100 things to see and do in Wollongong

Discover 100 Ways Wollongong Will Win Over The World in 2022

The UCI Road World Championships are coming to Wollongong in 2022, with tens of thousands of visitors coming to the coastal city for a week-long celebration of culture and cycling.

While the world-class racing will take place from Sunday 18 to Sunday 25 September on the streets of Wollongong, the city and surrounding region has countless wonders and unique experiences to offer visitors year round.  

From culture and lifestyle adventures, to history and nature-based explorations, Wollongong and its neighbours will keep cycling fans curious, inspired and energised.

Read on for a guide to 100 ways that Wollongong will win over international and domestic visitors leading up to and during the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, and beyond. 

Landscape

Wollongong Landscape

Also known as Stanwell Tops Lookout, this is one of the most popular lookouts in Wollongong. Overlooking the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and the Illawarra Coastline, it’s the postcard-perfect photo opportunity to capture Wollongong. If you want more than a view, this area is also internationally known as a major hang-gliding point. Historically, Bald Hill was a central meeting place for Aboriginal groups travelling up and down the South Coast.

Overlooking the picturesque Wollongong harbour, Belmore Basin is a family-friendly area that has calm waters perfect for a Stand-Up Paddle Boarding lesson provided by professional instructors.

Wollongong’s beaches are NSW’s best kept secret. Offering spectacular white sand and attractive quintessential Australian surf, what’s not to love? Popular beaches include North Wollongong Beach and Wollongong City Beach. Find a full list of Wollongong’s glorious beaches here.

The lovely Lake Illawarra is located between the Illawarra escarpment and the Pacific Ocean on the NSW South Coast some 90 kilometres south of Sydney. Water flowing into it is both fresh (from the escarpment) and salty (from ocean tides). The Lake is approximately 9.5 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide, with an area of 33 square kilometres and a maximum depth of 3.7 metres. It’s a popular recreational destination for fishing and all water sports.

Mount Keira is a local landmark of Wollongong, towering 463.9 metres high and casting its protective shadow over the city, forming part of the iconic Illawarra escarpment. The Mt Keira lookout is located on Mt Keira Road and is accessible seven days a week during daylight hours.

Mount Keira is an important part of country for the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the Illawarra as it is associated with local Aboriginal Dreamtime creation stories. It is at the centre of the Aboriginal Dreaming Story of Oola Boola Woo and his six daughters. It is said that Oola Boola Woo, the west wind, blew five of his daughters off Mount Keira for misbehaving, and they became the five islands off Port Kembla. The sixth daughter, Geera, sat on the mountain and fretted for her sisters, eventually transforming into the peak of what is now Mount Keira.

The Mount Keira Ring Track is a popular 5.5 kilometre loop walking track which passes through varied terrains and forests, starting and finishing in a scenic picnic spot. Expect to encounter lush rain forest, stunning vegetation and an array of bird songs.

Known as Jumbullah or Djembla (the Men’s Mountain) to the traditional landowners of the region, Mount Kembla was significant to the local men who hunted food for their families on the mountain. It was also a place of men’s ceremonies and business. In the last hundred years, the area surrounding Mount Kembla has been known for coal mining, most notably for the Mount Kembla Mine Disaster of 1902, in which 96 people lost their lives. Today, you can visit the Mt Kembla Soldiers’ and Miners’ Memorial Church, which was erected in memory of the men who died in the disaster.

The Wollongong Local Government Area has nine rock pools situated along the coast, which is unique to New South Wales. The pools are set in rock shelfs and provide an ocean swimming experience without the full force of the waves. The pools are located at Austinmer, Bellambi, Bulli, Coalcliff, Coledale, Gentlemen’s Pool (North Wollongong), Towradgi, Wombarra and Woonona.

Known for its hang gliding and paragliding pursuits, Stanwell Park is an idyllic beach town that offers breathtaking views of the NSW South Coast. This is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re looking for a weekend packed full of adventure and sightseeing.

This is an iconic walking trek of the Illawarra escapement, known to locals as “Sublime”. It is a mostly uphill walk that covers a distance of 850 metres. The difficulty rating is hard, with a suggested walk time of 45 minutes. It is an ideal location for birdwatching; look out for yellow-tailed black cockatoos or raptor birds such as falcons and kestrels. Once you’ve reached the Sublime Point Lookout, enjoy 180 degree views over the sea, rainforest and the 17 beaches that span the coastline to Wollongong.

