Explorer and photographer, Michael Harris, was proudly born and raised on the South Coast of New South Wales. How about we let him show us perhaps the perfect way to make the most of a day in the Shoalhaven region?
Every summer it seems like the entire population of Sydney packs up their cars to head the 2 hours down the road for the Christmas holidays on the beautiful south coast.
With 10 national parks, a marine park and over 100 different beaches (yep, more than 100) and countless other nature reserves and natural attractions…. Who can blame them?
With some of the world’s best beaches calling people to the coast, things can get a little crowded and that’s not my idea of a relaxing day out… so just how much can you pack into one day without feeling like you are rushing around? Join me and find out…
Sunrise at Jervis Bay
The early bird catches the worm, and if you are staying near (or lucky enough to live near) one of the south coasts beautiful beaches you can catch the sunrise as well
*note, you don’t have to get up this early to start the adventure… I just like the sunrise.
With so many beaches to pick from there’s something for everyone, Hyams beach in Jervis Bay is undoubtedly the most popular and features some of the whitest sand in the world… this also makes it one of the busiest.
The further south you head and the more you venture from the main beaches the more likely you are to find a hidden little slice of sandy heaven… be sure to do some rock hopping around Target Beach on the northern side of Jervis Bay or the small towns of Bendalong and Cunjurong Point.
Into the Rainforest
It’s hard to believe that after a short drive from the beach, and a quick stop for coffee that there are small patches of rainforest and lush slot canyons ripe for exploring!
You could be forgiven for thinking you are in Northern QLD and not on the South Coast of NSW but just outside of the town of Nowra in Bangalee is a small loop called The Forest Walk.
It’s a well-marked trail that meanders through some open eucalyptus forest before dropping down into a beautiful jungle of twisted fig trees and staghorns with one of the highlights being the caves and slot canyons.
If you are there at the right time of the year when the sun is overhead you may see the rays of light spilling down through the ferns.
Drawing Room Rocks
Another drive north, through the town of Berry and up Woodhill mountain is the start of Drawing Room rocks walk, a steep but easy walk up the escarpment and a great place for lunch.
The walk begins off Brogers Creek Rd and is about a 4.5 km return trip that involves a mostly uphill climb/walk…. the view from the top though? Spectacular!
On a clear day you’ll be able to see Gerringong to the north, all of Seven Mile Beach and Jervis Bay to the south, Kangaroo Valley to the west and if your eyesight is particularly good… as far south as Pigeon House mountain.
Kangaroo Valley Backroads
I’m a big fan of the ‘scenic routes’ yes they are a little longer, a little slower and sometimes they are dirt roads but it’s better than sitting on a highway or backtracking from where you just came right?
After returning from Drawing Room Rocks you can head west into Kangaroo Valley via Wattamolla road, the most back road way possible (and one of the nicest) and if you are so inclined, a stop at the Friendly Inn…. for hydration of course.
Leaving the town via Mt Scanzi road will soon get you on the loose stuff, but it’s usually in pretty good condition and well graded and 2wd suitable… but always be careful especially on blind corners.
Not long after Mt Scanzi road turns into Budgong road it quickly drops down into a causeway (check the water depth) there’s a small spot on the side of the road to park and have a quick dip if the water is up.
If it’s been raining recently you may even get to drive through a waterfall… yes, you read that right.
Bugong National Park
Bugong, one of the lesser known local national parks in the area is relatively small but the main highlight is the narrow spur near the end of the fire trail access road that offers uninterrupted views to the west over a section of the Shoalhaven River, which is accessible via lower Budgong ‘road’. (FYI Bugong is the NP, Budgong is the area – don’t get confused!)
Travelling about 2.5kms along the Illaroo fire trail, there’s a small roundabout area with space to park (if you start heading downhill quick, you’ve gone too far). What better way to finish off the day than perched high atop the cliffs as the sun sets behind the mountains?
Every spot here is not far from the other and everything is possible in one day without rushing. But the best part is, not far from each of these awesome little locations are handfuls of other spots ready to be explored, the microadventure possibilities are off the charts and if all this can be done in a day… imagine what you could do over the entire Christmas break.
- Hiking boots for some of the walks
How To Get There
The Shoalhaven is about 2 hours south of Sydney, follow the princess highway south and you can’t go wrong.
Time on the road is about 130kms over the entire day (about 14 hours from sunup to sundown) + as little or as far as you want to walk.