The Grand Pacific Drive starts in The Royal National Park, an hour south of Sydney. The drive winds through small towns, coastal rainforests, past sheer cliffs and offers wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean, beautiful beaches and rock pools.
For many years, travelling the road between Coalcliff and Clifton had some scary moments. The potential of falling debris or subsidence into the sea made it necessary to close the road, but all is well again. The impressive 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge is now in operation, snaking its way around the cliffs and over the water, offering a far safer route.
The drive leads to Wollongong, a busy city with plenty of attractions and activities, but if you want to take a few days away, there are lots of charming places to visit along the way.
Wombarra Beach House has beach frontage and direct access through the scrub. This little treasure was designed by respected architect Ed Lippmann.
The house interiors are modernist yet relaxed and its open plan is simple and elegant. It offers living and dining areas and large decks. There are three bedrooms and study or fourth bedroom. Ceilings are double height, floors are of polished timber and glass walls are featured throughout. There are two bathrooms one with laundry state-of-the-art kitchen, superior linen throughout and beautiful Aveda toiletries. A heated spa, reverse-cycle air conditioning and fireplace create extra ambience and comfort. Enormous gardens and ocean views make it the perfect place to stay.
Chedo's Café in Coledale was the first business there after the bridge opened and it attracts customers from far and wide.
Once a pizza shop, it was closed for four years due to lack of traffic in the area. Chedo Bezbradica spent four months refurbishing and has created a modern beach café with polished floorboards, rattan lounges, beach ottomans and local artworks throughout.
Its menu is a-la-carte with a mix of Mediterranean/European/Australian cuisine, plenty of local seafood, delicious biscuits and cakes served with gourmet coffee and a choice of more than twenty-five organic teas.
Before reaching Wollongong, in the little town of Woonona, is a place with a difference Janet's Royalty Rooms. Owner Janet Williams has been collecting British Royal Family memorabilia for over twenty years. Something that started out as a simple hobby has turned into an amazing collection of more than 10,000 pieces all on display.
Janet says her obsession is with collecting, rather than with the royal family per se, but whatever the reason, her collection is Australia's largest and something to behold.
After enjoying a cup of tea with Janet, next stop was the new Best Western City Sands, a hotel built over the old Golf Club and overlooking City Beach. The boutique accommodation has 20 hotel-style apartments, just outside Wollongong's business area. There are ocean or mountain views on offer and each apartment has a private balcony.
The refurbished golf course is an 18-hole championship course, and it is quite acceptable to blame bad shots on the distraction of the wonderful ocean views.
The east coast of New South Wales.
Wombarra Beach House is $600 a night for two to four nights or $500 a night for five nights. Bookings are essential.
Chedo's Café is open from 8am to 10pm between Wednesday and Saturday and 8am to 6pm on Sundays. It is a BYO café and there is a Porter's Liquor Store right next door.
Janet's Royalty Rooms: entry is $8 with a minimum of 20 visitors or coach tours only. Open Monday to Friday by appointment only. Morning or afternoon tea is included.
Best Western City Sands Wollongong Golf Club has Stay and Play packages. They include accommodation for two in a one-bedroom suite, 18 holes of golf and cart hire and late check out. They cost $250 for competition and $260 for non-competition. Players with an AGU handicap and staying in-house are permitted to play in Saturday or Wednesday competitions for men and Thursday for ladies.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
Wombarra Beach House
Ph: (02) 9331 2881
Fax: (02) 9354 0944
748 Lawrence Hargrave Drive
Ph: (02) 4268 3000
Janet's Royalty Rooms
5 Victoria Lane
Ph: (02) 4284 9935
Best Western City Sands
Bank and Corrimal Streets
Ph: (02) 4222 3111
Fax: (02) 4222 3100
Tourism New South Wales