The Illawarra has so many beautiful, family-friendly places on our doorstep. We don’t have to travel long distances to find some incredible family friendly destinations. If you are looking for fun family getaways on the South Coast of NSW, let us inspire you!
We have compiled a list of places within 1-4 hours of Wollongong that are perfect for kids. Whether it be nature adventures, the best caravan parks to explore, or relaxing yet entertaining destinations for children, read on…
Best Nature Experiences on the South Coast NSW
Shoalhaven Heads c/o Andy Hutchinson Photography
Shoalhaven Heads (an hour south of Wollongong) has two stunning water options: by the beach or by the river. Both offer picturesque spots with many nature-based activities to enjoy. If you venture up the river to off-grid camping at Coolendel, the wildlife becomes your neighbours. Wombats and other wildlife are regularly sighted and are sure to amaze kids and adults alike.
If staying by the river, pack the water toys for cooling off in the river. Be extra careful with your kids, though, as these places are not patrolled. Beachside in the Shoalhaven means beach play and being closer to amenities. If you enjoy relaxing at the beach while the kids make sandcastles and splash in the waves, then we love Shoalhaven Heads Beach. It’s patrolled and has a fabulous cafe near the car park.
Batemans Bay (2.5hours south of Wollongong) is on the river, and there is a short but beautiful river cruise up the Clyde River to explore the local area. Pelicans are plentiful and hang out by the Fish & Chip shop, where you can buy fresh fish off the boat. If you feel like venturing further, head down to the beautiful Mogo Village. It is a gorgeous little town with lolly shops, collectibles and an awesome art gallery with art pieces by locals for sale at reasonable prices. These are always great gifts. While in Mogo, head to the Mogo Wildlife Park.
East of Mogo is Tomakin and Mossy Point. The Mossy Point Cafe has great food, and you can walk or drive down to the boat ramps, where there are often stingrays and pelicans hanging about waiting for fish scraps from the fishing boats; the view is also beautiful. Bateman’s Bay beaches are a haven of safe, gentle beaches, yet they feel rugged and wild. The playground in Batehaven is a favourite, as are their monthly markets on a Sunday.
Sussex Inlet is a great area, just an hour and a half from Wollongong. This area has many potential holiday spots; some are Huskisson, St George’s Basin, Vincentia, and Sussex Inlet. There are many places to stay, and Airbnb houses are common in the area; some even let you take your pets.
Sussex Inlet hosts an amazing Viking Festival where you can enjoy a day of dragon boat racing, festival rides, and food vendors with a Viking theme and medieval theatrics. Dress up or not, this is an enjoyable festival. Hyam’s Beach has the whitest and finest sand I’ve ever seen. It is gorgeous, and the beaches are safe and gentle for swimming in. Most are not patrolled, though, and there is lots of sea life in the area, so be vigilant and keep your family safe. Sussex Inlet also hosts markets in different towns each week of the month, so if markets are your vibe, you won’t be disappointed.
Kangaroo Valley is beautiful and has so much nature to enjoy and absorb—a gorgeous country town with farmers markets and a welcoming atmosphere. There are beautiful waterways to canoe, bush walks to explore and gourmet food experiences to relish. Kangaroo Valley is an hour’s drive from Wollongong and somewhere your family are sure to enjoy quality time together. From Kangaroo Valley, it is a short 15-minute drive to Fitzroy Falls, which has some beautiful bushwalks and waterfalls.
Best Beaches on South Coast NSW to Take Kids
Culburra Beach & Crookhaven Heads
Culburra Beach & Crookhaven Heads (1.5 hours south of Wollongong) has a lot to explore; it is a beautiful patrolled beach, with a playground on the southern end. Crookhaven Heads is very pretty and a nice place to play on the beach and enjoy the scenery. There is also a caravan park on the beach, with mini golf and a host of other activities available. There is tap water, toilets for public use, and good parking. Once a month, there are markets in the community centre grounds in Culburra Beach town.
Mollymook Beach (2 hours south of Wollongong) is a patrolled beach between Milton and Ulladulla. Dolphins are regular visitors, and it’s an excellent spot for snorkelling. It is a safe beach, but it is always wise to swim between the flags. Mollymook has many places to stay and marvellous restaurants for dining or takeaway options. At the southern end of Mollymook Beach is where the Surf Club is located, with toilets and showers. At the beach’s southern end, you will find Bogey Swimming Hole, a favourite with the locals. There are also public toilets at the northern end of Mollymook Beach. Both ends of the beach are patrolled during the summer months.
