Just an hour south of Sydney, situated in the Illawarra region, you’ll find the coastal city of Wollongong. With a population of over 250, 000, Wollongong is the third-largest city in New South Wales and the tenth-largest in Australia. For a long time, ‘the Gong’ (as locals refer to it), had a bad rep as an industrial, grey city due to it being a major steel city, however, this reputation could not be further from the truth.
Nestled between the ocean to the east and a long stretch of mountainous escarpment to the west, Wollongong is the perfect location for a day trip from Sydney, offering visitors a plethora of activities, including some of the best coastal views along the NSW coast, coffee and brunch spots galore and a lively bar scene to name a few.
However, for those seeking adventure, the area has a lot on offer that will not disappoint. Given its location, and surrounding escarpment, the Wollongong region comes filled with hikes that will suit all levels of experience. Here are my top 5:
Sublime Point Walking Track
Time: 1 hour
Sublime Point is a great, challenging walk through rainforest, that offers scenic views of the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area and great bird-watching and whale-watching opportunities.
Starting from Foothills Rd, the track quickly ascends, and a giant staircase will help you to rock jump your way up the escarpment. Eventually you’ll reach a series of ladders, followed by a short, rocky walk which will lead you to the Sublime Point lookout. It’s a tough walk, and not one for the faint-hearted, but the view from the top makes it all worth it!
Macquarie Pass Jump Rock
Location: Macquarie Pass
Time: 1.5 hours
Make sure you pack your swimmers for this hike! Jump Rock is a swimming hole found at the bottom of Macquarie Pass, on the left-hand side of the road, if you’re driving from Albion Park. Popular in the summer months, the walk to Jump Rock starts from the small car park, where a visible trail will guide you all the way.
The walk to the Rocks should take just under an hour, as the path winds you through luscious rainforest covered in vines and ferns. You might also spot native wildlife and lizards bathing in the sun. You’ll know you’ve made it to Jump Rock when you reach a section of the river that requires you to pass by jumping onto some big rocks. As soon as you’ve made it over this part, turn to the left and follow the water until you see a large swimming area and a small waterfall.
Drawing Room Rocks
Time: 2 hours
Above the cute town of Berry lies the Drawing Room Rocks, a short but rewarding walk through the rainforest, that offers killer views of the Shoalhaven. The odd shaped rock formations make for a perfect picnic set-up, and the sweeping views from the top are a dream for any photographer.
You’ll need a car to get to the walking track – just north of Berry, turn into Woodhill Mountain Road. Follow the road for about 7km, then turn right onto Brogers Creek Road. After about 100 metres, turn right onto a small side-street. From here, you’ll soon arrive at a small car park. There are signs that will point you to the start of the walk.
Time: 30 mins
Quite possibly the quickest walk from the car park ever! Kelly’s Falls is just a short, half hour walk from the car park. Simply take the path to the right and follow for a couple of hundred metres. About 50 metres after the fence finishes, you’ll see a small clearing to the left. You’ll also see some rope – use this to help you climb down. However, only continue to climb down if you are able and can climb up afterwards, on your way out.
From here, the path continues for about 10 minutes, until you reach the big waterfalls and lush swimming hole – perfect for a summers day swim!
Wodi Wodi to Mt Mitchell
Location: Stanwell Park
Time: 1.5 hours
A favourite local hike of mine is the Wodi Wodi to Mt Mitchell. With no signage, this track is a great local, hidden secret that offers a great quick escape into bushland and amazing coastal views!
The easiest way to get to the track is to start at the Wodi Wodi Track entrance on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, about 1km south of Stanwell Park. Following this track, you’ll come across a wooden staircase with a sign that says ‘Wodi Wodi Track’. Follow this route for roughly 20 minutes, until you reach a sign that splits the track into two directions. To the left is ‘Forrest Walk’, to the right is ‘Wodi Wodi Track’. Follow the Forrest Walk track, where you’ll traverse some big rocks and boulders. You’ll know you’re near the top of the walk when the ground becomes sandy. From here, the first viewpoint you’ll come across overlooks Stanwell Park. If you keep walking a further couple of minutes, you’ll also come to the lookout over Coalcliff – just be careful as there is no fencing!
Of course, there are many other hikes in the area that I could write about – if there’s interest, I can do a continued post. Alternatively, if you’re after a good LOL, check out a post I wrote about getting lost on the Wodi Wodi Track.