We have decided to go on a family day trip along the Grand Pacific Drive with our 4 months old baby this time. Travelling from Sydney, we start our road trip from Royal National Park, and our destination today is Kiama Blowhole.
The Grand Pacific Drive is one of the best coastal road trip routes in Australia. You will drive pass by beautiful beaches, coastal townships, amazing lookouts, and the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge.
In this post, we share our family itinerary from Sydney down to Kiama, covering the top 10 family-friendly stops on the Grand Pacific Drive. We aim to get the most out of this day trip with a baby-in-tow without missing the highlights of the Grand Pacific Drive.
Where does the Grand Pacific Drive start?
The Grand Pacific Drive starts from Royal National Park just under an hour south from Sydney. This 140km scenic coastal drive extends all the way down to Shoalhaven passing major coastal cities and towns such as Wollongong, Shellharbour, and Kiama.
Follow the Grand Pacific Drive signage at the entrance of Royal National Park, it’ll take you to a park entrance ticket booth. The entrance fee of $12 per vehicle only applies if you plan to stop inside the national park.
Audley Boatshed^ has been around since the 1890s. It’s a peaceful little park surrounded by water. You can hire a kayak, aqua-bike, or canoe and paddle around Hacking River or Kangaroo Creek.
This is the first stop on Grand Pacific Drive to make you forget the hustle and bustle of an urban city. It’s surrounded by bushland, nature, and sound of birds.
They do hourly hires and half-day hires too, so you’re very flexible with the amount of time you wish to spend here. Bring $10 cash for a refundable deposit!
Watamolla & Garie Beach
Nestled within the national park, this is a beautiful stretch of sands with excellent surf only 15 minutes drive from Audley Boatshed. Watamolla beach is a hidden gem, perfect for a family picnic, followed by a dip in the unspoiled calm lagoon.
Further down, Garie road leads you down to Garie beach, it is a little windy, so drive safe! Pack your beach chairs and enjoy the waves. If you’re up for it, there’s a coastal track that takes you to the secluded picturesque Little Garie beach.
Symbio Wildlife Park
A great little detour for the kids to meet Australian native animals. Feed a kangaroo, pat a koala, and enjoy their shows. You can read more on NSW Zoos & Wildlife Parks in our post here, and see if this is worth your stop.
Sea Cliff Bridge, Stanwell Tops & Bald Hill Lookout
There’s no better place to stop for refreshment than Stanwell Tops. Enjoy this breathtaking view of the ocean and the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge right here. Sea Cliff Bridge stretches for 665 meters long and is accessible by public transports.
Stop by the cafe or treat yourself with an ice-cream. Watch hang gliders take off and soar into the sky. I’ve always been envious of people who can fly. We were even lucky enough to spot whales migrating up north from Antarctica!
This is one of the best spots to go whale watching by the way, if you’re travelling in winter, be sure to check out our post on the Top 5 whale watching places in Sydney.
The Scarborough Hotel
This restaurant sits directly above the sea and has a large outdoor open sitting area in its backyard. The Scarborough Hotel^ dates back to the 1880s serving bakery and lunch until the afternoons. Prices are around the $30 mark. Since you’re right by the water, try their fish and chips! We really enjoyed bringing our baby here for a lunch break.
The magnificent Seacliff Bridge would take you down to Austinmer inevitably. Austinmer is a little coastal town that attracts many tourists in the summer season. The beach is patrolled between September and April, there are boutique shops, rock pools, and parks to keep everyone entertained.
If you’re a beach lover, make a detour to Bulli, Bellambi and Corrimal Beach before going back on the Grand Pacific Drive.
Wollongong^ is a large coastal city that many people come to for a weekend away. If you’re doing the Grand Pacific Drive as a day trip, there won’t be much time to explore Wollongong. However, you can get a taste of what this town has to offer by renting a bike and cycle around the Wollongong harbour and Flagstaff Hill Park.
Nan Tien Temple
Nan Tien Temple^ is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. There is so much to see in this temple, kids will love the unique pagodas, Chinese arts, and culture. It is such a peaceful place, which definitely makes it worth a visit.
Shellharbour & Illawarra
Drive around Lake Illawarra, and stop at Shellharbour village for a break. Shellharbour beach is one of the major attractions down south. Alternatively, stop by Bombo Beach and take a walk before heading to Kiama. If you’re up for some actions, make a detour out west to Jamberoo Action Park^, and Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk & Zipline Adventures^.
Last but not least, we’re getting to our last stop for the day – Kiama Blowhole. Kiama^ is another beautiful coastal town famous for its blowholes. Walk up to the lighthouse, and follow the walking tracks to the blowholes.
There’s usually a crowd patiently waiting for the blowhole to roar, and when it does, you’ll hear the crowd roar like you would in a football game! Toilets facilities and parking are available.
Our Experience & Travel Tips
We definitely fell short on time with the number of destinations to see. Nevertheless, it was a great day trip taking our 4 months old baby out. We took amazing postcardesque photos from Bald Hill, and what a drive on Seacliff Bridge!
Kyra behaved well for most of the trip and napped during our lunch at Scarborough Hotel. However, hopping stop after a stop is tiring for a baby, especially when we didn’t stay at each attraction for very long. Her patience was being tested on a number of occasions, it was a big day. She fell asleep at 7.30 pm in the evening and slept through the night like a baby.. well metaphorically!
Next time, we would plan a weekend trip at the minimum. Schedule each stop so we have at least 1.5hrs to explore each place. We are still learning to slow down our pace as a family, and this day trip to Kiama was a little ambitious with the little one. We innocently thought we would skip some stops, or cut down the time spent at lunch. But honestly, once you’re there, time just flies. I think we’ll have to do this again to cover the rest of the attractions next time!
Don’t Be A Stranger!
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In the meantime…
Have you done the Grand Pacific Drive? What are your experiences and favourite stops?