Werri Beach (45 mins South of Wollongong) is a part of Gerringong Beach and is patrolled in the summer by Gerringong Surf Club. An ocean rock pool is at the southern end, and a beautiful lagoon is at the north. The southern end also has a picnic area and BBQs for lunch (pack some baking paper for our hot tip on how to make clean up at the public BBQs hygienic, quick and easy). Both ends of the beach have public toilets. It is easy to spend a day here, so bring water, sunscreen and snacks and make a day of it.
Huskisson Beach: (1.45hours Aouth Of Wollongong) There are two beaches considered Huskisson Beach. Shark Net Beach is a patrolled beach during summer. While not patrolled, Moona Moona Beach and Moona Moona Creek are popular swimming spots for families with children because of the shallow, safe swimming areas. The Moona Moona Picnic Area has showers, BBQs, toilets, and shady areas for hot days.
Huskisson is a beautiful beachside town, with monthly markets in town and some fantastic eateries and shops. The pub has beautiful views over the water and a nice vibe. Taking a walk around Huskisson, there is beauty everywhere. A public pool and small playground are near the Jervis Bay Marine Park. This is where you can go on a dolphin or whale-watching cruise. Otherwise, buy ice cream and watch the wildlife and surroundings while your kids play at the playground or take your swimmers and take your kids for a swim in the pool.
The Illawarra & South Coast of NSW has so many amazing beaches to check out. We have written all about them in our article about Illawarra Beaches best for kids.
Best Holiday Parks for Kids South Coast NSW
Ingenia Ulladulla is our family favourite; we have been going at least once a year for seven years. It has everything we need: a playground, waterslides, pools, pet-friendly accommodation, a great games room, kitchen facilities, a library and a spa. It is also just down the road from Ulladulla’s shops and conveniences, with great takeaway shops and beautiful beaches.
Green Patch, Sussex Inlet
Green Patch is another family favourite for camping; the toilets are clean, and there are many great fire pits for cooking dinner or toasting marshmallows. A short walk to the beach, you find a gorgeous little beach with fine sand and gentle waves. My kids love playing in the shallow waves and enjoying the peacefulness of this area.
There are many birds to enjoy, and most campsites have shade to protect you from the day’s heat. No cabins are on site, so this is purely a camping or caravanning adventure. It is such an amazing place. Visit Hyam’s Beach with its pure white sand or go to beautiful Murray’s Beach and do a bushwalk to see the fairy penguin colonies at Bowen Island.
Ingenia, Lake Conjola offers so much: an enormous jumping pillow, a beautiful pool, an indoor soft play centre, and indoor gaming rooms. It’s somewhere you could stay and not leave the caravan park, but you really must. Lake Conjola is such a beautiful place to visit, with unique places for waterskiing, canoeing, fishing, and swimming, and it even has great cycling tracks.
Seven Mile Beach, Gerroa
Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park is next to the beach, with a tennis court, playground, and fire pits available for hire. Cabins or sites are available for booking, so whatever your holiday style is, you will find it here. Some sites are even pet-friendly, but you must confirm this when booking your site. The jumping pillow is always a hit with the kids and is an easy way to burn off extra energy.
Holiday Haven, Lake Tabourie
Holiday Haven Caravan Park at Lake Tabourie is a keeper, with heaps to do, including a splash zone, bike tracks, and a pool. It gets busy, so if possible, book in off-peak times. This park is an excellent option for a beautiful, relaxed holiday. Lake Tabourie is gorgeous, and this park is close to the beach and surrounded by the lake. It is also a pet-friendly park for bringing your family pet but check with reception first to confirm.
Pebbly Beach, Murramarang National Park
With beachfront cabins and camping sites, Pebbly Beach is stunning, and because capacity is kept small, it is a peaceful and refreshing holiday in a quiet setting. Set within the National Park, you will likely see kangaroos and goannas lazing on the beach. There are a few accommodation options. Booking through the National Park offers a choice of camping or “beach shacks” available.
Luxurious cabins are available through Pebbly Beach Escape. All accommodation here is off-grid, which adds to this nature immersion experience and the beauty. The beach isn’t patrolled, so keep an eye on your children at all times, and please don’t feed the wildlife or let your kids hug them.
Grady’s Riverside Retreat, Shoalhaven
A drive up the Shoalhaven River, and you will find Grady’s Riverside Retreat. Cabins or sites are available, the facilities are kept very clean, and the camp kitchen has all you could ask for. This is a beautiful spot for fishing or water sports in the river. It isn’t patrolled, and you must watch your children for safety. This is another pet-friendly caravan park, but as always, check when booking to confirm. There are lots of native birds, and you might even see a wombat. As their slogan says, ‘disconnect to reconnect’, Grady’s gives you time to recharge and refresh your soul.
