THE Grand Pacific Drive departing from Sydney doesn’t take long to lose yourself in the chill factor as you leave the city behind and enter its southern fringe and into the sub-tropical lushness of the Royal National Park. It pays to stop off for a walk here and explore one of the oldest national parks in the world.
From here, it’s a leisurely drive offering spectacular scenery, dramatic coastal cliffside views and sandstone heaths inland. Stop off at the Hindu Temple in Helensburgh or enjoy a spot of horseriding at beautiful Otford to really fire up the romance-o-meter before jumping back in the camper to head to Stanwell Tops for some amazing views. Before long, you will reach the charming seaside suburb of Thirroul – reportedly the Aboriginal word for “Valley of Cabbage Tree Palms”. Thirroul was a former coalmining hamlet boasts excellent surf beach at Sandon Point. It’s golden beachfront has a wonderful grassy area to enjoy a coffee from a local cafe or kick back with a picnic. This was the place that inspire writer DH Lawrence to pen his novel, Kangaroo.
It’s only a half hour cruise along the seaside drive from here to reach Wollongong, one of the most liveable regional cities south of Sydney. A magical place to park your campervan for a night or two is at Shellharbour Beachside Tourist Park. This park’s lovely beachfront location is only a short stroll away from Shellharbour Village and its restaurants, shops and cafes. At night, I highly recommend an evening spent at the Lagoon Restaurant to set the mood and enjoy a wonderful feast of fresh seafood right on the oceanfront.
Some of the nearby attractions worth exploring here include Blackbutt Reserve, Seacliff Bridge and the Illawarra Fly treetop walk (pictured).