This post is sponsored by Merlin Entertainments
I was invited by Merlin Entertainments to spend a few nights with my family in the Southern Highlands to enjoy the local attractions, including The Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk. I grew up not far from the Southern Highlands and we used to go for day trips to different towns when I was younger, but I have never been to the “Fly”. Mr Monkey can’t remember ever being to the Southern Highlands and of course, Lily and Chloe have never been so we thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
The award winning Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk is one of Australia’s premier treetop walk experiences. The only walk of its kind in NSW and one of only a handful of elevated steel treeop walks in the world, the ‘Fly’ is an immersive nature experience. The gentle 1.5km return walk takes in native rainforest, the steel walkway which features two gently swaying cantilevered arms, and a central tower raised nearly 50 metres from the forest floor. Positioned 710 metres above sea level, the stunning views take in everything from the rainforest floor into the canopy and out to the Pacific Ocean.
There are a few different roads that lead to the “Fly”. Coming from Sydney you can either:
– go down the M5, then the Old Hume Highway, through the Southern Highlands and along the Tourist Road or
– head down the Princes Hwy, towards the South Coast and along Jamberoo Mountain Rd.
We decided to go the second way, as we were “picking up” my parents, brother, sister and niece. Lily was also with them as she had spent the night before with my parents.
Mr Monkey drove, as we followed my parents’ car, and having never driven the Jamberoo Mountain Rd before it was an experience for him. It’s a beautiful road to drive as you wind through the rainforest, but it is incredibly winding road and sometimes only wide enough for one car.
The Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk
But it doesn’t take long to wind your way through and you arrive in the car park of The Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk. Mr Monkey was a little confused as from the car park there doesn’t seem to be many trees around. Once you walk through the entrance and start to head down the walk it all starts to make sense.
Yes, being the Southern Highlands it is quite cold at the moment. It was a nice, clear, sunny day but it was only about 13°C, with quite a cold breeze. Of course, being so high up you are subjected to more wind and it got a little chilly. As you are really only wandering and not hiking you don’t really work up a sweat. Jackets, scarfs and beanies worked well for us.
The walk itself is fairly leisurely; the path down to and up from the steel walkway is sloped but we all managed without any problems. The steel walkway is easy to walk on, although it does sway a little (safely!) which can be a little disconcerting.
The two cantilever arms are suspended 25 metres above the forest floor and at the end are great viewing platforms. The views are amazing – you can see over the whole forest and out towards the Pacific Ocean. Walking along the cantilevers felt almost like walking along a springboard. Just walking along them made it bounce a little so any extra movement made them bounce more. Thankfully there weren’t many people on the walk at the same time as us so we were able to keep the amount of people on each cantilever at one time to a minimum. But not to worry, apparently each cantilever can hold a maximum of 28 tonne or 800 wombats! Plus, the entire walk can withstand winds up to 280km/hr.
Halfway around the walk there rises this great tower. Knights Tower is 45 metres high and you have to walk up 106 steps to reach the top. The staircase is narrow (people going up can pass people going down, although it is a bit of a squeeze) and winds around the tower. The views going up are quite amazing, especially when you reach the viewing platform.
I took Chloe out of the Hug-a-bub and left her with my mum at the bottom and climbed the tower with Mr Monkey, Lily and my brother. I had been quite sick with a bad cough but found I was only a little out of breath by the top.
Lily didn’t seem disturbed by the height at all and loved looking out of the binoculars at the trees and water. Mr Monkey wasn’t as keen on the heights.
The walk back down is a little scarier as you are looking down the entire time. I found I sometimes lost track of my feet and was so scared that I was going to tumble head over feet!
There is lots to see as you walk around. Unfortunately we didn’t see any animals or birds but we think they were somewhere warmer! The rainforest is beautiful as it is anyway.
Along the walk there are these fantastic photo boards, painted with animals and a ranger. The girls loved these and jumped up to have their photo taken in each. Lily later told me that her favourite part of our whole holiday was “the pretend animals when we were in the rainforest”.
The Souvenir Shop and Cafe 106
The walk ends in the souvenir shop; the girls loved looking at all of the different toys. Lily ended up with a cup with a snake on it and a platypus finger puppet. We didn’t eat in the cafe but from what we saw the prices looked fairly reasonable for a tourist attraction.
The Final Verdict
I’d definitely recommend a trip to the Illawarra Fly if you’re ever in the area. We just happened to go on a day with good weather but I’m sure it would still be great in most weather. I’d think it would be amazing in misty weather! You might not see the view but the rainforest would be stunning.
Merlin Entertainments have offered me two family passes to the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk to giveaway. Simply fill out the form below to go in the draw!
Terms and conditions: The Flying Drunken Monkey’s Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk giveaway will be judged on creativity and originality. The competition opens Thursday, July 18th at 10.00am AEST and closes on Thursday, June 25th at 10.00am AEST. One entry per person only. Australian entries only, sorry. There are 2 Family Passes to the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk (RRP $64.00) to be won. Total prize pool $128.00. The winners will be notified via email and published on this blog. Entries remain the property of The Flying Drunken Monkey and may be republished. For full competition terms and conditions, click here
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post – I received entry to the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk and two nights accommodation. The prizes will be sent directly to the winner. All opinions are my own.