Driving Miss Debbie

Canberra Travel Blog

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Wollongong.

The main road from Sydney brought us through the mountains which surround Wollongong, so as we arrived we got some great views of the town sprawled out before us, with the endless Pacific just beyond.

It was a promising first impression but it didn’t last long. Arriving in the town centre, it hit us with a real bogan-industrial vibe, which wasn’t helped by stumbling across a public toilet that had the most abundant and extreme sex-proposition graffiti I’ve ever encountered. Plus the place seemed kind of dead (though this surely had a lot to do with the fact we were there on a Sunday/Monday), and the hotel we stayed at was the most banal, soulless place I’ve ever inhabited.

But luckily that’s not the full story.

Water hitting stuff.

We gave the place more of a chance the following day, and found a lot to like. Exploring the coast rewarded us with some great beach scenery, a picturesque river, natural rock pools, skydivers, and cool visions of big waves smashing against rocks. We were also rewarded with our first real break in the cloudy weather and I got a kick out of having the mountains, river, town, beach and harbour all in such close vicinity. Still, the best decision we made was making the trip up to the look out in the mountains, which afforded the same kind of views we’d glimpsed on the way in … only much better.

The real reason we’d come down this way was to explore as much of the coast as we could, and the tourist drive south from Wollongong to Kiama was a great way to spend half a day. There’s some awesome rugged coastline in these parts, with the Cathedral Rocks and the blowholes in Kiama being the personal highlights.

From the lookout above Wollongong. Great spot. I look a bit tired here though :)
I was also a bit transfixed by the surfers who persisted with their hobby so close to waves pulverising themselves against the jagged shore. Crazy bastards.

We missed out on the Nan Tien temple that day (largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere) but at that point we were distracted by our impromptu decision to travel all the way to Canberra and back to Sydney the next day. We decided that if we left early we’d have enough time to get to Canberra, have a quick look around, head back to Wollongong, take the scenic drive back to Sydney, and crash at the hotel. It didn’t quite work out, and my main regret is that we didn’t do the Grand Pacific Drive Bridge in daylight (we managed to do it after dark, which was still cool but didn’t make for good photos).

Blowholes! I swear that just after each photo a wave would come along that gave a splash twice as large ... frustrating

Still, the trip to Canberra was a good trade-off. We also had a quick stop in Golbourn (apparently the oldest inland town in Australia), which we found out has nothing to do with Golbourn Valley – the fruit place … it does however have some cool old buildings and a Giant Merino.

Doing my first state/territory border crossing by land was a bit of novelty, and it’s kind of cool to be able to say I’ve been in the nation’s capital, even if it does get a bit of flack for being dull. Our visit to the Canberra casino certainly supported that theory (the place is tiny) but Parliament House was actually quite enjoyable and we spent more time there than we planned. Everything seems to be open for tourists to poke their nose at and take photos, and there’s plenty to look at. It was also good to see a couple of exhibits set up in honour of the whole “Sorry Day” thing.

After a brief drive past some of the embassies (USA’s is massive – as you’d expect) we headed back to Sydney via the scenic route, getting a vague impression of the impressive cliffs etc. as we drove past in the darkness.

Finally in our hotel we realised we’d driven for 8 hours in one day, and suddenly looked forward to giving the car back in the morning.

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Wollongong.
Wollongong.
Water hitting stuff.
Water hitting stuff.
From the lookout above Wollongong.…
From the lookout above Wollongong…
Blowholes! I swear that just after…
Blowholes! I swear that just afte…
Sad businessman in Golbourn
Sad businessman in Golbourn
Baaa!
Baaa!
Parliament House in Canberra.
Parliament House in Canberra.
Inside the Senate.
Inside the Senate.
Canberra
photo by: Sunflower300