A quiet night, we were sheltered from the winds and there were no galahs to wake us in the morning. But the sun shone through clear blue skies so we got up and on our way. Called in at Aragunna Beach on the way out. Beautiful in the early morning light, noone else there. Decided to have breakfast at a cafe for a change and so drove to Bermagui some 20 km away, we were hungry by then! Found a cafe and enjoyed a full breakfast; service very slow, but they were so friendly. We drove to the Blue Pool which is described as a large natural pool by the ocean but in reading the history, it certainly started that way but was enlarged (by dynamiting the rocks) in the 1930s to 50m to enable youngsters to swim olympic distances. We met a young family just coming away from the pool who reported the water was too cold to swim, so we didn’t attempt it! Did spot some seals or sea lions frolicking in the waters nearby. Still very windy. Someone had painted aboriginal art on the local water tower.
Back to the Tourist Route 9 and heading north we called in at Camel Rock, a lovely beach with a rock formation that looked very much like a camel. One part of it also looked like a woman’s head which has become part of the Koori peoples folklore. (Koori is the post-colonialist, collective name adopted by the aboriginal people in south east Australia.) Route 9 soon rejoined the Princes Highway and we drove on north. Swung off the Highway to visit Tilba Tilba, a early settlement dating from the 1830s, then on to Central Tilba, a larger settlement of the same period, but preserved as it was and full of little shops selling to the passing tourist trade. We did stop for a while to wander around and visit the cheese factory. Sampled a few of their cheeses, all good and we bought several.
On again and we called in at Mystery Bay, a delightful bay with several rocky ledges protecting the beach which was beautifully calm, even in the wind. Not tempted to try the waters just yet. Nice little campsite there but too early in the day to stop there. So back to the Highway and on to Narooma, a lovely drive past several lagoons and lakes cut off from the ocean, lots of eucalypt forest. We stopped next at Bodalla, another town dating from the late 1800s, very attractive and it also had a cheese factory. We sampled a few of their wares....and bought some! The main reason for stopping was the homemade icecream; Ruth had the chili chocolate icecream with passion fruit sorbet and I had the same chocolate with mango icecream. All very tasty.
On and north on the Highway we swung off on Tourist Route 7. Not quite as scenic as the earlier tourist route and fewer sights of the ocean and beaches, but it was a lovely day, despite the wind. The Route brought us back to the Princes Highway at Batemans Bay, a great sweep of a bay, lots of beaches and we eventually crossed the water on a bridge that had a ‘lift’ to allow tall boats to pass under. On now as the afternoon was passing and we needed to find a campsite. We got caught up in several roadworks, where they shut the road for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, traffic management didn’t seem too bothered by the huge queues building up either side of the roadworks. We drove on to Burrill Lake, just 5km shy of Ulladulla. A nice enough site with all the usual facilities, but we did miss the peace and solitude of Mimosa Rocks. Walked out to the ocean to a beautiful beach, Burrill Beach, it was great to see the waves crashing in and the wind, whilst still strong was not as cold as earlier in the week (coming from the north-east). Cooked our dinner, enjoyed a bottle we’d bought in McLaren Vale then headed for bed.
The weather had improved a lot; the sun was shining and it was hot in the sunshine, but the wind was still strong and unpleasant on the beaches with the sand being blown about. We had mixed feelings about our adventure so far, the National Park campsites were great, but the commercial sites were starting to get busy. Good news, I spoke from someone on the campsite who,said that schools were not going to break for the Christmas holidays until the 22nd December, a week later than we anticipated, so the campsite shouldn’t get too,busy until then, but anyway we will be finished camping before then.
The wind died down, so we had a peaceful night. Headed off to find a campsite in the Jervis Bay National Park, recommended to us by someone we met yesterday. He said the place was deserted and there was easy access to the fantastic beaches; pure white sand. Plus it wasn’t too far so we could set up camp and explore. So off along the Princes Highway, through Ulladulla, a much larger town than expected, then on to Mollymook. Small town, pretty beach. Back on the Highway until we reached Bewong and turned to take the Wool Road (originally built to bring wool and produce from the interior tablelands to the coast for shipping to other parts of NSW.) along through St Georges Basin, Erawong and finally to the National Park.
The Park is a Territory managed by the Federal Government and the local aboriginals, technically not part of NSW. Anyway we drove in to book our campsite to be told they were full! Whoa! This hasn’t happened to us before and we did wonder if the receptionist took a dislike to us, judging by her manner. So, plan B. We didn’t have a plan B, so drove north to Huskisson, where our trusty Wikicamps App told us there were three campsites. The first we called at had plenty of room, albeit in their ‘annex’, just a field with some trees, but a brand new amenities block. The park was a work in progress but we were grateful to have found somewhere. Lunch, the Ruth wanted her hair cut, so off to a nearby shopping plaza. Haircut done we drove on to Plantation Point to walk part of the White Sands Walk. The beaches here are promoted as having the whitest sands in the world; well they are certainly white, blinding in the sunshine without shades.
