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Shellharbour to Shoalhaven

Hiking, Macquarie Pass National ParkCREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a hike to Cascade Falls in Macquarie National Park.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Shellharbour
to Shoalhaven

Hiking, Macquarie Pass National Park CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a hike to Cascade Falls in Macquarie National Park.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

If you want to experience the most spectacular stretches of the New South Wales South Coast, a road trip from Shellharbour to Shoalhaven is the way to do it. From surfing to swimming, dramatic coastal walks to rainforest exploration, freshly shucked oysters to fine dining, and glamping to farm stays… here are all the essential ingredients for a memorable holiday.  

Highlights: 

  • Touring the Grand Pacific Drive 
  • Trekking the dramatic Kiama Coast Walk 
  • Spotting whales and dolphins in Jervis Bay Marine Park 

Shellharbour  

The charming seaside town of Shellharbour is just 100km south of Sydney along the scenic Grand Pacific Drive, and is a place where rare littoral rainforest meets the sand. It’s a haven for outdoor activities — cycling, hiking, surfing, swimming — with just as many options when it comes time to refuel and revive.  

Where to eat 

Take your pick of any number of cafés and restaurants in the Shellharbour Village precinct, beside the beach. The Shellharbour Club, known fondly as Shellys, also has a range of dining concepts to choose from: think pub classics in Fiftysix Dining, gourmet hotdogs at Diggity Dogs and sweet treats at Bon Bon. Seafood fan? Savour South Coast oysters and a glass of Coolangatta chardonnay at contemporary local favourite Relish on Addison, or head to the Ocean Beach Hotel for stellar views and enormous platters piled high with mussels, crabs, prawns, squid and more. 

Where to play 

Protected Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve is the ideal place to snorkel and swim in crystal-clear calm water. You can stay in town to pad along the sand or play in small waves, but if you want reliably good surf head slightly further south to infamous breaks, The Farm at Killalea Beach (there are surf schools here, including Pines Surfing Academy) and Mystics at Minnamurra Beach. The other waterway to explore is Lake Illawarra, whether in a boat fishing, on a paddleboard or in a kayak. The lake has 37km of shoreline, which is a hit with cyclists — particularly the 3km Lake Illawarra Art Trail.  

On a bend of the lake is the HARS Aviation Museum, an astounding collection of aircraft in various states of restoration and repair. Since you’re already at Shellharbour Airport, jump in a Touchdown Helicopter for a scenic spin over coast and hinterland, with waterfalls and beaches along the way. Then lace up your walking shoes and explore the trails in Macquarie Pass National Park, just a few kilometres inland and replete with lush rainforest and two super-charged waterfalls.  

Where to stay 

Not far from Lake Illawarra, check in to Escape 778, a spacious house with space to sleep eight across three bedrooms and offering sweeping ocean views. For something more grand, Ravensthorpe Guesthouse occupies a 19th-century mansion restored for luxe stays (rooms come with open fireplaces and French-inspired décor) and upscale meals.  

Kiama 

From Shellharbour, it’s a 15km drive south to Kiama, home to one of the world’s biggest blowholes — this natural rock formation on the town’s headland sees the ocean spurt up to 30m into the air. This is one of the most photogenic stretches along the South Coast, a union of green hills folding down to volcanic rock formations and white sand.  

Where to eat 

Every Wednesday, the park at Kiama’s Surf Beach is transformed into a Farmers Market of epic proportions. Pick up farm-fresh produce from local suppliers (think cider, bread, cheese and gelato), then enjoy a picnic on the grass. There’s more produce plus arts and crafts at the Kiama Seaside Markets, on the third Sunday of every month.  

For a sit-down meal, head to Kiama’s Historic Terrace Houses, built in 1886 for local quarry workers and now filled with cafés, restaurants and boutiques. To sample the area’s local seafood, it’s hard to look past legendary Penny Whistlers, with crispy fish and chips and superb views over the water. The views continue at Art Bar Kiama, perched hilltop with vistas over the countryside to the ocean. Just south of town, drop past the cellar door of Crooked River Wines in Gerringong, which bottles everything from semillon to shiraz, and includes an on-site brewery and restaurant, overlooking the vines. 

Where to play 

The full 22km Kiama Coast Walk could take you all day, but it’s split into three manageable sections, so you can manage your wandering as time permits. The trail starts at the Minnamurra River in the north, taking you along wind-swept Bombo Headlands, past shimmering bays and beaches backdropped by volcanic rock formations, around both of Kiama’s blowholes (little and big) and finally to Werri Beach in the seaside town of Gerringong. When you pass by the big blowhole, backdropped by the 1887 Kiama Lighthouse, visit the heritage-listed Pilot’s Cottage Museum, offering a glimpse into the fascinating maritime history of the Kiama region. 

If you’re still feeling active, take a putt at one of the three expansive golf courses: Kiama Golf Club, Gerringong Golf Club and Jamberoo Golf Club. Or explore one of the trails from the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, including a scenic 1.6km loop along elevated boardwalk through Budderoo National Park, with the option to detour toward a waterfall. 

