Exploring the Beaches of the South Coast – NSW Australia

The NSW South Coast extends all the way from Sydney down to Eden and beyond, incorporating the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Sapphire Coast tourism regions. Part of the Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive, this is an area of spectacular views with lush green farmland on the one side and sandy beaches and rocky headlands on the other.

Beaches are a feature of this stretch of coast, whether you’re just looking for somewhere to catch a bit of sun, go surfing, fishing, whale watching or more…

Kiama, Gerringong and Gerroa

Only an hour and a half south of Sydney brings you to an area of lush green pastures, spectacular cliffs along the seaside and almost a dozen fabulous beaches.

Kiama itself is a vibrant historic town with many landmark buildings. A great spot to wander for the day or to catch a bite to eat.

An icon of Kiama is the Blowhole, however you need to visit when the tide and winds are just right (seas running from the south-east) to see it in action. Visiting the blowhole is a ‘must do’ activity for any first-time visitor and is particularly fun when you have kids with you. It’s a short walk from the town centre and there is a wheelchair accessible viewing platform.

The Kiama Coastal walk gives you a different view. It runs from Kiama down to Werri Beach at Gerringong. You can start at either end (or in the middle) and just do a little of the walk, or walk the whole way and catch the train back to where you started. The walk takes past the Cathedral Rocks at Kiama Downs, the Kiama Blowhole and Bombo Beach, along rocky headlands and waterfront reserves and finally along the clifftops through the dairy pastures to the south of Kiama.

Gerroa is famous for Seven Mile Beach which runs all the way down to Shoalhaven heads. There are a range of surfing schools, including weekend camps, operating in the area, ready to get you up and on your board. Great for adults or kids. You may need a wetsuit though if you wanted to surf outside of the peak summer season.

To get to the area, follow the Princes Highway just 90 minutes south of Sydney, or just over 2 hours from Canberra, taking the Illawarra Highway to the coast. Trains also depart from Sydney Minnamurra, Bombo, Kiama and Gerringong.

An annual visitors guide is published on the area, the website at www.kiama.com.au or visitor information centres at Kiama, Jamberoo and Gerringong.

Jervis Bay

Part of the Shoalhaven area of NSW, Jervis Bay is 15 by 10km of crystal clear waters. It is dotted by towns including Huskisson, Vincentia, Hyams Beach, Callala Bay and Sanctuary Point and enclosed by Booderee National Park at the southern end.

Jervis Bay is ringed by beaches from Callala Beach in the north, past the famous white sands of Hyams Beach to Greenpatch which faces west. These are bay beaches, so perfect family fare and the water is lovely and clear with rocky outcrops at the headlands full of rockpools and great for snorkelling around.

Jervis bay is famous for diving and there are a number of boat operators who will take you out. The underwater world includes arches, caves, rock stocks and of course, being a Marine Park, a huge array of marine life. Crest Diving is one of the dive operators based in Huskisson.

Depending on the time of year you can do whale watching or dolphin watching cruises, fishing trips or extreme wilderness cruises. There are many cruise operators out of Huskisson which take you to the likes of the sandstone cliffs of Point Perpendicular, deep sea caves and Hyams Beach.
Jervis Bay is around 3 hours south of Sydney on the Princes Highway, and much the same from Canberra via Batemans Bay.

An annual visitors guide is published on the area, the website at www.shoalhavenholidays.com.au or visitor information centres at Nowra, Ulladulla and Huskisson.

Narooma and surrounds

Narooma is a well-known fishing destination, whether estuary, river, bay or deep sea fishing. Its proximity to the Continental Shelf and reef fishing around Montague Island (only 8km’s from the mainland) make it a popular holiday spot.

There is, however, much more in the area than fishing and it is a lovely location well worth exploring in more detail, from the heritage of Tilba Tilba to the mystery of Mystery Bay.

Montague Island is a National Parks and Wildlife Reserve with an historic lighthouse, huge seal colony, little penguins, great snorkelling and of course fishing (although some areas of the surrounding waterway are a protected marine park). There are guided tours available of Montague Island, many including whale, dolphin and sea watching, and you can even stay overnight on the island.