We walked out onto Nelson’s Beach, the first beach along the Walk, but the strong wind made the walk unpleasant so we cut back to the actual paved Walk and made our way south. The Walk was in the open to begin with but soon went into a strip of forest behind the beaches. Saw some beautiful but tiny orchids (hyacinth orchids), several banksia just starting to flower, grevillea and bottlebrushes, both in bloom. We passed Blenheim Beach and walking along with glimpses of the ocean, nicely protected from the wind when Ruth suddenly shouted ‘Whale!’ And there in the Bay was a juvenile humpback whale, just about to dive, tail up and it disappeared. It soon came back and did a ‘fin slap’ and although we could see the ‘spout’ as it exhaled, for a while, we did not see any other acrobatics and eventually lost sight of it. Wow, completely unexpected, these whales do migrate south this time of year we were told only up to mid/end November. We had heard soft ‘booms’ as we walked along earlier and just assumed it was the waves on the rocky shoreline, so very glad we saw the whale.
We stared out to for a long time in the hope of see it again, but no luck. We walked back towards the car, stopping at each gap in the forest to check again. We did however spot three different lizards/goannas along the path. One was a blue-tongued lizard but the other don’t know; will try to look up and identify. Called in at the supermarket to top up for dinner then back to the campsite. Still very windy, so I added some guys and ropes to stop the canvas flapping so much. Dinner in the lovely new camp kitchen. Bed.
Well, the wind died right down after we went to bed so a very peaceful night. A beautiful clear sky this morning, hardly any breeze, though it did build during the day and we were able to enjoy breakfast in the open air. We decided to visit the far side of the Bay today and set off for the lighthouse on the northern arm of the Bay. Dropped in to the little town of Huskisson, right on the shores of the Bay, small selection of shops and plenty of places to eat. The whale- watching boat was in, but being very late in the season, not sure there were too many takers. There is supposed to be a pod of dolphins in the bay of about 40, though we hadn’t seen them yet. On down the road to discover the preferred route was shut for the morning, so a long diversion touching the outskirts of Nowra, before heading east to the peninsula. Somehow we ended up at Greenwell Point a pretty little settlement, but way off track!
Backtracked to Pyree and headed south again. Eventually arrived at another section of the Jervis Bay NP, drove through and on to Currawong. Along the road we spotted a ‘drive through’ cherry stall, so we had to stop and investigate. We did drive in, tasted then bought some cherries (variety ‘Ron’) and a bag of apricots, all picked on the farm, delicious. On to the Beecroft Peninsula and we arrived at the entrance gate. The Peninsula is occupied by the Australian military and used as a gunnery range, however part of it is open to the public at weekends. The security guard (who spoke with a broad Glaswegian accent; when Ruth commented that he was as far from home as we were, he told us he just lived around the corner!) merely noted our car reg, took our phone number, gave us a couple of fact sheets and waved us on.
The Peninsula was fairly flat and covered with low scrub and the roads were all gravel and very dusty, even more dusty given the speeds the locals drove at. We drove to the furthest point; the lighthouse which was built in 1873. Not especially tall as it sits atop 80 metre high cliffs. It is now redundant as there is a new solar powered automatic light tower nearby. Ok now for the beaches. As we were driving out from the lighthouse we spotted a snake just about to cross the road so put on our hazard lights and stopped. The snake stopped and when we got out of the car, two other cars stopped and the snake went back into the bush. Everyone in the other cars were disappointed and drove on. We were just about to when I saw, in the rear view mirror, the snake reappear and start across the road again. We got out quickly and camera at the ready got a few good shots. The snake was brown, over a metre long and very slim, with a small slim head, he sped up as we approached and disappeared into the bush. Looked him up and discovered he was an Eastern Brown Snake, apparently they are responsible for over 60% of snake bite deaths in Australia. Good job we didn’t get too close!
So, on to Honeymoon Bay, a beautiful enclosed,almost completely circular, sandy beach with safe shallow waters and hundreds of Australians enjoying their weekend break. Didn’t stop long, but did see a sooty oystercatcher, black with bright red bill and eyes, and a couple of kangaroos lying in the shade at nearby Bindijine Beach. Off to Long Beach, Southern End (the beach is over 2km long), beautiful beach with clear very, very shallow waters. As we wanted to have a swim we thought we should try the next beach along. Next beach, apart from Long Beach, Northern End that is, and a few km north was Cabbage Tree Beach. A short walk down a boardwalk from the carpark brought us to a stunning beach, almost deserted and with the same clear shallow water. Enough driving for a while, we were going swimming. The water was ‘refreshing’ to say the least but we both got our shoulders wet and had a brief swim.
We stopped along the track leading away from the beach to take a look at the wildflowers, really beautiful blossoms of mountain devils, prostrate drumstick, grevillea and pink bottlebrush. (We looked then up in the visitor centre!) heading for home we stopped on the way at Callalla Beach looking for ice cream, but no shops, of any sort! Pretty beach.
We arrived back at the campsite, and Ruth, who had had a little too much sun, wanted to go out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant we had seen earlier. So, quick shower to get rid of the salt and we set off again. Mexican was ok, a little tame, certainly compared to others we had been to - most Aussies are real wussies when it comes to food. Back to the campsite, walked along the beach nearby before going to bed.