The Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong. A local’s guide to Driving it, Walking it, Parking and What to do Near it…

The majestic Sea Cliff Bridge, Wollongong. It’s one of the most scenic spots on the South Coast NSW Australia, the highlight of the famous Grand Pacific Drive. This top Illawarra tourist attraction is also on my daily commute.

Every morning I get to drive the half-kilometre of gently curving bends that hug the sandstone cliffs. Below, the glorious blue sea stretches out to the horizon, ever-changing. I’ve lived here all my life, and this stunning drive still takes my breath away. Read on to get the Sea Cliff Bridge local’s guide to checking out this iconic landmark.

How to get to the Sea Cliff Bridge from Sydney (& where to Park!)

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

Located here on Dharawal Country, the Sea Cliff Bridge begins at Coalcliff and follows the cliffs around to Clifton.

Driving down from Sydney you have two options. For a direct route, take the M1 and turn off at Helensburgh. Follow the signs to Stanwell Park and then stay on Lawrence Hargrave Drive to the bridge.

Or take the scenic route and turn off the Princes Highway into the Royal National Park at Loftus to take the Grand Pacific Drive. (Note, this road is often closed in rainy weather due to flooding at Audley Weir.)

On the other side of the National Park, you’ll come to Bald Hill Lookout, which has the best views of the whole coast. Here you’ll find bathrooms, some simple takeaway options and an ice cream van. On good flying days, stay to watch the hang gliders leap from the edge.

From Bald Hill it’s another 10 minutes down Lawrence Hargrave Drive to the Sea Cliff Bridge. The best parking is at the south end, so you get to drive the bridge first !

There is pull-in parking at the Clifton end that fits about 15 cars, which is best for pram and wheelchair access.

Or take the next right and park at Rube Hargrave Park, opposite the Clifton School of Arts.

How to get to the Sea Cliff Bridge from Wollongong (& where to Park!)

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

Driving up from Wollongong takes about 40 minutes. Take Memorial Drive to Bulli and then turn right onto Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Wind through the coastal villages and past local beaches until you reach Clifton. Be warned, on a beautiful sunny weekend, this road gets very busy and traffic can slow to crawl! Best parking for northbound traffic is at the Clifton end in Rube Hargrave Park.

Or, there is a larger car park at Coalcliff. Head north over the bridge and turn right into Bombora Way.

How to get to the Sea Cliff Bridge by Public Transport

It’s easy to get to the Sea Cliff Bridge by train. The trip is especially scenic between Helensburgh and Thirroul!

From Central the trip takes about 1.5 hours. Take the South Coast Line to Coalcliff Station. It’s a 15 minute walk from the station down a steep footpath to the start of the bridge. You could even walk across the bridge and catch a train back from Scarborough Station at the south end.

All-stations trains run about every 60 minutes from Central in peak time.

The trip from Wollongong takes about 40 minutes on the South Coast Line.

There is a bus service that stops on either side of the Sea Cliff Bridge too. The Premier Illawarra Bus #2 runs from Monday to Saturday, between Stanwell Park and Wollongong. (Not available on public holidays)

For train and bus time tables head to Sydney Trains or Premier Illawarra Buses

An insider’s guide to the ‘secret’ lookout…

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

The infamous, ‘secret’, unofficial lookout. This place might be insta-famous, but many locals look up and shake their heads at the daring visitors who risk their safety at the edge. Many people, writers and tourist sites have written about this unofficial lookout. Therefore despite the risks, the walk to reach the lookout still remains popular. We would therefore urge you to take the necessary precautions should you choose to explore this lookout.

Why is it dangerous? Well, the Sea Cliff Bridge was built back in 2005 because this whole section of the escarpment is literally sheering off into the sea. People have been injured and even lost their lives in accidents at the clifftop, and the community still mourns. There are warning signs against climbing and fines apply.

But if you’re still keen, here’s how to find the entrance to the trail. (Please note that walk this trail at your own risk and we urge everyone to consider and take the necessary precautions taking the entrance to this trail – please refer below).

