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There are few things in life that compare to a great Australian road trip, exploring foreign territory and popping in and out of pretty little towns, seeking out uncrowded beaches and discovering rich histories. One such road trip is the scenic South Coast of New South Wales.
The South Coast refers to the coastal strip from Sydney in the north to the border with Victoria in the south in the south-eastern part of the State of New South Wales. You can start this trip from Sydney or do what we did, and that was to continue down the New South Wales coastline from the Queensland border. Or maybe you could do the trip in reverse starting from Melbourne to Sydney road trip.
Most travellers, particularly if they’re towing a caravan or driving a large motorhome prefer to drive around the large city of Sydney. Let’s face it, Sydney isn’t particularly caravan or camping friendly. After departing from Lake Macquarie, near Newcastle we drove along the Pacific Highway until we reached the outskirts of Sydney and then headed inland towards Blacktown, Parramatta and Liverpool and then steered south via Campbelltown towards Wollongong and onto Kiama.
The name Kiama means “where the sea makes a noise”, which is suitably appropriate for the town’s main tourist attraction, the Kiama Blowhole. Apart from the celebrated Kiama Blowhole there are 9 beautiful beaches, rivers, rock pools, inlets and basins and 2 harbours for boats.
You can embark on all or part, of the 22 Km scenic coastal walk between Minnamurra River to the north and Werri Beach to the south, via the Blowhole, Lighthouse, rocky headlands, secret caves, coves and glorious ocean vistas.
The charming countryside surrounding Kiama has lush tumbling hills dotted with dairy cows on green pastures. You can meander through picturesque Jamberoo, Saddleback Mountain and Rose Valley to see historic dry stone walls, country pubs, wineries and old red-roofed farmhouses. Nearby villages worth a look include Jamberoo, Gerringong, Gerroa, Bombo, Minnamurra and Shell Harbour.
Jervis Bay which is actually part of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is accessible off the Pacific Highway at Nowra. This protected marine park is famous for its white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. In fact Jervis Bay’s waters are amongst the safest and most beautiful in the world with large number of dolphins, seals and little penguins. During the winter months the humpback whales come to visit and frolic in the bay. Plus there are great protected swimming spots and rock pools, ideal for snorkelling.
There are several villages scattered around the bay, including Huskisson, Vincentia and Hyams Beach. Vincentia which is home to some of the best, and most accessible, beaches in Jervis Bay; Blenheim, Greenfields, Collingwood and Orion beaches fill the 6.5 Km strip along the Vincentia foreshore.
A must see is Hyams Beach. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this pristine environment that claims to have some of the whitest sand beaches in the world. Diving and snorkelling are very popular, with Jervis Bay dive sites widely regarded as being second only to the Great Barrier Reef. Surfing, sailing, windsurfing and sea kayaking are also popular in this idyllic marine park.
Half way between Nowra to the north and Batemans Bay to the south is the town of Ulladulla in the Shoalhaven district of NSW. The name Ulladulla means “safe harbour” in aboriginal language, so this pretty much sums up the place with its picturesque harbour in the middle of the town.
Ulladulla is a great central location to explore the surrounding lakes of Lake Conjola to the north and Lake Burrill to the south. You can also visit the coastal village of Mollymook with it’s fabulous 2 Km stretch of golden sanded beach or the nearby historical town of Milton.
Visit Warden Head Lighthouse at Ulladulla and take in the sensational views or go for a swim, snorkel or fish in the rock pools at the bottom of the lighthouse. Eating fish and chips fresh from the Fishermen’s Co-op on the wharf at Ulladulla Harbour is another popular past-time for locals and visitors alike.
Although a relatively large town Batemans Bay maintains its small town atmosphere with its fabulous estuary location, country hospitality and charm, and unspoilt natural environment. A bustling and vibrant holiday resort , Batemans Bay lies at the mouth of the Clyde River in the centre of NSW South Coast. It is a holiday mecca for tourists, particularly during the Summer months, as it has some of the most pristine uncrowded beaches on the coast.
