I have officially completed my first “summer holiday” as a full time employee in the land of Oz. This is quite the phenomena for me given my full time job in America gave me a whopping 10 days off a year. Here, I receive 20 days plus sick leave and it can be rolled over year to year. Blows you mind doesn’t it? Me too.. Anyways, what else to do but take an extra adventure eh?
That’s just what we did. After spending New Year’s Eve in Torquay, getting my first surf in, catching a squid in the shallow waters of the beach after a 2 km beach workout – we headed off the Bateman’s Bay! Out accommodation was actually in Tomakin, which is just south of Bateman’s Bay and our check-in date was the 6th of January. So naturally, we left on the 4th so we could really enjoy the journey.
We left Eildon on the 4th around 9 a.m and drove straight through to Gundagai. Man, is that a small town. I am from a small Midwestern Iowa town, so I think I know small, but for a Friday early afternoon there were two other people walking along the main road and three in the pub. Upon arrival – our first stop was the local shop to get our NSW fishing licenses, we choose the 14 dollar 3 month option. Then we decided to bar hop, why not? A couple of beers at the Commercial Hotel (anyone notice they have one of these in every town?) and then down the street to the other local pub.
Next on the list was free camping to set up our Swag and maybe fish for the night. Gundagai PumpHouse Reserve was the option we chose. The things that gets tough when looking for free camping, we saw this a lot in New Zealand too, is they so often require that your vehicle is self-contained. Given the day had worn on and there are so many signs stressing not to drive “fatigued”; we set up our Swag for the night and through in a line. Result? No bites or fish were caught but we but a couple steaks on the barbie. The sunset there was the biggest gem of the town that night with that perfect mix of orange that fades to a pale purple – pictures don’t do it justice naturally. We got a good night sleep there, although there is some traffic close by throughout the night it was quite and safe.
The next day we stopped through YASS and Canberra to spend a couple hours at the War memorial and to find some relatives along the WW1 and WW2 walls. One thing I must recommend, carve out an entire day for the museum – it is absolutely magnificent but to do it all properly takes a great deal of time! Canberra, I will see you again.
After the steep roads through the hills down to Batemans Bay, we headed a bit south to our accommodation. The Moorings Resort provides an ideal location for group full of young adults and parents looking for adventure and active fun! The fishing is out your door, there is an IGA in a 2-minute walk, JJ’s is a wonderful restaurant to dine out in, the river (for paddle boarding and swimming) is just next to the resort and the Ocean options are about a 15-minute walk away! We did all of the above, made it to the dog beach one day and stopped along the way at the general store, stuck in the middle of the neighbourhood, and I’d highly recommend their fresh juice, Pink Rocks! Broulee Beach was good for the body surfing and the Banksia trail was a nice walk/hike to a beautiful and natural lookout.
I gave sea fishing a go as well, needless to say it resulted in a similar outcome as my whale watching in the gold coast did. I lasted about 30 minutes, caught two fish, and then spent the rest of the four hours sleeping due to sea sickness. Next time I won’t be so stubborn and will take that motion sickness pill! I caught a red scorpion and that fish with fat lips! The boys caught some more flat heads, Wrasse, black spotted pig fish and more that I can’t seem to name.
My favourite part of the trip was the last three days, we left the morning of the 12th to camp our way down the east coast before returning to work. The drive down the Prince Hwy is an easy one and along the coast a lot of the way which provides for some quality scenery. We did a couple hours before stopping in Narooma for lunch. With a little exploration we stopped at a lookout, walked along the beach and ended up grabbing some chips from the shop and eating them along the ocean side. It wasn’t a long stay but we wanted to get a camping spot secured in Tathra before it was too late given with holidays it can be busy. A second stop ended us in Bega to fill up and stop at the local Coles for grocery’s (mostly beef, corn, potatoes, asparagus).
Interestingly enough we passed through Tathra and head back north a bit to Gillard’s beach on a hunch and an Internet clue to a potential camping site. After a solid 20 minutes on a winding dirt road through the woods we ended up at an absolute diamond in the rough. The camping site had the nicest, cleanest drop toilets I had ever seen and was along a beautiful, uncrowded beach. There were plenty of people there but we got an area all to ourselves near the beach entrance and set up. While making tea, a few kangaroos and 2 Joeys ate grass a good five feet away. The wallabies stayed a bit further away and watched the campers too. Along our beach walk there were many blue bottle neck jelly fish? That had washed up on the beach and I was advised to not step on them in case of getting stung – recommended vinegar for those who did. A guy came around in the evening to acquire the 12 charge per person for the night, it was all very relaxed – he did give a permit for the tent though. I cannot recommend this site more, the walking/biking paths, the wildlife around (including a water monitor) and the easy going atmosphere? It doesn’t get better, I’ll be back!
Well, it did get better… The next morning, we woke up, had a morning hike and walk on the beach and headed into Tathra. We found the local Tathra Hotel is under renovations which was a bummer but that Wharf was a brilliant landmark to visit. We spotted a few fins (assumed to be hammerheads by the local fisherman) which was a first for me. I was also very moved by the plaque and the story of Shane O’Neill, I’d recommend the read up on this one. We then grabbed lunch and ate down at the Kianinny Bay before jumping in for a scuba dive. The best part were the two enormous stingrays with stingers the size of my full arm we were able to watch and touch. Quite slick and surprisingly squishy they are. We grabbed a freezing cold shower to wash off the salt water too but had to get that at the local beach. Next was down to Wallagaraugh River Retreat along the Genoa river, it’s a local families land with a dozen small cabins, semi powered sites and roughing it camp sites – one of these was booked for us is $15 a head. They also had communal flushing toilets and showers. The river is incredibly wide and beautiful at this point, also full of fish and warm for the swim! The only downside was it started raining at about 7 and didn’t stop until the next morning. There was cover along the river which allowed us to fish and cook before hopping in the Swag for a game of cards and our last night before we headed off home. Given the poor evening weather – we made the most of it, fished with prawns and corn. I wouldn’t have rather been at any other location given the weather – also the nicest family that lives there!
The next morning, we were early to rise and headed home to Melbourne, our only stop was in Sale for lunch. For a first summer holiday since I began my working career, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. The camping sites we stumbled upon were five star on all accords and all of which I would recommend. The only thing I would change is – more time!
A great start to 2017, a new year destined to be full of new adventures!