Visit the Shoalhaven & NSW South Coast

three girls walking along the beautiful Pebbly Beach on the south coast

Walk along the beautiful Pebbly Beach on the south coast. Photo: Myka Photography
 

The Shoalhaven takes over where the Illawarra left off. The Shoalhaven region has beaches, national parks and mountains, fabulous food and friendly locals. Combine all of this and it makes for a pretty perfect holiday. If you fancy hanging out in country towns, don’t go past Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Milton. When it comes to beaches, there’s over 100 beaches in the Shoalhaven region to choose from. My advice is to experience as many as you can. 
 

Getting to the South Coast & beyond
  • Catch a train from Sydney Central station which takes just over 4 hours.

  • Premier Motor Sevices runs a bus service twice a day which takes 3.5 hours. Ticket range from $27-40.

  • Drive from Sydney to Shoalhaven which takes about 2 hours.

a map of the South Coast of NSW

Life's a beach in the Shoalhaven

a man with one of the local kangaroos at Pebbly Beach at Murramarang national park in the Shoalhaven

Meet the local kangaroos at Pebbly Beach at Murramarang national park in the Shoalhaven. Photo: Tourism Australia

Enjoy endless choices of surf and sand on the Shoalhaven. Why not check out:

  • Gerroa’s Seven Mile Beach is one of the longest South Coast beaches. It lives up to its name and really is over 7 miles long. Swim, surf, fish, take a bushwalk in the nearby national park, or enjoy a picnic. 

  • Jervis Bay beaches are said to have the whitest sand in the world. Head to Barfleur Beach and Hyams Beach and see for yourself. Not far is Culburra Beach and is heaven for surfers. For calmer waters, head to the nearby lake and hire a boat, kayak or paddleboard. You’ll find plenty of other great swimming and surfing holes around Mollymook and Ulladulla.

  • Depot beach and Pebbly beach are both in the Murramarang National Park. These beaches are great for swimming, surfing, fishing, bushwalking and hiking and camping. 

  • Pebbly beach is famous for its beach-loving kangaroos. They’re friendly and more than happy to have a photo with you. Don’t be surprised when you see them in the water trying to surf.


National parks & marine parks

people kayaking at Jervis Bay marine park

Go snorkelling at Jervis Bay marine park. Hutchings Camps
 

Morton National Park – Nowra

Morton National Park is an all-round crowd-pleaser with 21 walks and mountain bike tracks through bushland, 9 waterfalls, local wildlife and birds, picnic spots and campgrounds. This national park huge and is accessible from towns all over the South Coast. A few great walks include:

  • Pigeon House Mountain Didthul walking track - 5 km return walk and takes 3-5 hours. Firstly, if you’re wondering what Didthul means, it’s the Aboriginal name for Pigeon House Mountain. This is one of the South Coast’s iconic hikes, and when you get to the top and see the views, you’ll understand why. Be sure to soak up the views of the spectacular Fitzroy Falls and it’s 80-metre-waterfall drop. 

  • West Rim walking track – 3.5 km return and takes around 2 hours. This is a great family activity and takes you past gorgeous waterfalls.

  • George Boyd Rainforest walking track and the Granite Falls walking track are both 1km walks that take around 15 – 30 minutes. Do some birdwatching, get lost in the mesmerising waterfalls and views.

  • Kangaroo River walking track – 7km and takes around 3 hours. When you reach the river, why not reward yourself with a swim or throw a line and try to catch a fish.

 

people walking over rocks and exploring the beautiful coastal wilderness
Explore the beautiful coastal wilderness. Tourism Australia
 
Jervis Bay National Park – Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay national park is ideal for hiking, birdwatching, spotting dolphins and whales, swimming, snorkelling, and fishing.

Hyams Beach trail – 2km circuit and takes about 1 hour. This is a popular bird spotter’s walk and has signage along the track to explain the different birdlife such as new holland honey-eaters, eastern spinebills, and crimson rosellas. The walk ends at Seamans Beach which is the perfect place for a dip.

White Sands and Scribbly Gum walking tracks – 2.5 km loop and takes about an hour. As the name suggests, this walk takes you across powdery white sandy beaches and through coastal bushland. Keep an eye out for birds and dolphins, and treat yourself with a swim along the way.
 

people surf kayaking on the south coast

Go kayaking on the south coast. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

Jervis Bay Marine Park – Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay Marine Park stretches over 100 km on the South Coast and includes Huskisson, Nelsons, Greenfields, Hyams and Callala beaches. This is where you go for all-things-water from sailing, kayaking, canoeing, snorkelling and diving. Meet the 200 plus species of reef fish, sharks, rays, dolphins, seals and birds that live here.

