Our trip on the Grand Pacific Drive- New South Wales

Grand Pacific DriveGrand Pacific Drive

It's been raining off and on for days, which is great for the drought but the kids aren’t' as understanding. With the end of the school holidays upon us, I'm looking for a change of scenery and something to keep both kids and adults amused. We decide
to take a short break and check out the Grand Pacific Drive, the stunning stretch of highway between Sydney's Royal National Park, through Wollongong and and Kiama to Jervis Bay.

After entering the park we follow the road through subtropical rainforest, past beautiful sandstone cliffs and beaches until we reach Balk Hill, where we stop to enjoy the scenery and a packed lunch. From this vantage point, we take our first measure of the size of the Grand Pacific Drive and that magnificent feat of engineering, the sea Cliff Bridge. Baid Hill is clearly a popular spot for hang gliders and parasailers who launch themselves into the rapid upward air currents that come from the ocean. The kids are amazed at the hang gliders defying gravity.

Starting down the winding road that hugs the cliffs like a wet raincoat (also required today) we come to a parking area, which allows us to walk the 665-metre length of the Sea Cliff Bridge. The kids don't seem to understand my fascination with the construction Once their eyes glaze over I five up and we get on with enjoying the spectacular view and reading about the history of the site.

Our next stop is Austinmer, a picturesque town with beautiful beaches and a deservedly popular gelato bar, called the Austi Beach Cafe. Even with the rain, this is a savored treat. Checking into the Novotel North Beach, we watch the wild weather whipping the beach. There are some great family activities on offer around here. You can hire a bike to ride around the harbor, or do a tandem skydive, landing right next to the hotel. Maybe next time.

We take the short walk to Belmore Basin, which is a boat mooring area built by convicts, then move onto Flagstaff Hill. The lush green grass and hills beg us to roll down the steep slopes. This is the location of two lighthouses and an army fortress, with uninterrupted views to Wollongong and Port Kembla. I again try to share my knowledge of the area with the children but, ignoring me, they run off towards the Harbor Front Restaurant for dinner.

Jamberoo

The next day awakening to another day of rain we make our way to the place that's had the kid’s checking times and distance at an abnormal rate all morning- Jamberoo. In a mad rush of indistinguishable words, the kids explain the order of attractions. We all decide that the dry fun will be first: put-putt- gold, bob-sled and go karts, then it's free time in the water park. The latest ride is the Taipan, a slide where six people sit in a tube and go through a pitch-black winding tunnel to the pool below. Simply awesome. We have family races down the slides, bob around in the giant wave pool and devour a cheap lunch of hot chips.

Nan Tien TempleNan Tien Temple

We move on through Bass Point, which has a great view of the coast and some lovely old shops, and on to Kiama, best known for its blowhole. Discovered by George Bass in 1797, the ceaseless flow of water through the blowhole never seems to lose its appeal. We stay at the new Gran Mercure Kiama Blue, built around the heritage listed blue stone primary school house. It has impressive views of Kama Harbor and a number of very kid-friendly eating options.

The next day, we head to Huskisson for a dolphin cruise. The manger, fills us in on some facts about the area and reminds us that this is not a zoo-catching sight of a dolphin is still left to luck, However, the company does offer a free pass for another cruise if you don't see any. Well, it's our lucky day, because not very long into the cruise, we see a number of dolphin pods. The children are astonished and my camera is going wild.

It's now time to leave Kiama and head home but we detour via the old-fashioned terrace shops to buy some English toffee and lollies for the trip. On a whim, we decide to the Nan Tien Temple at Berkeley on the southern edge of Wollongong. The largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, Nan Tien is a very beautiful and serene place. There are family tours explaining the Buddhist religion and customs. The children think it's fabulous. On the homeward leg, I realize that we didn’t use a map for the entire journey. We just kept the ocean in sight and followed the signs a liberating way to travel.

Where to stay: Novotel North Beach www.novotelnorthbeach.com.au

Grand Mercure Kiama Blue www.grandmercure.com.au

Where to go:
Harbour Front Restaurant: www.harbourfron.com.au

Huskisson RSL Club: www.huskissonrslclub.com

What to do:
Jamberoo: www.jamberoo.net
Dolphin Watch Cruises: www.dolphinwatch.com.au
Nan Tien Temple: www.nantien.org.au

 

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