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NSW South Coast
Whale breaching off the Eden coastThe NSW South Coast region runs from Berry and Kangaroo Valley in the north, to Eden, Lake Wonboyn and the Victorian border, a distance of approximately 400 km, and at its northern point it is about 150 km south of Sydney. It is a thin strip of land, with the Pacific Ocean as its eastern border and various national parks and escarpments acting as the western border. So long is this region's coastline, it may help to divide it up into the three sub-regions that look after the area's administration and tourism - Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla Nature Coast and the Sapphire Coast.

The Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven is the most northern of these sub-regions, stretching 160 km as the crow flies, and including all bays and inlets it has over 1,000 km of coastline, including 109 beaches. Just over 60% of the Shoalhaven is forest, national park or state crown land. Average temperatures range from 16 to 26 degrees Celsius in summer, and from 6 to 16 in winter. Its principle shopping and business centre is the town of Nowra, which is where you'll find one of Shoalhaven's two visitor information centres, the other being in Ulladulla. Attractions in Nowra include the Nowra Animal Park, with its exhibits and rides situated on 16 acres beside the Shoalhaven River, and Australia's Museum of Flight at H.M.A.S. Albatross, located 8 km south-west of Nowra, with a 6000 square metre building housing Australian naval aircraft.

Sixteen km west of Nowra is Bundanon, a spectacular 1,000 hectare parcel of land on the banks of the Shoalhaven River, gifted to Australia in 1993 by the estate of the artist Arthur Boyd. Bundanon is a place of great natural beauty, a living arts centre in which contemporary artists are housed and nurtured, and not last a museum, the 1860ís National Estate listed Bundanon Homestead, displaying works by Arthur Boyd and other members of this illustrious and artistic family. Bundanon is open to the public every Sunday from 10.30 am to 4 pm. Also inland from Nowra are the towns of Berry and Kangaroo Valley, small country towns of great beauty. Kangaroo Valley has the classic rolling green hills we often associate with the country, and its sandstone Hampden Bridge is the oldest suspension bridge in Australia. Berry, the "town of trees", draws many visitors to its gardens, arts and crafts, antiques and markets, its restored architecture a nod to days gone by, with many of its buldings with National Trust Classification. There is much shooping to be done, and many cafes and resturants in which to relax.

To the east, 17 km, of Nowra is Shoalhaven Heads, where you can swim or fish on the popular Seven Mile Beach, or take one of the bushwalks in Seven Mile Beach National Park. The beach is patrolled in the summer months and offers great conditions for all manner of watercraft and watersports, and by walking around the corner to the river the quietness of the riverfront offers a great contrast to the wave activity of the oceanfront. The nearby town of Coolangatta was the site of the first European settlement on the south coast, its original buildings have been restored and the town hosts a thriving arts and craft community. Culburra, a little further south, has what is regarded as the Nowra area's best surfing beach.

Continuing south, we come to the town of Huskisson, on the beautiful and clean waters of Jervis Bay. The waters have are claimed to be Australia's cleanest, due to factors such as the absence of rivers running into the bay, the lack of heavy industry and the moderate urban development of the area. Huskisson has in the past been an important boat building and fishing centre, with tourism now its primary industry. From Huskisson you can take a boat tour of the bay, where you'll more than likely catch a glimpse of the pods of dolphins that call the bay their home, go sailing, scuba diving, fishing or simply walk and explore the string of beaches. Other towns arranged on the shores of Jervis Bay are Callala Bay, Callala Beach, Myola, Vincentia and Hyams Beach, the last of which is composed of what are reputed to be the world's whitest sands.

Jervis Bay's neighbouring body of water is St Georges Basin, along which sit the towns of St Georges Basin and Sussex Inlet. Again water activities are the prime attraction here, or for a land alternative clamber about Booderee National Park and Booderee Botanic Gardens, the expanse of nature that separates the towns of Jervis Bay and Sussex Inlet. A popular event in Sussex Inlet is the Annual Family Fishing Carnival, which takes place over a week in the month of July and offers a variety of competitions and prizes, for all ages and levels of expertise.

Coming to the southern end of the Shoalhaven, we reach the area around Ulladulla, approximately 66 km south of Nowra. Ulladulla was, is, a fishing town, its real centre being the harbour, with its cafes, restaurants and of course the fishing fleet. For a great view of the town go to One Track for All, on the northern headland, which offers not only vantage points for the coast, town and harbour, but also a cultural trail, telling the story of the southern Shoalhaven Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history, from an Aboriginal prospective. A colourful time to visit Ulladulla is Easter, particularly Easter Sunday, to witness the Blessing of the Fleet. Just 5 km north of Ulladulla is the delightful village of Mollymook, which has an excellent surf beach (care should be taken in some areas, which are best tackled by experienced swimmers and surfers), a 9 hole golf course which runs along the coast, and a nearby 18 hole Hilltop course. Pigeon House Mountain, located 25 km north-west of Ulladulla, in the Morton National Park, is an excellent place for spectacular views of the coast and the Budawang Range.

