The best camping near Wollongong, New South Wales.
The rainforest meets the sea at Wollongong just south of Sydney on the NSW southern coast.
The Illawarra Escarpment tumbles into the sea just north of Wollongong. The ‘Gong, as it’s known to locals, is the third largest city in NSW, and while it might have an industrial past it’s also one of the most attractive seaside cities in Australia. Explore the horseshoe-shaped cove of Wollongong Harbour with its lighthouse, fishing boats, fish markets, and city beaches.Read more...
The Illawarra Escarpment tumbles into the sea just north of Wollongong. The ‘Gong, as it’s known to locals, is the third largest city in NSW, and while it might have an industrial past it’s also one of the most attractive seaside cities in Australia. Explore the horseshoe-shaped cove of Wollongong Harbour with its lighthouse, fishing boats, fish markets, and city beaches. Getting to Wollongong is half the fun: come by road and you’ll drive across the stunning cantilevered Sea Cliff Bridge on the Grand Pacific Drive; travel by train from Sydney and the tracks hug the coastline almost the entire way.
Grand Pacific Drive
NSW’s answer to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, the Grand Pacific Drive (also known as Lawrence Hargrave Drive) is a cliff-hugging scenic route that meanders along the coastline just south of Sydney. Soak in the views from Stanwell Tops then wind along the edge of the cliffs 50-metres out to sea on the famous cantilevered Sea Cliff Bridge between Coalcliff and Clifton, before hopping from beach to beach–most have a caravan park or beachside camping ground nearby–all the way to Wollongong.
Reminiscent of England with rolling green hills, historic stone houses, and cool climate gardens bursting with tulips and daffodils in spring, these highlands that flank the coast between Sydney and Wollongong are the place for a country weekend getaway. There are good holiday parks in the towns of Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bowral, or bush camp in riverside camping areas in the state forests and national parks. Bring your winter woollies, as it can get cold at night.
Valleys don’t get much prettier than Kangaroo Valley, just over an hour’s drive south-west of the ‘Gong. The impressive stone bridge over the Kangaroo River is the oldest suspension bridge in Australia. Despite the name, you’ll probably see more wombats than wallabies in the riverside camping area, and there’s lots of caravan park and glamping options too. Nearby must see spots include Fitzroy Falls in Moreton National Park.
Shellharbour, Kiama, Berry, and Jamberoo
Watch the waves woosh though the blowhole at Kiama, climb the Illawarra Fly—a bouncy 500-metre-long, 25-metre-high elevated tree top walk near Robertson—tackle the waterslides at Jamberoo Action Park, walk with lyrebirds in the rainforest at Minnamurra or feed your sweet tooth with a hot donut from the Berry Donut Farm. If you’re a surfer (or just a lover of sleeping beside the sea) head to The Farm at Killalea State Park, where the campsites are right behind the beach.
When to Go
Summer time is the best time for seaside camping, especially if you plan on getting wet. Camping and caravanning is one of the most popular accommodation choices on the south coast during the summer months and school holidays, especially in late December and throughout January, when you’ll need to book well in advance if you want to secure a place. If you want to see whales, go between June and November.
Know Before You Go
- The wheelchair accessible boardwalk in Minnamurra Rainforest to Minnamurra Falls is perfect for families.
- Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops just north of Wollongong is Australia’s best spot for hang-gliding and paragliding. The site is 275 metres above sea, providing spectacular ocean views with the Royal National Park to the north and the escarpment to the south. Tandem flights are available: no experience needed just a good head for heights.
- The surf beaches of the Illawarra are a great place to learn to surf. Try https://illawarrasurfacademy.com.au/, https://www.australiansurftours.com.au/surf-school/ or https://www.pinessurfingacademy.com.au/