For many from India, there is an immediate connection driving down the South Coast of NSW. It brings back memories of driving down the Malabar Coast in India. The south coast of NSW edges along the Pacific Ocean, this coastal strip winding southwards from Sydney almost down to the Victorian border. It includes many regions, from Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, closer to Sydney to Shoalhaven, Batemans Bay, Merimbula and Sapphire Coast around five hours away by road.
The opportunities to connect with nature beckon at every step along this picturesque coast, however far you want to venture out on your daytrip.
The entire stretch is blessed with spectacular beaches and expansive national parks, making it ideal for a fun-filled daycation. The trails in the National Parks are just one of the adventure-filled activity while for those more adrenalin-driven there’s rock climbing, wildlife spotting and kayaking on tranquil waters.
Prefer to keep it low-key? Take a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine and settle in on one of the many secluded beaches!
For many, the sense of connection comes early as the day sojourn begins with a prayer at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh, just 64 km from Sydney. Located in bushland setting, the Hindu temple draws visitors of all faiths to appreciate its grand architecture.
The next stop is generally Stanwell Park, an idyllic beach town that offers breathtaking views of the South Coast. Found on the southern edge of the Royal National Park, an assortment of adventures awaits – from horse riding and bushwalking to motorcycle cruises, paintball and paragliding pursuits from Stanwell Top. Make sure you pack your spirit of adventure with you for this trip!
This picture-perfect village of Stanwell Park, just north of Wollongong – the state’s third largest city – is an internationally famous area for hang gliding and paragliding. In fact, Stanwell Park holds an important place in aviation history. It’s the place from where Australian aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave first flew his box kite in 1894.
For the thrill of a lifetime, the adventurous-minded can try a tandem glide while others watch with amazement the flyers cruising above the cliffs and ocean.
Driving further south comes the 665m long Sea Cliff Bridge that meanders along the coastline next to the cliffs in a serpentine shape. Many people choose to walk across, along a pedestrianised pathway on the side of the bridge closest to the ocean. However, the beauty of the bridge and the surrounding area is best appreciated when seen from the top of a nearby lookout. Either way, the connection to nature is immediate.
A mini version of Sydney, Wollongong is another urban set-up, so it’s generally skirted by day-trippers to reach the Nan Tien Temple. Most Indians will have a sense of connection with this Buddhist shrine located on the southern outskirts of Wollongong. Founded in 1967, it belongs to the Taiwanese Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and is one of the largest Buddhist sites in the southern hemisphere.
All of the mentioned sites are on the way to Kiama, a perfect seafront nest for a day picnic with family and friends. The biggest attraction in Kiama is the blowhole – a natural showbiz that displays huge water jets fountaining when the big waves are forced vertically upwards through a rock in the cliff. An 1887-built lighthouse landmarks the location dotted with Norfolk pines standing tall and overlooking the landscape. The town’s main street is lined with cafes and restaurants for visitors to relish gastronomical delights.
Bypassing all of the above, some Sydneysiders drive three hours straight to Mollymook, best known for its excellent surf beach of sweeping white sands and clear waters with plenty of space for surfers, sunbathers and fishing enthusiasts.
While engaging with the sandy patch remains its main drawcard, there are many other things to do in Mollymook like playing golf at the sea-edged greenery. Whale watching from the high grounds of Ulladulla lighthouse during winter months is another popular activity. For those wanting to connect with the local fauna, the widespread presence of kangaroos makes this one a special day trip out.
For more information www.visitnsw.com/feelnsw