The Wodi Wodi track is a 6.5 kilometre walking track, named after the original Custodians that lived along the Illawarra coast. The track starts at Stanwell Park Station and ends near Coalcliff Station. Various points of interest include Bullock Track used by European settlers (1820), Lawrence Hargrave House (1880), and Stanwell Park Lagoon. Stop along the way at the various picnic areas and lookouts. Check in advance to ensure if it is open due to weather.

City Highlights & History

To see a different side of the city from the water, book a fishing adventure with Aquilla Fishing Charters. Great for novices, right through to experienced anglers, tours come with high-end fishing gear, bait, safety equipment and your catches cleaned and gutted ready for dinner.

Bulli Black Diamond Museum Heritage Centre is located at the 1887 State Heritage listed Bulli Railway Station. South Bulli Mine’s Number 2 steam locomotive (circa 1888) is on display – used until the early 1960s. The museum’s focus is preserving the 1887 Railway Station buildings, which house a display of local railway and coal-mining heritage, including the old Coal Jetty.

For over 120 years the boat sheds at Sandon Point, Bulli have provided a place for anglers to store their vessels. These historical huts at Sandon Point have remarkably survived countless storms, fires, and government regulations. The Sandon Point sheds are all that remain of the corrugated iron and timber structures that were once common on the northern beaches of Wollongong and today, the few remaining sheds are a much-loved and photographed feature of the region.

Set on the iconic Blue Mile between Wollongong Harbour and North Beach, this popular swimming spot has a 50m and 45m pool, as well as a toddlers’ pool. It’s free to the public and the perfect swimming spot in summer or for those willing to brave the chill in the cooler months.

The city landmark of Flagstaff Hill was first used by Aboriginal people as a meeting and trade point. In 1980 it was established as a military fort. This is now a heritage listed military fortification, and visitors can examine the fort’s battery of beautifully resorted cannons as well as see where the fort’s disappearing gun was formerly installed. The entrance to the fort can also be viewed, located in a brick wall set into the southern side of the hill.

An icon of Wollongong, the heritage-listed Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse is an active lighthouse that was built in 1936. The lighthouses’ white light spends 4.5 seconds on and 1.5 seconds off while the red lights are displayed over shallow water to the north and south. The area around the lighthouse is perfect for picnics or viewing the stunning Wollongong coastline.

This lookout is reached via a narrow but well-formed established walking track and offers spectacular views up and down the coastline. The area has numerous Aboriginal shell middens and artefacts scattered along its shores.

This local museum allows visitors to see how early settlers lived and worked in the region. The two-storey heritage building houses a vast collection of furniture and objects dating back to the 19th Century and features a school room, a Stockman’s Hut, Air Raid Shelter and Blacksmith’s shop.

During the mid-80s the need for a permanent park to house the wild sourced Grevillea plant collection became necessary. These plants had been collected and grown in pots by the Grevillea Study Group of the Australian Plant Society. For the public, the Park is about showcasing the rich and wonderful array of Australian plants which represent flora for every state.

These internationally renowned gardens are perched on the escarpment high above Wollongong in Mt Pleasant. Here you can enjoy four hectares of colourful rhododendrons, vireyas, azaleas and camellias and other exotic and native companion plants or wander along bush tracks through the garden’s eight hectares of endangered Illawarra escarpment rainforest.

Lawrence Hargrave (1850-1915) was a British-born Australian pioneer of aviation and inventor of the box kite. He made history on 12 November, 1894 when he joined four of his box-kites together and added a sling seat, and flew approximately 5 meters. His research and engineering played a vital role in the development of the aeroplane. Visit the monument dedicated to him (which has a relief of him carrying a model of his box-kite) at the peak of Bald Hill.

Located in the heritage-listed Bulli Railway Station, learn about the history of coal mining in the region, including stories of coal miners, mining tragedies and underground heroism.

On Wollongong’s prized North Beach is a statue commemorating 100 years of lifesaving in the region. The statue depicts a 1908 lifesaver and was opened in 2012, overlooking one of the cities most popular swimming destinations where lifesaving has been an integral community service for over a century.