There are a range of different sized charter boats available from Narooma wharf, offering many fishing alternatives for both game and sport, whether you want to chase Kingfish in the bay, are looking to catch the snapper of your dreams or want to head to the shelf for some Marlin fishing. Booking in advance is always recommended, however when it comes down to it, you are at the mercy of the weather.

Taking your own boat is also a good option, however beware the Narooma Bar is one of the most dangerous around.

Deserted beaches and rocky headlands dot the area, including Mystery Bay, Kianga, Dalmeny and the Tuross Lakes. Pack a picnic, take your beach towel, snorkelling equipment and head for the sand, you’re sure to find a protected piece of paradise somewhere.

Looking for the laid-back lifestyle? Then head to Tuross Heads for a visit, find the Boatshed at the marina and settle in for a relaxed day’s eating and drinking, even boat hire and fishing off the wharf.

To get to Narooma, follow the Princes Highway south of Sydney past Batemans Bay, from Canberra the Kings Highway takes you to Batemans Bay and then take the Princes Highway south past Moruya.

An annual visitors guide is published on the area, the website at www.eurobodalla.com.au or visitor information centres at Batemans Bay and Narooma.

Bega and surrounds

Bega is set amongst lush green farmlands around a 6 hour drive from Sydney. Famous, of course, for being the origin of Bega Cheese.

The Bega Cheese heritage centre is just one reason to visit this area, as, although not on the coast, close-by Bermagui and Tathra make up for this for lovers of the sea.

Bermagui is famous for deep-sea fishing mainly marlin and tuna. With the continental shelf just 20km away this is about as close as you can get. Go on a boat charter from this lovely safe harbour, or drop by the co-op and purchase a feast.

If you’re looking for something for the kids, the Blue Pool, a tidal pool to the south of Bermagui, offers a peaceful day out.

Tathra is famous for its’ steamer wharf – officially classified by the National Trust – built in the early 1860’s it was in use until 1954 and reopened in 1988 for fishing. This is arguably one of the best diving sites on the Sapphire Coast.

Get to Bega by following the Princes Highway south of Sydney past Batemans Bay, from Canberra the Kings Highway takes you to Batemans Bay and then take the Princes Highway south past Narooma.

An annual visitors guide is published on the area, the website at www.sapphirecoast.com.au or visitor information centres at Bega and Eden.

Eden – a whale of a time

Eden is a lovely seaside community and the last large town heading south from New South Wales into Victoria. It is steeped in the history of whaling (from 1828 to 1930), currently a commercial fishing port and is home to a huge variety of marine-life.

Eden and Twofold Bay have a long and rich whaling history based on shore-based whaling stations and Old Tom, whose skeleton can be found in the Eden Killer Whale Museum. The museum, established in 1931, and one of the oldest in NSW is a delight for both adults and children and a great place to learn about the history of Old Tom and whaling in the area, before you move on to other whale-related discoveries that dot the area.

Eden is where the East Australian Current from the north meets the colder waters from Bass Strait, providing for a huge diversity in marine population as it stirs up huge quantities of food. Whether you simply want to whale-watch from the shore, go deep sea diving with shipwrecks, snorkelling, or something more sedate, there is something for every palate. The Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre (www.sapphirecoastdiscover.com.au) is a great place to start, for adults and children alike. This is an interactive, educational and fun experience.

Snug Cove is home to the Eden Fishing fleet and worth a visit for a number of reasons. It’s a great place to eat, with a variety of waterfront restaurants, you can look at the fishing fleet in all its colourful glory, and even buy produce off the dock. It’s also home to the Marine Discovery Centre, above.

Midway between Sydney and Melbourne – well, nearly. Approx 7 hours from Sydney and 7 and a half from Melbourne and just over 3 hours from Canberra.

An annual visitors guide is published on the area, the website at www.sapphirecoast.com.au or visitor information centres at Bega and Eden.

When to visit?

Summer is the obvious time to visit the beaches of the NSW South Coast, however, if you take a wetsuit with you, you can enjoy the water at any time of year, and whale watching is better in the winter and spring.

For more information on each of these destinations, visit Around Australia blogspot by Penguyn.

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