A brief description on towns and villages of the Shoalhaven follows. For more information on the Shoalhaven, please contact Shoalhaven Visitors Centre (new window).
- Cambewarra, Kangaroo Valley
- Jaspers Brush, Berry, Shoalhaven Heads, Coolangatta
- Bomaderry, North Nowra, West Cambewarra
- Terara, Numbaa, Comerong Island
- Greenwell Point, Culburra Beach, Currarong, Callala Bay, Callala Beach, Myola
- Yalwal, Burrier
- Huskisson, Vincentia, Hyams Beach, Booderee National Park, Sanctuary Point, St Georges Basin, Tomerong
- Wandandian, Sussex Inlet, Swanhaven, Cudmirrah, Berrara
- Bendalong, Manyana, Lake Conjola
- Milton, Narrawallee, Mollymook
- Ulladulla, Burrill Lake, Dolphin Point
- Brooman, Shallow Crossing
- Durras North, Murramarang National Park, Pebbly Beach, Bawley Point, Pretty Beach, Tabourie Lake
Perhaps one of the most scenic drives on the South Coast is the beautiful winding drive from the base of Cambewarra Mountain and up the pass to Kangaroo Valley. Taking in lush rainforest ferns and timbers the drive provides outstanding views over the coastal plateau and ocean below. At its peak, the Cambewarra Lookout, which is open daily, makes a good morning tea or lunch stop, and on weekends is a popular hang gliding location.
Travelling on, the winding road opens to the lush open fields and farmlets of Kangaroo Valley. Sitting like a mountain pocket, the Valley is fringed by towering mountains all around and has a naturally lush ecosystem that includes beautiful morning mists and a plethora of birdlife.
Originally called Kangaroo Ground by surveyor James Heehan, the name underwent a gradual change through the 1840’s to its current form. Historic Kangaroo Valley village is charming and well geared for visitors, with art and souvenir galleries, several cafes, a delightful stone pub, some unique handicraft stores and plenty of good quality local holiday accommodation. Hampden Bridge, with its famous stone turrets, provides commanding views over the winding river below.
Built over the Kangaroo River in 1898, it is the oldest suspension bridge in Australia and is Kangaroo Valley’s most famous and most photographed landmark.
Activities include some well-graded bushwalks, cycling, canoeing (solo or escorted) and general relaxation.
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These towns offer something for everyone. From idyllic rolling countryside to sweeping coastal beaches, excellent and unique shopping, plenty of interesting history, lots of culture and activities and an abundance of excellent accommodation options. Little wonder then that it has become one of the most popular areas within the Shoalhaven’s bountiful perimeter. Perhaps because of its wide-ranging attractions, the area makes an excellent destination at all times of the year.
Come for a cosy fire-warming weekend in winter and enjoy picturesque country walks, excellent local cuisine and country-style hospitality. A sun and surf holiday in summer is hard to beat and will keep the entire family relaxed and happy. Or come for one of the arts and music festivals held annually, or the much-loved garden festival in spring. A wine-tasting tipple at one of the local wineries is a great way to ‘lay back and unwind’, with local cellar doors offering award winning vintages open on most days. A weekend amble through the local markets, or a browse through one of the local art galleries is sure to find a treasure.
Full of interesting history, Berry was settled in 1822 and originally called Broughton Creek, possibly after an Aboriginal stockman. The name was changed to Berry in 1890 in honour of the Berry family, who had given so much to the town. The town has some delightful old buildings bearing testimony to this early history, including a beautifully restored courthouse and a history museum.
Towards the coast is Coolangatta and Shoalhaven Heads. Coolangatta was the birthplace of white settlement in the district, taking its name from an Aboriginal word meaning “splendid view/good lookout”. Shoalhaven Heads sits at the southern end of the renowned Seven Mile Beach and at the mouth of the Shoalhaven River, and is a popular seaside village with good services for visitors and plenty of accommodation.
