18 Sydney To Wollongong Road Trip Stops, Things to See & Do

Sydney to Wollongong Road Trip Stops and things to do

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The road trip from Sydney to Wollongong gives you the opportunity to explore a portion of the Grand Pacific Drive. This stretch of road is only 85 kilometres of direct travel. Still, the extra stops will increase this to more than 150 kilometres. It can quickly be done in a day, but that really depends on what you want to do with your time.

The area features places like The Royal National Park, Wedding cake rock, and a drive along the famous Sea Cliff Bridge. In addition, there are a number of beaches that you can explore or just chill out for the day.

It’s one of the best road trips in New South Wales, so please read on below to check out my list of Sydney to Wollongong Road trip stops that you might like to consider!

Need help planning your Trip?
Get started by clicking the links to your favourite brands. Find the best accommodation deals on ‘Booking.com’. Choose tours or activities on ‘Get Your Guide’ or Viator, or hire a car on ‘Discover Cars’. Alternatively, there is ‘Expedia’, for your total package deals.

Map of the Sydney to Wollongong Road Trip Stops

(Please click here for the Map Directory Link to open or apply directions from your location)

Sydney to Wollongong Road trip stops Map

Sydney To Wollongong Road Trip Stops

➡  Check and compare prices for Sydney Booking.com Hotels HERE. And if your looking for things to do, then click HERE for Get your Guide Tours. However, if you after more Day tour options then you have Viator Tours HERE

1. Deeban Spit

Deeban Spit lies on the outskirts of the Royal National Park (close to Bundeena and Maainbar), and our first road trip stop today between Sydney and Wollongong. Its shallow waters are a crucial source of sustenance for migratory birds that appear during low tide, while seagrass beds provide shelter for many fish species inhabiting the area.

I choose to visit this area for the photos and get creative with the drone. It was also a break in the journey coming from Sydney.

The sandy bar of Deeban Spit
The sandy bar of Deeban Spit

2. Karloo Pools

The wild swims and stunning scenery at Karloo Pools in the Royal National Park make this area a highlight for locals and tourists alike. Visitors enjoy wild swimming in its crystal clear, natural waters on hot days while they soak up the lush bushland surroundings.

There’s also an easy-going walking track that winds its way around the pool area, giving visitors a chance to take in all of nature’s delights as they make their way along the trail. It’s a great spot to add to your itinerary when you visit this magical part just south of Sydney!

3. Wedding Cake Rock

Wedding Cake Rock is a sandstone rock formation located in the Royal National Park near Bundeena. You’ll need to drive to Beachcomber Avenue to access the Royal Coastal walk. Still, this area is conveniently 2-wheel drive accessible.

The walking track to Wedding Cake Rock will be 6.8 kilometres return, and I recommend using the toilets available at the start of the walk. It will take roughly 2 hours to return walk and will require comfortable closed-in footwear.

Just like any hike, make sure you bring the bare essentials like a hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, and a backpack to carry it all. It’s free to enter, but no dogs are allowed in this National Park.

The Wedding Cake Rock is one of many rock formations and is suspended 25 metres (82 ft) above sea level. Its also noted for its scenic location, tourist popularity, and an attractive location for photography.

The rock was closed off from Direct public access in May 2015 after a survey conducted determined that the rock was unstable. As a result, it’s believed that Wedding Cake Rock will collapse into the Tasman Sea within the next decade. Therefore, it has now been fenced off from standing on the rock, but you can still visit and take plenty of photos.

Note: You are advised not to walk beyond the fencing, stand or sit on the rock because it’s dangerously unstable.

Wedding Cake Rock in  the Royal National Park
Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park

➡  Check and compare prices for Day tours from Sydney for the Royal National Park HERE with Viator.

4. Royal Coast Track (Royal National Park Multi-day hiking)

The Royal Coast Track in New South Wales is a wonderful hiking trail to experience. This 26km one-way track can take up to two days to complete. This depends on your pace and the amount of time you want to spend admiring the beautiful coastlines, landscapes, and rock formations of this loved park.