The Nan Tien Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere, offering enlightenment, peace and serenity. The temple offers visitors grandeur architecture, art and culture including unique exhibitions and festivals, Buddhist festivals, vegetarian culinary delights, educational and healthy lifestyle classes and retreats and accommodation.

The Bathers’ Pavilion at North Beach was originally opened in 1938. It is a prominent landmark of North Beach in Wollongong and in it’s heyday, was the centre of activity at the beach. Today, it is still just as popular, having been restored and listed as heritage listed. One half of the pavilion is public showers and toilets, whist the other half is home to Northbeach Pavilion Pizza, Pasta, Bar & Kiosk that overlooks the beach.

This is one of Wollongong’s most prestigious beaches. The surf club was established in 1910, with bathing at Port Kembla Beach dating back to the 1900s and the first dressing sheds erected in 1912. The surf club is perched on the high dune, overlooking the northern end of Port Kembla Beach, the longest in the Wollongong area at 6.6 kilometres.

Deep beneath the Hill 60 Lookout lies a series of fortifications, established at the beginning of World War II. These fortifications housed large guns which were put in place to protect the vital industrial centre of Port Kembla. Although there are no longer any large guns here, the concrete bunkers can be clearly seen.

The suburb of Port Kembla has long been the economic and industrial home of the city. It is the largest motor vehicle importation terminal in NSW, the principal grain export port for southern and southwestern NSW and facilitates the region’s significant steel and mining industries including BlueScope. To get an insider look, learn about the industrial history of the city with a tour of the Port Kembla Steelworks After a quick safety briefing at the Visitor Centre, you will be kitted out in safety gear (PPE) and begin a sensory ‘steelmaking’ experience touring through monster machinery, giant buildings, locomotives and stockpiles of raw materials.

Many people don’t know that the Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve is an annex of Wollongong Botanic Garden. It is a rare coastal habitat that includes rainforest, dunes and marshland and is home to around 130 different types of birds, and several endangered plan communities. It is also an important heritage site that was originally inhabited by local Aboriginal peoples. Today, you can explore the reserve with a 1.5 kilometre network of boardwalks and informal paths, from Fairy Creek Bridge on Squires Way in the south, through to Elliotts Road, Fairy Meadow.

The iconic 665-metre-long Sea Cliff Bridge – a feature of the Elite Road Race course – is a highlight of the region and a key attraction of the self-guided Grand Pacific Drive road trip itinerary (see “Surrounding Region”). It was opened in December 2005 and was named by an 11-year-old student who won a local naming competition. The bridge offers visitors the chance to drive/ride/walk over the Pacific Ocean, adjacent to the spectacular cliffs and is often a destination for bike riders, motorcycle riders, car commercial filming and a viewing platform for tourists who want to watch migrating whales. This year it featured in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Australia Travel List.

From 1880, the considerable changes in technology and developments in the realm of motor vehicles changed the way we live. The museum proudly embraces this technology and provides a showcase of many of these items alongside the vehicles of the period. The Australian Motorlife Museum is the second-largest museum and motoring reference library in Australia. The museum is the custodian to several vehicles and artefacts that are the only surviving pieces of its kind left in the world.

The Illawarra South Coast and Southern Highlands of NSW hide a treasure trove of unique rugged natural beauty and colour waiting to be discovered. Take to the air with Touchdown Wollongong to see spectacular hidden valleys, breathtaking waterfalls, and the most pristine coastline you will ever see.

After an industrial past, Wollongong’s focus today is on knowledge services and the University of is leading the way in education and research in the region. With multiple campuses in the city, UOW has many reaches into the community, attracts thousands of students and visitors from overseas and is one of the world’s top modern universities.

This spectacular 30-hectare site overlooks the city of Wollongong from its highest point at the Gleniffer Brae Manor House and features an impressive collection of native and exotic plants from around the world. The Garden is also home to a range of native wildlife including Bower Birds, Ring Tail Possums, Kookaburras, native bees, and more. The garden also has one of the largest rainforest collections in Australia, featuring a range of Illawarra rainforest species, and an all-abilities playground.

