In no particular order, here are some of my favourite places to drive in and around Sydney.
3: The Royal National Park
Round trip time: approx. 3 hours from Sydney CBD
Road Surface: good. Tarmac recently resurfaced in parts.
Road types: suburban, Highway, country roads
Skill Level: intermediate
This is a beautiful drive for a lazy afternoon, or weekend away.
Head down the Eastern Distributor, General Holmes Dr, and on through Sans Souci. Make sure you stay in the right hand lanes as you pass under the runway at Sydney Airport, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the dread M5 East tunnel.
Follow the signs to Wollongong.
You wind your way through southern suburbs with traffic being a challenge at times. Take a deep breath, the rain forest awaits.
Take the exit left off the Wollongong road to the Grand Pacific Drive and the Royal National Park. Stick to the speed limits as you approach the Royal National Park booths. If you’re going to stop in the park, you may be asked for a small fee.
Police have been known to secrete themselves in bushes as the limit drops from 80 to 60.
You descend through sandstone outcrops to the weir. There are public toilets either side of the weir for those needing a rest stop.
There is a quaint café on the far side with a decent coffee available. You can have a light meal on the terrace that overlooks a grassy field on the edge of the creek. It’s a magical spot on a spring afternoon.
If you press on, you’ll find little spots to stop for pictures. The little waterfall on the left a few k’s in is worth a stop. Only parking for a few cars though, so take care.
As you sweep around to the left, you’ll see the Waterfall turnoff on the right. From here, the road gets very twisty. There are no spots to overtake, so if you’re behind someone slow, you’re there until the end.
Under no circumstances be tempted to overtake. If someone is behind you, and you feel like taking it easy, why not pull over and let them pass.
If you haven’t stopped by now, you’ll be passing through thick rain forest. The road stays wet a long time after the rain stops, so take care.
Th road is known for trees coming down in wind, especially if the ground is saturated.
The last twist is a 15kph hairpin, take note, many have come to a gritty end, especially on two wheels.
You exit the forest at the most magnificent lookout. You’re high above the Pacific perched atop a sandstone cliff. Funnily enough, large deposits of coal can be found in the area. Early settlers saw it from boats.
Watch for the house on the right with the glass pool that projects from the terrace perched high on the hill.
The bluff nearby sees large manned kites launch into the abys. It’s worth stopping for a look.
Take a few shots, then head to the pretty little coastal towns for lunch over the dramatic Sea Cliff Bridge. Like all great coastal roads, there are plenty of spots to stay if you don’t want to drive back to town.
If you venture a little further down the coast, historic Wollongong has plenty to see.
It is worth the effort, and a great day out, or perhaps a romantic secret weekend away.