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Getaway to the South Coast for the River of Art Festival

HerCanberra Team

With sunny day and balmy nights, May is the perfect time to enjoy the best of the South Coast creative scene.  

You probably know and love the South Coast for its stunning beaches, but scratch the surface and there’s a whole lot more happening than just sand and surf. For arts lovers, the River of Art Festival’s big weekend from 17-20 May is an irresistible invitation to take a break and indulge in live music, visual arts, film, poetry, open studios and creative workshops.

“We have over a 100 events on offer from Durras Lake in the north to Bermagui in the south,” explains festival organizer Lynne Griffiths. “The festival kicks off with the prestigious River of Art 2018 Art Prize celebration on 17 May at the SoArt Gallery in Narooma. This is just one of the many diverse exhibitions on offer up and down the coast.”

Image: James Blakeney

If you’re only able to get away for a weekend, why not make a day of it at the Saturday 19 May Creator’s Bazaar at the Moruya Country Markets? Browse through a treasure chest of artworks and chat to local creators. Picnic with friends and family by the river as you enjoy tasty local produce and lively performances.

In Batemans Bay, laugh along to stand-up comedy, with evening performances on Friday 18 May and Saturday 19 May. Further south at Tuross Head, join the fun at the annual poetry slam for a riotous Saturday night of impromptu storytelling and live music. Music lovers have plenty to choose from throughout the festival – one of the highlights being a concert by Chamber Soloists from Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra at Batehaven on Sunday 20 May.

On the film front, take a step back in time and experience the 1920s charm of Narooma Kinema where you can catch four films celebrating the lives of renowned artists and musicians. Other special screenings are show in Moruya and Batemans Bay.

To guide your festival experience, three arts and information hubs will be open during the festival at the Eurobodalla Botanic Garden just south of Batemans Bay, the Air Raid Tavern in Moruya, and Club Narooma. “Visit the River of Art team at these venues and talk to our volunteers about what’s on nearby, where and where” says Lynne.

“You can also see entries for the River of Art Land of Many Waters exhibition – a new group show reflects what our landscape means to our artists. Visitors can cast their vote for Peoples’ Choice awards and artworks will also be available for sale.”

The festival continues through late May, with the River of Art Trail open throughout until 26 May. Discover paintings, pastels, sculptures, woodworks, photography, textiles, mosaics, jewellery and so much more. Browse local markets for collectables and explore intriguing galleries. 

Here are some more festival fun ideas.


Helen Okey photographic open studio.

River of Art’s Open Studios unlock a trove of hidden delights located in surprising coastal settings.

This year’s festival showcases 25 Open Studios from Batemans to Bermagui. Go behind the scenes to meet local artists in the quirky and often secluded places where they work. Discover the magic that inspires them to bring the local landscape to life in paint, fabric, sculpture, found objects and ceramics.


Discover more about the South Coast’s rich Indigenous culture and history. Join local Yuin storytellers around the campfire in Moruya on Sunday evening for an introduction to the Dreaming in words and song. Hear about how the landscape speaks to Aboriginal Australians.

Further south, visit the Umbarra Art Exhibition at Akolele. Discover wood carvings, paintings, flags, artefacts, photographs, weaving and find out what they say about local Aboriginal stories and history. More indigenous artworks are on show at APMA Creations in Tilba.

On 27 May in Tilba, Yuin artist, Cheryl Davison, together with storyteller and songwriter, Annie Bryant, present an afternoon in the Dreamtime through story, song and sharing.


Busker by David A. Kemp.

The River of Art festival wraps up on high note on Saturday 26 May, when the Australian National Busking Championships takes over the streets in Narooma. Street performers of all kinds will head to Narooma to compete in this year’s Australian National Busking Championships.

Scattered throughout town at various busking “hotspots”, performers will be competing against each other to not only gain points from the judges but also interactive support from you and your family in the crowd. No matter what your taste, there will be something for you as there will be artists from every different genre including Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, and much more

the essentials

What: The River of Art Festival 2018
Where: Various locations along the South Coast
When: 17-20 May 2018, Art Trail open until 26 May
More information:

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Feature image: James Blakeney


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