In the Batemans Bay Marine Park you can go fishing, diving, snorkelling and boating. Enjoy the Clyde River on a lunchtime cruise; if you enjoy oysters, don’t miss the succulent local Clyde River oysters. Drive south along Beach Road, stopping at a string of picturesque coves and beaches, such as Corrigans Beach, Caseys Beach, Sunshine Cove, Denhams Beach, Surf Beach, Wimbie Beach, Smugglers Cove, Circuit Beach, Lilli Pilli Beach, Mosquito Bay, Garden Bay, Malua Bay, Pretty Point Bay, McKenzies Beach, Rosedale Beach, Nuns Beach, Tranquil Bay and Guerilla Bay. All uniquely different with something to suit everyone, whether it be fishing, surfing, snorkelling, swimming or beach walking.
Ten minutes drive south of Batemans Bay is the old Gold Mining town of Mogo which has become home to a small group of artists and crafts people. It is definitely worth browsing the many galleries and arts and crafts shops lined down the main road. Mogo is also home to an extremely good privately owned zoo.
Moruya, meaning ‘Home of the Black Swan’, is a country town south of Batemans Bay situated on the magnificent Moruya River. With its beautifully preserved and restored historic buildings and churches it is a great place to visit. Moruya is fast becoming the ‘cultural hub’ of the South Coast, hosting the annual Jazz Festival in late October and the River of Arts Festival mid-year.
Moruya Heads is only about 10 kms to the east of town and boasts beautiful views north along the coast and west over the estuary of the Moruya River, called the Deua in its upper reaches, to the spectacular mountains of the Eastern Escarpment. Moruya Heads is also a great surfing beach which is patrolled in summer. There are many other unspoiled beaches, Congo, Bingi and some others without names, that are within a short drive from Moruya.
Narooma in the region known as the Eurobodalla is a gorgeous little place to spend a few days. Narooma comes from the Aboriginal for ‘clear blue water’ which is evident with the vibrant aqua colours of the Wagonga Inlet, set against the spectacular backdrop of Gulalga Mountain.
Take a hike up to Bar Rock Lookout with magnificent views of the estuary inlet and out to Montague Island, and take a snap shot of the perfect Australia-shaped hole naturally carved out of rocks over millions of years, at Australia Rock.
Or take a boat cruise to the outstanding Montague Island Nature Reserve, only 9 km’s offshore from Narooma, which is home to the largest seal and little penguin colonies in the state.
Hike or bike along the Narooma to Dalmeny pathway – the newly completed 6km ocean-front shared cycle/pathway, ‘NAR1’, built by a Dad’s Army of volunteers for the benefit of the community. Just a short trip south of Narooma it is worthwhile exploring the pretty coastal hamlet called Mystery Bay.
The two jewels of the sparkling Sapphire Coast, Merimbula and Eden are a world apart, even though they are only separated by about 20 kms. Merimbula: a great holiday resort for families with gorgeous beaches lining the foreshore of Lake Merimbula. Eden: with a working port and a deep dark history of one of the longest operating shore-based whaling stations in Australia.
Merrimbula is a playground for water sports lovers of all types, including fishing, swimming, surfing, boating, lake cruises, scuba-diving, sailboarding and canoeing.
Merimbula, which means two lakes, has two good surf beaches at Main Beach, Short Point or Bar Beach. Or you can amble on the boardwalk around the lake beginning at the bridge and winding its way around to Top Lake Jetty. Hire a stand-up paddleboard, canoe or kayak and paddle around the lake. Go whale watching during June to August when the whales are heading north for Winter or better still from September to November, when mothers and calves return to the feeding grounds of the Antarctic.
Nestled comfortably within three National Parks, Eden on majestic Twofold Bay, not only provides you with easy access to the ocean, but it opens many pages of our fascinating Australian history. It has some of the most pristine undeveloped coastline and secluded sandy beaches on the South Coast of NSW.
Eden has one of our nation’s deepest harbours, Twofold Bay for access for the recreational fisherman and opportunities to enjoy the finest whale watching between September and November each year. Amongst the many attractions is Davidson Whaling Station where you can see relics and read about life of the 19th century whalers.
Experience Snug Bay and wander the wharves and see first hand the fishermen unloading their catch. Taste the flavours of Eden with fresh seafood such as oysters, mussels, abalone, easter rock lobster, local fish and smoked seafood. Meet ‘Old Tom’ the famous killer whale skeleton at the Eden Killer Whale Museum which offers insights and tales of bravery of the area’s whaling past.
