If you’re looking for a weekend away where a mix of fitness & relaxation is on offer, the Illawarra region is a great place to explore.
These days when we head away for a weekend the first thing we’ll do in preparation is jump on google and hunt down some bush trails, scenic tracks and somewhere to swim (seasonally dependant of course).
So recently when heading to Coledale for a concert we were attending we found ourselves in luck! Coledale is about 45mins south of Sydney and 25 mins north of Wollongong, so very accessible for anyone living in the city.
It’s located on the ‘Grand Pacific drive’ which is a very popular scenic route along the coast which is home to the famous ‘Sea Cliff Bridge’. Each town along the coast here has its own beach with the Illawarra escarpment creating a beautiful backdrop in the west.
A surprisingly small population means it’s a great escape from the hustle & bustle of Sydney. In saying that there is still plenty to do. We rode bikes along the coastal tracks, ate at restaurants & cafes located right on the beach, and of course took to the trails for a run.
Trail Run Particulars
Illawarra Escarpment Trail
10km (optional) – full trail 13km one way
Beginner to Intermediate
Sublime Point Lookout, Old Princess Highway, NSW
Trail Run Details
Starting from Sublime Point Lookout, the name says it all, WOW! What an amazing sight it is from the lookout. 180 degree panoramic views along the coast from an elevation around 400m.
The start of the track is tricky to find as there’s a short loop track using the same entrance. The two trails are linked with the Escarpment trail continuing from here (there is a trail map but it doesn’t clearly show the 2 trails joining).
The first section is quite tight, winding through dense bushland, making for an interesting outset. Make sure to keep an eye on your footing as there are plenty of loose rocks and tree routes scattered throughout the track.
From there you run through the bright green ferns before the track opens up with some sneaky views out to the ocean.
After roughly 3km you come to a cross-road where you need to head right, leading you to an easement for the powerlines that service the towns below.
Now for all you runners out there that don’t like stopping mid run for anything, I’d say having a break to check out the view from the easement is a must! Follow the powerlines down to the lookout and you’ll be amazed by the sheer cliff and amazing scenery below. Make sure to be careful as this isn’t a guarded ledge.
After a quick drink we head off again only to be brought to an abrupt stop to let some mountain bikers through. Luckily we could hear them coming, otherwise it could have been interesting.
Continuing on there is some undulation along the track which is again scattered with tree routes, getting the heart rate back up after the break. Once it levels out we pick up the pace and get in a good rhythm.
As with most trails your doing for the first time it’s good to get a feel for the trail before going too hard, as you don’t know what lies around the corner.
Next we come to another crossroad which marks roughly 4km. The linking trail goes all the way to Stanwell Tops. We aren’t doing the entire track today but continue on for another 1km. The track has opened up & now looks like an old access way. Continuing up a slight incline we get to the top and decide this is where we’ll turn around.
We take this opportunity to have another drink and discuss the trail so far. I’m a big believer in taking in my surroundings and not letting a good moment slip by. What’s the point otherwise right?
We start the return leg of the run and this time it’s all business. Now we’re familiar with the track and have taken in some scenery it’s time to work on improving fitness levels.
After a couple of km’s we return to the powerline easement and slow down to figure out which way we need to go. Being a male I of course have a built in compass and lead the way.
To my demise I lead us down a short track to nowhere – I got it wrong 😉 After finally listening to the advice from Bianca that the turn is further ahead we continue on and find our way again.
The last 2kms is fast and fun, ducking & weaving our way through the tighter part of the trail; the temperature has also risen, making it a great test for our bodies.
Racing through the tight bends trying to beat each other to the end makes for a fun finale. We come to the end of the trail and finish with a high five (as we do when we finish all our runs).
We head over to the lookout for a warm down stretch, enjoying the view one more time before we head home.
Overall this is a nice trail run containing a mix of tight, dense bushland, wider access tracks and great scenery along the way. If you’re a more experienced trail runner after a real thrill, once you’ve seen the view this trail might get a bit boring for you. However, I still believe everyone can get some enjoyment out of this trail.