The northern gateway to the NSW South Coast, the off-freeway town of Helensburgh sits just outside the southern boundary of Royal National Park, roughly halfway between Sydney and Wollongong.
As is the case with most of the South Coast villages, Helensburgh is within easy driving distance of magnificent surfing beaches.
And if you have the time to take the scenic rather than the freeway route to the coast, give yourself a treat and take the detour through Helensburgh and stop off at Symbio Animal Gardens. Introduce yourself to the free-roaming wombats, kangaroos, donkeys and the rest of the modern ark’s crew.
From Helensburg you can track the coast to Stanwell Park beach and historic Bald Hill Lookout where the highly inventive Lawrence Hargrave came within an ace of being the first man to make a powered flight in an aeroplane. Today clouds of hang-gliders soar over the Hargrave Memorial.