For 2014, we have at least 6 long weekends in New South Wales. After the Australia Day weekend (25-27 January), there's the Holy Week (18-21 April), Anzac Day (25-27 April), Queen's Birthday (7-9 June), and Labour Day (4-6 October) weekends. That excludes the silly season. So what's a good getaway on long weekends?
Long weekend or not, a perfect getaway would be to some place not too far, yet far enough from the city. The best candidate would be Nowra, down south of NSW. The name Nowra comes from the Aboriginal word for black cockatoo. You might be wondering, what's with this small city of less than 50,000 people in a farming region?
Nowra is the seat and commercial centre of the City of Shoalhaven. That means access to different accommodation options and food, which could be a take-away, a restaurant, a fast food, or even the reliable grocery store. These aside, Nowra is home to the Shoalhaven Zoo. Alright, there's a bigger zoo in Sydney (or Dubbo, if one is willing to travel that far) and Taronga is really popular, but Shoalhaven Zoo sets itself apart from competition. It has full camping facilities, including toilet blocks with hot showers and a cafe offering a range of tasty meals and snacks. Cooking by a camping stove, however, is always an alternative. Shoalhaven Zoo also has facilities for Trees Adventure, which promises a good time for children and adults alike.
From the parking lot, you'd already have a sense of the adventure that awaits at Shoalhaven Zoo. It is a good place for trekking. There are rocks and big boulders which are part of the natural environment and incorporated into the zoo. For instance, the Hanging Rock is simply breathtaking.
The Hanging Rock at the Shoalhaven Zoo in Nowra, NSW
Shoalhaven Zoo is not just a zoo, it is a venue for a good trek, or a challenging hike. It can never be boring there. It can be exhausting though, particularly if you have led a sedentary life for some time.
Spending the day, or even staying overnight, at Shoalhaven Zoo is just worth it. Otherwise, it is time to head out for yet another gem in this part of New South Wales.
Nowra is 30 minutes away from Jervis Bay, specifically Hyams Beach. While you can find accommodation near Hyams Beach or anywhere around Jervis Bay, short notice on long weekends might not find you a good deal. It will also be expensive, and food will not be easily available, unless you brought a stash. Staying in nearby Nowra is a smart option. You'd be close to everything.
The Jervis Bay region extends from Culburra in the north to Sussex Inlet in the south, west to the Pacific Highway and east to Point Perpendicular. It encompasses the Jervis Bay National Park, the Booderee National Park and that vast Jervis Bay Marine Park. The coasts of Jervis Bay are blessed with pristine waters and sugary white sand. The whitest of all, however, is in Hyams Beach, which holds the record for the whitest sand in the world. Even as it is a popular destination, Hyams Beach remains unspoilt, mainly due to the fact that the beach borders private properties and there are no commercial establishments nearby. It is a very public place yet a very private sanctuary. It never gets as packed with people as Bondi.