05.06.2013 - 10.06.2013
We had to make a weekday trip to Sydney in early June, so we decided to make an extra long weekend out of it, and take our first road trip down the south coast of NSW.
We started in Sydney, for game 1 of the epic State of Origin (a yearly rugby league battle between allstars from New South Wales and Queensland) series at ANZ. It was an amazing night, with the NSW Blues capitalizing in front of 80,380 screaming fans. I've commented about this before, but there is an infectious energy at Australian sporting events; and being among a crowd that huge was amazing.
From Sydney, we drove south through Botany Bay, stopping at the site where Captain Cook first arrived in Australia in 1770. Today, the view from Kamay Botany Bay National Park is an industry lined shore with huge tankers coming and going... not the most picturesque spot, but still worth a look. We carried on to Cronulla, and watched a few surfers making the most of a Friday on one of the many beaches near the CBD. There is a nice new tourist information site on the highway outside of Woolongong. We got a few brochures, advice, and a nice view over "the Gong". We stopped in at Woolongong Lighthouse, as the winter wind and the swell gave us wild seas to look at. The next time we travel to the south coast, we'll take Grand Pacific Drive to drive the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge between Coalcliff and Clifton (http://seacliffbridge.com/).
We camped at the Surf Beach Holiday Park in Kiama. It has a really nice kitchen with a small lounge area, which was nice because it was a bit of a drizzly winter day, so it was dark shortly after 5pm. Kiama itself is a quaint, old town with the typically gorgeous east coast beach views and laid back vibe. The Kiama Blowhole somehow slipped by our radar, so I guess that goes on the next time list.
We got to Huskisson early, and decided to take advantage of some better weather, set up camp early and got in some beach time. It's a very long beach all around Jervis Bay, so it's perfect for a long run or a stroll with a camera. The next day, we headed south toward Jervis Bay Nature Reserve, but we had to make a stop at Hyams Beach, and check their claim of having the whitest sand... I gotta say, it was pretty white. And squeeky. The Bay was very quiet, and had beautiful water; we will have to make another trip back with our stand up paddleboards, and some snorkel gear.
We drove inland, and noticed the cooler change as we approached Canberra. We found a good hotel deal, and with projected overnight lows of -2C, thought we had better get on that. Canberra is a very liveable city; well laid out, clean, classy. There are a lot of free activities, museums etc. We visited the Parliament building, which, from the top has a beautiful view down to the Australian War Memorial. The War Memorial has a fantastic museum, where you could spend as long as you wanted, I'm sure there is days of information in there. The man made Lake Burley Griffith has lovely parkland, with a lot of birds, and it was nice to see autumn leaved trees. The Old Bus Depot Market is a large, indoor market with good variety of produce, flowers, handmade foods, art and crafts. We stopped at a couple pubs; many of the pub kitchens close by 9pm, but there is a good selection for late night eats in the CBD. Mount Stromlo has good mountain biking, and we were told the Kowen Forest is developed as well. We'll have to check that out next time, as well as the National Arborteum; a forest that was burned down was later replanted with an abundance of tree species, as a bit of a tree museum, if you will.
On our way back home, we stopped in the Kangaroo Valley at Fitzroy Falls, and then make the short walk in to Twin Falls. It reminded us a lot of the Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains; a deep cut valley filled with gum trees and nice waterfalls. It's great to have such variety in landscape without having to travel very far; and the south coast did live up to its reputation as being very beautiful, rugged and rough.