Explore 500 kilometres of food, wine and sunshine along one of Australia’s most idyllic stretches of coastline.
Taking the Princess Highway south from Sydney, the hustle and bustle really fades out as you hit Royal National Park. Tall eucalypts and the outskirts of rainforest hug the highway, beckoning you to detour off into the wilderness. Established in 1879, it was Australia’s first national park, and is the world’s second oldest. Ducking off the highway reveals a density of forest trails, waterfalls, bush tracks and coastal lookouts. It’s also home to one of Australia’s most popular bushwalks, the Coast Track, a rough-and-tumble, multi‑day trek spanning 26 kilometres between Bundeena and Otford. You could happily spend a week touring the park, but we push on.
You will know you’ve left the Royal National Park behind once you hit the Sea Cliff Bridge, which you may have seen featured in car commercials from Ferrari and Holden. The 450-metre bridge separates Lawrence Hargrave Drive from the Illawarra escarpment, veering away from the rock face and hovering over the ocean below. It’s a popular spot to get out and stretch the legs or snag a selfie, with a pedestrian walkway running the span of the bridge.
The first official stop on our little tour is Mollymook. You might get sick of reading about stunning beaches in this article, but you’ll never tire of seeing them, especially at Mollymook, with a two-kilometre strip boasting world-class surf breaks. This stretch of the South Coast is enjoying a burgeoning reputation in Australia’s food and wine scene, as evidenced by English celebrity chef Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant inside Bannisters By The Sea hotel.
Stein has a stranglehold on the place with a fi ne-dining restaurant, and rooftop and poolside bars open to guests of his many accommodation offerings, as well as one-off visitors. More food and wine await at Cupitt’s Estate winery, with its winery, brewery, fromagerie and attached restaurant. There’s also a cellar door sampling local chardonnay and malbec, matched with local dishes. Wineries and vines in the Shoalhaven Coast wine region are all relatively new, having cropped up intermittently since the early ‘90s. Most establishments are small, but it’s a growing industry, adding another layer to an already visually stunning region. Wine tour operators service the Shaolhaven Coast, so no need to revert to a spittoon.
This is just a sneak peek! To read about the rest of the journey, check out the Summer 2022–2023 edition of Caravanning Australia!
Image: Sea Cliff Bridge (C) Destination NSW