Our eldest daughter, who has lived in Canada now for about 14 years, is home for a holiday with her partner who has never been to Australia before, so we decided on a leisurely road trip today. Only arriving yesterday they were both a bit jet-lagged this morning so we had a late start after 10 am. Daughter wanted me to drive the less travelled routes to Wollongong, which are also the ones that I prefer to drive anyway, so from Camden I started by driving to the lookout on top of Razorback Mountain from where you can normally see the Sydney skyline to give them some perspective of our proximity. However the weather was overcast and Sydney could not be seen due to haze.
Back down Razorback to drive through the Douglas Park gorge then on through Wilton to Picton Road. The wattles and tea trees were coming into blossom and looked very pretty. As is my normal route I turned off Picton Road to drive down Mt Kiera, rather than continue on to drive down Mt Ousley. I love the Mt Kiera stretch of road as a drivers road, in a sought of a rain forest environment, and had already driven it Friday and Saturday last on my solo return trip to our annual office conference at Mollymook. There had been a storm on Friday arvo, and the evidence of sawdust on the road from the chainsaws cutting the fallen trees to remove from the road was still evident today, although less so than on Saturday. For the first time in very many years I took the short diversion to the Mt Kiera lookout, and had forgotten how impressive the view was from this little known spot. Although it was still overcast and hazy out to sea, it is a great spot to view the extent of the Illawarra escarpment and the greater Wollongong region below. Our visitors really enjoyed the viewing.
Further on down the Mt Kiera road you enter the suburban area which is 50 kph, but why, half way through this still downhill section, the college there gets a School Zone 40 kph limit from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, continuous, has me stuffed.
Onward to Kiama on the Southern Freeway and the skies cleared just before we rounded the last right hand curve near the Bombo railway station to reveal the very impressive first view of the ocean. I have always loved that surprise reveal and so did our visitors who live in Calgary, Alberta, far from the ocean. There was moderate surf running, and in the sunshine it was an impressive sight. We drove straight to the blowhole and the locals had turned the “on switch” today. It was performing very well. The views from the point beyond the blowhole are also very good.
We did not spend any time in Kiama as we had planned lunch at the ‘gong, so back up the freeway. We lunched at the Novotel North beach, and although the buffet lunch is quite expensive at $39.50 per person, the ala carte menu was not at all attractive, and my wife was shouting, so we went with the buffet. While there was a bit of wind from the south, we opted to dine on the open gallery, in sunshine, overlooking the beach and it was great. The buffet was very impressive for variety and food standard, and daughter, who does not do prawns or crab things, scoffed down about two and a half dozen oysters. Her partner was into everything available, as was I for that price. Great tucker and great location. The only down point was that I am a stupid smoker and lit up while downwind from our group, and the only other parties on the gallery were also upwind and 15m away. A management type person then came to informed me that I could not smoke there as people in the other group were eating. WT? Now I accept that my disgusting habit is unacceptable to many, and I am very sensitive not to offend others, even my reformed non-smoker wife, but this was absolutely ridiculous nanny state stuff. The only things which might sniff the smoke were the seagulls hanging around.
After our very leisurely lunch we then headed north on the Princes Highway, having missed the turnoff for the northern distributor, but it was quite pleasant to drive through the numerous suburbs of northern Wollongong on the old road. I found there is a very much improved road system to turn onto Lawrence Hargrave Drive at Bulli, and our daughter enjoyed showing her partner the beach at Austinmer where we used to take the family when they were young, and where she had visited on several school excursions. The ocean bridge is impressive, and not the first time for us, but our visitors were tiring so we did not stop to walk it. Onward to Lawrence Hargrave Park at Stanwell Park, which always gives great views of this area of the south coast. For the first time I have been there we did not see any hang gliding in progress, but this was a Monday. Again, a great vantage point for nice views, but windy as always, otherwise why would Lawrence Hargrave not have conducted his experiments into flight dynamics there.
It was getting late by this time so we headed up to the Southern Freeway then Heathcote Road and home to Camden. All in all a very pleasant, and relaxing, day for both ourselves and our visitors.