By Rafael Ruiz Taboada
I’m a big believer in ‘‘having a go’’ and I suspected the weather in Wollongong has a lot to do with its adrenalin motif.
Escape the Sydney congestion and head south about 90 minutes to Wollongong in the Illawarra region. This coastal playground has something for every type of thrill-seeking adventurer.
Destination Wollongong gave me the perfect bite-size, two-day adventure in which they prepared some jaw-dropping activities and meals to replenish the day.
The open road beckons specifically with Harley-Davidson in mind. Just Cruisin’ Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Tours took me on a journey along the Grand Pacific Drive and Sea Cliff Bridge, a scenic route across the beach villages.
Quick coffee break at the charming Lee and Mee, a mixed cafe and fashion boutique. Love the décor, from pencil sketches on the wall, rustic vintage vibe and a great selection of fresh meals. Next stop, I meet the divine Lilly Warra, a 1943 Boeing PT-17 Stearman.
Southern Biplane Adventures offer a premier experience of the age of aviation. Be prepared for aerobatic manoeuvres in the sky in an open-cockpit stunt flight. The loop de loop, the stall turn, the barrel roll are only a small taste of the classic barnstormer experience.
Do yourself a favour and check out His Boy Elroy. Trendy café/wine bar in Globe Lane with an industrial style interior, interspersed with warm woods. This is not your normal brunch or dinner hub, but offers great selection of meals and cocktails.
Suit up and hang 10 with Pines Surfing Academy. I immersed myself in the Aussie spirit by riding the waves, and literally managed to catch one. Laid back and welcoming, instructors provide surf lessons to children and adults at all levels. Spend a fun afternoon learning to surf or stand-up paddle.
Chifley Hotel has all the beach-break ingredients at your doorstep. Perfectly located on Wollongong’s foreshore, adjacent to WIN Sports & Entertainment Centre, a stone’s throw to the beaches, restaurants and cafés. Ultra-modern hotel, home to C Bar Grill, great value accommodation packages and conference venue.
I was looking forward all day for dinner at Lorenzo’s Diner e Bar. Award-winning Chef Lorenzo Pagnan offers rich modern Italian cuisine in an intimate setting. Savour homemade pastas, Cape Grim beef fillet, and fresh fish, washed down with an Italian red and end the evening with a flourless chocolate cake and macchiato.
The next morning, I had to take the plunge and leave the world behind — 14,000 feet directly over the golden sands of North Wollongong beach. Experience the ultimate thrill of free-fall with your tandem master at over 200km/h. Skydive the Beach Sydney.
Start the day and follow the locals to Diggies as the sun rises over the surf beach in North Wollongong. Here, the coffee is just perfect, eggs are done any which way, and the fruit smoothies are to die for. This is the place where friends eat together.
Hangdog Climbing Gym is the only purpose-built indoor rock-climbing gym in Wollongong, offering 100 climbs on 40 ropes with an expansive selection of challenges. Experience the high life with a fun workout; outdoor climbs are available too.
Before heading back to Sydney, we had to visit Dagwood a restaurant and bar with an eclectic Asian-Mexican street food mix. Perfect to unwind and relax on weekends; super cool vibe affordable specials and great cocktails.
So whether you’re travelling for an adventure or a time-out on a long weekend, it’s worth remembering — just because a trip is short doesn’t mean it can’t be the trip of a lifetime
Destination Wollongong: www.visitwollongong.com.au
Just Cruisin’ Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Tours: www.justcruisintours.com.au
Lee and Me: www.leeandme.com.au
Southern Biplane Adventure: www.southernbiplanes.com.au
His Boy Elroy: www.hisboyelroy.com.au
Pines Surfing Academy: www.pinessurfingacademy.com.au
Chifley Hotel Wollongong: www.chifleyhotels.com.au/wollongong/chifley-hotel-wollongong
Lorenzo’s Diner e Bar: www.lorenzosdiner.com.au
SkyDive the Beach Sydney: www.skydivethebeach.com.au
Hangdog Climbing Gym: www.hangdog.com.au