The Illawarra area surrounding the city of Wollongong, just south of Sydney, is home to a bunch of coal mines, but it’s also a gold mine of adventures. Ha! Seriously though, check out these ten bush walks in the Illawarra! It’s a totally 24-carat hiking destination.

 

We acknowledge that these adventures are located on Dharawal Nation, the traditional land of the Dharawal and Wodi Wodi people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Hiking Around Wollongong and The Illawarra

The Illawarra region, which lies on Dharawal Country, is jam-packed with hidden gems for the weekend warrior. I’ve included ten of my favourite hikes around Wollongong, which I reckon showcase the best of what’s on offer in this beautiful part of the world.

There’s something for everyone, whether you’re after a tough challenge, a chilled stroll, waterfalls or trickling creeks, the Illawarra has a hike to suit.

Fancy something a bit longer? Read: The 5 Best Overnight Hikes Near Sydney

1. Brokers Nose

Time from Sydney: 1hr 15min
Distance:
3.5km one way
Duration: 1.5 hr one way

Brokers Nose holds one of the best views of Wollongong’s pristine coastline. The trailhead is located at the top of Mt Ousley, off the side of a truck stop. It’s an easy walk to the edge of the escarpment, where the bush opens up to 180° of beachy coastline.

 

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2. Macquarie Pass Jump Rock

Time from Sydney: 1hr 50min
Distance:
6km return
Duration: 3 hr return

Please note! The trail to Jump Rock is currently closed. Check the NSW National Parks Website for updates before heading out.

A real summer favourite! Nestled in Macquarie Pass is a hike to an awesome jump rock. It’s easily accessible – parking is at the bottom of Macquarie Pass and it’s a short walk up the fire trail, then a somewhat rough bushwalk and rock hop up to the jump spot. Just keep following the river!

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes

 

3. Clover Hill Trail

Time from Sydney: 1hr 50min
Distance:
9-10km return
Duration: 3-3.5 hr return

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, further up the pass is the Clover Hill trail. This trail will take you to the top of a waterfall that leads down to the jump rock. There are a few options up here to explore among the rocks and bush of the south escarpment and even two more waterfalls to find with a bit of off-track hiking.

Read more: How To Hike Off-Track

 

4. Illawarra Escarpment Forest Walk

Time from Sydney: 1hr 10min
Distance:
14km one way
Duration: 4.5 hr one way

The gorgeous Forest Walk starts at the Wodi Wodi trailhead, climbs up the escarpment, and meanders along through the lush forest, before descending back down Sublime Point in Austinmer.

There’s plenty of spots to stop and peer out at the ocean and down to the houses and rail line below. The most difficult parts are climbing up and down the mountain, with an undulating track in between. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the native flora and fauna!

 

5. Princess Marina Track to Kellys Falls

Time from Sydney: 1hr
Distance:
1.5km one way
Duration: 40 min one way

The hike along Princess Marina Track to Kellys Falls isn’t a long one, but it’s a tough one, with some serious guts needed to get up and down the rope ladder (which was broken last time we checked). But it’s all totally worth it, with a stunning swimming hole calling your name at the bottom.

 

6. Wodi Wodi Track

Time from Sydney: 1hr 10min
Distance:
3km one way
Duration: 3 hr one way

The Wodi Wodi track begins at the same trailhead as the Forest Walk, but rather than walking south along the escarpment, it cuts through the forest to the north to finish at Stanwell Park station. You can either turn around and walk back the way you came, or wander down the hill into Stanwell Park and treat yourself with fish and chippies at the beach!

Part of this track follows an Aboriginal route used by the Wodi Wodi people, the Traditional Owners of the area. The highlight of the Wodi Wodi is a small creek that runs along the track, a perfect spot for a cuppa.

 

7. Sublime Point Walking Track

Time from Sydney: 1hr 20min
Distance:
0.7km one way
Duration: 45min one way

This is one of the most popular (and toughest) walks of the Illawarra. Starting at the back of Austinmer, the Sublime Point walking track climbs 700m straight up the escarpment. After a short stroll on the flat, the track quickly starts climbing up a never-ending staircase, resembling the Black Stairs of Mordor.

 

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Once you think the worst is behind you, the climb steepens up a series of ladders and then it’s just a short walk to the top. For those lucky enough to make it to the top, the Sublime Point Cafe makes a mean sticky date pudding (go the full serve, you deserve it!). 

8. Mt Keira Ring Track

Time from Sydney: 1hr 20min
Distance:
 5.5km loop
Duration: 4 hr

Mt Keira is one of the jewels of the Illawarra and a hot spot for adventures. As well as hiking, this is a very popular spot for road and mountain bikers.

The Mount Keira ring track starts at a picnic ground near the Girl Guide camp. From here you’ll wind up the mountain’s south side to the bottom of the lookout road. Walking up to the lookout is a bit of a steep detour, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views up the coast and the chance to refuel at the cafe.

9. Mt Kembla Ring Track & Summit

Time from Sydney: 1hr 30min
Distance:
5.3km loop (+3.4km summit return)
Duration: 3 hr (+1.5hr summit return)

From the car park at Mt Kembla lookout, the trail forks off into two tracks – the Mt Kembla Ring Track and the Mt Kembla Summit Track. Similar to Mount Keira, the Mount Kembla ring track loops around the base of the mountain through the historic mining area.

 

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The Mt Kembla Summit Track is relatively short but the views at the end are amazing. There are a couple of hidden spots along the ridge that offer unspoiled views along the coast.

10. Drawing Room Rocks

Time from Sydney: 2hr 15min
Distance:
4.5km return
Duration: 2.5 hr return

Another short trail that delivers spectacular views is Drawing Room Rocks at the back of Berry on the South Coast.

This track gets its name from the weird shape of the rocks at the lookout which looks like small desks (they’re perfect for a picnic). Even though the walk is short, the drive down the coast and view across the rolling farmlands of the South Coast is spectacular.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

 

 

Feature photo by @emily_parisi