Finally we come to the towns of Bawley Point and Durras, and the beautiful Murramarang National Park. Many beaches dot this section of the coast, most notably Pebbly Beach, south of Bawley Point, where some of your fellow sunbathers and swimmers are likely to be the kangaroos that call the park home.

Eurobodalla Nature Coast

Ths section of the coast is approximately 90 km in length, from Batemans Bay to Tilba Tilba. There are more than 60 named beaches in this region, of which those at Batemans Bay, Malua Bay, Broulee, South Head, Moruya, Tuross, Dalmeny and Narooma are patrolled. Visitor information centres are located in Batemans Bay and Narooma.

Batemans Bay is the name given to both the town and the body of water, with the town situated at the western edge of the bay, into which the Clyde River flows. The average daily temperatures in the town are 24 degrees Celsius in the summer months, and 16 degrees in winter. The location offers of course ocean, reef, beach and estuary fishing, and Clyde River oysters and other seafood is a sought after menu item - try the restaurants and cafes that line the town's waterfront. River cruises and fishing charters can be taken from the Ferry Wharf, and golfers will enjoy the challenge of the 27-hole Catalina Country Club. Kids will love Birdland, an attraction featuring birds, animals, animal nursery, snake handling, train rides, children's playground and BBQ area. The Murramarang National Park has another section 10 km north-east of Batemans Bay, south of Durras, where again kangaroos will be sharing a beach with you.

Ten km south of Batemans Bay is the town of Mogo, another of Australia's gold rush towns of the 19th century. Much of the original town's buildings have been preserved, and visitors can relive the days of old at Old Mogo Town, or try their hand, or their pan to be more precise, finding gold at the Mogo Goldfields Park.

Returning to the coast east of Mogo, are the towns of Malua Bay, Broulee and Moruya Heads. Malua Bay is a popular spot, with safe swimming beaches. A little further south is Broulee, with its long beach protected at one end by Broulee Island and its nature reserve, which offers some picturesque bushwalking. Other beaches in the area are for experienced surfers and swimmers only but the main beach is safe for families. Ten minutes on from Broulee is Moruya, located inland on the Moruya River, rich in shipping, dairying and gold mining history. History buffs should visit the Eurobodalla Historic Museum in the town centre, telling the story of the area's gold rush days and general history. Sydneysiders might think some of the local granite looks familiar - it is from quarries in the area that the stone for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons was obtained. Again there are many fine beaches in and around Moruya Heads, especially from Moruya Heads, 6 km east of Moruya, to the village of Congo a little to the south. This area has not only spectacular coastal scenery, but also bushwalking, flora and fauna in the Eurobodalla National Park, which runs most of the way from Moruya Heads to Tuross Head.

Tuross Head is situated on the northern headland of Tuross Lake, its rows of Norfolk Pines and small village feel making it a jewel of this stretch of the coast. Around the lake south from Tuross Head and on the Princes Highway, is the more widely known town of Bodalla, thanks in no small part to its expertise and marketing success in the art of cheesemaking. Check out the Big Cheese in the middle of town, or South Coast Cheese Sales on the Potato Point Road east of Bodalla.

Next along the highway south is Narooma, a very popular and lovely spot, famous for its fishing, whale watching opportunities and cruises to the nearby Montague Island. Narooma is a busy town, with a good selection of shops, cafes, restaurants, clubs and leisure activities. In the period of mid-September to mid-November Narooma comes alive with the whale watching season - there is a wide choice of operators running cruises, and amongst the types of whales you may see are humpbacks, southern right whales, fin whales, Bryde Whales, sei whales, blue whales and killer whales, plus of course fur seals and bottle-nosed dolphins. Since beginning the whale watching cruises of Narooma have a 98% success rate in whale spotting. Visit Montague Island Nature Reserve, where, after your 9 km voyage to the island, a ranger from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife will take you on a guided tour. See historic buildings, fur seals, birds and Australia's second largest colony of little penguins. Other cruises and charters available are fishing and scuba diving related, or you can simply cruise the Wagonga Inlet. On dry land, learn about the local Aboriginal culture at the Umbarra Cultural Centre - spear throwing, bark hut building, painting with ochres, boomerang throwing and making, photographs and more.

