Welcome to our new segment called Driving Roads. This is where we’ll show you some of the great driving roads of Australia, and hopefully around the world in the future. For this first one we’d thought we’d check out the mountain runs in Wollongong, just south of Sydney. Specifically, up Mount Kembla and then down Mount Keira. We’ve used the 2018 Honda Civic RS hatch for the drive – a full review of it is coming soon.
This is route provides some good twists and turns in both directions, although Mount Kembla is probably the least favourable of the two due to poorer quality tarmac. The road is also narrower at many points and does without lane markings in some areas. In other words, it is slightly more dangerous in our opinion.
It is a pretty scenic route though, with a great lookout at the top of Kembla, called Robertson’s Knoll (pictured below, courtesy of Google). There’s plenty of parking at the top, but there are no amenities and or any retail outlets for coffee or anything like that. This is nature at its best. However, there is a superb pub just down from our starting point so you can top up your belly with some traditional pub lunch before the drive. Once you leave the lookout – or go past the carpark for it – you’ll notice the road starts to change.
Turning right onto Mount Keira Road, you’ll notice some lane markings which give you good width and make you feel a bit more confident. There are some parts that become narrower, but nothing as narrow as some of the sections of Kembla.
The road surface is also smoother and features more consistent curves, with single apexes (or easy to judge multi-apexes), and even some cambered turns. It’s a real rollercoaster of a drive, up or down. However, we reckon going down is the most enjoyable as you’ll rely less on the car’s power to get you moving.
As a word of warning, cyclists also enjoy this road, especially on the weekends, probably because of the nice smooth surface. There’s also the fact that it leads straight into the heart of Wollongong’s main town centre. Mountain-bikers also use this road as there are some tracks that trail off down the side into the bush. You’ll notice a little carpark section on a big sweeping hairpin about halfway down. This is where the mountain-bikers usually park (below).
You do get little snippets of scenery on the way down, and there is also a lookout that you can pull into. It has its own side road that leads up to a carpark. The lookout stands high, although not as high as the peak of the mountain, which is 464m above sea level. It does give you an awesome vista, with a complete view of Wollongong and most of the Illawarra region.
Overall, we’d rate this is a highly recommended route. If you’re visiting from Sydney, we’d suggest blocking out the day and making the most of the region’s attractions. You can even pack some walking boots as there are plenty of properly-marked walking tracks to explore.
Wollongong is located about 68km south of Sydney, while this specific route is around 14km long. However, you will need to get to the base of Mount Kembla which is a small climb up from the suburbs. For a first-hand look, we’ve put together a no-nonsense video for you. See below.
As mentioned, this is one of many features on the way for this new ‘Driving Roads’ series, so stay tuned for more. And if you have any requests or recommendations, you can hit us up in the comment section below.
DE Driver Route Rating
This is a great drive for all vehicle types, and its easy access and proximity to a main town makes it ideal for a day trip. There are no shops or facilities along the way, but it will be attractive to outdoorsy types thanks to mountain biking, lookouts and bushwalking options.