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Bomaderry, with its traditional railway station, is the last stop of the railway line south. Located 4 km north of Nowra and taking its name from the Aboriginal meaning “fighting ground” or “running water”, the township dates back to the late 1800’s when it was laid out by David Berry. The station is still the hub of the township, however now a good infrastructure of local businesses sees this as a thriving township. Bomaderry Aquatic Centre, Shoalhaven City Lanes and the indoor basketball stadium are popular venues offering family recreation and relaxation.
Close by is North Nowra which follows the scenic Shoalhaven River from the Nowra Bridge along its banks. There are lovely well graded bushwalks here including The Grotto Walk, which overlooks the Nowra Golf Course and descends the escarpment to the riverbank below and Bomaderry Creek Walk which follows the line of the creek and offers either a short or long course.
Travelling through North Nowra the drive opens out to the plateau of West Cambewarra, home to some skilled artisans and much loved local wineries.
A delightful round trip from here is a visit to historic Bundanon – gifted to the nation by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd and housing an excellent collection of his works. Inspiration for Boyd’s paintings can be easily seen in the drive to the property, and once there some interesting bushwalks take in local Aboriginal sites of interest.
Nearby is Riversdale, the Arthur & Yvonne Boyd Education Centre. Situated with commanding views over the Shoalhaven River and with a modern award-winning building designed by Glenn Murcutt, the centre provides experiential learning for schools and residential study programs. Jazz at Riversdale – an afternoon of jazz and afternoon tea held on the last Sunday of each season is a popular addition to its activities.
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Sitting as the commercial hub of the Shoalhaven is the riverside centre of Nowra. Taking its name from the Aboriginal word meaning “camping place” or “black cockatoo”, it was only after drastic floods in the nearby township of Terara in 1870 that Nowra became well established in its own right. Its distinctive bridge and elevated helicopter herald the entry to this thriving cultural centre. Pretty landscaped gardens and parks make a great stop for travelers looking for a drive-revive ‘cuppa and cake’ and a good selection of restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets are located in the main centre and points of entry.
For those looking to stay, there’s plenty of accommodation and lots to do and see in the local area. The Shoalhaven City Arts Centre houses an ever changing array of excellent works by local artists, while nearby is the gracious Meroogal, an Historic Houses Trust property, its contents a tribute to the four generations of Australian women who lived there.
A short drive from the city centre is the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm Museum – the largest aviation museum in Australia. Housing innovative displays of military aircraft, engines, weapons, uniforms and equipment this is a ‘must-see’ for anyone remotely interested in flight. It is located adjacent to HMAS Albatross, Australia’s home of naval aviation.
Surprising to many is Nowra’s growing list of local wineries, now winning awards nationally and producing excellent vintages. Most have cellar doors and also house local art in the tasting areas, while on weekends jazz-style entertainment is becoming popular.
The Shoalhaven has well established and colourful weekend markets and Nowra is no exception, with monthly stalls in the local car park and the increasingly popular produce markets near the duck pond in Harry Sawkins Park, the main city gardens. The local area grows bountiful produce, with commercial vegetable gardens adjoining the city and hard-to-beat local seafood available in town.
Nowra has a strong sports orientation so there’s plenty to do whatever your interest. Aside from the many watersports (including a 50m Olympic sized pool and waterslide), there are playing fields for many team sports, a skatepark, and rifle club. For the more leisurely inclined, local river cruises offer a balmy relaxed style of activity.
There are some good local bushwalks within the Nowra district, notably Bens Walk which is an easy, shady and well-graded riverbank walk winding beside the Shoalhaven River, affording excellent views of the local district.
Nowra has come a long way in recent years, and we invite you to explore its many attractions.
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A lovely short drive east from the main highway in Nowra is the charming rural township of Terara. Located beside the Shoalhaven River, this small settlement has a collection of picturesque weatherboard houses and an idyllic rural feel. Travelling a further 5km brings you to Numbaa, the site of the Shoalhaven’s first farm and which, like Terara, is now predominantly dairy-oriented. Stay on this road and you will come to the fascinating and historic Comerong Island.
History has it that in July 1822, Alexander Berry using convict labour, dug a canal 209 yards long in 12 days, allowing for arrivals and departures of ships visiting the Shoalhaven. Over subsequent years, river floods and dredging widened the canal allowing steamship passage for both trade and passenger travel.