Book a cruise and see the local dolphins and seals at play. June and July are ideal for whale-watching tours when these beautiful creatures travel north for warm water.
 

a family at the Jervis Bay Ngaran Ngaran Culture Centreat Callala Bay.

Visit Jervis Bay Ngaran Ngaran Culture Centreat Callala Bay. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

Murramarang National Park – Batemans Bay

Murramarang National Park runs along the coast and has dramatic cliffs, headlands and beaches for you to surf, swim or drop a fishing line. Take a hike, there are 17 different walks to choose from including:

  • Depot Beach Rainforest walk – 0.5 km walk and takes between 15-45 minutes (depending on how much of the view to stop to enjoy). After your walk, go for a swim, snorkel or surf in Depot Beach.

  • Dark Beach walking track – 0.5 km circuit that takes around 30 minutes. Dark Beach is a secluded beach and perfect for fishing, swimming and snorkelling.

  • Durras Lake Discovery trail – 1.5 km circuit and takes between 30 -90 minutes to walk. This walk is ideal for spotting wildlife and birdwatching. If you love fishing, Durras Lake is the place to catch whiting, bream and flathead.

  • Honeysuckle Beach walking track - 2.5km return and takes between 1-2 hours. Do it all here – from walking, swimming birdwatching and fishing.

  • Pebbly Beach to Durras Mountain walking track - 6.6km return walk and takes between 3-5 hours. This is a tougher walk but well worth the ocean views and chance to spot wildlife. 

  • Pretty Beach to Snake Bay walking track - 10.4km return walk and takes between 3 - 5hrs. Walk along rocks, beaches and forest. This is a more challenging hike and can only be done at low tide.


Shoalhaven wineries

a couple at the Crooked River wines at Gerringong

Taste test the south coast wines. Add Crooked River wines at Gerringong to your itinerary. Photo: Dee Kramer photography
 

The Shoalhaven region has lots of boutique and award-winning wineries including:

  • Cupid Estate winery, micro-brewery and fromagerie (Ulladulla) 

  • Coolangatta Estate – Mount Coolangatta (near Jervis Bay) – which is the site of the Shoalhaven’s first settlement. Take a self-guided historic tour around the 300 acres once you’ve sampled a few wines.

  • Two Figs vineyard and Mountain Ridge Wines (Berry).

  • Cambewarra Estate Winery and Yarrawa Estate Vineyard (Kangaroo Valley) have plenty of award-winning drops for you to sample. Yarrawa Estate also grows and sells macadamia, walnut, pecan, and citrus fruit. 

  • Lyrebird Ridge organic wines and Tara Distillery (Nowra). Tara distillery is the Shoalhaven’s first craft distillery and produces gin, vodka and spirits in gorgeous copper pot stills and using pure harvested rainwater. 
     

Shoalhaven food

Jim Wilde opening freshly oysters at Greenwell Point.
Try some freshly opened Jim Wilds oysters at Greenwell Point. Destination NSW
 

The South Coast NSW is pure heaven for foodies. There’s freshly opened oysters, vineyards and cellar doors, chocolate factories, berry farms, cheese factories and more. And let’s not forget the never-ending choice of restaurants and cafes – with many great chefs relocating from the cities to the delicious South Coast. With so much taste testing to do, either plan your own food trail or book one of the many food tours.

  • Kangaroo Valley could be defined as ‘food glorious food’. Visit Kangaroo Valley Olives is a boutique farm selling the finest olives, extra virgin olive oils to conserves, compotes, pickles. Up the road is the Kangaroo Valley Fudge House and their hand-made fudges, nut brittles, honeycomb, plus local olives, relishes and jams. If you’re into cooking, head to Flavours of the Valley cooking school where you’ll prepare and cook with local produce before devouring it.

  • Head to Berry where you’ll find the Berry Chocolatiers and their handcrafted chocolates, and The Treat Factory which makes and home-made chocolates, jams and sauces using their family recipes.

  • River Berry Farm in Ulladulla is all things berries. There’s blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and more, and you can also pick your own berries. 