The 6km section that begins between Wattamolla and Garie Beach is particularly stunning, with its uninterrupted views across the ocean making it well worth visiting. Eagle Rock and Curracurrong Falls are a big part of this and are really impressive after some rain. 

You might like to consider this if you have a few days to spare. Although, make sure you bring plenty of food and water and be prepared for an incredible journey!

Amazing views while hiking the Royal Coastal Track
Amazing views while hiking the Royal Coastal Track

5. Figure 8 Pools

The Figure 8 Pools are located on a dangerous rock shelf in Sydney’s Royal National Park, south of Burning Palms Beach. You can walk through the area as a part of the 2 day “Royal Coast Track” hike or choose a shorter day trip from the Garrawarra Farm car park, off Garie Road.

From the farm, it’s a long and hard 6-kilometre walk through steep, narrow, and slippery sections of the coastline (return on the same track). Not only that, but gaining access to pools should only be done at the lowest tide and timed strategically, including the walk. It will take anything from 4 to 5 hours to complete, but that depends on your fitness and how long you spend at the Figure 8 Pools.

Consequently, it’s not suitable for young children or prams with the uneven Terrain on the track (and no dogs allowed in the National Park). If you are in doubt, don’t go; waves could crash over the shelf at any time. Furthermore, please be advised on the dangers and what can happen in this YouTube video of figure 8 pool Waves,

While the Pools can be a beautiful place to visit and swim, it could be dangerous to go at the wrong time. Therefore, make sure you plan your visit using the wave risk forecast here. On another note, and depending on the tides, leave before midday and remember that the gates close at 830pm.

Unfortunately, due to the medium tide times and high winds on my visit, there wasn’t an opportunity for me to see the Figure 8 Pools this time. Still, please see some Figure 8 pool photo’s here.

➡  Check and compare prices for Day tours from Sydney for the Royal National Park, and the Figure 8 Pools HERE with Viator.

6. The Symbio Wildlife Park

The Symbio Wildlife Park in New South Wales is a must-see if you’re looking for an experience like no other. With the chance to interact with animals up close, it’s one of the most unique attractions in the area.

You can feed kangaroos, pet wallabies, and even take photos with koalas! Plus, there’s an exciting Splash Park With a large dump bucket, multiple water fountains, and squirters. As well as an intriguing snake tunnel to explore, brilliant for cooling off in the summer heat.

It’s not all fun and games, though! At Symbio Wildlife Park, you’ll gain valuable education on Australia’s wildlife through their interactive wildlife shows, which bring you up close to koalas, dingoes, wombats, emus, and more. Perfect for kids and adults alike, so make sure you get your tickets now!

Check out my Photo Gallery for sample tourism images needed for websites, blog posts, magazine articles and/or advertisements. Want to know my Gear? I’m currently using the GoPro Hero 8 Black, Olympus OMD E-M10 111, DJI Mini SE Drone & Samsung S8. And, I try to purchase what I can from ➡ CameraPro (Australia’s Leading Photo Retailer) at my local store in Brisbane, or online!

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7. Bald Hills Lookout over Stanwell Park

Bald Hill Lookout is often referred to as Stanwell Tops lookout on Otford road. This free car park lookout spot gives you superb views and your first look at the famous Sea Cliff Bridge (in the distance). Be prepared for gusty winds as you travel up high to the lookout and view over the gorgeous countryside scenery of Hill End.

Consider bringing some blankets to keep yourself warm in cooler months or in the evenings, so you can stay and watch the sunset to the west. There is also some seating at the top of the summit, so be sure to bring a hamper to enjoy a picnic with scenic views.

➡  Check and compare prices for Day tours from Sydney for the Royal National Park, Grand Pacific Drive, Sea Cliff Bridge and the Figure 8 Pools HERE with Viator.