Head north from the Clifton side of the bridge. Beside the northbound lane there is a short gravel shoulder before the sign “Sea Cliff Bridge”. (Parking is not allowed here, watch out for fines!) Next to the warning signs there is a small clearing in the leaves. This is the entrance to the dirt track that will take you straight up. Extreme caution is to be taken especially from here on.

It’s slippery and rough, but a kind local has put up yellow guide paint and a hose ‘rope’ to help lower the risk to climbers. It takes about 10 minutes of steep climbing to get to the top, and you need to wear proper shoes. The views of the bridge are stunning, but most locals still won’t risk it. The unfenced ground at the top is unpredictable, especially after heavy rain. Climb at your own risk and stay away from the edge.

Walking the Sea Cliff Bridge, how long does it take?

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

It takes about 15 minutes to walk the bridge from one end to the other. The bridge slopes gently downhill from south to north.

The best time to visit is before 10am. Between 8-9am the rising sun sparkles off the water, the swell is calm and there are few visitors. After 10am, the wind usually picks up and the bridge can get quite blustery, not good for flying drones!

In the winter months the sun goes behind the escarpment early in the afternoon, so a walk can get chilly!

If you visit around sunset, the skies become a pastel rainbow and the wind drops. Stay to catch the pale moon rising out of the water and it’s pure magic.

While you walk, keep your eyes peeled for White-bellied Sea-Eagles, they like to ride the updrafts near the cliffs. Count the container ships on the horizon waiting for a berth at Port Kembla.

In whale migration seasons, the bridge becomes a perfect viewing platform. Humpback whales head north between May and August and south again between late August and November. The mothers and calves come down later in the season. Pods of dolphins come in close to the rocks platforms under the bridge too.

Towards the north-end there is an access ramp that leads down to the rock platforms under the bridge. Adventurous walkers might enjoy exploring down here too! Caution is advised near the water’s edge as rogue waves often surprise rock fishermen down here.

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

Best Lunch near the Sea Cliff Bridge

There are two fantastic pubs walking-distance from the bridge. The Imperial at Clifton is only a few hundred metres from the south end of the bridge. And the Scarborough Hotel is only a few hundred metres further on from there. Incredible ocean views at both. Up-scale pub fare, but special and worth it.

The Bostin Brew Co kiosk down at Stanwell Park is a good option if you have kids who need to run around and blow off some steam. Stanwell Park offers open parkland and a big playground.

For some drool-worthy vegetarian options, head further south to Earth Walker & Co. Cafe at Coledale.

Most local cafes close early, so be forewarned, if you fancy a coffee after 2pm — on the coast you’ll have to settle for petrol station! (There is a BP in Austinmer)

My recommendation for lunch is always going to be The Bowlo: The Scarborough and Wombarra Bowling Club. The Bowlo is super old-school and always welcoming. Drinks are cheap, the menu has all the pub favourites plus authentic Thai. Ocean views are nowhere near as spectacular as the Scarborough Hotel, but the vibes make up for it!

And if you haven’t stopped there already, Bald Hill is always worth a visit. Soak up the sunshine and bring a picnic to eat on the grassy slopes. (Note, on sunny weekends it does get very busy). Alternatively, come on a rainy day and watch the storm roll in over the ocean!

The Local’s Guide to the Sea Cliff Bridge Wollongong

Why the Sea Cliff Bridge is one of the top things to do in Wollongong

The unique combination of stunningly photogenic views, architectural significance and accessibility make the Sea Cliff Bridge a standout attraction in the Wollongong area. Driving and walking this beauty is a must for anyone road-tripping the East Coast. Why not make a day of it – see below for other ideas of special things to do while you’re in the area.

These lands, waters and skies are a true paradise, and a gift to experience. We offer deep respect and gratitude to the traditional custodians, the Wodi Wodi people of the Dharawal nation, whose sovereignty was never ceded.

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