Wollongong is the only city on the east coast of Australia with two lighthouses in close proximity. The Breakwater Lighthouse is located at Wollongong Harbour, just up from Belmore Basin. It was commissioned in 1872 and is 12.8 metres tall. This now disused lighthouse was initially powered by vegetable oils and in the 1910s by gas. It was replaced by the Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse in the 1930s. There is no access inside the lighthouse, but you can take plenty of photos from the outside.

Culture

A large performing arts venue with old-school charm in Thirroul, Anita’s Theatre hosts touring musicians, comedy acts, movie screenings and more. The building was originally the King’s Theatre, built for Wollongong Theatre in 1925. Since then it has gone through a number of closures – and even served as a roller-skating venue for a period – before it reopened in 2007 as Anita’s Theatre after extensive renovations.

Enjoy a bush tucker cooking demonstration with Fred’s Bush Tucker. Learn how to prepare authentic Australian Indigenous bush foods, such as fish wrapped in paperbark, cooked over hot coals.

Gumaraa Aboriginal Cultural Experience and Education provides insight into the Aboriginal traditional culture. Learn about Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Language, Bush Food and Aboriginal Dance with an authentic, immersive cultural experience. Programs are based on the traditions of the Yuin Nation and can be designed for visitors, schools, groups and events.

Located in the heart of Wollongong’s Arts Precinct, the IPAC is the region’s most loved and respected venue for the performing arts. Comprising three versatile spaces, it plays host to a variety of events, from internationally renowned theatre, music and comedy to a wide range of community events.

Cruise the Illawarra and surrounds with Just Cruisin’ Motorcycle Tours on a chauffeured trike, sidecar or solo motorcycle. Enjoy a sensory experience, feel the wind in your face, smell the surroundings, hear the motor, and see all around you without the constraints of a car.

Visitors can walk or cycle the Lake Illawarra Art Trail and explore the local history, Aboriginal heritage, flora and fauna.

This contemporary gallery is open to the public and has art exhibitions with artworks for sale throughout the year. It is a not-for-profit, artist run initiative that provides opportunities and support to a diverse range of emerging and existing local artists.

The Science Space is home to Australia’s most digitally advanced Planetarium and has more than 90 interactive exhibits for children under 10. Other activities include Live Science shows and workshops for a range of ages.

This Helensburgh site is Australia’s first Hindu Temple built in the traditional style of Hindu Temple architecture. It stands as an outstanding example of Hindu Temple Architectural Excellence. The Temple has been functioning since 1985 and has been listed as a heritage item by the NSW Office of Environment. It serves as a major religious and sacred place for Hindus living in and visiting Australia, while visitors are also attracted to the unique Hindu Temple architectural significance of the buildings and their iconic cultural status.

These are the heartbeat of the city’s sports and cultural celebrations, with concerts, rugby league, basketball and more. WIN Stadium was also the exclusive Australian venue for the Elton John Once In A Lifetime Tour in 2017.

The Wollongong Art Gallery is on of Australian’s largest regional art museums and boasts an ongoing schedule of high-quality exhibitions, education and public programs. The gallery also manages an art collection of Contemporary, Aboriginal, Asian and Colonial artworks that are presented on a regular basis. The gallery is housed in an important and unique building, designed and built in the 1950s and a local landmark.

Established in 1972 and one of the largest regional conservatoriums in the state. The musical institution of the “Con” celebrates 50 years of music education and performance in 2022, and today embraces a wide range of musical genres from the likes of world music, jazz, classical, contemporary and more!

Wonderwalls is street art and graffiti festival that celebrates the vibrant art and culture that can be found in the city of Wollongong. It launched in 2012 and today includes over 50 artworks in the Wollongong CBD alone. Works also span down to Port Kembla.

Yesterday Stories lets you see video histories in location where history happened across the Illawarra and beyond. Share and watch short film stories about the local history and people of the areas you visit on the Yesterday Stories app.

Food & Drink

It wouldn’t be a coastal or UCI Bike City without a range of beachfront coffee spots. Along the Blue Mile you’ll find an abundance of options including Diggies, Northbeach Pavilion Kiosk, Levendi, Bombora Café and Longboard Café – all perfect for a caffeine top-up while out for a walk or ride. Or head into town to Opus Coffee Brewers for freshly brew coffee and a bagel.

