Water, Water, Everywhere On A NSW Road Trip

3 October 2016

Eurobodalla means ‘land of many waters’ in local Indigenous parlance but that’s something of an understatement. This unspoilt region of New South Wales' South Coast unfurls a richly textured mosaic of more than 83 beaches and multitudes of inlets, lakes and rivers; swirling among forests, glowing green farmland and charming historic settlements. Even in holiday season, it’s easy to find a patch of paradise that’s all yours on this 700-kilometre round trip road trip.

Highlights

  • A seemingly endless succession of empty beaches, calm inlets and waterbird-embellished lakes.
  • Low-slung, heritage settlements such as Moruya, Narooma and Central Tilba host a vibrant arts scene.
  • Many beaches are dog-friendly, and between Sunshine Bay and Broulee the coastline is scalloped by calm coves: perfect for families.
  • Rewarding wilderness walks such as the Bingie Dreaming trail.
  • Sensational snorkelling from shore and the opportunity to frolic with seals at Montague Island.
A seal frolics in the waters off Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia. Swim with seals at Montague Island. Picture: Getty Images

Day 1

The most visually gratifying, relaxing way to reach the regional gateway of Batemans Bay from Sydney is the inland, highway route via Goulburn. The glory days of gold and agriculture booms linger in Goulburn’s heritage facades, and having driven nearly 200 kilometres, you’ll appreciate the cafes and a leg-stretch.

The New South Wales town of Goulburn glows golden at sunset. Stretch your legs in Goulburn. Picture: Getty Images

Poplars edge the road and the sheep paddocks are sprinkled with granite as you drive the 85 kilometres towards historic Braidwood. From here, it’s a 60-kilometre swoop to the coast through dense, fragrant forests.

Day 2

Sheltered coves and flamboyant rock formations typify the beaches between Sunshine Bay and Broulee (22 kilometres). Pick a beach, put your head underwater, and get set to ogle blue gropers. With the formation of the Batemans Marine Park, the snorkelling keeps getting better.

Pretty Point Bay, Guerilla Bay and North Rosedale feel particularly tucked away, and after a swim, snorkel, kayak or paddle-board ride, walking along these pebbly beaches (tickle alert!) is akin to visiting a vast sculpture gallery. Many of the headlands feature walkways, with Mossy Point offering exceptional views.

A sandy path leads to Broulee Beach in New South Wales. Broulee Beach suits surfers and snorkellers. Picture: Getty Images

Surfing and snorkelling fans will be sated at Broulee, a retro-vibe beach village with gelato-coloured shacks and a bike track. If the water gets choppy, make for Mogo Zoo, which specialises in endangered species.

There's also bike and kayak hire, horse-riding and heaps of other activities for kids in this area. If you’re near historic Moruya on a Saturday, graze the riverside market.


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Day 3

The sky gets bigger and scenes become wilder as you drive the 42 kilometres from Moruya to Narooma. Numerous detours reveal untrammelled treats.

Congo (11 kilometres from Moruya) has a large, child-friendly inlet and a walking trail through cycads and spotted gums. Bingie Road (five kilometres from the highway) leads to lichen-coated boulders of Bingie Bingie and Mullimburra Point – five calm wilderness beaches you’ll share with kangaroos.

A woman stands on boulders and stares at the sea at Bingie Bingie in New South Wales. Bound along the boulders at Bingie Bingie. Picture: Getty Images

Splendid lake views and beaches fringed with Norfolk Island pines await at Tuross Head and if you’re after solitude, the sea-mist-shrouded beaches of Potato Point will hit the spot. In the cheese-heritage village of Bodalla, gothic All Saints Church hosts frequent music concerts.

If time allows, loop through the web of alluring country roads west of the Princess Highway to gold-rush relics such as Nerrigundah. Nudging laid-back Narooma, gemstone-bright Wagonga inlet startles the eyes. The boardwalk on the northern shore is a fabulous perch for a picnic, a swim with stingrays or a sublime sunset.

Day 4

Tours to Montague Island, which include the lighthouse, penguin colony and swims with playful seals, depart daily from the Narooma’s glassy harbour and shouldn’t be missed. At Mystery Bay and nearby Billys Beach – 12 kilometres from Narooma and another great place to snorkel – the rocks look still- molten.

The hamlet of Central Tilba nestles among rolling green hills in New South Wales. Central Tilba is worthy of a cheese commercial. Picture: Getty Images

Keep driving for seven kilometres through country straight out of a cheese commercial (the Sunnyside Road route takes in the loveliest views) and you’ll reach National Trust-listed Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba. These storybook villages feature artisan galleries, antiques, cafes with big sofas and the timber Dromedary Hotel – special for its fireplace, convivial atmosphere and live music. Fancy a secluded beach reached by driving through paddocks? Sherrington Lane – opposite the Tilba Tilba turnoff – will take you there.

Day 5

Start the day with an invigorating walk among the primeval Glass House Rocks, just three kilometres south of Narooma, and before heading off, grab a bite at the boatsheds at Forsters Bay on Wagonga inlet. If you’re returning to Sydney (350 kilometres), follow the coast to Oak Flats, then climb up to the Southern Highlands to take in genteel, English-style scenery. Melbourne-bound travellers (685 kilometres) are in for a riveting coastal drive.


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Melissa Rimac

Melissa Rimac is a travel writer and photographer.