Last stop on our look at the Eurobodalla Nature Coast is the historical village of Central Tilba, a heritage village classified by the National Trust. Originally a gold rush town, then a dairying centre, the prime attraction of the village now is its living history aspect - see a leatherworks, cobbler, bakery, the ABC Cheese Factory, woodturner, toy store, lolly shop, galleries, arts and crafts, pub and cafes.

The Sapphire Coast

Our final leg of this southern sojourn, takes us from Cobargo down to the NSW and Victorian border. Like Central Tilba, Cobargo has a thriving arts and craft scene, where you can not only can you buy the finished product, but watch the craftspeople and artists at work. West of Cobargo is the Wadbilliga National Park, the 20 km drive there a study in contrasts, the old cleared farmlands of the area's pioneers leading to the wildness of the bush. On the coast east of Cobargo is the town of Bermagui, which with the adjoining Wallaga Lake is a fishing paradise. Many charter boat companies run fishing cruises here, whether your bent runs to deep sea, diving or game fishing, and the town Co-Op reaps the bounty of the local fishing fleet. Secluded beaches, bushwalks, wetlands and coastal lagoons make the diversion from the Princes Highway well worthwhile.

Returning to the highway, proceeding south, past the Biamanga National Park, brings us to one of Australia's food and dairy strongholds, Bega. Located at the top end of the Bega Valley, this is an area of gently rolling paddocks, with life-giving creeks cutting through the land, and the eye taken by the number of cows and horses. The Bega Valley Lookout, 3 km north of the town is an excellent place to see what the area is all about. Also north of town is the Brogo Dam, a great spot for a picnic or to swim, canoe (available there for hire) or row a boat. In town, visit the Heritage Centre, or take one of the heritage walks. Plus of course you cannot leave without trying one of the area's justly famous cheeses, with perhaps a bottle or two of the local wine to complete the taste experience. Venturing inland from Bega, 35 km north-west, is the quiet village of Bemboka, where if you take a detour to the nearby Pipers Lookout you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire Sapphire Coast.

Back again to the coast, south-east of Bega, brings us to the town of Tathra. Tathra is surrounded by national parks - in the north by Mimosa Rocks National Park and by Bournda National Park to the south, both places of significant natural beauty. The beach at Tathra is 3 km long, is patrolled in summer and with its protection from the southern winds the waves there demand to be ridden and enjoyed. At the northern end of the beach is the Mogareeka Inlet, where the Bega River meets the sea, giving you the choice of surf or the quieter estuary waters and beaches. A focal point of the town is the Tathra Wharf, and here you can cast a line, snorkel or scuba, or see that you are not the only visitor to the town - often frequenting the wharf are fur seals and little penguins from Montague Island, with dolphins another common visitor.

Standing at the southern end of Bournda National Park is the town of Merimbula, and its neighbour over the other side of Merimbula Lake, 7 km away, Pambula. In addition to the swimming, surfing, fishing, bushwalking and more that can thrill, calm or exhaust you, Merimbula has a number of great range of cafes, restaurants and clubs. Main Beach here is 5 km long, a great place for a stroll to take in the beauty of the ocean, beach, bush and forest. Other recommended activities are joy flights, the coastal walking trails of Bournda National Park, whale watching from September to November, and, each June, take in the Jazz Festival. Nearby Pambula is no less lovely, the quiet sibling of these twin towns. Again there is fine food available, and again the town is bordered by a national park, in this case to the south, and the park in question is the Ben Boyd National Park. The park surrounds Pambula Beach, which is accessed from the town via a 2 km sealed bike and walking track.

Next stop, Eden, set on Twofold Bay and overlooked by Mount Imlay. Eden was the whaling capital of Australia, but rather than a killing field for whales the town now celebrates and showcases the living whale. The months between September and October are the time to take one of the many operator's boats to view these wonderful creatures. If you hear an alarm emanating from the Killer Whale Museum don't worry, it is just letting you know that a whale has been spotted in the bay. The museum houses exhibition related to whaling, shipwrecks, fishing, navigation, sawmilling, and is distinctive for the replica lighthouse that forms part of the complex. Its highlight is probably the skeleton of Old Tom, the last of the herding killer whales, which used to assist the local whalers capture their prey. The waters off the coast provide many wrecks for divers to explore, and as with many of the other towns we've covered there are beaches galore, many water sports to choose from and much bushland to trek, with Eden surrounded by Ben Boyd National Park.

Last stop on our journey here is Wonboyn Lake, 30 km south of Eden. The lake is 10 km long, and meets the sea at Disaster Bay via a narrow channel. Again fisher folk are afforded a wide choice of fishing styles - lake, estuary, beach and land-based game fishing. The lake has a thriving oyster industry, and you'll struggle to find fresher seafood.

A full list of accommodation in the entire stretch of the South Coast Region can be found here.

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