Wollongong boasts a wide range of hip and happening cocktail bars. A top few to note are gin bars Birth and Deaths and Juniper Bar, Howlin’ Wolf Whisky Bar, intimate speakeasy The Black Cockatoo and wine bar, Night Parrot.

In addition to the Eat Street Markets, the Wollongong CBD comes alive every Friday between 8am – 3pm. Here you can get street food as well as produce and products from local vendors. It’s a win-win experience – you get to support small businesses whilst also doing your weekly grocery shop.

Every Thursday evening Crown St Mall comes alive with the aroma of sizzling street world. Take a trip around the world with stalls offering meals from various internal cuisines, from dumplings and souvlaki, to pide and crepes.

For a real flavour of Wollongong and the Illawarra, visit one of the area’s local craft breweries: Five Barrel Brewing, Illawarra Brewing Co, Bulli Brewing Company, Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine, Resin Brewing, Principle Brewing or try a locally produced ale or lager at one of the many local pubs, bars and restaurants.

If refined spirits is more your style, try local distilleries such as South Coast Distillery and Headlands Distilling Co for a regional tipple. Enjoy a tasting or do a blending workshop to create a signature pour.

If refined spirits is more your style, try local distilleries such as South Coast Distillery and Headlands Distilling Co for a regional tipple. Enjoy a tasting or do a blending workshop to create a signature pour.

Cycling & Lifestyle

Pint-sized adrenaline lovers should check out 3Sixty; a purpose-built indoor skate park for both riders and parents. With a four-foot mini half-pipe with spine, two street sections, eight-foot roll into quarter, resi and six-metre airbag, there is something for everyone at any age and ability level to enjoy.

Explore the city’s newest mountain bike trails in the hills of Cringila, with sweeping views over Wollongong’s iconic industrial landscape towards the ocean and Lake Illawarra. Cringila Hills Mountain Bike Park has an exciting mix of almost 12 kilometres of varying trails for riders from beginners to advanced

Set in native bushland, this is a great place to enjoy a horse ride or a horse riding lesson. Enjoy classes taught by experienced ride leaders and instructors that are keen to share their love of horses with people of all ages and experience levels, from beginners to advanced.

With stunning views in every direction, Wollongong, the Illawarra and surrounds have many ranges to offer keen golfers. Start with Wollongong Golf Course, Russell Vale and Calderwood Valley Golf Course – or if you’re not up for a full 18 holes, why not try Helensburgh Putt Putt and Driving Range?

This pathway follows the Grand Pacific Drive route and whilst some of it is still in construction, the sections that are completed offer fantastic footpaths and cycleways that allow you to soak in the coastline.

Enjoy the thrills of climbing for fun and fitness in the Illawarra’s only purpose-built indoor rock-climbing gym. Hangdog has over 140 different climbs on 40 ropes, offering a great range of climbs from easy to extremely challenging.

Local bike tracks are a great place for young people and families to ride. The dirt-based tracks located around Wollongong are perfect for building riding skills, or challenging yourself with jumps! There are several local bike tracks in neighbourhoods across our Bike City. Discover them all here.

Nestled on the edge of the Royal National Park, Otford Farm has been riding since 1961. From 2 hour rides through the rainforest, lessons or school holiday camps, amazing experiences can be enjoyed for all ages.

The only beach skydive on offer in the Greater Sydney vicinity, there’s no topping the trip from the sky onto Wollongong’s North Beach. Nothing can prepare you for the physical joyride of tandem skydiving. Ride the salty breeze from up to 15,000 feet above sea level carving towards the pristine New South Wales coastline. This skydive will start a fire inside you that can never be put out!

Make the most of Australia’s legendary surf by enjoying a lesson from one of the Illawarra’s many surf schools, such as Illawarra Surf Academy or Pines Surfing Academy Surf School.

This waterfront promenade stretches from Stuart Park in North Beach, Wollongong to the Golf Club in the south of Wollongong. This pathway is perfect for walking between peaches and parks, cycling to lookout points or taking, public art and local history.

The 16km route is mostly on broad, two-lane shared pathways and crosses only a handful of roads as it hugs the coastline passing plenty of lovely beaches perfect for a break. There are refreshments available from various cafes and restaurants along the route, but the star of the show has to be the scenery.

