We’ve been checking out the Shoalhaven, just two and a bit hours South of Sydney and to be honest, it’s a bonafide adventure paradise. However, after exploring the wilderness and camping options we were getting pretty restless. We needed an adrenalin kick…we needed some adventure sports.
At our fingertips were mountain-biking trails and rock-climbing crags, rivers to dip a paddle and trails to run, all without ever being too far from a wild swimming hole or beach for a post-session dip. Our biggest question ended up being “what first?”
The trio of trails just south of Nowra are managed by SCUM. Don’t stress though, that’s just the name the South Coast United Mountainbikers give themselves and they’re damn good at maintaining places for you to put rubber to dirt.
These classic forest trails are flowy, fast and generally suited to cross-country riding but head to Superbowl if you’re up for a technical challenge and a bit of downhill.
Further south, riding from Didthul (Pigeon House Mountain) to Milton is a ripper option, just make sure you’ve got a way back to your car after the 28.5km ride! A coastal ride at Dolphin Point is also worth a pedal, especially ‘cause you can hit the beach afterwards!
The Shoalhaven has some of the best climbing in NSW, if not Australia. Sport climbers are spoilt bloody rotten by the accessible crags around Nowra, formed by the winding path of the Shoalhaven river. The Grotto is an epic crag with a wide variety of climbs and the Shoalhaven River as a backdrop.
If you need the sting of salt in your nostrils head straight to Point Perpendicular. Located on a Navy Weapons Range, the massive sandstone sea cliffs offer bulk thrills and a sense of ceremony. With the ocean over 100m below you’ll have the perfect vantage point for whalespotting during the migration. Don’t forget a hoody!
Nothing makes a wild swim or a beer ‘round the campfire better than working for it. Many of the Shoalhaven’s hiking trails are perfect for a trail run with epic views along the way to keep you motivated.
Pretty Beach to Duras Mountain is a stellar coastal pick, the return track is about 10km but it can be extended all the way to Pebbly Beach (there’s a coastal route from Pretty Beach to Pebbly Beach but it’s a bit slippery and you have to nail the tide).
Canoeing and Kayaking
With so much water, fresh n’ salty, it’s hard to narrow down the best places for a paddle in the Shoalhaven. That being said, we reckon you’d be dreaming if you didn’t have a paddle in Kangaroo Valley. With no power boats and campsites only accessible to human-powered craft, paddling Lake Yarrunga is probably the most tranquil thing you’ll do this year.
If you don’t have your own craft, Kangaroo Valley Canoes will sort you out. Our tip: get a classic Wenonah canoe. They’re big on space but they slice through the water like a kayak.
Closer to the sea, Jervis bay is begging for sea kayaking or even a sunset stand up paddleboard. Lake Conjola and St George’s Basin offer more protected, but no less stunning, settings to hit the water.
What are you waiting for? Load up the car with your gear of choice and hit the road. We’ll probably see you there!
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The South Coast just keeps on giving
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