Lookout point at Stanwell Park along the Sydney to Wollongong Road Trip
Lookout point at Stanwell Park

8. Paragliding from Stanwell tops

Get excited about adrenalin-pumped paragliding adventures. Paragliding from the iconic Stanwell tops offers unparalleled thrills and excitement. The stunning coastal views of Stanwell Beach and astonishing panoramas of the Royal National Park provide a magnificent backdrop during your glide.

It’s an unbeatable adventure that calls for those brave enough to experience both the adrenaline rush of soaring through the air and taking in some of the most beautiful sights nature has to offer!

➡  Book your Hand Gliding experience HERE with Viator from Bald Hills Lookout & Stanwell tops

Get your adrenaline pumping with hand gliding from Stanwell Tops
Get your adrenaline pumping with hand gliding from Stanwell Tops

9. Sea Cliff Bridge

The Sea Cliff Bridge opened in December 2005 and is located in the northern Illawarra region of New South Wales. The $52 million balanced cantilever bridge links the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton.

Consequently, it features two lanes of traffic, a cycleway, and a walkway. It is known as a feature of the scenic Lawrence Hargrave Drive. It’s one of only seven off-shore parallel-to-coast bridges in the world. Consequently, it has become an icon to the people of Wollongong and the world, once again welcoming tourists annually to this picturesque coastal road.

There are only a few spots to park along this section, but if you get one, you can walk along and explore the bridge. It’s also a great viewing platform for migrating whales in certain seasons.

➡  Check and compare prices for Day tours from Sydney for the Grand Pacific Drive and the Sea Cliff Bridge HERE with Viator.

It's a highlight walking along the Sea Cliff Bridge
It’s a highlight walking along the Sea Cliff Bridge

10. Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout

Firstly, this is one of the absolute best views of the Sea Cliff Bridge, but it’s not always advisable to do it. The path is free and will only take 30 to 40 minutes to complete, but it is not necessarily the safest to climb. Also, please note that areas of these cliffs are unstable and due to landslips and other safety concerns, there are warnings against trying to find it. Therefore, climb at your own risk, and please don’t take children!

Despite that, you may have come across specific photos that give you the most amazing close viewpoint to the Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout. While it isn’t an official track, it certainly does exist. I didn’t get too close to the edge but found the path to the lookout was rather obstructive and could easily get you lost. I think over the years, people have placed yellow ribbons to help you find your way, and the leafy entrance is only visible through the number of visitors.

You can click here for my Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout blog to get a more detailed description of the pathway. But, briefly, you’ll be crossing over the bridge and see a very small gravel parking area right at the start of the bridge(sitting just in front of the Sea Cliff Bridge sign). This parking area will only fit a couple of cars, but you can park further along and walk down. The path entrance comes between a couple of trees which you can then work your way up through all the branches. Overall, the walk took about 15 minutes to get to the top and was well worth the views supplied.

You return back the same way!

Gazing out from the Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout point - Sydney to Wollongong Road Trip
Gazing out from the Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout point

11. Coledale Rock Pool

The Coledale Rock Pool creates a stunning coastal landscape as it stands against the ocean waters. This ocean pool has an impressive 50m length, perfect for swimming and basking in the surrounding oceanic environment.

The depth of the pool ranges from 1.2 meters at its shallow end to nearly 1.5m at its deep side. If you’re looking for ocean action without being too far from shore, this is the ideal spot! Whether you prefer lounging poolside or doing laps in a glorious ocean setting, this is the best way to kick off your summer holidays, and the kids will love it!

12. Wollongong

Wollongong is informally referred to as “The Gong.” It’s New South Wales’s third largest city and located 68 kilometres south of central Sydney. Discover a beachside buzz, extensive cycleways, and myriad adventures. You could also be tempted by Keira Street’s ‘eat street.’ As well as Kayaking, sailing, water skiing, and fishing can be popular in this waterway.

➡  Find day trips and tours from Wollongong HERE with Viator

In addition, Wollongong has an exciting events calendar of festivals, shows, concerts, exhibitions, and markets. Not to mention, there are lots of accommodation options, from beachside hotels to camping sites beside the ocean or Lake Illawarra.

