Well, this morning starts early as usual, as my military service gave me one of the best and worst traits in the world, not being able to sleep well. So, I get up to watch the sunrise in one of my favourite spots. From my home in Shellharbour I travel through Port Kembla, Scarborough, Coalcliff, all the way up to Bald Hill. Which is where I want to watch the sunrise. Getting there at 5 o’clock, as bright orange glow starts to hit the Horizon, pouring my coffee from my thermos. It’s just me, a few Gum trees, plenty of native birds and the occasional kangaroo; even a little possum stuck his head out this morning. Whilst waiting for the sun I read the monument that overlooks the beach below. It was where Lawrence Hargrave, an Australian pioneer of flight, experimented with box kites in the early 20th century – and for you flying buffs: Bald Hill on a clear day is full of hang gliders and paragliders.
Ball Hill overlooks the Sea Cliff Bridge, I had just ridden across from the South. The Sea Cliff Bridge is one of the most picturesque little Sections of road in New South Wales. It’s only a few kilometres long, however, it does stick out over the ocean, you get magnificent long sweeping corners and views of both the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. Located just south of the Royal National Park, which is the world’s second oldest national park, where there are lots of bush walking trails and picnic areas. It’s also great for whale watching, in late winter early summer. It’s a 16,000 ha park in the back yard of Sydney. Established in 1879, it’s very popular with motorcyclists, the roads throughout the park are of a good standard. The only thing you need to watch out for, is Mr. Policeman (who I will, from now on, call the Fuzz in respect of my late Grandfather, who always named them that) and the lycra clad cyclists riding in packs trying to kill you on one of the many blind corners.
I’ve had my coffee and been through the winding roads of the National Park. I start heading south on the old Pacific Highway. About 40 minutes later, I stop at Sublime Point Lookout, doing the 35 metre walk, from the car park to the edge of the cliff. I would rate this spot to have some of the best views of the Australian coast. On a clear day which are the norm here in Oz, you can see planes lining up to land at Sydney airport. If you’re keen for a walk, there’s a number of tracks that branch off the Gibson track (I’m yet to research the significance of that name). There are spectacular views in this area, as I’m standing where the Great Dividing Range meets the sea, back on my steel horse.
I begin heading down the hills to Shellharbour, keeping away from the trucks on Mount Ousley, I turn right and head off into an indigenous area, named Mount Keira. It is located northwest of Wollongong. There is a great coffee shop and reverse views back towards Bald Hill and the busy port of Wollongong. This is all still part of the Illawarra Escarpment, this is a must visit on any motorcycle tour south of Sydney. Heading down the winding roads from Mount Keira, watching out for the kangaroos, I go the back way, into Figtree, onto Five Islands Road, past the steel works and head back around the edge of Lake Illawarra – by this time the traffic starting to build, I have passed three cars. The sun is now at full strength. The maximum speed I have been so far today is 80 km/h. I don’t need to go faster, I want to see around and enjoy the ride, views and wildlife. The maximum speed limit in the National Park is 80 km/h. Some Power Rangers achieve huge speeds but I ride an XVS, so I love the Cruise, and speed only attracts the Fuzz, who ride unmarked bikes, so you can’t hide or see them coming. Heading through all the little sea side villages, at the start of my trip, the top speed is 60 km/h. This ride, is south end of the National Tourist Drive, called the Grand Pacific Drive. I entered from the southern end as it passes the end of my street, I either head north or south to be spoiled by stunning locations along the south coast of NSW, this time I headed north.
I wear an open face helmet, as I love the smell of the freshly washed gum trees, slowly drying from an overnight sprinkle of rain – it’s just amazing. Something that’s hard to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced it. It’s similar to the smell of a pine forest following rain. This ride has seen me heading north from Shellharbour cross across the Winding Bridge and Lake Illawarra, through lots of different little seaside villages, across the Seacliff Bridge, witnessing a golden sunrise over the Pacific Ocean with breathtaking views of both mountains and the ocean all the way, not forgetting that bright orange glow in the sky. I am looking forward to heading south next time to Kiama, not as far but just as good and I have a few back ways to head home via. Until next time, come and say G’day!