If you’re travelling with kids in tow, be sure to add Jamberoo theme park to your itinerary — there are dozens of rides, the star attraction being The Perfect Storm, replete with waterslides and moments of zero gravity. More thrills await at nearby Illawarra Fly Treetops Adventure, where you can gain a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest on Australia’s highest zipline or an elevated walkway through the tree canopy. 

Where to stay  

A 10-minute drive south of Kiama you’ll find boutique guesthouse Soul of Gerringong. There’s a farmhouse (which sleeps 16) and cottage (sleeps 7), both decked out in a coastal country style with fireplaces and open living-dining areas. For resort-style accommodation, the Sebel Kiama Harbourside comes with spacious rooms and apartments, the latter offering expansive entertaining areas with sea views.  
 

Kiama Highlights CREDIT: Destination NSW

Postcard footage of Kiama

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Kiama Highlights CREDIT: Destination NSW

Postcard footage of Kiama

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The Farm Beach, Shellharbour CREDIT: Mark Fitzpatrick; Destination NSW

The surfers track down to Farm Beach in Killalea State Park, Shellharbour.

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The Farm Beach, Shellharbour CREDIT: Mark Fitzpatrick; Destination NSW

The surfers track down to Farm Beach in Killalea State Park, Shellharbour.

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Kiama Coastal Walk, Kiama CREDIT: Dee Kramer Photography

Kiama Coastal Walk, Kiama.

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Kiama Coastal Walk, Kiama CREDIT: Dee Kramer Photography

Kiama Coastal Walk, Kiama.

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Shoalhaven 

The Shoalhaven region is home to an extraordinary 100-plus beaches, some claiming the whitest sands in the world, not to mention legendary South Coast destinations including Jervis Bay (80km south of Kiama), Hyams Beach and Mollymook. Nature, action, art, wine and wildlife are all on the agenda. 

Where to eat 

Whet your whistle at any number of the region’s wineries. North of Jervis Bay on the banks of the Shoalhaven River are Coolangatta Estate — replete with a cellar door for wine and cheese flights, a formal restaurant and historic cottages you can check in to, should you wish to linger — and boutique winery Two Figs Winery, where you can sip shiraz or chardonnay paired with a picnic platter of deli goods. To the south, near Ulladulla, is Cupitt's Estate, overlooking Burrill Lake and Pigeon House Mountain. Here you’ll find a family-run boutique winery, microbrewery and fromagerie as well as a century-old two-bedroom cottage that sleeps four.  

For lovers of the outdoors, pick up a portable beach hut and hamper of delicious food from Hyams Beach Hampers and enjoy a picnic on one of the pretty stretches of sand that characterise the coast. For fine dining, Bangalay Luxury Villas in Shoalhaven Heads has an applauded restaurant, Bangalay Dining, that’s known for its use of native Australian ingredients, including lemon myrtle and bunya nut. If you can’t tear yourself away, check in to one of the self-contained villas. And don’t miss a meal of freshly shucked oysters at Jim Wild’s Oysters, best devoured overlooking the Crookhaven River.  

Where to play 

If you want to explore the great outdoors and get active, Outdoor Raw offers bespoke rock-climbing experiences across the Shoalhaven. You can also learn to surf on magical Mollymook Beach or Bendalong Beach with workshops run by former world champion Pam Burridge.  

The 215-square-kilometre Jervis Bay Marine Park is a haven for seals, dolphins and penguins, as well as for migrating whales (May through November). Take in the spectacle with Dive Jervis Bay, offering scuba and snorkelling expeditions to more than 60 locations. Jervis Bay Wild and Dolphin Watch Cruises Jervis Bay get you close to marine life while staying dry. Most wildlife cruises depart from Huskisson.  

Discover some of the most blinding beaches in the world on the White Sands Walk, a 90-minute loop linking Vincentia and Greenfield Beach. Or wander the trails through Booderee National Park, covering the southern curve of Jervis Bay.  

Stay 

For luxury-loving romantics, a stay at the Mollymook clifftop hideaway Bannisters by the Sea is unforgettable. With a rooftop bar and grill, fine dining at a restaurant curated by Rick Stein plus an ocean-view day spa, Bannisters is designed for an opulent break. Inland, Heavens Mountain Escape is the perfect way to escape city life, its three private cottages nestled at the base of the escarpment that surrounds lush Kangaroo Valley. 

Also revealing rural life, The Woods Farm in Jervis Bay offers eight country-cool cottages, each with its own personality, as well as bell tents for glamping. Still in Jervis Bay, check in to another luxury glamping option at Paperbark Camp, replete with a fine-dining restaurant offering a three-course set menu served by candlelight in a peaceful bush setting.  

 

Swimming with whales in Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Highlight video of the Dive Jervis Bay Swimming With Whales experience with seals and whales during the migration season.

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Swimming with whales in Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Highlight video of the Dive Jervis Bay Swimming With Whales experience with seals and whales during the migration season.

#newsouthwales #lovensw

Whale Watching, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Humpback whale breaching off Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW.

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Whale Watching, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Humpback whale breaching off Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Aerial overlooking Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay.

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Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Aerial overlooking Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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