Shoalhaven Coast

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Coast with the most. Your cheat sheet to the South Coast region

South Coast NSW is chockers with treasure. Location: Bermagui. Credit: Destination NSW

A pocket crammed with treats. That best sums up the NSW South Coast.

This area is dominated by alluring waterways – including sparkling beaches, lakes, and rivers – that offer an absorbing contrast to its lush green rolling hills and flora-coated national parks.

There are quirky natural attractions and timeless villages, a rich and varied past, and a succession of surprises that make this part of the country must-visit material.

And the best place to begin your love affair with South Coast NSW is right here.

Batemans Bay epitomises the relaxing, water-based vibe of South Coast NSW.

Coast hugging equals awesome beaches, right?

Spot on. And so many of these strips of sparkling sand suit myriad water activities. Top picks include:

Bar Beach South, Narooma: Excellent snorkelling opportunities, particularly for beginners and children.

Broulee Beach, Batemans Bay: Sheltered by Broulee Island, so swimming and surfing appeals. A magnet for snorkelling and diving, too.

Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay: A white sand wonder. Best suited to swimming and snorkelling.

Kianinny Bay, Tathra: A sheltered gem with family appeal. Often a crowd dodger.

Main Beach, Merimbula: Protected beach with striking, colourful rocks. Surfing, swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and canoeing all feature prominently.

Pambula Beach: Entices surfers and swimmers; a hotspot for kangaroos.

Shelly Beach, Moruya Heads: Great for families, ideals for picnics, and perfect for swimming.

Tathra Beach: Mesmerising blue and green waters. Beachfront attracts kangaroos and wallabies. Excellent surfing and sailboarding.

It's easy to fall in love with the beaches of South Coast NSW, such as those in Merimbula.

What other water-based leisure is there?

Almost too much to mention!

A must-visit is Montague Island Nature Reserve, only 9km offshore from Narooma. It’s home to a lovable assortment of marine creatures: fur seals, little penguins, and loads of bird life. Diving here is not to be missed.

It’s also a playground for whales in season – generally from May to November – which is typical of the region. Other prime whale-watching hotspots include Eden, Merimbula, Culburra, and Huskisson. Cruise options are plentiful.

Or take a cruise along the likes of the Clyde River from Batemans Bay or the Shoalhaven River from Nowra.

Diving with fur seals at Montague Island, near Narooma, is not to be missed. Credit: Destination NSW

Alluring lakes dominate the region and are tailormade for water recreation, including boating, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The following are worth diving into:

  • Burrill Lake.
  • Lake Conjola.
  • Merimbula Lake.
  • Pambula Lake.
  • Wallaga Lake.
  • Wallagoot Lake.
Lake Conjola is one of many glistening lakes dotted throughout the region.

Any national parks worth exploring?

You betcha! And in some cases, the water theme continues

  • Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden: Enjoy a seemingly endless stretch of sea views, secluded beaches, and fascinating Aboriginal and historical remnants.
  • Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay area: Rich with Indigenous culture. Affords gleaming beaches and endless chances to indulge in water-based fun.
  • Bournda National Park, near Tathra: Another park packed with crowd-free but stunning beaches backed by a rugged coastline. Wallagoot Lake suits swimming and boating.
Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden, is a dream for photographers and nature lovers.
  • Deua National Park, accessed from Moruya: Signature attraction is the Big Hole, an unimaginatively titled but super impressive chasm. Other highlights are wildflowers and ample bird species. Or cruise rivers via canoe.
  • Eurobodalla National Park, reached from Moruya or Narooma: A coastal classic. Includes great beaches and lakes, a wealth of bird life and animals, and superb walking paths to enjoy it all.
  • Mimosa Rocks National Park, near Bega: Has funky formations galore – best admired from epic headlands. Brilliant beaches and lagoons provide a strong allure.
  • Murramarang National Park, surrounding South Durras: Mixes sprawling forest with enticing beaches best discovered on a walking track. A short drive from Batemans Bay, too.
Glorious Murramarang National Park surrounds South Durras and is within easy reach of Bateman's Bay. Credit: Destination NSW

Outside of these national parks, could you recommend a scenic walk or three?

