Grand Pacific Walk attracts tourists to stunning Illawarra coastline

Postcard perfect: Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, Heathcote MP Lee Evans and councillor Leigh Colacino took a selfie in front of the iconic Stanwell Park coastline. Picture: Sylvia Liber.
Postcard perfect: Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, Heathcote MP Lee Evans and councillor Leigh Colacino took a selfie in front of the iconic Stanwell Park coastline. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Forget the Bondi to Coogee walk, the newest place to take a selfie is in front of the postcard perfect views at Stanwell Park.

The first stage of the Grand Pacific Walk has been completed in time for Christmas and the summer holidays.

Wollongong City Council officially opened the 3.5 kilometre pedestrian link from Stanwell Park to Stoney Creek bridge, Coalcliff on Wednesday after completing final works.

The shared path includes a viewing platform with expansive views along the coast and out over the Pacific Ocean.

The Grand Pacific Walk is a long term project, with new sections proposed to connect with the existing footpaths and shared pathways.

Eventually the walk will link Stanwell Park in the north to Windang in the south.

Councillor Leigh Colacino has fought for a walkway to connect the Stanwell Park and Coalcliff for the past seven years.

“My family and I have lived in Stanwell Park for 40 years and we have always been aware of the amazing views on offer next to the road but there has been no safe way to walk and see them,” he said.

“I suggested to council that a shared pathway be created on the missing part so people could walk the full way to the southern end of Wollongong.

“This is a fantastic piece of infrastructure and I am so excited has been built.”

Construction of the Grand Pacific Walk near Murrawal Road in Coal Cliff in June. Picture: Adam McLean

Construction of the Grand Pacific Walk near Murrawal Road in Coal Cliff in June. Picture: Adam McLean

Heathcote MP Lee Evans said he had already walked on the pathway and looked forward to doing it more often during the summer months.

“This is going to be an iconic walk and will attract people from all over the country,” he said.

“The breathtaking views will draw people to the walk. The coastline is the hidden gem in the Illawarra.

“It will be similar to the Bondi to Coogee walk.

“About 1.7 million people come through the Royal National Park each year so we expect potentially millions of people will do the Grand Pacific Walk.

“Then they will stop to have a coffee, have lunch and go shopping in the northern Illawarra suburbs.”

“The full plan will see an unbroken walkway from Stanwell Park to Lake Illawarra, which is fantastic.”

Cr Colacino can also see the tourism potential.

“People will come to visit the area’s bed and breakfast hotels, restaurants and cafes,” he said.

“People can catch the train between locations, they can walk, adults and kids can ride their bikes.

“We want people to take advantage of the views and Sea Cliff Bridge.”

Cr Colacino said the coastal walk would not rival the walks in the Royal National Park but would rather be an addition to the experience, especially given the history of the area.

Heathcote MP Lee Evans, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino at the start of construction of the Grand Pacific Walk. Picture: Adam McLean

Heathcote MP Lee Evans, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino at the start of construction of the Grand Pacific Walk. Picture: Adam McLean

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said stage one was another piece of the Grand Pacific Walk.

“The Grand Pacific Walk will be one of the greatest pieces of infrastructure in Wollongong,” he said.

"This walk is part of what makes the city great for residents and I hope they all enjoy it, like they do on the Blue Mile Tramway.

“Stage one has been a major engineering challenge because the escarpment is so close to the road, which is so busy.

“The project cost so much because the construction and the materials used will need to resist the corrosive influences of the sea and mist.”

The walk from Stanwell Park to Wollongong is about 29km, and would take at least six hours of non-stop walking.

The Grand Pacific Walk stage one project was funded by the NSW Government under the Restart NSW Illawarra Infrastructure Fund in association with Wollongong City Council.