Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Nan Tien Temple
Get off at the Unanderra train station and follow the road to the left for 15 mins.
Free entry. $8 vegetarian lunch. Open Tue-Sun 9-5.
The Nan Tien is a great place to visit, even if you aren’t Buddhist. They are very welcoming to all visitors, allowing you to decide your own level of participation. So maybe you just want to look and snap a picture or maybe you want to light a candle and kneel in prayer before the statues of Buddha; whatever your choice the temple is a beautiful, relaxing place to enjoy a quiet morning or afternoon. If you are interested, the temple also has opportunities for you to take calligraphy classes, vegetarian cooking classes or classes to learn more about Buddhism.
North of Wollongong:
Stanwell Park/ Bald Hill
Stanwell Park train station. Take Lawrence Hargrave Drive.
Tandem flights are about 180$AUD, but watching the pros take flight is free! When I ventured up to Bald Hill one sunny weekend afternoon there were about fifty or more hanggliders and paragliders launching. It was an amazing sight to see the colorful wings and chutes floating peacefully above some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. Bald Hill overlooks Stanwell Park beach, which is a great place for a swim when you decide to come back down to earth. (This is also where you can see the human birds land.)
Symbio Wildlife Gardens
You know you can’t leave Australia without feeding a kangaroo or cuddling a koala!
7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Dr. Stanwell Tops
Open daily 9:30-5pm
Adults $15, Children $8
Royal National Park
The world’s second oldest national park behind Yellowstone, Royal boasts great surf beaches, clifftop heathland walks, rainforest cycle tracks, and much more. Try the Coast Track; two days and 26 kilometres of diverse environments and spectacular views. Royal National Park can be reached via the Princes Highway, or you can take train and get off at Engadine, Heathcote, Loftus, Otford, or Waterfall stations.
Blue Mountains Tourism Visitor Centre
Echo Point Road, Katoomba
tel: 1 300 653 408
fax: (02) 4739 6787
open: 9am-5pm daily
CityRail operates an hourly train service between Sydney Central station and the Blue Mountains with stops at Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls. The train from Sydney Central costs $11.40 one-way and $13.40 for an off-peak return.
Mountainlink and the Blue Mountains Bus Company (tel: (02) 4782-4213) operate local public transport with regular bus services through most of the day, although services become much less frequent after 6pm. If you arrive at Katoomba station, walk down Katoomba Street, which will take you to the cliff-face overlooking Jamison Valley. This is where most of the hiking trails depart from and it’s also where you’ll find the Scenic Skyway, Scenic Railway, the Three Sisters lookout and the information centre at Echo Point.
Blue Mountains Backpackers
190 Bathurst Street, Katoomba, NSW 2780
tel: (02) 4782 4226
Blue Mountains YHA
207 Katoomba Street, Katooma, NSW 2780
tel: (02) 4782 1416
fax: (02) 4782 6203
A clean hostel with modern facilities in a historical 1930′s building conveniently located right near the train station. Beds from $17.
Named for their distinctive blue haze, a result of eucalyptus oil evaporating from gum trees, the Blue Mountains have long been a popular destination. They are famous for their scenery that features spectacular rock formations, vast gorges and sandstone cliffs hundreds of metres high. Situated on the Great Dividing Range at an average altitude of 1,000 metres above sea level, the Blue Mountains is a vast and rugged natural wilderness area containing three National Parks totalling almost 250,000 hectares, for which a World Heritage listing has been proposed.
The Three Sisters is the most famous Blue Mountains attraction. These three soaring rock pinnacles are the subject of Aboriginal legend. There are plenty of hiking trails in the surrounding area.
Other attractions include the world’s steepest railway, the Katoomba Scenic Railway, which travels from the cliff top at Katoomba down into the Jamison Valley. Above, the Skyway carries passengers along a ropeway 206 metres above the valley floor.
Katoomba is the major town in the Blue Mountains and caters to day-trippers from Sydney with plenty of pricey boutiques, craft shops and cafés. Katoomba is the best place to base yourself in the Blue Mountains and has easy access to the Scenic Railway, scenic lookouts and hiking trails and good rail access from Sydney.