Best Things to Do with Children on the South Coast NSW
Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre
Jamberoo Action Park is a day out within an hour’s drive from Wollongong. It is vast, catering for all ages, and there is something for everyone. It is somewhere you and your kids will want to return to again and again. There is a wave pool, slides suitable for young children, and huge adult-sized slides for the big kids and adults.
Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre is incredible and somewhere that you definitely should take the kids when visiting the Bay. It has entry fees, but they are well worth it because the facilities and the day of fun it provides are hands down a standout. Check out the Bay Pavilion website for more details.
Treetops Adventure Nowra is another amazing place to visit in the Shoalhaven area. There are climbs for all ages, and with super supportive staff, you and your kids will feel supported and encouraged every step of the way. Stepping out of your comfort zone never felt so safe, and the views are spectacular.
Mogo Wildlife Park is a great place to spend a morning, afternoon or the whole day. There are ramps everywhere and so many places to stop for picnics or a break. This beautiful wildlife park is easy to walk around with children. Your kids will love the range of animals on display, and the adults are sure to learn something new from the knowledgeable keepers onsite.
Favourite Family Holiday Destinations Far South Coast NSW
Moruya is a beautiful country town tucked between the Batemans Bay and Narooma coastline. It is historically known for being where granite was mined for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is a lovely beach and beautiful views over the Moruya River, especially at sunrise and sunset. Moruya weekly markets are fantastic, with a mixture of locally made products and produce for sale straight from the farms. Clyde River Berry Farm is regularly there in summer with its unique ice cream and berries for sale. Moruya has everything you need on a holiday; it is peaceful but has all the amenities you need.
Narooma has to be a favourite of mine; it is a gorgeous little town with nature galore to explore. There are cafes, shops, caravan parks and walks to do where you can see seals, the famous ‘Australia Rock’, stingrays, pelicans, and you might even see a weedy sea dragon. Narooma is relaxing and beautiful. There is as much to do as you would like, with cruises to Montague Island, places to swim or surf, and a great ice cream shop. In May each year, Narooma hosts the Narooma Oyster Festival, where you can enjoy a range of local oysters and produce and a great atmosphere.
Bermagui & Tilba Tilba are two small towns, reasonably close together, and both are beautiful places to visit. I’d stay in Bermagui and visit Tilba Tilba, but there are beautiful places to stay in both areas. Tilba is home to Tilba Dairy where you can see the gorgeous Jersey cows grazing in big green paddocks. Tilba has a Dairy Shop where you can buy products made from the delicious Tilba Milk. A bottle of Tilba Dairy’s full cream milk comes with cream on the top like the ‘good old days’.
Bermagui is a gorgeous beachside spot to visit, with stunning natural beauty. There’s lots to explore and the scenery is breathtaking. Visiting Bega Cheese Factory is another great stop for lunch or morning tea on your way through Bega.
Merimbula is a gorgeous beach holiday spot just north of Eden. Our favourite place to stay is the NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort, mainly because of its fantastic water park facilities for the kids. But there are many great places to stay in Merimbula. There are also some beautiful bush walks and a walk along the estuary, where you can see the oyster farms, tidal mangrove zones, and spot crabs. Merimbula is home to the famous Magic Mountain, a fun park with water slides, toboggans and many other rides. From Merimbula, you can go on Whale Watching cruises, and there is also a great aquarium to visit.
Bodalla is another favourite little town that is great to visit on your way down the coast. If you time it right, you can visit the Bodalla Dairy and feed the calves. The milk is beautiful, and they have a range of milkshake flavours to try and a vast range of ice cream made from the Bodalla Dairy’s milk. There is also a beautiful church and lovely little shops with locally made jewellery and art that you can buy. We always make this stop on our road trips.
Best things to do with Kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra
Jamberoo Action Park
For great places to take your children this summer that you and the kids will enjoy, check out our article on the top 10 things to do with kids in the Illawarra. For things to do with teens, see our article on the top teen-friendly activities in Wollongong and beyond. We have found all the best playgrounds for preschoolers in Wollongong.
Finally, make the most of family life in our stunning Illawarra – Subscribe to the ultimate guide to family living weekly email by Parents Guide. Say NO to bored kids and get inspired! Click and sign up for our Parents Newsletter here. Get all the local inspo!
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