Surrounding Region

With a charming main street, lush landscape and an assortment of epicurean experiences, it’s easy to see why Berry is a popular escape for glamorous Sydneysiders. Dine at delicious restaurants, enjoy sophisticated shopping and stay in stylish accommodation in this elegant village in the Shoalhaven region.

Also located in the Jervis Bay region, Booderee Botanic Gardens are the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia, and are a must-see during your visit.

Legendary cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman, grew up in and began his cricket career in Bowral, a town in the Southern Highlands just 30 minutes’ from Wollongong and home to the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame.

The distinctive rock formations of Cathedral Rocks are just one of Kiama’s many geological delights. Years of erosion have shaped these volcanic rocks into stunning sculptural forms which can be viewed from a range of vantage points and as part of the Kiama Coast Walk. A photographer’s dream – especially at sunrise.

There’s a lot to love about the family-owned and -operated Crooked River Wines, located just off the Princes Highway in coastal Gerringong. From the award-winning wines themselves to the winery’s restaurant, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer views over verdant green hills, or the latest addition – an onsite microbrewery, Uncle Joe’s Brew, that cooks up a preservative-free premium lager, pale ale and ginger beer.

Inside the Royal National Park are an array of popular beaches, including Wattamolla, Garie and Burning Palms as well as the famous Figure 8 pools. These picturesque pools are a popular tourist attraction, though can be tricky to visit as they are located on a dangerous rock shelf.

Just an hour’s drive to the south west you can find Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands, complete with award-winning visitor centre that has information about Aboriginal culture, wildlife and birdwatching in the region. Fitzroy Falls are a short walk from the centre and plunge over 80m to the valley below.

Visit Glenbernie Orchard – home of Darkes Cider – where you can pick your own seasonal fruit and sample crisp ciders.

This scenic drive is one of Australia’s most popular road trip itineraries and encompasses approximately 200km of coastline from Sydney, to Wollongong and finishing at Jervis Bay. The journey features spectacular natural landmarks from rockpools and cliff-hugging rainforests to beaches and unspoilt marine parks, this journey offers a wealth of coastal drama.

Granties Maze initially started out as a traditional maze with a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one navigated with the objective to solving the puzzle and winning a prize. Granties Maze is slowly evolving into a Fun / Amusement Park where children of all ages can be amused with attractions, rides and other events for enjoyment in a safe rural environment.

Helensburgh is the northern-most suburb governed by Wollongong City Council and marks the northern end of the Illawarra region. It also borders the southern end of the Royal National Park and the western side of the Garawarra State Conservation Area. It was originally known as Camp Creek, in reference to the creek that runs through the area, but after coal was discovered in 1884 and a mining town sprang up around it, it was renamed Helensburgh by Charles Harper (regarded as the founding father of the town) after his daughter Helen. Helensburgh owes its existence to the coal mine that is still in operation today, and is notable for being Australia’s oldest working mine.

History and aviation buffs shouldn’t miss the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Aviation Museum at Albion Park. The site is home to more than 40 aircraft covering civil and military aviation heritage, and visitors can go inside a plane cockpit or walk on the wing of a decommissioned plane.

Experience the highest zipline in Australia – the Illawarra Fly Zipline Tour is a unique eco-wilderness adventure that takes place in the magnificent Illawarra Rainforest. The site also has a 1.5km Treetop Walk, including 500m through the canopy of the rainforest 20-30m above ground. The elevated steel walkway also features two gently swaying cantilever and a central tower known as Knights Tower, which stands at 45 metres above ground and provides a bird’s eye view over Illawarra Escarpment and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Splash through NSW’s largest family owned and operated water theme park, offering world class rides and attractions in an impeccably maintained, natural setting between the mountains and the sea. The site was a dairy farm until 1974, but as milk quotas were reduced the farm was no longer commercially viable so the property was then transformed into a recreation facility, inspired by Olympic skiers training on grass slopes.

Famous for white sand beaches, snorkelling and diving, swimming with dolphins and whale watching, Jervis Bay is also home to two national parks, as well as Jervis Bay Marine Park, a haven for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, little penguins and sea dragons. The most popular beaches are Huskisson, Vincentia and Hyams Beach.

With beautiful morning mists, a patchwork of farmland, Australia’s last surviving wooden suspension bridge and rainforest spilling down the escarpment, there’s something quite magical about Kangaroo Valley. Go kayaking, bushwalk to stunning waterfalls, enjoy a waterside picnic at Tallowa Dam and uncover top foodie experiences.

