Visiting the Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra in Australia, will take you through some of the most breathing scenery on the planet, and through quaint towns.
The Illawarra area of New South Wales covers the area from the south of Sydney to the Shoalhaven region. Any suburb north of the major city of the Illawarra, which is Wollongong are considered to be the Northern Suburbs.
The majority of the suburbs in the Northern Suburbs, much like the rest of the Illawarra lies directly on the beach or are not very far away. The Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra exude this beach and coastal lifestyle and surfing is a big draw card.
A road trip from Sydney to Wollongong will take you through the 16,000-hectare Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest national park and the second oldest national park in the world. You will emerge from the national park to the first of the Northern Suburbs.
The residents of the Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra tend to be quiet bohemian and very artistic, so all of these suburbs have a very good vibe about them.
Starting from the most northern suburb and coming south towards Wollongong –
You will get a panoramic vista of the entire coastline, which is part of the Grand Pacific Drive from Bald Hill. Here hangliders and paragliders take off and waft across the cliff faces and above the suburbs below. It was on the beach that Lawrence Hargrave, pioneer Australian aviator, first experimented with box kites and designed the wings and the engine that the Wright Brothers used.
Driving down the hill from Stanwell Tops you will pass through lush rainforests and come to the beach side suburb. This is where many of the hang gliders land on the beach as the surfers catch a wave or two. There are some excellent art galleries and cafes and an exceptional resort based on the hill and overlooking the ocean.
The Sea Cliff Bridge
Though technically not a suburb, the Sea Cliff Bridge is so amazing that it deserves special mention. Many people travel far and wide to drive across and walk across this cantilevered bridge that winds itself around the cliffs and out over the water. It is often used in commercials for luxury cars and motorbikes and is architecturally stunning.
Famous for the Scarborough Pub, this hotel is very popular with locals, day trippers and international visitors. It is set high on the cliff overlooking the expansive sea and often patrons will see dolphins and whales swimming by as they are enjoying lunch.
In another fabulous setting, you will find that living and holidaying in the Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra is a sort after experience. Wombarra is an Aboriginal term meaning Black Duck and again has the culture and lifestyle that befits this area. The Wombarra Sculpture Garden, situated on one hectare of lush rainforest land is definitely worth visiting.
Just 18 kms from Wollongong, Coledale is another seaside village offers campers some of the most spectacular, albeit sought after, camping sites on this beautiful Pacific stretch. As with all of the Northern Suburbs there is a surfer and fishermen culture and some great cafes. The Coledale School Markets run on the 4th Sunday of every month from 9 AM to 3 PM, and this is where you will experience the very friendly people who live in this northern suburb of the Illawarra.
Home to many artists and many surfers and professional people, this unique suburb is a blend of all of these people working harmoniously together. Austi as locals call it, has a very vibrant food scene and is home to the Austinmer Vintage Seaside Markets. Austi, like the rest of the Northern suburbs of the Illawarra is extremely popular in summer time, when visitors descend en masse.
D.H. Lawrence wrote Kangaroo in Thirroul and this is where renowned Australian artist Brett Whitely unfortunately took his own life. It is home to many galleries, cafes and a great surf beach. There is a great arts scene at Thirroul.
While there are a couple of more suburbs before you get to the city of Wollongong, these are the perfect road trip from the top to the bottom.
The best part of a road trip through the Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra is the ability to stop, watch the hangliders, walk through the rainforest, look at an art gallery, go for a swim or surf and follow this with an awesome meal at one of the local and very friendly cafes. Hiring your car from Europcar makes your road trip that much easier.