  • Visit the South Coast Providores where local growers sell fresh fruit and vegetables including plums, peaches, nectarines, tamarillos, feijoas, and berries. If you need a little relax, visit the Berry Tea Shop where you’ll find all things tea including teapots, cups and hand-blended teas. Time now for an old-fashioned cup of tea and a piece of cake.

  • Milton is home to the Woodstock Chocolate Company which creates handmade Belgian chocolates and Merry Maidens' Veggies where you’ll get garden fresh vegetables that are picked each day.  

  • If oysters are your thing, visit Jim Wilds Oyster Service in Greenwell Point. Jim is one of Australia's champion oyster openers and will shuck the oysters while you wait. You can’t get any fresher than that.


NSW South Coast itinerary suggestions

the scenic south coast roads have incredible views over the ocean

Your journey to the south coast comes with incredible views over the ocean. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

  1. From Sydney, follow the signs to Wollongong where there is a wonderful mix of green hills, rainforests, coastal cliffs and the brilliant blue oceans.

  2. Visit the Royal National Park which is the state’s oldest national park, or enjoy some swimming, surfing or fishing at the local beaches.

  3. Head to Stanwell Tops for some hang-gliding, skydiving or some whale watching between May and August as these amazing creatures playfully migrate north to warmer waters. If you’ve never been whale watching, put this on your bucket list.

  4. Further south is Kiama where you can walk out to the lighthouse or explore the seaside village’s cafes and craft stores.

  5. Detour inland to the historical and pretty townships of Robertson and Jamberoo. Each March, Jamberoo hosts a folk festival with concerts, poets’ bush dances and ‘yarn-spinning’ (ie outlandish storytelling.)
     

a woman stand-up paddleboarding on the South Coast.
Go stand-up paddleboarding on the South Coast. Photo: Tourism Australia
 
  1. Don't miss Kangaroo Valley which is a National Trust-listed village and has rainforests, mountains and lush valleys.

  2. Head further south to Jervis Bay for some water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Book a tour or hire the equipment and explore the beaches and waterways. Jervis Bay Wild offers a range of equipment for hire as well as dolphin and whale watching cruises. Kangaroo Valley Safaris Kayaks and Canoes also offer self-guided day trips from two hours to all day from Hampden Bridge to Bendeela with a return shuttle included.


Southern Highlands & beyond suggested itinerary

 local ducks at Mount Ashby estate in Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands

Meet the local ducks at Mount Ashby estate in Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands. Photo: Kramer photography
 

Take a trip from Sydney to Canberra and explore the many rural towns along the way. It's about four hours drive from Sydney to Canberra. I recommend hiring a car so you can travel at your own pace. If you're pushed for time book an organised tour.  A highlight of this trip is the Southern Highlands, so aim to spend a couple of days in area.

  1. From Sydney, follow the signs to Goulburn and Canberra. Tolls are charged to use the motorways so check with your car hire company on the best way of paying your tolls. 

  2. Your first stop is the scenic Southern Highlands which is about two hours from Sydney. Stay overnight so you can explore the country towns of Berry, Bowral, Moss Vale and Bundanoon. Take a walk in the Morton National Park with its spectacular waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and valleys.
     

children looking at tulips at Bowral's annual tulip festival

Bowral is known for its tulips. Check out the annual tulip festival. Photo: Destination NSW
 

  1. Adrenalin junkies should visit Goulburn for some rock climbing at Wonbeyan Caves, or bushwalking and abseiling at Bungonia State Recreation Park.

  2. The next stops are Gunning for historic streetscapes, followed by Yass where you can explore the many wineries, galleries, walking trails. After that, head to Young which is the cherry capital of Australia.

  3. The next stop is Canberra which has a range of national attractions and museums including the National Zoo, the Aquarium, Australian Institute of Sport, or the Australian War Memorial that commemorates Australia’s involvement in wars over the years. Why not book a tour of Australia’s Parliament House or visit the National Gallery of Australia that has more than 100,000 works of art and exhibitions. Canberra is also loaded with green space so head to one of the parks for a walk or enjoy a bike ride.

  4. If you want to keep touring, visit Australia’s alpine region – Mount Kusioszko. In the winter, this is one of Australia’s ski playgrounds, and in summer, it’s a great place for hiking.
     

 a couple having a dip in the Kosciuszko National Park Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool.

Take a dip in the Kosciuszko National Park Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool. Photo: Destination NSW

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