Sapphire by name and nature – Wallaga Lake and Bermagui, NSW
By the Places We Go team
The Sapphire Coast in southern NSW has an incredibly fitting name. The stunning coastline along this stretch is blessed with sapphire waters, which sparkle in the sunshine and invite adventures aplenty.
Iconic beach towns line this slice of coastal wilderness, and one of our favourites is Bermagui. A town of about 2000 residents, Bermagui steps above its shoe size in offering ample attractions, from spectacular beaches and water activities to food and wine experiences. It’s also highly regarded for its deep-sea game fishing.
Just a 10min drive from Bermagui is Wallaga Lake. It’s home to southern NSW’s largest lake and, like Bermagui, is overlooked by Gulaga (Mt Dromedary). Roughly 60 million years ago, Gulaga was an active volcano, and it holds significance for the local Yuin Indigenous Australians.
We based ourselves right on the shore of the lake at BIG4 Wallaga Lake Holiday Park, which sets itself apart from others for two reasons. One, its absolute lakefront location offers direct access to the water for fishing, boating, waterskiing, and so on. Two, the park has an on-site craft brewery.
That’s right, Camel Rock Brewery is located within the BIG4 park and is the passion of holiday park and brewery owner Steve. It is a place where both locals and park guests come together, enjoying craft brews, live music, happy hour, American barbecue-style food, and plenty of alfresco seating.
To Steve’s knowledge, this is likely one of the only holiday parks in the world to boast its very own brewery. But he is equally proud that it’s in a historic building, Allawah House, that he rescued from the land when he bought it and then refurbished.
Named for scenic Camel Rock beach that’s just a stone’s throw away – with iconic rock formations in the shape of a camel, of course – the brewery was full of people enjoying cold ales, live tunes, and the vibrant atmosphere when we visited.
After sampling the beer flight, we could see – or taste – why this place was so popular. Better still, it was only a few steps back to our cabin at day’s end.
It was hard to go past the water activities on offer: we could hire boats, fishing gear, kayaks, and more from the park to spend time on the lake. Plenty of others were doing the same thing. In fact, every second caravan site and cabin had a boat parked out the front. As they say: ‘location, location’.
It’s easy to while away days on end exploring the lake with all the options, and the kids get their thrills with activities like waterskiing and tubing.
On dry land, there were pedal karts, a jumping pillow, tennis courts, swimming pool, adventure playground, and more to ensure they were constantly entertained. Pets are even welcome at the manager’s discretion.
And the lake isn’t the only place to throw a line in. Owing to Bermagui’s reputation as a game-fishing hotspot, we joined one of the most experienced deep-sea fishing skippers in town, Steve, on board his boat, Fish Bermi Charters.
Year-round the fish are biting, and people flock here to catch tuna, shark, marlin, and more. We were chasing reef fish, and despite an average history of angling we had landed one within minutes. Our haul didn’t stop there: one after the other we reeled in trevally, rainbow and ocean perch, and sergeant baker – which wasn’t the name of the local policeman for those with limited fishing knowledge.
It was clear as the day wore on that it wasn’t just luck or skill on our behalf – it was literally the location. The sea was teeming with fish, attracted by a bounty of bait fish. However, we were also in some of the most experienced hands in the business, and it was clear Steve knew where to take the boat to find the fish.
We returned to land with a large esky full of fish, perfect to fillet and cook back at the holiday park for dinner.
To make our stay even better, the locals let us in on one of the local highlights we simply couldn’t miss: a stop at local institution Mimosa Wines and restaurant.
We met Glenn and Gail, the owners who had built the winery from scratch after buying the picturesque pocket of land about 30 years ago. Today, the property boasts roughly 2.5ha of rolling vines, which produce two white and two red wines that service the popular architect-designed restaurant.
Outside on the deck, the scene was glorious: views across the property, a bottle of crisp verdelho, and a platter of Sydney rock oysters from Wapengo Lake down the road. It was the perfect way to spend the rest of the afternoon, and it capped off a truly memorable break.
Have you visited Bermagui and Wallaga Lake? What are your memories of the area? We’d love to read your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.
Isn’t it time you enjoyed a sparkling break? Book your next BIG4 escape now.