Depending on your interests and time availability, expect to fill a couple of days here. You could also continue south along the coast (the rest of The Grand Pacific Drive) to explore any number of beautiful beaches and other seaside towns.

➡  Check and compare prices for Wollongong Booking.com Hotels HERE

13. Wollongong Lighthouse

The Wollongong Lighthouse in New South Wales is a beacon of light that stands tall and proud at 12 metres! It was built in 1871 and served as an important navigational aid until it was made inactive almost a century later, in 1974.

Although the lighthouse is no longer active, its legacy remains powerful today, with stunning views of the iconic Wollongong coastline from its vantage point. Its lush, green surround makes it the perfect spot for a lunchtime picnic while visiting this picturesque part of Australia.

Get up early to watch an amazing sunrise
Get up early to watch an amazing sunrise

14. Wollongong Botanic Gardens

The Wollongong Botanic Gardens in New South Wales have something for everyone. Gardening and plant lovers can learn about the conservation of native plants and animals. In contrast, homeowners can learn how to save water and energy with sustainable living techniques.

For those wanting a more leisurely visit, there are plenty of spots to relax. For example, you could walk down the winding paths, through the shaded gardens, or around the ponds to city views. From large gathering events to intimate picnics, this is definitely an excellent place for visitors to explore!

15. Nan Tien Temple

The Nan Tien Temple in New South Wales is Australia’s largest Buddhist temple complex and a stunning example of Buddhist architecture. Located in the Illawarra region, the Buddhist temple complex spans several large acres, featuring beautiful courtyards, shrines, and pavilions that offer breath-taking views of the picturesque landscape.

Whether you’re looking to explore ancient Buddhist cultural heritage or just want to enjoy some quiet contemplation among nature, Nan Tien Temple is a must-see destination in New South Wales.

16. Port Kembla Beach

Port Kembla Beach, located south of Wollongong, is one of the city’s most prestigious beaches. It’s known for its best-in-class facilities like the Olympic Pool and much-acclaimed scenic views. In addition, the beach features a newly upgraded cycleway, making it an ideal spot for cyclists, skateboarders, and those who wish to take a leisurely stroll.

On top of that, Port Kembla Beach also has fantastic spots for recreational activities such as swimming and surfing – perfect for thrill-seekers looking for some fun! And once you work up an appetite from all that activity, you’ll be happy to hear that it also offers BBQ and picnic areas so you can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner under the sun.

That’s why Port Kembla Beach remains Wollongong’s crown jewel – a paradise amongst paradise!

Find Soldier Crabs running along the beaches between Sydney and Wollongong
Find Soldier Crabs running along the beaches between Sydney and Wollongong

17. Illawarra Museum

The Illawarra Museum in New South Wales offers a unique opportunity for the local community to interact with its history. This museum is volunteer-run and prides itself on being an extensive resource of local-history information, both ancient and modern.

Through its wide array of displays, educational talks, and interactive events, visitors receive an in-depth look into various aspects of the area’s culture and identity. So if you’re looking for a more personal experience that allows you to really dig into some of Australia’s hidden gems, then spending time at the Illawarra Museum is definitely the way to go.

18. The Grand Pacific Drive

The Grand Pacific Drive is a 140km scenic drive in Australia that starts at the Royal National Park (south of Sydney) to Shoalhaven (100km south of Wollongong). While this is a lot further than our Sydney to Wollongong road trip, it is definitely worth mentioning if you’re considering extending it.

There are plenty of extra highlights to see on the road trip from Wollongong to Shoalhaven. This would include the Blow hole of Kiama, the beautiful beaches in Jervis Bay, and the Shoalhaven Zoo.

Ultimately, I believe crossing over the Sea Cliff Bridge is your biggest highlight on the Grand Pacific Drive. And you’ll see that between Sydney and Wollongong.

Check out the Grand Pacific Drive for many brilliant spots
Check out the Grand Pacific Drive for many brilliant spots

Is the Sydney to Wollongong Road trip worth visiting?

