I recently did a road trip in New South Wales, Australia, with another friend covering Blue Mountains, Capertee, Mudgee, Quirindi and Charlestown (Redhead Beach) in the central and North Coast of NSW, and then Kiama, Wollongong, Jervis Bay, Macquarie Pass, Southern Highlands, Saddleback Mountain and Jamberoo Valley on the South Coast of NSW. We had rented a compact SUV from Avis car rentals in Sydney and drove to Katoomba, a chief town in the city of Blue Mountains, on the first day of our trip. We drove through majestic valleys, mountains, hills, farming lands, wineries and national parks. After doing the North Coast of NSW, we took a break in Sydney for a few days before heading to the South Coast of NSW. Here is a brief synopsis of our road trip and all the places we visited.
1. Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is a rugged region west of Sydney in Australia’s New South Wales. It is popular for its precipitous landscapes comprising of steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and small villages. The region has many bushwalking trails. Blue Mountains was the first stop on our road trip in NSW where we spent the night in Katoomba, a chief town in the city of Blue Mountains. From Katoomba we were able to drive to all the major attractions including the “Three Sisters” and the Katoomba Cascades.
2. Mudgee via Capertee Valley
On the second day of our road trip, we drove to Mudgee via Capertee, a mountain village located 45 kms north of Lithglow. It is 800 metres above sea level and surrounded by national parks and grazing land. The Capertee Valley is the world’s second largest canyon. It is surrounded by the wonders of World Heritage Listed wilderness. After driving for 35 kms on the Mudgee road, past the villages of Cullen Bullen and Ben Bullen, we reached the small town of Capertee. We took the Tourist Drive 2 which was the road on our right to Glen Davis that descended into the valley. The road was so scenic that it was really well worth the diversion.
3. Visiting Mudgee
Mudgee is a small town 260 kms north-west of Sydney and is known for its colonial buildings and wineries. In Mudgee, we connected with a local photographer Noel Dawson and his lovely wife Sharyn, who took us around to some of the well-known wineries and a couple of really nice scenic spots along the Cudgegong River. We also visited a Traveling Stock Reserve. We ended our trip in Mudgee with lunch at a cute side-walk cafe.
4. Mudgee to Quirindi
Mudgee to Quirindi is a distance of 220 kms and can be covered in about 2 hours and 45 minutes. After stopping over in Mudgee for the night, we drove to Quirindi the next morning hoping to visit the famous sunflower fields in the Liverpool Plains. However, by the time we arrived in Quirindi, the sunflowers had started to wilt. Even then, Quirindi was a nice stop to make as the drive there was absolutely breathtaking and I had my best coffee there!
5. Red Head Beach, Red Head
Redhead is a coastal suburb of the city of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales. It is famous for the Redhead Beach that boasts stunning cliffs and sand dunes. From Quirindi we drove through Hunter Valley to arrive in Charlestown where we stayed at the Mercure Charlestown Hotel. Even though it was raining heavily when we were there, we managed to get out to the ocean pools and have lunch in town. It only cleared out on the last day of our stay and we stopped at the Redhead Beach before driving back to Sydney. We also stopped at the Lindt factory outlet and Ikea just before entering Sydney.
6. Camping at Jervis Bay & Hyams Beach
After driving through the central and the North coast of NSW, we took a break in Sydney for a few days and then headed to the South Coast. Our first stop was Jervis Bay, a 102-square-kilometre (39 sq mi) oceanic bay and village on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is said to possess the whitest sand in the world. We camped at the Jervis Bay Cabins & Hidden Creek Caravan Park located on 5 beautiful acres of bushland next to the pristine waters of Currambene Creek. We also visited the Hyams Beach that has the whitest sand I have ever seen on a beach anywhere in the world!
7. Bombo Quarry & Headland, Kiama
Bombo Quarry is a headland made of unusual basalt columns and walls caused by metal quarrying in the area in the 1880s and 1900s. It is located close to Kiama. From Jervis Bay, my friend and I drove to the Bombo Quarry with a landscape photographer from Wollongong called Brad Chilby (http://chilby.com.au). The landscape was quite spectacular with its unusual columns rising from the ocean and the waves beating down at the rocks.
8. Wollongong Harbour Old Lighthouse
From the Bombo Quarry, we drove to Wollongong Harbour and checked out the Old Lighthouse. The Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse or the Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse, also known by the locals as the Old Wollongong Lighthouse, is a historic lighthouse situated on the southern breakwater of the heritage-listed Wollongong Harbour in Wollongong, a coastal city south of Sydney, New South Wales in Australia.
9. Towradgi Ocean Pool
After taking pictures and hanging out at the Bombo Quarry, Lake Illawara and the Wollongong Harbour Old Lighthouse, we made our final stop for the day at the Towradgi Ocean/Rock Pool. The rock pool is about a 10 minute drive from the Wollongong Harbour. It is 50 mts long with stunning views of the Corrimal Beach, Wollongong Beach and the lighthouse and harbour in the distance.
10. Wombarra Ocean (Rock) Pool, Wombarra
The Wombarra Rock Pool in Wombarra is a half an hour drive from Wollongong. After sleeping over the night in Wollongong, this was our first stop the next day. It was the month of March and even though it was raining, the water in the pool was still warm. There was nobody at the pool except a fisherman sitting some distance away from the pool. The pool is located along the Lawrence Hargrave Drive between Coledale and Scarborough. There is a small parking lot at the pool level.
11. Sea Cliff Bridge, Coalcliff
The Sea Cliff Bridge is located just south of Sydney in the northern Illawarra region of NSW. We came to the Sea Cliff Bridge with landscape photographer Brad Chilby (http://chilby.com.au) who took us down a secret passage from where we could enjoy the ocean with stunning views of the bridge.
12. Jump Rock Falls, Macquarie Pass National Park
Jump Rock Falls and swimming hole are located at the bottom of Macquarie Pass. It was quite late in the evening and raining when we started hiking towards Jump Rock. Walking slowly we navigated our way through dense bush, moss and slime, and climbed over rocks and roots to arrive at the falls.
13. Fitzroy Falls, Southern Highlands
Fitzroy Falls is a small village in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, Australia, named after the famous 81 meter waterfall. We stopped here for two nights on our road trip in NSW. We stayed at a bush cottage which was in walking distance to the Fitzroy Falls and backed onto the Morton National Park.
14. Jamberoo Valley
Jamberoo Valley is full of nature reserves and national parks and has a quiet, little village called Jamberoo located in the valley. The village is about 11 km inland from Kiama on the South Coast of New South Wales. From Sydney, it is a total driving distance of about 125 kms and takes about 2 hrs to reach Jamberoo. Even though it had been raining heavily during the last part of our trip, it cleared out the day we visited Jamberoo.
15. Saddleback Mountain Lookout
The Saddleback Mountain is located near Kiama in New South Wales, Australia. The mountain rises to about 600 mts. above sea level and the Saddleback Mountain Lookout offers stunning views of the Illawarra region.