Kiama’s famous Blowhole is the largest in the world. The 2.5 metres opening in the rock face has had its plumes of water recorded at heights of over 30 metres. This landmark has attracted people to the region for over 100 years, and the first sightings were recorded by George Bass when he anchored his whaleboat in the sheltered bay, now known as Kiama harbour, in December 1797. The name Kiama has long been translated as ‘where the sea makes a noise’ – and it sure lives up to the description.

This is one for the enthusiastic walkers, with a 20km one-way track that can take 6-7 hours. It is an easy to moderate, well-maintained track that is a mix of sealed paths, grass tracks, beach walking and some gentle hills. Attractions include Kiama Blowhole, Bombo Headland, Minnamurra River and more.

The popular Killalea Beach at Shellharbour, known as ‘The Farm’, is famous with surfers throughout the region. It was declared a national surfing reserve in June 2009. The beaches are not patrolled. However, there are beautifully landscaped picnic areas in the park with barbecues and public amenities for the family to enjoy. The park also features bush and coastal walking trails.

Easily accessible from Nowra, Morton National Park is great for a daytrip or school excursion. Be enthralled by nature on a grand scale at Morton National Park – the sweeping views from the top of Pigeon House Mountain Didthul are spectacular. A great location for mountain biking, walking or to enjoy a picnic lunch – Fitzroy Falls is also located here.

This is a place where waterfalls tumble into a lush tangle of subtropical forest and vines, and where wallabies and elusive platypuses live alongside bowerbirds and king parrots. Located at the eastern edge of immense Budderoo National Park, Minnamurra is the gateway to all manner of nature-based activities, from family-friendly walks to clifftop treks.

North of Wollongong is a sanctuary teeming with natural beauty that has been preserved for hundreds of years. It was established in 1879 – making it the oldest national park in the country – and spans 160 square kilometres. It is popular for bushwalking, swimming, picnics and cycling. Aboriginal art can be found within Royal National Park at Jibbon Head, near Bundeena.

If you’re visiting Kiama, a stop at Saddleback Mountain Lookout is a must. On a clear day the view can take in Cronulla in the North to Milton in the South.

This is Australia’s newest lifestyle boating destination located on the beautiful South Coast of NSW. It includes multiple harbourside dining options and is located close to a vibrant town centre. A great way to experience this area is during The Waterfront Markets.

True to its name, Seven Mile Beach makes up just over 12 kilometres of coastline, stretching from Gerroa in the north to Shoalhaven Heads in the south. Bordered by dense plant life, it provides the perfect escape into nature. From the toddler-friendly shallows of the Crooked River mouth to the gentle waves of the beach, there’s no wonder it is frequently home to surf lessons, snorkelers, swimmers and windsurfers.

Shoalhaven Zoo boasts an extensive collection of native and exotic animals, set in amongst the most spectacular natural rock formations and bushland, all on the banks of the beautiful Shoalhaven River.

The Southern Gateway Centre is located on top of the Illawarra Escarpment above Bulli and is a must for any visitor – stop for lunch or dinner with a view at Altitude 1148, learn more about the region at the Wollongong Visitor Information Centre or simply stop to admire the spectacular panorama.

Get your green thumb down to the Sunrise Nursery, a boutique nursery in nestled in historic Helensburgh. With over 58 years of experience in the production and selling of quality plants and associated horticultural products, you’re sure to lose yourself in their selection. Plus, they have a delightful café that will keep you full while you browse.

Just 80km away, the international gateway to Australia awaits with its glistening harbour and lauded icons – Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Jump on the train, hire a car or even travel by bike to Sydney for a day out in Australia’s largest city.

Get up close and personal with amazing Australian animals at Symbio Wildlife Park including koalas, kangaroos, wombats and possums.

Spend the day hanging around the South Coast at the Treetops Adventure park located right inside Shoalhaven Zoo. This is Australia’s First Cliff Edge adventure park and is located along the banks of the Shoalhaven River. It will have you zipping through the air whilst listening to lions roaring in the distance.

You’re in for a whale of time with this new attraction in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Cruises depart from Shellharbour Marina at Shell Cove from May to November.