If you’re partial to fine dairy products you’ll have no doubt heard of Bodalla — makers of gourmet cheese, ice cream and so much more — but have you ever thought about visiting the town and seeing where it all started?
Just under a five hour drive south of Sydney, Bodalla sits on the stunning Eurobodalla Coast with the Princess Highway running straight through. The name Bodalla comes from a couple of places. It’s said to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘near two or many waters’ (Eurobodalla also means ‘many waters’ in a local language), along with being a shortened version of ‘boat alley’, referring to the mouth of the nearby Tuross River.
The cream of the crop
Years ago Bodalla was known for the Big Cheese, but unfortunately it looks more like a big tub of ice cream than cheese. The town’s main attractions now are the boutique shops and of course, Bodalla Dairy. Here at the dairy you can spend several hours enjoying the local products, from milkshakes and ice creams to Bodalla’s unique bush tucker cheeses, while the kids can feed the baby farm animals down the back.
Inside the building you can watch the workers turn the milk into different products while machines pasteurise the milk and make cheeses. There’s even self contained units out the back so you can make a weekend of it. Next day why not spend a few hours wandering the beautiful shops that line the main street and enjoy some of the best coffee and pastries that the coast has to offer? Many of Bodalla’s shops make their own food and gifts, or sell old wares and salvaged treasures that need new homes.
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It was in the 1860s when Thomas Mort arrived in the area and was blown away by the stunning setting that he knew was perfect for a town, and especially dairy cattle. He spent the next few years developing a town and his own dairy industry named Bodalla.
Mort’s arrival here was an interesting one. He was a businessman so in setting up his empire, he was always looking for new ventures. Over the next few years he trialled share-farming and attained the Boat Alley estate just north of town. Soon realising potential for the dairy industry, he slowly phased out beef cattle, drained local swamps and replaced them with dairy grasses, built a maze of fence lines, and the empire he built lives on to this day. Under the present-day owners, more than 15,000 trees have been planted to attract more birds and insects to this already stunning area.
As you enter the town from the north the stunning All Saints Anglican Church sits proudly on the hill. The church was built as a tribute to Thomas Mort (a church Anglican) by his family but he sadly passed away before it was finished. Self-guided tours are available for this amazing architectural building, all they ask for is a donation to help with the upkeep. The granite stone was sourced locally along with the stained glass windows and timber-work, and the pipe organ that is still in use today came from England.
Outside Bodalla, the whole area is loaded with history. Just 20km to the west head out to Nerrigundah and explore the gold mining history where just after Mort arrived, gold was found in the hills. Unfortunately, the hills didn’t yield much and not long after a shanty town was built and mining gear was brought in, the prospecting opportunities fizzled out. These days you can walk in to the old town and admire the stamper and mines that have been left behind.
With gold fortunes to be had, bushrangers were around marking their territory too. The Clarke family, who once took over over a local hut and held up anyone that dared to pass by, were among the most notorious in this area. Apparently they held up the local tavern, shot horses, stirred the locals and in the end escaped several shoot outs with police and locals.
National parks surround the Bodalla area and there are stunning areas to explore from the Deua National Park to the north, Eurobodalla National Park right on the coast and the marine park that protects the offshore environment. In fact, the whole south coast is a beautiful place to explore, with stunning waterways, pristine beaches and quirky little boutique towns, there’s something along the way for everybody.
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