MOST West Australians know the coastal drive from Perth to Margaret River like the back of their hand.
Despite being one of the state’s best regions, between all those school camping trips and long-weekends down south, the drive can get familiar and repetitive.
Next time you are in Sydney and have a couple of free days, try a coastal trip to Wollongong for an equally stunning cruise.
Here are the five best stops to make along the way.
Bald Hill Lookout
In less time than it takes to drive from Perth to Bunbury, you can make your way from Sydney to the popular Bald Hill Lookout for a stunning view of the Tasman Sea from 300m above a coastal inlet. There is a memorial for Australian flight pioneer Lawrence Hargrave, who experimented with box kites early in the 20th century on the beach below.
The Scarborough Hotel
Just a few minutes south of the lookout, swing by a historic landmark for lunch and a bevvy with one of the most stunning pub views you will see at The Scarborough Hotel (see above). The hotel was built cliff-side in 1886 by Alfred Broadhead to coincide with the opening of the South Clifton to Wollongong railway link. Pick a spot in the sprawling beer garden and take in the gorgeous oceanic views.
Sea Cliff Bridge
Pull over and stretch your legs with a stroll along the 665 metre long Sea Cliff Bridge on the Grand Pacific Drive. Opened in 2005, the bridge veers away from the cliff-side and partly over the ocean. The sight cannot be fully appreciated form the driver’s seat of a car. The bridge is also a great viewing platform for whales heading north/south during migrating season.
This cute seaside village with about 2560 residents is a good spot for afternoon tea in a local café or a dip in the water at Austinmer Beach. There are a handful of venues with beach views, or you can pop up a side street to Moore Street General for a coffee and sweet or savoury treat.
Wollongong Head Lighthouse
Take in a bit of history with the views from the 1936 built and still active lighthouse that sits adjacent to the heritage-listed Wollongong Harbour precinct. A short walk up the coast, you will find some more historic war cannons as part of Smith’s Hill Fort.