With its magnificent cliffs, wildlife-filled forests and stunning stretches of sand, Wollongong and the surrounding Illawarra is a walker’s paradise. The region offers something for everyone, whether you’re into long-distance coastal walks or challenging climbs up rugged mountains.
Best of all, these walks in Wollongong attract far fewer crowds than any of the Blue Mountains walks. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to 15 of the best walks in Wollongong and the Illawarra, including options that are ideal for families with kids.
Best walks in Wollongong
Sublime Point Lookout and Gibson Track
One of the best short walks in Wollongong accesses the Sublime Point Lookout, which is one of the most impressive observation points in the Illawarra. It begins in a lush rainforest dominated by cabbage tree palms and ferns before the challenging ascent begins.
While the track is only around a kilometre in length (one way), it involves more than 300 metres of elevation gain. You can expect not only steep sections of trail but also rocky staircases and narrow ladders leading up the cliff faces. After relaxing at the Sublime Point Cafe with a coffee (and perhaps a sticky date pudding), you can return the way you came or follow the Gibson Track for another kilometre through the rainforest before ending in Thirroul.
Mount Keira Ring Track
Rising to 464 metres in height, Mount Keira is one of the most prominent landmarks in the Illawarra region. The temperate forest, bushland and rainforest that blankets its slopes can be explored along the Mount Keira Ring Track, which circles the summit and connects to the Dave Walsh Track (which leads to the top). Here, there’s a cafe where you can grab a coffee or lunch while enjoying the spectacular views of Wollongong. Be aware that leeches inhabit the rainforest and can be a pest during wet weather when the track also tends to get very muddy.
Mount Kembla Summit Track
While Mount Kembla is slightly taller than Mount Keira at 534 metres, it receives far fewer visitors. Comprising 250 metres of elevation gain, the trail takes in thick bushland and casuarina forest en route to the summit, from where you can enjoy sweeping panoramas across Wollongong, Lake Illawarra and the Port Kembla steelworks. The trek back down can be just as tough as the way up, particularly if you have troublesome knees. If you are attempting this track, ensure that you always stick to the trail as the surrounding cliffs are very steep.
Illawarra Escarpment Walk
Experienced hikers looking for a full-day walk can take on this 17-kilometre trail, which showcases the rainforests, bushland and cliffs of the Illawarra. Beginning at the Stanwell Park railway station, the trail steadily ascends the escarpment before reaching a plateau, from where you can enjoy glimpses through the forest towards the coastline below. Eventually, you will arrive at Sublime Point (one of Wollongong’s most spectacular lookouts) before descending back down the cliffs.
Coastal walks in Wollongong
Coalcliff to Thirroul
This 11-kilometre-long trail is one of the most rewarding sections of the 60-kilometre Wollongong Coastal Walk that connects Bundeena (on Sydney’s southern outskirts) to Wollongong. It’s a great choice if you want a leisurely day out, without encountering steep cliffs or challenging ascents. Beginning at the Coalcliff railway station, it follows the Sydney-Wollongong Cycleway and crosses Sea Cliff Bridge before taking in the seaside communities of Scarborough, Cliffton and Coledale. There are several beaches where you can stop and swim along the way, as well as cafes and picnic areas for refuelling.
Bass Point Coastal Walk
Occupying a peninsula to the south of Wollongong, the Bass Point Reserve protects a former Aboriginal meeting place, basalt mine and heritage-listed timber site. It is traversed by several walking trails, with the most popular being the Bass Point Coastal Walk, which begins at Red Sands Beach. As it hugs the coastline, the trail passes by rocky pools, scrub and bushland and there are interpretative signs detailing the region’s Indigenous heritage. As you head south, you’ll be treated to views across Bushrangers Bay, which is a renowned snorkelling and scuba diving site.
Bulli to Wollongong Coastal Track
Extending for almost 27 kilometres is this easy coastal walk, which connects Bulli to Wollongong. It’s popular with not only walkers but also runners and cyclists (so be prepared to share the trail) and dogs are welcome if they remain on a leash. Along the way, you’ll pass by several beaches where you can stop and swim and there are great bird-watching opportunities. As the Bulli to Wollongong Coastal Track is fully surfaced and relatively flat, the trail is also suitable for strollers, prams and wheelchairs.
