Bald Hill -Stanwell Park, NSW
Sitting at the top end of the Bald Hill car park is the Flying High Café. Open daily, the little 4m x 4m café serves drinks, snacks, and light meals to the hordes of motorcyclists who stop at the location as part of their ride through the Royal National Park.
There’s nothing better than taking myself for a mid-week blast through the Nasho and then stopping up here for a coffee while I take in the view; it never gets old.
In the late 1800s, as Gottlieb Daimler was asking his son Paul to test ride the world’s first motorcycle - the Daimler Reitwagen - on the other side of the world, perched on a coastal windswept hill in Australia, Lawrence Hargrave was changing Aeronautics forever by flying his box kites at Stanwell Tops, NSW. While Hargrave considered Bald Hill an excellent place for kite flying, it would be the motorcycle that would come to dominate the car park that now sits on the spot of Hargrave’s achievements.
Bald Hill is a brilliant location to enjoy a drink and light meal while chatting about the morning ride and taking in the amazing panoramic views of the Seacliff Bridge and the Illawarra Coastline. It's also the gateway to some of Australia's best riding roads.
On any day you will find riders who has been visiting this spot for decades and they all say they never tire of the views or the company. “When I was a kid, travelling with the family on a road trip - well before the M1 was built - dad would pull up here so we could stretch out legs and enjoy the view,” reveals John, a gentleman riding an MT-07 who nominated his age mid-60s. “All these years later, I still love to visit the place. There’s nothing better than taking myself for a mid-week blast through the Nasho and then stopping up here for a coffee while I take in the view; it never gets old.”
I actually came through this area in 1975 when I first came to Australia. The roads have changed a lot
Dave, who likes to take his Tracer 9GT for a spin through the Royal National Park mid-week, and on the weekends, said he’d been a regular visitor to Bald Hill for the past 40 years. “I actually came through this area in 1975 when I first came to Australia,” he revealed. “The roads have changed a lot. When I first came here, there were no speed limits in the local area.”
John said he never tires of riding around the local area. “It’s so easy to get here from Sydney,” he said. “And once you are here, there are so many great roads to choose from.”
Bald Hill, or Stanwell Tops as many like to call it, is heaven-sent for motorcycle riders. Situated at the southern end of the Royal National Park and at the northern end of the Grand Pacific Drive, the local roads hug the coastline as they wind through postcard-quality villages all the way to Thirroul. It doesn’t matter if you arrive from north, south or west; there are numerous short and long routes you can attack to arrive at the popular hangout; they are all riding paradise.
The nearby Hindu temple and Sea Cliff Bridge attract tourists in their thousands, while the hilly roads are a popular challenge for pelotons of pushbike riders. Flocks of hang gliders have also been a common sight in the skies since aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave started the craze from the very spot in 1894.
It would be a rare thing to see the car park void of motorcycles during daylight hours, but Sunday is when things really get crazy at Bald Hill. The car park turns into a constantly changing bike show as classic and custom machinery arrive and leave. If you love a chat about motorbikes, Bald Hill on a Sunday will leave you hoarse.