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Explore : The Illawarra Coast

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Illawarra is the coastal region south of Sydney and includes Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.  There’s plenty to see along the coast, including great beaches, lighthouses and blowholes.  If you venture up onto the escarpment, there are some wonderful lookouts.

 

On our way to Wollongong, we did an unplanned visit to the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple.  It was a strange experience.  You have to remove your shoes before entering and no cameras or food are allowed inside.  The temple is beautifully ornate on the outside, with scores of sculptures decorating the sides of the building.  Inside, the temple was cold and eerie, with beams of sunlight combining with smoke from shrines to make bright columns within the gaping chamber.  There were statues everywhere, some decorated and clothed, and there were two men chanting with fabric wrapped around their waists.  We didn’t understand any of it and felt too uncomfortable to ask anyone about it so we left.

 

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The next stop was Bald Hill Lookout, with awesome view of the coast and the Sea Cliff Bridge in the distance.  It seemed to be a popular spot for bikies taking their chopper out for a coastal ride.

 

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We followed the road down the coast and drove over the Sea Cliff Bridge, a 665m balanced cantilever bridge that hugs the cliffs and was opened in 2005.  With two lanes of traffic, a cycle path and walkway, it gives travellers an opportunity to get out of the car to soak up in the view.

 

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Wollongong

The 3rd largest city in NSW after Sydney and Newcastle, Wollongong is an aboriginal term for ‘seas of the south’.  George Bass and Matthew Flinders were the first to visit the area in 1796 and since then, it has grown to become a major commercial hub for the region with a busy port and an active fishing industry.

 

Our first stop was at the Illawarra Brewery for a quick drink.  We had a great tasting session with a very passionate staff member – Juz loved the Pilsner the best and Dave enjoyed the IPA.  Even Juz liked the IPA.  It had a sweet mango smell with fruity flavours balanced with ballsy bitters.

 

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After a quick visit to Flagstaff Hill Park and Lighthouse, we made our way up the escarpment to Mount Kiera Lookout for an overview of Wollongong and Port Kembla.

 

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As the sun was setting, we checked out Lake Illawarra from the lookout at Wentworth Cottage Park before watching the sun disappear over the horizon at Bass Point Reserve.

 

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Kiama

We arrived in the cute coastal town of Kiama just as it was getting dark so we didn’t get to see much.  We had just enough time to see the Big Blowhole and Kiama Lighthouse before we ran out of light.  Luckily, we have a friend, Craig, who lives in Kiama who put us up for the night.

 

 

In the morning, after dealing with the sudden disappearance of the Troopy’s clutch, we went for a tour of town to see the memorial arch and find Kiama’s Small Blowhole.  This was far more impressive than the Big Blowhole.  As the waves come in, you hear a big WHOMP and then a big spray of water.  Be careful – if the wind is blowing in your direction, you could get wet!

 

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Merry Christmas – enjoy the holidays!

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Hi all,

 

We’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year… and what a year it’s been!

 

We started 2015 in Cairns, where we stayed until May, working and biding our time until we had to fly home for two weddings.

 

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Once we were on the road again, our task was fairly simple – explore the east coast of Australia.  After a magical visit at Paronella Park, we passed through Townsville and Mackay before heading inland to the beautiful Lake Elphinstone.

 

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We cruised through the Central Highlands before returning to the coast. We ate beef in Rockhampton, drank rum in Bundaberg, then caught a ferry to Fraser Island. We gave the Troopy a 4WD workout at Landcruiser Mountain Park and watched the rain clouds come in on the Sunshine Coast.

 

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We spent about three weeks in Brisbane because Dave needed some medical attention, but it was great to spend time with friends in that beautiful city.  As we approached the Gold Coast, the dark clouds returned and by the time we got to the Best Of All Lookouts, we couldn’t see a thing!

 

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We crossed the border into New South Wales and bee-lined straight to Byron Bay for a few days in the easternmost town of Australia. We were lucky to get a few days of sun but the drizzle returned as we made our way to Coffs Harbour.  Finally, with some sun, we got to enjoy the beautiful coastline from Port Macquarie to Newcastle.

 

 

We enjoyed a tipple in the Hunter Valley before spending a week on the Central Coast, helping out a family with their household duties while Juz scored some work with a school holiday program in Gosford.

 

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Arriving in Sydney was a little surreal. It’s the biggest city in Australia and we spent a lot of time walking around the city getting exhausted. We also have a few friends in Sydney so it was great to catch up and spend time with them.

 

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We headed inland to the Blue Mountains and Central West just in time for a freakish cold front to sweep through the area. We had the pleasure of experiencing subzero temperatures and snow, as well as seeing the Dish in Parkes and exotic animals at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

 

 

With a few more friendly visits in Kiama and Milton, and a stop at the Big Merino in Goulburn, we finally visited our country’s capital. We called in at the War Memorial and National Mint and even saw our old travel buddies Tom and Bella.

 

 

Once we returned to the coast, the wet weather reappeared and we reached the Victorian border within a day or two. From then on, there was no point stuffing around – we were 4 hours from home.  On Sunday the 2nd of August, we rolled in unannounced and enjoyed a hot shower and warm bed.

 

Since our return to Melbourne, we’ve been busy.  We got jobs, reconnected with friends, and started making plans for the future.

 

We’re going to take a few weeks off to enjoy the silly season and spend time with our family and friends. We’ll see you all in the new year with more posts about the last leg of our lap around Australia, as well as our run down of Tassie later in the year.

 

Thanks for all your support,

 

Dave & Juz

 

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