Today Comerong Island is predominantly a nature reserve, with a winding dirt road leading to the southern end of exquisite Seven Mile Beach, which is part of the Island. Its two picnic areas provide access to both the ocean beach and estuary areas. Access to the Island is by car ferry for a return fee of $4, which runs daily (but for the first Tuesday in the month).
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The Shoalhaven is justifiably renowned for its beaches and beach culture, and perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in this coastal strip at the north of Jervis Bay. It’s sleepy villages filled with traditional holiday cottages and its stunning coastline still retain the sun and surf atmosphere that is uniquely Australian. Each village has its own distinct feel, with locals friendly toward visitors both in and out of holiday season.
Greenwell Point, located 15km east of Nowra, is one of the leading seafood ports in the Shoalhaven. Its small fleet of trawlers bring in the catch from offshore areas daily (available from two local outlets), and its local oyster farms provide a veritable oyster feast – shucked while you wait or freshly packed and chilled. It is much-loved for its squadron of pelicans which gather in the local park to the delight of visitors and for its safe boating locations.
Surrounded on three sides with a winning trifecta of river, beach and lake, is the larger settlement of Culburra Beach. Located 22kms south-east of Nowra and with a well-established infrastructure for holiday-makers it offers good swimming, surfing, fishing and prawning. A wide range of accommodation is available, and there are licensed restaurants, a club, cafes and shops.
Further east is the sleepy little village of Currarong, a longtime favourite with holiday-makers. As with the other townships in this coastal strip, the swimming and fishing are excellent. Point Perpendicular Lighthouse is nearby, as is beautiful Honeymoon Bay. Well-graded bushwalks lead from the village itself and there are good barbecue facilities at the water’s edge.
Sitting side-by-side at the northern end of Jervis Bay are the three townships of Callala Bay, Callala Beach and Myola. Best known for their stunning beaches, safe bay swimming and dolphin parades, these three villages offer plenty of holiday cottage accommodation and a delightful beach culture atmosphere. There is excellent sailing from Callala Bay and a regional boat ramp and jetty provide easy access to the water.
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A drive out to Yalwal and Burrier will appeal to nature enthusiasts and those who enjoy the Australian bush and camping in natural environments. The area lies 28km south-west of Nowra with access along a rugged gravel all-weather road. The drive leads through picturesque scenery providing commanding views over the Shoalhaven River and then through vertical stands of Australian gum forests that make up the Triplarina Nature Reserve, Bamarang Nature Reserve and Colymea State Conservation Area.
They say there is still gold in the Yalwal district and history bears testimony to the fact, as the area has a rich background in gold mining activities. Prospectors set up sluicing operations in 1870 and over the next couple of decades various mines were established. As with other gold-mining areas, this led to the establishment of services and at one time Yalwal could boast a school, a post office, general stores, a blacksmith, a greengrocer, a butcher, several banks and most importantly ?? pubs. As the mines became less productive some homes were dismantled during World War 1, when building materials became scarce. Devastating bushfires in 1939 destroyed most of what remained.
There are barbecues, toilets and drinking water in the Council picnic area near Danjera Dam and there is also a small picnic area below the dam in Morton National Park.
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Jervis Bay has become increasingly popular in recent years, in no small measure due to the natural attractions of the Bay itself and to its exquisite coastal landscape. Now classified as a Marine Park, the Bay is host to an abundant range of wildlife, including seals, sea eagles, penguins, gannets and resident dolphins, whose frolics thrill holidaymakers throughout the year.
The star attraction is the humpback whale, their acrobatic antics an awe-inspiring thrill to watch. They make their passage up the east coast to mate in the warm tropical waters of Queensland, and Jervis Bay is a regular haunt of theirs on the journey to and from. A mini industry of whale watching tours has developed to site these great mammals, which can be reliably sited during June and July and again in the September to November season.
The history of the area revolves around the bay and its ship-building activities, the local timber industry supporting the building of sailing vessels and steamers. The area is still a favourite with avid sailors, its sheltered coves providing safe moorings and great fishing opportunities.
