The Illawarra region, just south of Sydney, is home to a bunch of coal mines. What’s less well known is that the escarpment is also a gold mine, of adventures. Ha. Seriously though, check out these 10 walks just an hour south of Sydney! The Illawarra is a totally 24-carat microadventure destination.
The Illawarra (only an hour south of Sydney) is jam-packed with hidden gems for the weekend warrior. I’ve included 10 of my favourites, which I reckon showcase the best of what’s on offer in this beautiful part of world.
There’s something for everyone, whether you’re after a tough challenge, a chilled stroll, waterfalls or trickling creeks, the Illawarra has it all.
Brokers Nose holds one of the best views of the Illawarra’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 degrees of beach coastline.
Clover Hill Trail And Macquarie Pass Jump Rock
A real summer favourite! Nestled in Macquarie Pass is an awesome jump rock. It’s easily accessible – parking is at the bottom of the 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!
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 escapement.
Princess Marina Track
The Princess Marina track starts off Lawrence Hargrave Drive and is a bit tricky to find. This adds to the charm of the trail that winds along the northern escarpment. The track was originally made for a hotel in the 1930s and winding along it through the bush feels like stepping back into the Illawarra of the past. There are handcrafted stone seats and even the lookouts are built out of locally sourced rock.
Not too far from the end of the Princess Marina Trail, is Kellys Falls. There’s a picnic ground that’s accessible by car if you want to pack for a long lunch. There’s a well-maintained track that takes you to 2 lookouts where you can view Kellys Falls and the Stanwell Park escarpment.
Wodi Wodi Track
We’ve heard that parts of the Wodi Wodi track have washed away and that without signage the track has become very difficult to follow. We recommend trying another short walk in the Illawarra if you don’t have much wild navigation experience.
One of the longer trails in the Illawarra, you’ll need to set aside a couple of hours to complete the Wodi Wodi track, or organise to have cars at both ends. 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.
Sublime Point Walking Track
This is one of the most popular walks of the Illawarra (and toughest). Starting at the back of Austinmer, the Sublime Point walking track climbs 850m 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.
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!)
Mt Keira Ring Track
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 chance to refuel at the new cafe.
At the top of the Mt Keira Ring Track, hiding behind a rusty sign, is the start of the track to Robertson Lookout. The track is nice and flat and follows the contours of the escarpment south to the lookout. If you’re not up for the walk, there’s a carpark at the lookout which also takes you along to Mt Kembla.
Mt Kembla Summit & Ring Track
From the carpark, the track forks off into 2 tracks, the Ring Track and the Summit Track. Similar to Mount Keira, the Mount Kembla ring track loops around the base of the mountain through the historic mining area.
The 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.
Drawing Room Rocks
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 look 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.
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