Every long weekend and school holidays, many Canberra locals escape the city and make the pilgrimage to their favourite holiday spot on the South Coast. After moving to Canberra, our family have enjoyed trips to Batemans Bay, Merimbula and Wollongong, however we have also been intrigued to visit the white sands of Jervis Bay. During the recent winter school holidays we hit the road and took the windy, single-lane route across the countryside to Huskisson via Bungendore, Tarago, Nerriga and Turpentine Road (see map here). In previous years, it seems that this stretch of road was a treacherous track with bumpy unsealed sections, however several months ago the roads were sealed all the way to Huskisson - the main town in Jervis Bay. It is still bumpy in places and flood-prone in other areas, but it is an interesting route to take - just fill up with petrol before you go, as there are no amenities along the way. Although very isolated, this sealed road makes Jervis Bay more accessible for Canberra locals to enjoy whale watching, camping at beachside national parks and to experience the white sands of this unique coastline...
The white sands and clear waters of Hyams Beach, 10 minutes from Huskisson
When you drive into the town of Huskisson, the hub of Jervis Bay, it captures your heart with its small community atmosphere and expansive views over the crystal blue bay. In the 2016 census, only 786 people lived in Huskisson permanently, however this number swells as Sydney-siders travel south, Canberra-locals travel east and international tourists flock to see the white sands of Hyams Beach. Whilst at the town, have a drink with a view at the Huskisson Hotel, grab a pie from Husky Bakery, savour a coffee from 5 Little Pigs and take a walk along the white sands of Shark Net Beach. There is also the historic Huskisson Pictures, still going strong after 70 years. This small town has everything you need for a beach holiday - a cheap shop for buckets and spades, a general store for milk, a chemist for that essential item you forgot to pack and Huskisson's World Famous Fish and Chips - a necessity when you reach the coast!
After exploring the town, take a walk down to the wharf and book a ticket for a whale watching cruise (between May and November). Jervis Bay is a premier whale watching destination, with more than 30,000 whales expected to pass by the bay this year. As the whales tend to hug the coastline to avoid the ocean currents, they pass closely to the Jervis Bay headlands which jut out further into the ocean. The quiet bays are also havens for mothers having calves at other times of the year, or during rough weather. You can book your trip at the wharf and there are also two booking agents up on the main road at Huskisson, with a variety of cruise options depending on how far you want to explore. See the websites for Jervis Bay Wild and Dolphin Watch Cruises for more details.
This stunning Jervis Bay beach was listed in The Guinness Book of Records for having the whitest sand in the world, made up almost entirely of quartz. Although there have been a few doubters about this claim, with Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays another high contender, you can't question its beauty as the epitome of beach paradise.
We didn't know what to expect as we drove to Hyams Beach, so we were relieved to find it unspoilt and serenely natural. There is a small town behind the northern end of the beach with a small shop, B & B's with sweeping views and holiday homes that any city-slicker would envy. The beauty of the view as you walk down to the sand is simply stunning, with the pure white sand in contrast to the crystal-clear water curling over in small waves. If you are a photographer, take your camera, and if you love beaches, take a picnic and spend the day. You won't want to leave. When you do pry yourself away, just take your memories and leave your footprints behind, as nothing can be removed from this natural, pristine sanctuary.
If you continue to drive down past Hyams Beach the road enters Booderee National Park, where visitors pay to enter and experience more white sandy beaches, scenic places to camp, walks and native wildlife. There are 18 white sandy beaches along the Jervis Bay coastline, many completely empty and waiting for your footprint. If you wish to camp at the national park in summer, there is a ballot system starting from August. See here for details.
Although there are many places to explore on the South Coast, which are all accessible from Canberra, Jervis Bay is a special place for those who love to experience nature and beauty. With whales breeching out to sea, dolphins slicing through the bay and an array of untouched beaches to explore, you could easily spend a week at Huskisson and Jervis Bay, finding your own secluded beach to call your own.