The Illawarra 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 walks in the Illawarra! It’s a totally 24-carat microadventure destination.
The Illawarra region, around Wollongong, 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 the 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.
Fancy an overnighter? Read: The 5 Best Overnight Hikes Near Sydney
1. Brokers Nose
Time taken: 1.5hrs
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.
2. Clover Hill Trail And Macquarie Pass Jump Rock
Distance: 6km return
Time taken: 3 hrs
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.
3. Illawarra Escarpment Forest Walk
Time taken: 4.5 hrs
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!
4. Princess Marina Track to Kellys Falls
Time taken: 40 mins
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.
5. Wodi Wodi Track
Time taken: 3 hrs
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.
6. Sublime Point Walking Track
Time taken: 45mins
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!)
7. Mt Keira Ring Track
Time taken: 4 hrs
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.
8. Robertson Lookout
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.
9. Mt Kembla Summit & Ring Track
Time taken: 3 hrs
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.
10. Drawing Room Rocks
Distance: 4.5km return
Time taken: 2.5 hrs
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.