All of the settlements in the area are positioned on the coast, taking great advantage of the fantastic coastal and basin views and sun, surf and sea atmosphere. There are good services for the holiday-maker and lots of accommodation covering the full gamut from top-of-the-range resort-style, to motels, bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, holiday cottages and eco-camping.
The drive passes through crown land which cradles all the settlements, while Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park both have camping and/or cabin facilities for the holiday-maker. These two parks are located adjacent to the coast, giving them some of the most exquisite and unspoilt beaches in the Shoalhaven. The area has become renowned for its fabulous beachside locations and lifestyle, with Hyams Beach reputedly having the whitest sands in the world! Aside from this, there are lots of good bushwalks, coastal walks and cycleways providing ample opportunities to get out and about.
The district is rich in local arts and crafts with many well-renowned artisans making this their home. Their artwork can be found in many of the small cafes, restaurants and galleries throughout the area. Several noted arts festivals are held throughout the year, so it’s well-worthwhile to check the Shoalhaven events calendar (new window) for more details.
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For those who enjoy messing about in boats, this area is a water paradise. Located south of Nowra it takes in the St Georges Basin, its expansive waterways a haven for all things nautical connecting to the sea at Sussex Inlet, the ocean provides for surfing, water sports and ocean, beach and estuary fishing.
The drive passes through Wandandian which local residents claim means “home to lost lovers”, however the area is not over-populated and its rural atmosphere is retained with hobby farms and fruit orchards.
The largest of the settlements on the drive is Sussex Inlet, located at the mouth of the estuary to St Georges Basin, which has full shopping services and a wide range of accommodation including bed & breakfasts, motels, caravan and camping parks and holiday cottages and cabins. Alternatively, houseboat holidays are a great way to explore the extensive canals and waterways in the area.
The estuary winds back into the extensive St Georges Basin waterway in one direction, and to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean in the other, so there’s lots of seaside activities for all ages and interests.
The small villages of Swanhaven, Cudmirrah and Berrara are located a short drive away near Swan Lake and are ideally positioned to take advantage of the stunning coastline and both beach and lake activities.
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The South Coast has long been known for its idyllic waterways and National Parks, and this is exemplified in these three waterside villages. Always popular holiday destinations, a visit here at any time of the year rewards with lifestyle-reviver relaxation.
The sleepy township of Bendalong provides excellent surf beaches good for fishing and swimming, and there is ample holiday accommodation for visitors in caravan parks, cabins and holiday cottages.
Located at the mouth of the lake estuary and on the southern side is the township of Lake Conjola, believed to take its name from “kongoola”, the Aboriginal name of a freshwater fish found in the local creeks. Here, the expansive waterways of Lake Conjola are ideal for fishing, swimming, boating and in the warmer months, good prawning on the northern shores. Take the boardwalk (suitable for wheelchair access) at Lake Conjola for a pleasant 15 minutes walk to the beach. Stop at the viewing platform along the way for excellent panoramic views of both beach and lake.
Surrounding the area is extensive reserve land, with a good day trip to Boyd Lookout providing spectacular views of Lake Conjola and beaches to the south. Here there are good facilities with picnic tables, barbecue and toilets. Passage to the lookout is via gravel road, which can deteriorate during times of bad weather.
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The charming township of Milton, with its arts and craft stores, excellent cafes and restaurants, unique designer shops and quality accommodation has long been a favourite with visitors and provides a great base for exploring the local attractions.
The character of Milton is enhanced by its many historic buildings, to the extent that the entire town has now been classified by the National Trust as an historic village. Milton’s personality extends to some unique festivals, including Tabula Rasa Arts Festival, the Scarecrow Festival held annually and the more traditional Milton Settlers Fair, while its village markets are a true reflection of the many skilled tradespeople living in the area. Accommodation is available in bed & breakfasts, luxury retreats, a motel, hotels and a caravan park.
Travelling further, the drive takes in Narrawallee, which has two delightful beaches and picnic grounds with fresh water, barbecue and toilet facilities. Beautiful coastal views can be seen from several lookouts which take in panoramic views both north and south. Accommodation is available in holiday homes and cottages, units and flats.
