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Batemans Bay in Winter

Amanda Whitley

Every summer, Batemans Bay becomes a quasi-suburb of Canberra, such is the popularity of this coastal destination among capital-dwellers. But it’s not often thought of as a winter destination.

That’s not such a bad thing if you’re one of the smart ones who have cottoned on to just how much the Eurobodalla region has to offer during the cooler months.

We recently took the well-worn path to the Bay and discovered a whole new side of the town we thought we knew inside and out (and had to battle far less people while doing it!) Here’s our taste of what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

WHAT TO DO

Our summer trips to the coast usually go something like: arrive, swim, eat, sleep repeat. And I don’t think we’ve ever played ‘tourist’ by booking in for tours or activities. This trip was different. Here are five things to do that you may not have thought of—but should definitely check out.

DURRAS DISCOVERY TRAIL

Durras Lake discovery trail and walking tracks, Murramarang National Park. Photo: D Finnegan for Skip to contentNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Durras Lake discovery trail and walking tracks, Murramarang National Park. Photo: D Finnegan for Skip to contentNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Eurobodalla region is fantastic walking country, and there’s a trail for every age and stage. The Durras Discovery Trail is in Murramarang National Park, about 14km north of Batemans Bay and is an easy and child-friendly 1.5km walk.

It commences with steps over a gentle climb and descent then becomes flat and easy. The trail features a viewing platform, several boardwalks and some formed timber bridges and gates. Over the 45-minutes or so, you’ll see ferns, spotted gums and palms, and gorgeous views of Lake Durras, regarded as one of the most unspoiled waterways in NSW.

Getting there: Turn off the Princess Highway at East Lynne, via Mount Agony Road about 14km north of Batemans Bay. Turn right at North Durras Road and finally turn into Lake Road and follow the signs to the carpark near the lake.

REGION X TOUR | GLASS BOTTOM KAYAK TOUR

Miss Eight and Mr HerCanberra enjoying their glass bottom kayak tour. Photo: Region X Kayak Experiences.

Miss Eight and Mr HerCanberra enjoying their glass bottom kayak tour. Photo: Region X Kayak Experiences.

Miss Eight was not too sure about this whole kayak thing, to the point where there were a few tears before we boarded our kayaks. But, reassured that if she really wasn’t comfortable she and I could go for a walk, she gave it a go and within about two minutes was declaring it ‘the best thing ever!’

Region X’s Glass Bottom Kayak Tour is the most appropriate and child friendly guided tour offered by the company, and is often referred to as their “Wildlife adventure”. The aim of this 2.5-hour tour isn’t to paddle like a crazy person, it’s to find as much wildlife as possible as the kayaks float slowly over tidal sand flats and enter an age-old mangrove system protected within the Batemans Marine Park Sanctuary Zones.

I hadn’t kayaked in about 15 years, but Region X’s owner, Josh Waterson, gave us a brief tutorial before we got underway, and the calm waters of Cullendulla are suitable for the most novice of novices. Josh was fantastic, gently directing us towards an array of wildlife—from baby stingrays to sea worms, soldier crabs and even an Octopus’s garden (no, really!). It was informative and fun for all four of us.

The four of us exploring with Region X Kayak Experiences. Photo: Region X Kayak Experiences.

The four of us exploring with Region X Kayak Experiences. Photo: Region X Kayak Experiences.

It was a winter morning and I was concerned about getting cold and wet (I was definitely the latter, thanks to Miss 10’s very-splashy oar technique) but the sunshine and exercise from paddling certainly kept the chill away! And the best part about doing it during off-season was that we got Josh all to ourselves—our own private tour!

Cost: The tour costs $75 for adults and $55 per child and was one of the most enjoyable family activities I’ve ever undertaken, and we will absolutely be booking another tour on a future trip to the Bay.

Tip

Don’t wear jeans! Wear shorts or activewear, and take a change of clothes with you. And don’t forget to bring sunglasses, hats, sunscreen and bottled water.

And there’s more!

Region X also offers hikes, cycling adventures and a whole heap of other kayaking trips (including one that involves oyster tasting!) Check them out at regionx.com.au.

SOUTH COAST SEAPLANES | MORUYA

How many can you fit in the backseat of a seaplane? Three, as it turns out!

How many can you fit in the backseat of a seaplane? Three, as it turns out!

We’ve driven the road between Batemans Bay and Tuross Head countless times, but this was something very different—and absolutely unforgettable—the chance to see the beauty of the coast and rolling green hills from the sky.

We arrived at the South Coast Seaplanes stall at the Moruya Country Markets—a buzzing little event held each Saturday—and were kitted out in life jackets before jumping in a tinny and being delivered to our beautiful 1976 Maule M5-235C who spent her early years in Alaska, ferrying people to remote areas on floats, wheels and skis.

The sun glinting off the water was just stunning.

The sun glinting off the water was just stunning.

The four of us squeezed into the tiny cabin with our pilot Graham and were treated to the Southern Beaches Tour, a half-hour experience including 15-minutes of airtime. The flight takes off from the Moruya River and tracks the coast south, revealing spectacular views of unspoilt beaches and the mountains of the Deua National Park to the west.

The spectacular view from the South Coast seaplane.

The spectacular view from the South Coast seaplane.

We spotted the unique rock formations at Bingie Point, and the remains of the steamship SS Monaro which ran aground there in 1879.  The whales were shy on our flight day but when the time is right whales and other marine life are a common site.

