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Appin is on the land of the Dharawal people and is a small, historic township next to the Dharawal National Park. A pitstop from Western Sydney to Wollongong, Appin is a destination worth spending some time exploring. You’ll discover incredible bushland views, a giant koala, incredibly tender smoked meat, and a castle-like dam. It’s a little hidden gem most people pass through but don’t take time to discover.

Cataract Dam wall Appin NSW


Your visit to Appin is a very scenic road trip loop. We approached Appin along Appin Road coming from Campbelltown, using the Narellan Road M5 exit. A very picturesque drive down, you’ll notice signposts warning you to watch out for koalas. There is a huge community of koalas in the area so keep a keen eye out and you might just spot one.

On your arrival to the village centre, you will see Appin Park on your left. This local area includes a great playground and skatepark on the northern end. It’s across from Appin Public school, which is one of the state’s oldest schools, built in 1867. You’ll also spot a huge koala statue which is big enough to walk into- a great spot for the all-important adventure selfie.

For coffee, stop in at Gather Coffee House who proudly roast White Horse Coffee beans. We love just how serious these guys are about coffee, and it’s the perfect place for a slow and relaxed morning caffeine hit. Loved by locals and deservedly so. If you’re feeling peckish, the Appin Bakery is a go-to spot for a delicious cake, pastry or roll. Their cabinets are bursting with colour, and you’re simply spoilt for choice. Time honoured classics like a neenish tart are full of nostalgia, pick some up for the journey ahead.

For some history, walk down the road to the Appin Planning and Discovery Centre which is in the beautifully restored Appin Inn,  built by William Sykes in 1826. Explore the area’s history and plans for the future in this well-manicured site with a great children’s playground.

Opposite, you won’t be able to miss the majestic St Bede’s Church building which is an impressive Regency Gothic church completed in 1837. There are also several other historic buildings further down Appin Road.

Jump back in the car, and drive on down to Cataract Dam just 10 minutes away. This is one of the oldest dams in Sydney, having been built between 1902 and 1907. You can walk across the 247-metre-long dam wall, and stare 56 metres down at the spillway. It’s impressive from all angles and is truly an engineering masterpiece.

Here, you’ll also find the site of the Appin Massacre Memorial. The memorial commemorates the Dharawal people killed by military leaders under Governor Macquarie and the British Government in 1816.  Each year since 2000 the Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group holds a commemoration to remember the event where it happened. A plaque sits at this site reading:

“The massacre of men, women and children of the Dharawal Nation occurred near here on 17 April 1816. Fourteen were counted this day, but the real number will never be known. We acknowledge the impact this had and continues to have on the Aboriginal people of this land.”

It’s a sombre reminder of a chequered history for Australia and for Appin of a not-so-distant past and one to reflect upon.

Picnicking has always been a favourite for day-trippers from Sydney and a way to sit, reflect and take in the natural beauty around you. You’ll find an expansive picnic area at the top of the Cataract Dam complex. There are several original buildings including The Manor which overlook the reservoir and were used in the building process. This is truly a step into the past, and one worth exploring with some snacks and refreshments.

Afterwards, head back into Appin and visit Southwest Barbecue for a hearty lunch and some very succulent smoked meats. We love their brisket, pulled pork, and chicken – and paired with the juiciest pickles, this is a lunch or dinner made in heaven! A very popular spot for the local mine workers, you’ll also find decked out burgers, sandwiches, and mixed plates. They also stock some American barbecue goods and sauces that you won’t find in your local supermarket, so make sure to stock up on the goods.

Across the road is another local institution – the Appin Hotel. This charming pub, on the edge of Appin Park is known for classic, good value meals in the Appin Bistro. Run by a very friendly team, their award-winning chicken schnitzel is a must-try. We simply love this old school country pub.

Travelling back from Appin after a day out is all part of the journey. Take the road less travelled and discover a little trip locals know and love. The Wilton Road heads south out of Appin and down through the scenic Broughton Pass then weaves back up to Douglas Park and onto Camden or you can jump onto the Hume Highway on Picton Road. Either way, the routes give you a great lay of the Wollondilly Shire.

Appin, a little gem full of the unexpected, is a destination with significant history, plenty of great must-visit food destinations, and endless natural beauty. It’s a part of Western Sydney that you simply must visit.


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