Instantly springing to mind is the magnificent Mill Bay Boardwalk in Narooma. It’s the best and easiest way to marvel at the eye-catching emerald waters of the Wagonga Inlet with potential to spot stingrays and large schools of fish.

Similarly, the Merimbula Boardwalk provides the platform for an enjoyable stroll, combining lake views with chances to see marine life, including the resident seal who lives under the Merimbula Bridge close by.

Or head to Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens at Batemans Bay, which boasts a cluster of trails that highlights the magnificent plant life native to the region. It’s also a prized picnic spot.

Expect views like this along the Mill Bay Boardwalk in Narooma.

Where are the signature photo ops?

When gazing at all that sensational coastline, spare a few clicks of the camera to capture a few quirky formations.

Dramatic Glasshouse Rocks at Surf Beach, Narooma are an icon of the town. Big and bold, they can be framed from endless angles. Nearby at Wagonga Head is Australia Rock – you’ll soon see how it got its name.

The appropriately named Horse Head Rock at Bermagui is equally striking, while ‘neigh’-bouring Camel Rock has a thirst for Instagram love.

Camel Rock at Bermagui is an Insta lover's dream. Credit: Destination NSW

What is there to do with the kids?

With its huge assortment of endangered and exotic animals, Mogo Zoo, just north of Batemans Bay, entertains kids big and small. Be enthralled by talks, feedings, and up-close encounters.

Birdland Animal Park in Batemans Bay is another wildlife wonder, filled with dozens of native feathered species and various animals in a bushland setting.

Let the kids go wild at Magic Mountain in Merimbula. This family fun park is packed with exhilarating rides and other attractions. More energy can be burned at Funland in Ulladulla with its vast selection of amusements, including arcade games and dodgem cars.

Or head to Oaklands Barn at Pambula. Among its attractions is an animal barn that features farmyard favourites, as well as pony and trail rides, and for adults there’s a microbrewery on site. Perfect!

What should I do if it’s raining?

A handful of inviting indoor attractions will liven up a dreary day…or even a nice one.

The Eden Killer Whale Museum is jammed with exhibitions and stories detailing the area’s compelling whaling past. Remaining in Eden, the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre has a strong emphasis on interactive, thought-provoking displays.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra comprehensively details the story of naval aviation in Australia, and the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum at Huskisson will captivate, too.

Delve into the history of an Aussie icon at the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre or immerse yourself in local history at the Old Courthouse Museum in Batemans Bay.

Have a whale of a time at the Eden Killer Whale Museum. Credit: Eden Killer Whale Museum

I heard there are cute villages worth checking out…

Correct! The zoo aside, Mogo is well worth a visit for its ability to transport visitors back in time. Visit the Original Gold Rush Colony with its recreated goldmining village and pan for the shiny stuff among a wealth of highlights.

Further south, about a 20min drive from Narooma, are the twin villages of Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba. They ooze old-world charm and are rife with photo ops.

Central Tilba is a cute village that's well worth wandering around. Credit: Destination NSW

What about something a bit different?

Take a guided tour of the Montreal Goldfield at Wallaga Lake. This is the site of the only seaside goldfield in Australia, and a visit here is full of interest and intrigue.

Take a tour of the fascinating Montreal Goldfield. Credit: Courtesy Montreal Goldfield

What’s the signature food of the region?

The answer is seafood. Loads and loads of delicious seafood. There is a wealth of places to indulge up and down the coast, whether you’re looking for fine dining or fish and chips by the sea.

First-rate eateries are clustered around key spots that include Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf, Forsters Bay in Narooma, Eden Wharf, Ulladulla Harbour, and Batemans Bay.

Shout-outs go to the following:

  • Tathra Oysters.
  • Wheeler's Restaurant in Pambula.
  • The River Moruya.
  • Rick Stein at Bannisters at Mollymook Beach
  • Fisherman's Wharf Seafood at Ulladulla.
  • The Fish Shop at Burrill Lake: among a host of budget beauties.
The wharf at Bermagui is one of several seafood hotspots in South Coast NSW. Credit: Destination NSW

Where can I stay?

All roads lead to one of the many BIG4 parks in South Coast NSW. Take a look at what’s on offer here.

Isn’t it time you headed to the coast? Book your BIG4 break now.

Tathra is another relaxing, enticing South Coast NSW town.

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