drive. Along the way stop to admire the views, swim at one of the beaches, take photos or drop in to one of the many cafes to buy an ice cream or grab a coffee.
Next stop is Wollongong – a city of 200,000 people and home to a University and a lot of industry built around Port Kembla. Travel up to Flagstaff Point on the coastal headland in Wollongong where there are a number of trendy cafes, walkways, lighthouse, harbour and views over the coastline.
In Port Kembla head to Hill 60 – an old military outpost with beaches to the left and right and great coast views over the coast, port and city. A number of ships can usually be seen off the coast waiting to pick up coal or wheat, or drop off cars and other cargo in the Port.
Travelling south from Hill 60 in Port Kembla, head towards Lake Illawarra and Shellharbour. The lake is quite shallow, but you will see fishermen and usually a lot of Pelicans in the shallows waiting to catch fish.
From Shellharbour, head along Boollwarroo Pde onto the Bass Point Tourist Rd which leads to the Bass Point Reserve and a short walk to a tiny inlet bay called Bushrangers Bay. There are areas for a picnic, and the Bay itself is interesting, and definitely worth taking a swim in or doing a snorkel dive.
Heading back to Shellharbour, take Shellharbour Rd and head south on the Princes Highway to Kiama, a small coastal town with lots of interesting shops and cafes, as well as the Blowhole at Blow Hole Point. Here the waves will come up through the Hole in the Rock creating a geyser shower of water high into the sky. The rougher the weather the better the blow, but on a calm day, it may not blow at all! Further south again is the Tourist town of Berry with lots of tourist type shops, coastal farming surrounds and a strawberry farm, winery and other businesses. There are also many other towns further south such as Gerringong and Nowra, and if you have the time these are also worth visiting. It is also possible to travel south along the highway all the way to Bega and the far south coast of NSW, then on to Victoria and Melbourne too.
Heading west from Kiama on Jamberoo Rd, you will also be able to visit Jamberoo Water Park – which has a beach, wave machine, water slides, chairlift and picnic grounds. It is one of the biggest water parks in Australia, and is ideal as a family day out with children. (see www.jamberoo.net )
Travelling back to Sydney – there are two options – simply follow the Southern Expressway/Princes Highway all the way back to Sydney, or with more time, travel over the mountains via the Illawarra Highway over Macquarie Pass to Robertson and into Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands – then back to Sydney via the Hume Highway.
The area around Robertson is where the movie ‘Babe’ was shot – so it is very picturesque.
Macquarie Pass is in a National Park – where there are walking trails, great views and picnic areas. If you are lucky you may also see some of the local animals too.
It is also possible to travel from Nowra or Berry westwards to Kangaroo Valley – a small village next to the stone and wooden suspension bridge (Hampden Bridge)that crosses the river here. There are lots of cute little shops and cafes, and the road leads on to the Fitzroy Falls – a large waterfall and onwards to the Southern Tablelands townships.