Situated between Milton and Ulladulla is the town of Mollymook whose name is believed to have come from a species of Albatross, the Mollyhawk. The first settlers to the area came in 1859, building a house called the Molly Moke where Garside Road is today. Mollymook’s stunning beachside location is complemented by golf courses and a good selection of accommodation, many enjoying outstanding views over the beach and ocean, and all within a few minutes walk to the sea.
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One of the most picturesque spots in the Shoalhaven, Ulladulla boat harbour, with its distinctive rocky breakwater, is the natural hub of this delightful seaside township. The harbour has played an important role in the development of the area, its establishment in 1859 providing a necessary port for the local pioneering trades of sawmilling, farming, and a tannery. Cargo provisions were traditionally unloaded on the beach.
Today the harbour shelters local leisure craft and a fleet of commercial trawlers. Ulladulla is renowned for its seafood, and the local co-operative at the harbour is a great place to buy ‘fresh off the boat’ fish-of-the-day. The colourful Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony is held annually on the harbour breakwater. This is a time-honoured custom borne by local Italian/Australian fishermen, where trawlers are decorated and blessed and a carnival-like family atmosphere pervades with much bon ami, all capped off with a spectacular fireworks display over the harbour.
Aside from delectable seafood, Ulladulla’s annual Food and Wine Festival by the Sea and the annual Escape Art Fest (new window) both lend colour and character to the areas already manifest attractions, adding to its reputation as a providores heaven.
For the visitor, there are some fine restaurants in town (all easy to find) and an excellent cultural walking track at North Head. Constructed in two loops of 1km each, the tracks are suitable for wheelchair access, and are a fascinating journey into the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history of the area. They take in Aboriginal carved artworks and travel on to stunning lookouts over the harbour and coastline.
A further 5km south on this drive will bring you to the scenically beautiful townships of Burrill Lake and Dolphin Point. Surrounded by natural bushland, their unspoilt beauty provides excellent fishing spots and safe boating, sailing and windsurfing. Accommodation is available in motels, caravan parks and holiday cottages, all close to the lake and beach.
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The drive out to Brooman and Shallow Crossing is a good 4 wheel drive trip over mostly gravel roads that travel through the Meroo National Park, Flat Rock State Forest and further on to the top a natural ridgeline. Abundant wildflowers in spring will reward the sightseer and some superb views from the top of the ridgeline take in Pigeon House Mountain to the west and out to the infinity of the Pacific Ocean to the east. The road then runs parallel to the Clyde River and through the farming community of Brooman, noted for its berry farms and wineries. Past Brooman is the aptly named Shallow Crossing, with a concrete causeway crossing the river and leading to an excellent picnic ground and swimming spot. At times of high water, the causeway becomes impassable and visitors are requested to check with the Visitors Centre prior to commencing this drive.
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Kangaroos on the beach? Where else will you find kangaroos with sun and surf ‘beach culture attitude’ than at the southern end of the Shoalhaven! The Murramarang National Park covers 12,000 hectares from north of Merry Beach to Batemans Bay in the south, and along its perimeter sit these charming coastal villages. Long a favourite with holiday-makers, they offer a unique perspective on our unspoilt coastline together with good swimming, surfing, fishing, picnicking, bushwalking and nature study. There are several rustic camping areas for those who like to ‘rough it’ a little with the ample rewards of living alongside prolific bird and animal life, and within a stones-throw to the beach. Other accommodation is available in caravan parks, bed and breakfasts, motels, units and holiday cottages.
Tabourie Lake is a haven for native birds and is mostly suited to flat-bottomed non-motorised boats. It provides a good range of holiday accommodation and some shopping infrastructure for the holiday-maker.
For those interested in cultural history, the southern Shoalhaven area is noted for its Aboriginal middens which are scattered throughout this scenic drive. One such midden, located in the Murramurang Aboriginal Reserve is estimated to have been in continual use for 12,000 years. It is also home to a wide range of alternate arts and crafts, available through local outlets. Check with the Visitors Centre for further information.
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