Five hours south of Sydney on the Princes Hwy and the coastal town of Narooma should be within sight. Great for a short break, this seaside area has a lot to offer scenically with rocky outcrops, beaches and bays, rock pools and wildlife, along with cafes and dining experiences. It is a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
We ventured down one Easter. Not the best time to go traffic wise as every man and his dog travels this time of year but the weather was perfect. One of the first places to stop off at is the Visitor Centre with friendly staff advising places of interest, giving maps and booking day trips for you. Locally produced gifts are also available and attached to this centre is the fascinating Lighthouse Museum where you can learn about the maritime history of Narooma. A collection of lighthouse equipment is on display, including the original light and optical apparatus from the light station.
The great outdoors here has some interesting coastal formations. On the north side of Surf Beach and aptly named Australia Rock, this unique creation has a couple of stories as to how it was shaped. One is that it was shaped by a ship that was tied to the rock with large chains. During rough seas, the chains wore into the rock and created the shape. The other story is that it came about from the remnants of volcanic activity. Either way it makes for great photos. You can wander and climb around it but be careful of any deadly blue ringed octopus that love to hang out in the rock pools. This rocky outcrop can be found at the bar crossing where the inlet empties into the sea.
Follow the road up the hillside from this rock to the Bar Rock Lookout and you will get some spectacular views of the ocean and the bar as well as the inlet. It is also a good spot to catch some dolphins or whales on their migration to Queensland.
On the southern end of Surf Beach is the Glasshouse Rocks, another photographer's dream and a site of geological significance that dates back 440-510 million years ago. Perhaps a rival to the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell, Victoria.
There's lots of activities to enjoy in this small town. You can learn to surf as well as try stand-up paddle board with the local surf school. Group surf lessons run daily for $40 from Dalmeny Beach with 2hr sessions. You can choose from 8.30am or 10.30am. The paddle board sessions are $25 each. All boards and wetsuits are included.
If surfing is not your thing, there's a memorable golf course with cliff-side holes and the ocean crashing below you. Lots of walks and bushwalking tracks as well. One of the best walks is called the Mill Bay Boardwalk. This is on the edge of the water and is accessible for all levels of walkers as well as wheelchairs. You can see sting rays and seals competing for the schools of fish. It is located on the northern side of Wagonga Inlet. Also a fantastic fishing spot.
Many a fishing and boating charter to be taken that include snorkelling and trips to nearby Montague Island. I wanted to see the penguins on this island as I had read somewhere on the internet that they were there all year round. I was disappointed to find out that was not true. Best time for them is summer, around January, although we decided to still take the trip to the island. There were plenty of seals, great views and diving opportunities, a lighthouse to climb up and a guide that was very knowledgeable. We learnt all about the plants and birds that inhabit the island and the difference between a national park and a nature reserve. We've all been to national parks but a nature reserve is solely for education and research.
Another boat trip we took was around Wagonga Inlet on the Wagonga Princess, a 100 year old electric ferry. Run and driven by local guide Charlie, we took in the estuary with its history and birdlife as well as some colourful stories and jokes. Stopping at Paradise Point we went on a walk through the rainforest before sitting down for a Devonshire and Billy Tea. Whilst we were eating freshly made scones and jam, Charlie was down by the water scooping up oysters for us. My son had never had an oyster before so he decided to try one. The look on his face was priceless. A bit salty it was. This was certainly a holiday I will remember for some time to come.
Kayaking, canoeing and water skiing are also popular on the lakes and inlet, where you can stop off at one of the waterfront cafes on the marina. One such cafe we had breakfast at was The Quarterdeck, which is an old boatshed that was done up. It is very colourful and has an obvious maritime theme but it also has a fully licensed bar and music. Open Thursdays to Mondays for breakfast and lunch, the food was delicious and they had those long, old-fashioned milkshake glasses you don't see much these days. We had a hearty breakfast along with fresh watermelon juice. For lunch try the local seafood and on Saturday nights in summer they have tapas. You can also just drop in for cake and coffee. Fun for the kids is the fact that they can feed the fish on the jetty outside. If you're not coming by boat, you can find it located on Riverside Drive. Great atmosphere.
We only spent 3 nights in Narooma but if you've got longer then there's plenty more in and around this town to enjoy with places such as Mystery Bay, Mt Dromedary (in background below), Batemans Marine Park, Bermagui and historic Tilba not far away.
All in all, a good holiday spot and getaway.