New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published March 18th 2016
Where the only footprints on the beach are your own
Batemans Bay is Canberra's closest beachside suburb, just two hours drive from the CBD. Due to its proximity to the capital it is the most popular destination for Canberran's to escape the Winter chill or Summer heat and have a weekend away on the coast. With still, blue water, Bateman's Bay is an escape from the city life and an opportunity to explore the region and discover idyllic, untouched beaches where the only footprints are your own.
When driving to Batemans Bay, two popular towns to stop off at are the historic villages of Bungadore (30 minutes from Canberra) and Braidwood (an hour from Canberra). Braidwood in particular is a convenient town to explore halfway through the trip, with a playground in the main street for children and historic bakeries and shops to visit while you stretch your legs. Braidwood is on the NSW Southern Tablelands and the entire historic town is classified by the National Trust, with original architectural treasures and wide roads to wander. Bushrangers used to terrorise these parts in the 1800's and early settlers came to make their fortune when gold was discovered here in the 1850's.
After Braidwood, enjoy the leisurely country drive before you make the descent down to sea level, twisting and turning down the winding ranges on the Kings Highway. As you near the coast, why not open your windows and breathe in the soul-enriching sea air. After being away from the ocean and living in an inland city, it is just refreshing to take a moment and enjoy the salty, seaside air - a relaxing way to start a holiday.
Batemans Bay itself can be quite busy in the peak months, however this gives a holiday feeling to the waterside location. The actual town of Batemans Bay has a good variety of resort-style shops and the local Bridge Plaza shopping centre is a good place to stop if you have forgotten that essential item or the weather turns and you haven't packed a jumper.
A popular spot to visit for most locals and tourists is the fish and chips outlet on the water at Inne's Boatshed. Fish and chips taste so much better by the water, so why not enjoy them sitting out the back of the boatshed on their picnic tables, or take them onto a jetty and dangle your legs over the side while you eat the best fish and chips in Batemans Bay.
The waterfront area is a popular area for a coastal walk, with flat paths winding their way around the bay. Get up early to enjoy the sunrise and the kids will enjoy spotting pelicans sitting on top of the light posts, enjoying the warmth. For breakfast, a scenic place to sit for a coffee and enjoy friendly hospitality is the Starfish Deli. If you have kids they provide pencils and colouring in, so families can enjoy the view and breakfast together.
When you ask Canberra locals where they stay at Batemans Bay, many have family holiday houses or a particular beach they go back to time and time again - which they like to keep secret so no one else turns up! There are hundreds of accommodation options to choose from in Batemans Bay and up and down the coast. There are four Big 4 Holiday parks as well as several other privately owned caravan parks to choose from. South of Batemans Bay, Corrigan's Beach is a popular area for self contained apartments on the water as well as Batehaven, a few minutes down the road. Fifteen minutes north of Batemans Bay is North and South Durrus - another popular area for swimming and fishing. If you want to see kangaroos on the beach from a scenic modern cabin, check out the NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Nature Resort for a family friendly resort with a difference.
On our last visit to explore the area, our family enjoyed staying at Surf Beach - a family beach which, despite its name, has no surf. It is a nice little area with a general store and a handful of good takeaway options so you can pop up the road for a quick dinner. A lot of accommodation options in this area are booked through Stayz.com, as owners let out their homes or apartments to holiday-makers. If you are looking for a dog-friendly, child-friendly two bedroom apartment across the road from Surf Beach, then A L'AISE Holiday Home would fit the bill. The owners let out just the downstairs apartment of this house, so it has a beachside feeling with apartment amenities. If you have young children it is a convenient place to stay with enclosed fencing, little front garden to play in and games in the toy box. When booking with Stayz.com or similar websites, just check all the fees before you book as there is often an additional cleaning fee on top of the advertised charges.
Boo! A La'aise Holiday Home outdoor area with firepit and BBQ
Further down the coast there are beautiful beaches and accommodation options at Malua Bay, Rosebud and even further south to Broulee. Big 4 at Broulee is a popular option on a long surf beach, also ideal for fishing. This remote beach has an IGA supermarket a short drive away in Tomakin for supplies and the property has plenty to entertain with small playground, games room and jumping pillow - for kids big and small. Our family stayed in a cabin for a couple of nights here and we were impressed by how close we were to the beach and enjoyed listening to the surf pounding the shores at night.
Jumping pillow at Big 4 Broulee
Great surf and fishing at Broulee Beach, with squeaky white sand
Whilst in Batemans Bay and surrounding areas, there is a lot to see and do around the region. Why not explore the village of Mogo, a historical gold mining town from the1850's. The surviving miners cottages are now used by local craftspeople and artists to display their work and there are quaint cafes along this stretch of shops to enjoy. There are also Asian import shops which show a variety of interesting and colourful wares to explore and take home. If you enjoy golf, then take your clubs to Catalina Country Club for a round or two. If you are after a family friendly place for dinner, the popular restaurant there provides quick, friendly service and good sized meals.
A newly born black and white Ruffed Lemur. Source: Mogo Zoo website
As Canberran's, we live in an unusual location just two hours from the beach and also just over two hours to the snow fields. This central location means that we can have the best of both worlds. In Winter time we can head to the beach for some sand between our toes, or take off to Thredbo and throw snowballs at each other. Batemans Bay has a lot to offer for all age groups for a romantic weekend away for two, a few days of surfing with mates or a family week of fun. Take the car and explore the lesser known areas and unspoilt beaches along this beautiful stretch of the South Coast and find new areas to go back to next time...but just don't tell anyone when you get back!
An early morning walk on Broulee Beach, where the only footprints are his own