Suppose you’re looking for a beautiful coastal drive with plenty of rewarding pit stops along the way. In that case, the Sydney to Wollongong road trip is definitely worth a visit. The beautiful coastline and beaches boast stunning views and are great spots for taking photos or just simply relaxing.

You’ll have no shortage of unique sites to experience on this road trip, including the Royal National Park, Nan Tien Temple, the Sea Cliff Bridge, Ocean Pools, and beautiful gardens. Rest assured, all these memories will last a lifetime!

What’s the Drive time between Sydney and Wollongong

It’s 1.5 hours of direct driving between Sydney and Wollongong, but plan for a bit longer if you have plenty of stops to make! This route has been rated as one of the most scenic routes in Australia as you journey along with smooth roads and lofty coastal cliffs.

Whether it’s sunshine or showers, the views will mesmerize you as you take a stroll on the beach for a quick break during your drive. So grab your map and compass and get ready to explore a road trip from Sydney and Wollongong.

Hiring a car for your Road trip

A Sydney to Wollongong road trip is a great way to experience the beauty of Australia’s east coast! And hiring a car is definitely worth it, as you can take your time and enjoy the journey. On this sealed road, all you need is a 2WD vehicle, and with several car hire companies throughout the region offering various packages, you can easily find the right one that fits your budget.

➡  Find your favourite brand & compare prices for your Rental Car HERE

You can also pack up everything you need for a day or two of exploring – making stop-overs along the way to get to know the locals and create lasting memories. So why wait? Renting a car for your Sydney to Wollongong road trip will be an easier and more enjoyable experience.

Where to stay in Sydney

As one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, Sydney has plenty of options for choosing accommodations. It caters to all types of travellers, from those with plenty of money to spend on luxury pads to budget-conscious nomads just looking for a good night’s rest.

➡  Check and compare prices for Sydney Booking.com Hotels HERE. And if your looking for things to do, then click HERE for Get your Guide Tours. However, if you after more Day tour options then you have Viator Tours HERE

From trendy boutique hotels overlooking The Opera House to Harbour Bridge views and cozy beachside Airbnb’s. Not only that, but with water views and even hostel beds in vibrant neighbourhoods. There is something for everyone looking for a place to stay in Sydney!

Where to stay n Wollongong?

When it comes to finding a place to stay in Wollongong, you may not have as many options as you would find in Sydney. Still, luckily the limited choices are convenient and comfortable. Opt for one of the city’s most popular hotels, or enjoy proximity to the beach with one of the many seaside accommodation options.

➡  Check and compare prices for Wollongong Booking.com Hotels HERE

If you prefer something less formal and less touristy, there are plenty of motels around for a more personalised experience. Rest assured that your stay in Wollongong will be pleasant and relaxing no matter which option you choose.

The Royal Coast Track is definitely worth the visit
The Royal Coast Track is definitely worth the visit

Is Wollongong Worth Visiting?

Wollongong is an increasingly popular tourist destination, and for a good reason! From historical tourist attractions such as the historic Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse to the arts and culture scene of Flagstaff Hill, there’s something to intrigue and excite even the pickiest of travellers.

If you want to immerse yourself in some local history while painting a picture-perfect backdrop, then a visit to one of the art galleries or the Wollongong Science Centre is definitely worth it. With plenty of activities spread out across the city and its neighbouring townships, Wollongong is ideal for anyone wanting an exciting break away from home.

Other Blogs you might like to look at:

Is the Dubbo Zoo worth Visiting, Review & Things to do?

Is Norfolk Island worth visiting & the best things to do?

Wrap up to a Sydney to Wollongong Road Trip Stops

It’s time for an adventure – lift up those car windows and take in the salty sea air! Thanks for reading this blog post today on my best Sydney to Wollongong road trip stops and I hope you found what you were looking for. However, If you’re still researching, please explore more New South Wales Blogs HERE for inspiration.

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