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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

south coast of new south wales

South Coast of New South Wales – a description from Volume 7 of "Travel in a Changing World" by Gerard Castles available at

Eden used to be a whaling town. It is a popular town to stay if you like sailing, fishing and stunning scenery. Further along is the town of Pambula with a treasure house of handicrafts and gifts called Toad Hall. The town has grown a lot and now covers several square kilometres of houses. The 7 klm walk along the surf beach from Merimbula, where I stayed to Pambula and over the headland to the Pambula River is rewarding, but exhausting. I had a rest on the way, swam in the surf and in the river after walking over the headland before running out of energy. A large new surf club is being built behind the old one at Pambula. The viewing platforms nearby affords great views over the rocky headland beaches and the river with Australian bushland and rocky cliffs on the far side. After I was fully sated with the beauty of the area and the two swims, I was far too tired to walk back, so hitched a lift to Merimbula with two friendly water meter readers. They dropped me off at Mitchies jetty where I had a rest and another short swim. It was glorious. All that walking and swimming built up an appetite, so I had lunch at 3p.m. of Grenadier (fish), chips, salad and a beer back at the lovely, clean, comfortable youth hostel. After three days of pure bliss at Merimbula, where I discovered the back beaches , the town shops and boardwalk along the estuary, I headed north stopping briefly at Bega nestled in a valley mainly utilised for dairying and to beautiful Narooma where I had stayed six years earlier. This and Merimbula are my favourite town on the south coast of NSW. There were a few changes, but generally it is the same. To give you an idea of all there is to see, follow my description of my bicycle tour which takes all day to discover all of Narooma's secrets. It started from the motel which doubles as a youth hostel on the Bega side of town. I followed the road from here to the town shopping centre just down the hill from the distinctive olf church and fire station. On the way, you have views over serene Wagonga Inlet. I sped down the hill from here to the Information Centre which is like a nautical museum inside depicting the history of Narooma. From here I rode towards the bridge where the old YHA was located and along the bicycle track beside the inlet with views across to oyster beds and Mt Dromedary mirrored in the calm water. It is the highest coastal mountain in the region. I rode the bicycle over the highway bridge to the inlet. The sound of bellbirds filled the air and took a photo of the brilliant view over the inlet to the town. I suggest that you follow my lead and have a swim at the safe beach within the enclosed swimming area. This is a perfect place to relax in the sun between swims, go fishing or have a picnic. For lunch, I pedalled back to the Taylor's restaurant on Wagonga Inlet for flathead fillets, Tasmanian scallops and chips. It was absolutely delicious and the best place to have seafood. I looked at some interesting homes and many new units as I rode from Taylors to the camping grounds, the marina and on to the Hole in the Rock where the estuary meets the sea. The coast guard is located on the hill above with commanding views along the surf beaches to the north and all over Narooma. It welcomes visitors. I rested here while taking in the scenery and rode past the golf course and down to the scenic surf beach on the other side. The rock formations along the coast are dramatic, such as the cliff below the golf course and camping area and the big rock just offshore from the cemetery. The main beach is opposite the surf club and is reasonable safe. There is also a small creek entering the sea which I found to be clean enough to swim in. I returned to Narooma motel and YHA by walking up the hill past the small shopping complex. Bicycle pathways made it safer to pedal around Narooma to see all the sights.  On my last visit here, it took me several days walking around to see all of Narooma, so with the extra  pathways, cycling if a better option. Offshore from Narooma is Montague Island which has a lighthouse built in 1881 and a sanctuary for birds and sea life. In season, seals and penguins can be seen on the island.  From Narooma to Bateman's Bay, the highway goes through steep hills with forests, farmland and the large town of Moruya. There are several branch roads off the highway to popular fishing towns like Tuross Heads, Moruya Heads and Broulee. These scenic spots are popular for bushwalking, camping as well as fishing. Bateman's Bay has become much larger and a sizeable elderly population scoot around in their electric buggies. Every tourist discovers the marina, river views and the boardwalk, but often miss out on seeing the enthralling Eurobodella Botanical Gardens set in the forest 5 klms south of Bateman's Bay. There are hundreds of species of native Australian plants to see and all are clearly labelled. Six different tracks take you around the gardens and two of these are wheelchair and stroller friendly. I spotted many Eastern rosellas, yellow finches, robins, wrens kookaburras, waterfowl and magpies. The ponds, aboretum and bird hides are good places to sit for awhile to observe the flora and fauna. After spending two delightful hours here, I went for a drive to the beaches such as Sunshine Bay and had a relaxing swim near Observation Point; well named as I watched the amusing antics of about 20 teenagers as they passed by while I paddled about in the warm water. There some little offshore islands which are intriguing and the surf beaches are further south.

On a lazy, hazy sunny day, I drove from Batemans Bay to Woolongong. The highway goes through lush rainforest inland from Pebbly Beach; a popular spot for water sports and bushwalking. The police positioned themselves at the bottom of the hill along the highway in Ulladulla – a perfect place to make revenue from speed fines. Ulladulla has not changed much since my last visit six years earlier. Its main attraction is a safe harbour for fishing and pleasure boats. Continuing further north, the highway goes through small towns and rolling scenic farmland backed by forested coastal ranges. I reached Berry after nearly three hours drive and enjoyed a walk around this popular town to stretch my legs, while taking photos of the old buildings and looking at the shops. On my previous visit, I stopped off at Nowra and Jervis Bay, where kangaroos hop right down to the scenic beaches..  A guy at the Caltex service station told me that Berry was once a private town being part of a large estate owned by a Mr Berry. I am glad that I took his advice to go the scenic way to Seven Mile Beach, Gerringong and Black Rock Beach from where the views extended south to the mouth of the Shoalhaven Heads, coastal ranges and long stretches of beach and north towards the Illawarra coast. There are wineries around Coolangatta estate and at Gerringong, the Crooked River winery. Backing the Seven Mile beach, there is some natural coastal rainforest. Tracks lead from the road to the beach. The grass seems to glow on surrounding farms as it is so lush. Gerringong is built in rolling hills and reminds me of coastal towns in southern England. I drove the two kilometres to Black Rock point, passing nice homes. Werri Beach and Boat Harbour are good places for a swim. There are many historic homesteads in this farming area. Shellharbour is a large town with too much traffic, so it was with relief that I stopped in historic Kiama where I went for a stroll around town and saw the colourful post office, old bank and courthouse, Scots Church (1898), railway station, terrace houses, Christ Church (1872). At the blowhole near the lighthouse, I watched the water spray up and heard the thunder of the swell as it entered the cavern. The old Pilot's cottage is now the historic museum. It overlooks the harbour where the largest pelicans I have ever seen were waiting for a feed near the seafood restaurant. I drove to Little Blowhole a few kilometres south and took an excellent photo as it spurts higher into the air. Sporting fields, homes with well kept gardens, two surf beaches, a gold course and caravan park make this area a perfect to live or have a holiday. It abounds with all the facilities and natural beauty to make a perfect lifestyle – in fact, my type of lifestyle.

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