Easy walks in Wollongong
Maddens Falls – Dharawal National Park
Sprawling across more than 6,500 hectares of sandstone woodland, rainforests and eastern gully forests is Dharawal National Park, which is home to stunning Maddens Falls. An easy one-kilometre trail leads to the cascade’s viewing platform, with much of the route comprising a raised walkway to protect the sensitive swamp vegetation below. Madden Falls tumbles down a series of large boulders before connecting with the Georges River. Along the way, keep an eye out for native swamp rats, wallabies and tree frogs.
Brokers Nose Trail
Beginning at the top of Mount Ousley, the Brokers Nose Trail accesses one of the best coastal views in Wollongong. The trailhead can be hard to find as it is unmarked, meaning it doesn’t receive the same crowds as some of the other lookout walks in Wollongong. Having said that, it is most definitely worth the effort involved due to the 180-degree panoramas on offer across the Pacific Ocean, Wollongong and Port Kembla. The Brokers Nose Trail is relatively flat (although the terrain can be rough) and is flanked by cabbage tree palms and vines that offer plenty of shade.
Kid-friendly walks in Wollongong
Wollongong Botanic Gardens
Nestled at the foot of Mount Keira in the suburb of Keiraville is the Wollongong Botanic Gardens, which was established in the 1960s and opened to the public in September 1970. It features various themed areas, including a woodland garden, an azalea bank and a rainforest area with species native to the Illawarra region. One of the best ways to explore the gardens is along the 500-metre-long Go Slow for a Mo’ trail, a self-guided nature trail that invites you to connect with nature in a meaningful way. It leads between seven signposted sensory exercises with short, simple actions that allow you to pause and consider the natural world around you.
Macquarie Pass Jump Rock
Nestled at the bottom of Macquarie Pass is this gorgeous swimming spot, which is undeniably popular on hot, summer days. It is accessed along a short fire track, followed by an easy bushland trail that takes in lush trees, ferns and vines. Around the swimming hole are several ropes and rock climbing grips so you can clamber up the walls before jumping (or falling) back into the water. If you’re feeling brave, you can also jump off one of the platforms (which range from 3 to 10 metres in height) into the deep pool below.
Best walks of the Illawarra
Wodi Wodi Track
Named after the traditional owners of the area, the Wodi Wodi people, this ever-popular trail is a great half-day adventure that takes in a dense tract of forest along the banks of Stanwell Creek. It descends the cliffs of the Illawarra Escarpment and offers magnificent views across the region, with glimpses of blue water en route to the Coalcliff railway station. The return hike involves a lot of climbing, so if you prefer, you can opt to continue downhill to the beach for a swim before returning to Stanwell Park by train.
Bulli Beach to McCauley’s Beach via Sandon Point Beach
Spectacular ocean views are the highlight of this almost six-kilometre trail that connects Bulli and McCauley’s beaches. It begins at Ocean Park before heading north towards the Bulli Surf Club and the ocean pools of the Bulli Rockpool. You can grab a bite to eat at the Bulli Beach Cafe before continuing on to Sandon Point Beach, which is a popular surfing destination. After traversing the headland of Sandon Point, the trail ends on McCauley’s Beach in Thirroul.
Kid-friendly bushwalks in Illawarra
Minnamurra Rainforest Walk
Located within Budderoo National Park is the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, which is the starting point for this easy but rewarding rainforest walk. The trail is mostly flat and ideal for families with kids, taking in fun suspension bridges and canyon views along the way. As you stroll along the elevated walkways, listen to the sounds of native bird calls and gaze up at the towering rainforest canopy. Eventually, you will arrive at the picturesque cascade of Minnamurra Falls.
Illawarra Lookout Track
Illawarra Lookout is a rocky platform that offers splendid views of the rolling countryside and small towns that dot the region. The trail begins at the Barren Grounds picnic area and winds through forest and patches of heath, with only slight elevation changes. At only an hour in duration, it’s a great choice for families with small kids and offers sightings of wildlife and native birds along the way.