Before heading back to Sydney we visited Mount Ainslie Lookout in Canberra, then drove to see Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong and over the Sea Cliff Bridge.
We had a great day yesterday exploring the Australian capital city of Canberra, so we were excited about another day on the road.
It was surprising to wake up to see that there was virtually no smoke in the air from the Australian Bush Fires. Therefore after a light breakfast in central Canberra we decided to head to Mount Ainslie Lookout to see the view. We would then head off towards Wollongong.
Mount Ainslie Lookout, Canberra
It only took about 10 minutes to drive to the Mount Ainslie Lookout. A road sign warned us kangaroos could be on the road, disappointingly we didn’t spot any.
Mount Ainslie is around 840 metres high and located in Canberra Wildlife Park. The lookout gives a great view of Canberra. We were so lucky that there wasn’t any smoke blocking our view of the city, the Red Hill and Black Mountain.
As with many mountains there seemed to be a communications pylon on the summit.
Stuck on the Federal Highway on the way to Wollongong
It was then time to leave Canberra behind us and to drive towards Wollongong.
About 45 minutes north of Canberra, on the Federal Highway, we got stuck behind a burning Target Truck. It had hit the central reservation before veering off to the left and striking the barrier. We were on standstill for over 90 minutes as the vehicle burned and set off a small grass fire.
We were lucky that the fire risk was lower today and the Rural Fire Service were on the scene quickly. Just as lucky, was the fact that no one was injured.
My friend Jam, who was driving our vehicle had to eventually follow other traffic in going off-road to bypass the still smouldering truck.
Driving down the Macquarie Pass to Wollongong
With the traffic behind us, we carried on towards Wollongong. Instead of taking the quick route, we took the scenic route through Robertson, famous for its cheese and pies!
To arrive in Wollongong we had to drive down the Macquarie Pass. This is is an eight-kilometre-long road going through the Macquarie Pass National Park.
Despite this road having numerous bends, dangerously steep and narrow, I was surprised at how many vehicles were driving so quickly on it.
Nan Tien Temple, Wollongong
Arriving in Wollongong we made our way to see Nan Tien Temple. This Buddhist Temple, built in 1992, is one of Wollongong’s major tourist attractions.
On the way into the car park was a giant statue of Buddha. My wife and Jam both agreed it resembled me, so I had to pose next to it for a photo!
At the temple we met Jam’s friend Andrew who lives in Wollongong and also spent some time in my hometown of Swansea.
Andrew took us around the temple to see the two prayers halls known as the Great Mercy Shine and the Great Hero Hall. Although we were not allowed inside as unfortunately we were sporting shorts!
As well as the temple, the complex has a Pagoda, restaurant and garden. We decided to eat in the restaurant where I enjoyed some dumplings and spicy vegetable rolls.
Sea Cliff Bridge
With the afternoon drawing to a close we started to head back to Sydney. Driving through Wollongong and along the coast we eventually arrived at Sea Cliff Bridge.
Opened in 1995, this is an unusual bridge, in that it runs parallel to an imposing rocky cliff face. It is over 450 metres in length and is one of only seven off-shore coast bridges in the world.
Bald Hill Lookout
After nearly running out of petrol, we swung back to the Bald Hill Lookout. This lookout point is one of the best in the Illawarra region. Not only could we see the Sea Cliff Bridge we drove across, but we could also see the Tasman Sea.
I had read in advance that Bald Hill was famous for its hang gliding. But I wasn’t prepared for how many hang gliders there would be – they were literally everywhere.
It was then time to drive back to Sydney before sunset.
Maya Tandori, Surry Hills, Sydney
After arriving back in Sydney and having a few beers in Jam’s house, we got an Uber to Surry Hills for our evening meal.
Maya Vegetarian was our restaurant of choice, where we devoured a tasty South Indian platter of curry, breads and dips. Oh, obviously with the obligatory beer! It was also nice to meet Jam’s friend Beverley, another exiled Welsh compatriot.
Tomorrow we are heading north to Newcastle in New South Wales. Hopefully it will be another great day down under.