Sights & Activities
Also known as bushwalking, there’s some excellent hiking trails around the Blue Mountains with most of them originating around Katoomba. The most popular include the Giant Stairway Walk that descends the Jamison Valley from Echo Point and the Federal Pass Trail that passes along the floor of the valley and includes the Katoomba Falls and Orphan Rock.
The world’s steepest inclined railway is more like a short roller coaster ride. It is a very popular and thrilling ride.
Corner Violet Street & Cliff Drive, Katoomba. Tel (02) 4752 2699. Tickets $6 one-way, $12 return. Open 9am-5pm daily.
This cable gondola provides an impressive view of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains from above Jamison Valley.
Corner Violet Street & Cliff Drive, Katoomba. Tel (02) 4752 2699. Tickets $10. Open 9am-5pm daily.
South of Wollongong:
Blowhole Point Road, Kiama
tel: (02) 4232 3322 or 1300 654 262
fax: (02) 4226 3260
open: 9am-5pm daily
Kiama is on the CityRail network and the train is by far the best way to get here from Wollongong. The train station is on Bong Bong Street and there are frequent trains to Wollongong (45 minutes).
Kiama Backpackers Hostel
31 Bong Bong Street
tel: (02) 4233 1881
Kiama is situated 45 minutes south of Wollongong and two hours from Sydney and has more character than most other towns on the south coast. There are good surf beaches here as well as hiking trails in nearby nature reserves.
Kiama’s main attraction is the blowhole, which is a natural formation that, in big seas, spurts water hundreds of metres into the air through two rock caverns.
Trains run from Wollongong to Nowra on City Rail’s Southcoast line. Nowra Coaches (tel: (02) 4423 5244) run a bus service linking Nowra and Bomaderry with towns in the Jervis Bay region, including Huskisson and Vincentia. The bus runs four to five times each weekday and two to three times a day on weekends.
Bush n Beach
57 St Georges Avenue, Vincentia, NSW 2540
tel: (02) 4441 6880
Ninety minutes from Wollongong, Jervis Bay is noted as having Australia’s whitest sand beaches. The waters around Jervis Bay are protected as Jervis Bay Marine Park and they are home to dolphins, whales, seals and penguins. The marine park is a popular spot for scuba diving. Much of the area is national park with the NSW Jervis Bay National Park in NSW and Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay Territory. Huskisson and Vincentia are the two main towns in the region although many travellers base themselves in Nowra, which is less than 30 minutes away.
Sights & Activities
Dolphin & Whale Cruises
Dolphin and whale watching is Jervis Bay’s big attraction and cruises depart from Huskisson.
50 Owen Street, Huskisson. Tel (02) 4441 6311. Dolphin watching cruise $20; departs 10am daily; dolphin & bay cruise $25; departs 1pm daily; whale watching cruise $40; Jun-Jul & mid-Sep to mid-Nov.
Jervis Bay is the best dive destination on the New South Wales coast and it is well known for its marine life and crystal-clear waters. Dive trips can be organised through companies in Huskisson and it is also possible to do a PADI dive course here. Jervis Bay Sea Sports (tel: (02) 4441 5012; 47 Owen Street, Huskisson) and Pro Dive Jervis Bay (tel: (02) 4441-5255; 64 Owen Street, Huskisson) operate scuba diving trips and also run PADI dive courses. A four-day PADI dive course at Jervis Bay costs between $330 and $385.
Jervis Bay Territory
The main attraction here is Booderee National Park, which is known for its wildlife and pristine beaches. Admission to the national park is $10 per car or $3 if you arrive by bus. Green Patch is one of the more popular spots in the national park. This lovely beach is frequented by kangaroos and colourful rainbow lorikeets. Further east is Murray’s Beach, another beautiful beach and popular swimming spot.
Jervis Bay Road, Jervis Bay Territory
tel: (02) 4443 0977
open: 9am-4pm daily
Although many people stay in Nowra or the towns in the NSW part of Jervis Bay, some people choose to camp in the Booderee National Park. The park has camping areas at Cave Beach and Green Patch; with another area at Bristol Point that is reserved for large groups.
The fee for the Green Patch campsite is $14-17.30 per night. The Cave Beach campsite costs $8.65-10.75 per night. These prices are good for a car and up to five passengers.