There's more to this beach town than thongs and potato cakes
Let's face it – Dodges Ferry isn't really considered a destination of its own. Half an hour's drive from Hobart, you're more likely to find yourself in Dodges Ferry for the day if you're visiting the beach on a hot day, heading down to a mate's place for a typical Aussie bush barbecue, or indulging in some water fun like jetskiing or fishing.
But Dodges Ferry has plenty of good old-fashioned Aussie charm that makes it worth a visit regardless. It really is a vestige of a slowly-disappearing culture of beaches, thongs (flip-flops to our non-Aussie friends), potato cakes and crab sticks. Added to that is an unbeatable sense of community, unbelievably friendly locals, a few good places to eat, and beaches that are unparalleled in beauty.
It's a small town of under 3000 people that was named after Ralph Dodge, a local character who operated a ferry across Pittwater back in the 1820s.
Your first stop in Dodges Ferry should be Red Ochre beach. It's absolutely magical. You look out onto the Spectacle Island nature reserve, and you can expect to see oodles of native birds swooping into the water and catching fish for their dinner. There are millions of seashells for collectors, jellyfish washed up at dusk, and plenty of rockpools to explore. Walk further up the beach to find a rustic collection of beachfront boatsheds.
Stop off next at Park Beach, where you'll find even more seashells and waves big enough to surf. Wander around Dodges Ferry and you'll find an astounding array of native wildlife from potoroos to black swans, quolls to possums. It's adorable to wait at night and see them climbing around your neighbour's houses and the powerlines. Dodges Ferry is also a great place to see a variety of beetles and beautiful bugs.
Now it's time to eat, and luckily there's plenty of choice. The Mullet Café is an interesting option, just opposite the entry to Park Beach on Payeena Street. Amazingly, these guys serve up Lebanese food, and the locals are big on it. While you're on this side of town, check out the 1 on Park art galley, especially for their great range of mosaic work.
Back in the main section of Dodges Ferry, you'll find the Richmond Bakery (which does very nice sourdough) and the Dodgy Café (a traditional Aussie fish n' chip joint). There's also the pub a bit further up the road on Old Forcett Road – the Dodges Ferry Bar and Café. It's quite fun to visit this "old man pub" to chat to real locals and lament life and days gone by.
Down to Earth Wholistic Therapy Centre is a real drawcard of Dodges Ferry. Run by extremely friendly staff, this is the place to visit for massages, acupuncture, a never-ending supply of incense and enough rose quartz crystals to make your bedroom shine pink.
Choose the day of your trip to Dodges Ferry to be on a day the Southern Beaches market is held – the third Sunday of the month. It's a community, volunteer-run event where you'll get to purchase ginger beer made on rainwater, home-made chutneys and jams, home-made candles and body butters, jewellery, fresh flowers and more. There are almost always great local performers, and the community garden is open for visitors to purchase food fresh from the Earth. The market has a rule that everything must be locally-produced, so it really is worth a visit.