Hemmed by 34,000 kilometres of coastline, it’s no surprise Australia has breathtaking seaside drives. Starting in Sydney, the Grand Pacific Drive is a remarkable journey that presents the best of Australian coastal life.
Beginning in Sydney and finishing in the oceanside town of Jervis Bay (a popular weekend getaway), this 140-kilometre drive takes in lush rainforests, pristine national parks, Aboriginal culture, seaside hamlets, and unique native wildlife. Light up your Instagram with visits to acclaimed wineries, beachside towns and marine reserves.
Heading south from Sydney, begin your Grand Pacific Drive adventure travelling through the open, coastal bushland of the Royal National Park. Declared in 1879, this was the first national park in the country. Enjoy beautiful coastal walks and, in summer, head to Wattamolla Beach and picnic area for a cooling swim either in the ocean waves or in the calm waters of the lagoon. Less than half-an-hour south, is the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, where you can meet koalas and other Australian natives and get in the cage and feed them.
Some 15 minutes south of the park is a highlight of the Grand Pacific Drive: the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge, a stretch of winding road suspended over a sparkling coastline and next to an epic sandstone cliff. Follow the bridge’s curves round the 665-metre-long road and park at Coalcliff Station to access a pedestrian walkway that runs along the length of the bridge. Snap a selfie as you absorb the view.
Further on, the route is peppered with charming villages, such as Austinmer and Thirroul, that provide an ideal spot to rest and recharge with a coffee or an invigorating swim at the beach or in calm ocean pools. Next up is Wollongong, the third-largest city in New South Wales. The Wollongong Art Gallery showcases an inspiring collection of Aboriginal, Asian, colonial and contemporary art. You’ll also discover the fascinating Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. Head to Mangotree Café and Restaurant for classic and innovative Indian flavours served with Australian produce and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
Heading 30-minutes south along from Wollongong to Shellharbour, the ocean is a constant companion on your left, while the tranquil expanse of Lake Illawarra passes by on the right. Marvel at the skill of surfers catching powerful waves at Minnamurra Beach and Killalea Beach, which together form the Killalea National Surfing Reserve. Between May and November, walk to the Minnamurra headland to spot majestic humpback whales on their annual migration from Antarctica.
The next unmissable stop along the Grand Pacific Drive can be found in Kiama, just 10 kilometres south of Minnamurra. Here, the world’s largest blowhole sprays ocean water up to 30 metres into the sky. Kiama, a pretty beachside town, and an ideal spot to spend the night. Stretch your post-drive legs by wandering a section of the Kiama Coast Walk, which follows a series of scenic headlands and bays.
Stop along the 70-minute drive to idyllic Jervis Bay for revitalising swims in clear ocean waters or barefoot walks at Gerringong’s Werri Beach and Gerroa’s Seven Mile Beach. Arriving in Jervis Bay and the surrounding Shoalhaven region you’ll discover fine wines to freshly shucked South Coast oysters. There are more than ten wineries in the region, including the award-winning Coolangatta Estate. Seafood lovers will enjoy sampling oysters grown locally in pristine waters from Jim Wild’s Oysters on the Crookhaven River.
The roadtrip finishes with the sheltered waters of Jervis Bay. Home to two national parks – Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park – and the Jervis Bay Marine Park. Play in the beaches’ clear waters and wander along pure-white sands or hire a kayak to paddle the waters of the marine park, where you can spot dolphins, seabirds and penguins. A journey filled with fun, good food, unrivalled beauty and incredible experiences, the Grand Pacific Drive is a must do for any Australian Itinerary.
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