Take a stroll along the Aslings Beach pathway for sweeping views across Calle Calle Bay with a viewing platform at the eastern end for spotting whales, dolphins and seals. Discover historic Boydtown, just 8 km south of Eden and visit the Seahorse Inn built by Benjamin Boyd in 1843 using convict labour.
My advice is take your time and spend at least two weeks on this great Australian road trip, as there are plenty of wonderful places along this coastline that will take your breath away. Although the distance between Kiama and Eden is only 357 kms, you must try to stop at each and every place. You won’t want to miss a thing, believe me!
Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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JulieFebruary 14, 2017
Ahhhh one of my favourite parts of the world!
KathyFebruary 14, 2017
I knew you would love this road trip Julie! We’re hoping to do part of the South Coast again next year when we intend travelling the entire Murray River from start to finish. :)
JanFebruary 14, 2017
All that and so much more to see, such a long list but yet add in Bermagui and Tathra for your next visit (and then pop down to Mallacoota to visit us ;-)
KathyFebruary 14, 2017
Yes we never stopped at either Bermagui or Tathra, so I’m kicking myself now. You know I would visit Mallacoota again in a heartbeat. We loved your neck of the woods. :)
joFebruary 14, 2017
It all looks so wonderful! I’d love to visit Jervis Bay and the rolling green fields of Jamberoo look divine. Time to hitch up the camper me thinks!!
KathyFebruary 14, 2017
The entire South Coast of NSW is divine Jo. There is a lot of diversity in landscapes and gorgeous coastline with pristine beaches. I hope to visit again one day soon. :)
Tara MarlowFebruary 15, 2017
We’re certainly looking forward to spending time down there in the coming months. Broulee and South Durras are favourites of ours and there is great camping, if you’re so inclined, at Green Patch which is part of the shared indigenous park of Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay.
KathyFebruary 15, 2017
It’s a beautiful part of Australia and yes Broulee and South Durras were definitely lovely spots, although we never camped there. I think we will need to return to fill in the gaps. :)
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & BeyondFebruary 16, 2017
You have made me feel quite nostalgic Kathy as I lived in Kiama for about 18 months before moving to Brisbane. We lived in Kiama Heights which was just after the main town and the kids went to the gorgeous old primary school. I loved coming into Kiama and the Terrace Shops plus Jamberoo was gorgeous especially if you had to stop while the cows crossed the road. I didn’t really get further south which was a shame but you have given me some lovely ideas. Thanks!
KathyFebruary 16, 2017
Kiama was a top spot. We spent a few days here and loved doing the coastal walk and also venturing into the hills to Jamberoo, plus further down the coast to Gerringong. The South Coast is so scenic. :)
RuthFebruary 17, 2017
These are all beautiful places to stop by! I am amazed by the diversity of the landscapes. The red rocks, fur seals and wild cliffs are reasons enough to do this trip. #TPThursday
KathyFebruary 17, 2017
We had heard so many positive things about the South Coast of New South Wales and it did not disappoint. We loved every part of it. :)
Bryna | Dotted Line TravelsFebruary 20, 2017
Great tips for a road trip. Looks like a spectacular, scenic route. So cool that you saw fur seals!
KathyFebruary 20, 2017
Hi Bryna, yes it is a spectacular stretch of coastline. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were a colony of fur seals just off the coastline of Narooma. Thank you for dropping by. :)
NancieFebruary 22, 2017
Hi, Kathy. What a fantastic road trip! I traveled by bus when I was in Australia in 1980. I still remember the trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs quite vividly. I’m not sure that I ever got rid of all the red soil in my clothes :) Hopefully, I’ll get back again one of these days and seem some of the places in your post. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday
KathyFebruary 23, 2017
Don’t you just love that red dirt? It stains everything! You would love seeing some more of Australia Nancie. It is a fascinating country with very diverse landscapes. :)
budget janFebruary 22, 2017
Great Road Trip Kathy. I’ve not seen the Red Rocks of Merrimbula Headland – love the way the blue of the waves plays against them.
KathyFebruary 23, 2017
Yes I was astonished to see these red oxide rocks. They do contrast against the blue sea nicely.I can highly recommend a road trip along the South Coast of NSW. :)