The Delight of Day Trips

The first day free of lockdown I set off to the South Coast to enjoy the delights of driving more than 5km. My focus was Berrima’s Gumnut Patisserie, my culinary heart of the Southern Highlands, and the Tourist Drive 8 road signs. My journey was like a roller coaster driving up and down the mountains and across bridges from Wollongong to Albion Park up Macquarie Pass to Moss Vale & Berrima village. Then across to Fitzroy Falls and down the Kangaroo Valley to their wonderful 1898 sandstone suspension bridge. From here it was up Cambewarra Mountain, across the Shoalhaven River Bridge to Nowra to pick up some supplies then back to Berry village for a late lunch and a stroll around the lighthouse at Kiama. This seems pretty straight forward until you look for a map of the now antiquated Tourist Drives. Eventually, I found some gems that you might enjoy exploring.

Hamden Sandstone Bridge at Kangaroo Valley
Hampden Bridge, Kangaroo Valley NSW, RG 2021

Where to find driving maps

Surprisingly, day trips were not a feature of VisitNSW, the official NSW Tourism website as it featured multi-day trips instead. Eventually, I discovered both Shellharbour & Nowra Visitor Information included some information on Tourist Drive 8 and a simple map. Unfortunately, this did not include Berrima or Berry but it was a start.

Tourist drive 8 map from Albion Park to Robertson to Bomaderry
Tourist Drive 8 SHVIC

Today, the best site for driving routes was the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service but you have to go into Things to Do and put in the area you want-South Coast– to give you the option to choose Road Trips and car/bus tours. Then you have a useful list of activities with details and maps. These include the Illawarra tourism route from Kiama to Bowral shown below, Budderoo track, Fitzroy Falls picnic area and The Coast to the Highlands scenic drive which covers the section from Nowra through to Moss Vale & onto Goulburn. If you prefer an organised tour there’s a South Coast wildlife, waterfalls and wine tour which includes the Seacliff Bridge on the way to Wollongong.

Illawarra Tourism route from Kiama to Jamberoo to Fitzroy Falls and onto Bowral
Illawarra Tourism Route NPWS NSW
kangaroo Valley Scenic drive from Nowra to Fitzroy Falls and onto Marulan with lots of picnic areas & tracks.
Coast to Highlands Scenic Drive NPWS NSW

Best Walks Books

These guide books give a great overview of the area and have detailed maps of the area, towns and the walks and are easy to carry and browse anytime. My favourites are from Australian Geographic and include books on The Illawarra, The Shoalhaven and The Southern Highlands. Older books such as Bruce Elder’s Day Trips Around Sydney published in 1993 have a wealth of information and wonderful hand drawn maps to bring the stories of past journeys to life.

Try a self guided history tour

After a long hard look, I found the NSW Department of Environment’s list of self guided tours with maps, directions and historical notes. These tours were made with the help of the National Trust, Engineers Australia, local councils and historical groups, including the Berrima Districts Historical and Family History Society who compiled the Southern Highlands Heritage Drives brochure. There’s also the The Great South Road from Marulan to Goulburn and others covering various areas of NSW..

Historic Engineering Marker near Hampden Bridge Kangaroo Valley RG 2021

This might be a good time to take photos of these tourist drive signs and their simple maps, which were more about enjoying the journey, because that seems to be all that’s left. Now that we can travel further, there’s so many places to explore and with the help of the NPWS and these self guided tours we can explore much further afield. If you can help unravel the maze of tourist or scenic drives or know of others with historical connections, please let us know. Or perhaps there’s an app?

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