To be honest I was a bit apprehensive about coming down the New South Wales south coast to explore after the heartbreaking fires went through at Christmas, but boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Now while the Eurobodalla Coast did get hit pretty hard, most of it is now bouncing back with doors wide open to visitors.
Being a first timer down here I wasn’t sure what to expect. But first impressions are the best and when I rolled into Batemans Bay I fell in love straight away. With the whole town centred either around the bay or along the pristine Clyde River, it’s obvious straight off the bat that this place is all about the natural surroundings and enjoying the outdoors.
The history goes back to 1770 when Captain Cook sailed past and named the bay, with the town built in the early 1820s. There’s been some interesting events in past times like when a Japanese submarine destroyed several trawlers back in 1942 and when over 100,000 bats decided to drop into Batemans Bay and call it home in 2016. Luckily the bats have been moved on.
Today the bay is a stunning tourist town and is part of the south coast snorkelling trail due to the crystal clear water of the Clyde River, numerous bays along the coast and the abundance of fish. National parks surround the town giving it a real bush backdrop and with plenty of natural walking, mountain bike trails and 4WD tracks to explore, it’s an outdoor paradise.
Fresh eats and cultural quirks
Batemans Bay has been aptly named the Oyster Coast due to the Clyde River being one of the freshest in Australia. This environment, combined with abundant sunshine, allows fresh produce to thrive. There’s a magnitude of beautiful restaurants and eateries along the coast walkway from town south to the marina, all highlighting amazing seafood and and local produce. Around town you can also shop till you drop any day of the week, or hit up the markets on weekends.
Several years ago the town started hosting Sculpture on the Clyde, a ten day celebration that showcases the work of local artists along the river, and each year the festival gets bigger and better. Today as you walk the 5km loop there’s a stack of quirky statues and sculptures on show, such as a bronzed octopus, a pelican head holding a crab in the air, and weird whale bones sticking out of the ground, just to name a few.
The coast with the most
Now while the main town central is focused around the Clyde River, the coastal beauty of the area isn’t far away. By hugging the coast road you’ll follow the river to the sea entrance and then be blessed by a host of secluded bays and beaches. Most of the time the surf is a calm ocean shore break which is perfect for the kids.
Batemans Bay is at the northern end of the Eurobodalla Coast and with the Aboriginal meaning ‘land of many waters’, be prepared to see a different bay, rock pool or beach all the way along the coast. There’s also many rivers in the hinterland that carve their way towards the coast through pristine rainforest pockets. For the water junkies that want more, the bay is renowned for its excellent scuba diving in the marine park around Tollgate Island and the many other rocky outcrops offshore.
Fishermen aren’t left out either as there’s no shortage of jetties, rock walls and pontoons where you can wet a line. If you’re a pelagic hunter this is the place to come as there are regular catches of tuna and marlin plus bottom dwelling fish.
Mogo – the perfect mini roadie
There’s a gem or two outside of Batemans Bay too, so if you’ve had enough salt on your skin hop in the car and explore the outer reaches of there area on a fantastic 40km loop. Starting at the bay, head south back down the Princess Highway passing through huge stands of gums until you enter the beautiful village of Mogo. This boutique town is the go-to place for home made food and gifts, from some of the yummiest pies, cakes and coffee you’ll ever taste.
Want more? Head south to beautiful Bodalla
After a stroll up and down the main street and the back alleys I found that I had burnt off the pie so there was room for ice cream, oh and then there’s the lolly and fudge shops too. Yep, the options are great in Mogo and while it has that small town spirit, don’t be surprised if you struggle to get a parking spot!
Mogo wasn’t always small however. It was settled back in 1850 for farming and timber, and soon had their own cheese factory. Gold was found and when the rush was on in 1851, the town boomed with around 15,000 residents and a whopping 17 pubs. These days it’s a chilled out village with a creative air, just like many others around the bay.
The loop continues from Mogo back to Surf Beach where you’re treated to crystal clear water in yet another of those stunning secluded bays.
Life after the fires
In recent times this area was hit hard by bushfires especially the smaller towns and villages, and the surrounding national parks.
Even though the impacted areas of peoples’ lives and businesses are there for everyone to see, the community is on the road the recovery and tourism here is encouraged. Some businesses are open and thriving, others may take just a little longer, but they all need our support to kick along for years to come. Even just stopping for a coffee and a stroll down the main street will be appreciated by the locals. So stop, smile and get back out there!