Beyond Sydney: Grand Pacific Drive

There’s nothing like…Australia. And the best way to see this vast, magnificent country is by hitting the road. Think Sydney and icons like the Darling Harbor bridge, Sydney Opera House come to mind and it is easy to underestimate that that is all there is to NSW.

What are the chances that 3 days before Good Friday, you would find a cheap one-way fare to Sydney on the Fiji Airways website? Absolutely none. So when a supplementary 4.00am flight was put on their website departing on the Good Friday morning, I did not hesitate whipping out the credit card and booking it through. And as easy as that, I found myself outside Sydney airport at 8.00am with the whole Easter weekend spread ahead basked in the glorious Australian autumn sun.

Royal National Park
Driving through the Royal National Park, Illawarra. Image Tourism Wollongong

With a rental car secured, armed with printed out maps off the internet, bags of potato chips and water bottles, we ventured off on our road trip down South. There are a couple of routes you could take towards the Wollongong region however the Grand Pacific Drive has to be the most scenic taking you through lush Australian bush on winding mountain roads, on world-class engineered cliff hanging bridges along the NSW coastline and onto wide freeways through the Australian country side.

Bald Hill Lookout, Stanwell Tops

Bald Hill Lookout in Stanwell Tops is popular spot which overlooks the Lawerence Hargrave Drive and you see the steaming factories of Port Kembla in a distance beyond the city line of Wollongong.

Driving down from Stanwell Tops takes you through the towns of Coalcliff, Clifton and onto the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge. This has to be one of my favorite pieces of built infrastructure anywhere in the world!

Sea Cliff Bridge, NSW
Sea Cliff Bridge, NSW
Driving on the Sea Cliff Bridge, NSW

Driving further on the GPD towards Wollongong takes you through many small quaint beach towns like Scarborough, Austinmer, Woonona where Colonial Australia is still around. Preserved in heritage buildings, there are many little treats along the way like Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul.

Kings Theatre now known as Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul. Image Source:

With smooth croons of John Mayer playing in the background, this is my favorite road trip route of all times. Only an hour outside Sydney, yet you leave the city hustle as soon as you hit the A6 into Heathcote region. No matter what the weather; rain or shine this spectacular southern coastline route in NSW never fails to revive me!

Overlooking the Tasman Sea, Stanwell Tops.
Overlooking the Tasman Sea, Stanwell Tops.

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