At Potato Point we turned to the north-east, taking in views of the Tuross River Estuary and Lake Coila as we made our way back for a graceful water landing in the river off Moruya Heads. It was an incredible experience and we are now super-keen to do the longer Montague Island tour. Bucket list!

Cost

The Southern Beaches Tour is $149 per person. With two adults a child can fly for 40% of the adult fare if space is available.

Find out more at southcoastseaplanes.com.au.

THE ORIGINAL GOLD RUSH COLONY TOUR | MOGO

The Original Gold Rush Colony at Mogo.

The Original Gold Rush Colony at Mogo.

I’ve driven past the rather grand entrance entry to The Original Gold Rush Colony in Mogo a few times before, but had never stepped inside. What we discovered was an authentically recreated, Australian 1850’s Gold Rush era village that was fascinating for the kids (and had me recalling quite a few of my high school history lessons).

One of the great things about a winter coastal getaway is that you don’t need to battle the crowds. Our guided tour group was just seven people, so we got a fantastic personal experience (not to mention a hands-on gold-panning lesson complete with teeny nugget to take home!).

It really is a step back in time—all the buildings, including the administration and on-site accommodation harmonise with the theme of the 1850’s Australian gold rush days, enabling you to discover life as it was for our pioneers on the goldfields.

Cost 

Adults $20, Children five-16 years $12, under five free of charge, Family (2+2) $55, $8 per extra child.

Tours

Guided Tours take approximately one hour and are held at 10.30am, 12 noon, 1.30pm and 3pm each day.

Find out more at goldrushcolony.com.au.

MOGO ZOO

Miss 11 feeding the giraffes at Mogo Zoo.

Miss 11 feeding the giraffes at Mogo Zoo.

Despite having been to Batemans Bay and Mogo about seventy-bazillion times, this was our first time to Mogo Zoo—but it certainly won’t be our last! This incredible sprawling property exhibits an extraordinary range of animals, including: Western Lowlands Gorilla, White Lion, Silvery Gibbon, Emperor Tamarin, African Serval, Meerkat, Nepalese Red Panda, Sumatran Tiger, Snow Leopard, Giraffe, Zebra and the Southern White Rhino.

We arrived right at opening time and spent a leisurely couple of hours meandering around the zoo, stopping to sit and enjoy the winter sun while we enjoyed watching the monkeys play on the Primates Islands. Speaking of which, one of the zoo’s animal encounters allows you to climb aboard the keeper boat to venture onto the Islands, where you can hand feed the breeding family of Cotton Top Tamarins and Madagascar’s unique Ring-Tailed Lemurs. It’s just one of the special paid animal encounters available at Mogo Zoo, including: feeding lions and tigers, playing with meerkats and spending a day as a keeper.

lioness

There are also daily keeper talks and feeding sessions with the Silvery Gibbon, White Lion, Gorilla, Rhino and Tiger; and Giraffe Feeding ($10 per person) which lets you hand feed these gorgeous majestic creatures a handful of leaves.
No need to book, you can buy your ticket at reception on arrival.

Cost

Adults $32, Children $17 (3 to 15 years), Family $92 (2 adults and 2 children), Extra child $14. Senior card holders, Aged Pension, Disability Pension and Students $26.

Tip

Make sure you time your visit to make the most of the keeper talks and feeding sessions.

Find out more at mogozoo.com.au

WHERE TO EAT

Now, I don’t proclaim to be an expert on Batemans Bay restaurants, so don’t get shouty at me if I missed your favourite! But here are four places we really enjoyed and are worth a look.

SAM’S PIZZERIA ON THE WATERFRONT – BATEMANS BAY

Sam's Pizzeria.

Sam’s Pizzeria.

Sam’s is a must-visit for us every trip to the Bay—the pizzas are absolutely phenomenal and the service is always friendly, even when they’re under the pump. The best seats in the house are out the back, facing the Marina. Book around sunset, sit back and indulge.

St George Mall, 5/3 Orient St, Batemans Bay | Call 02 4472 6687 to make a reservation| Open from 5pm-8.30pm seven days a week and from 12-2pm on Fridays for lunch | samspizzeria.wixsite.com/samspizzeria

DELI ON PERRY

Breakfast Bruschetta from Deli on Perry.

Breakfast Bruschetta from Deli on Perry.

We happened past this little gem (inside Bayside Meats and Deli) purely because it was one of the few places open in central Batemans Bay at 8am on a Saturday morning, and we were really glad we did. The breakfast menu offers great variety—everything from Double Egg and Jason’s Smoked Bacon Turkish Roll, served with cheese and relish to lighter options such as Breakfast Bruschetta – tomato, avocado, fetta cheese with balsamic dressing on toasted sourdough—and it’s ridiculously cheap!

If you’re up for a picnic, their deli cabinets are packed full of delicious cheese, meats and other goodies.

1 Perry Street, Batemans Bay. 02 4472 2000. facebook.com/BaysideMeats

INNES BOATSHED

Fish and Chips from Innes' Boatshed.

Fish and Chips from Innes’ Boatshed.

There are few things better than sitting on a sun-drenched terrace over lapping waves and eating fresh fish and chips, and that’s why Innes Boatshed is practically an institution. Service is quick and the food is amazing—battered fillets simply melt in the mouth. The perfect place for a casual lunch or dinner any time of year.

1 Clyde Street, Batemans Bay. 02 4472 4052. facebook.com/Innes-Boatshed-Batemans-Bay

ON THE PIER

Elegant Mod Oz from On The Pier.

Elegant Mod Oz from On The Pier.

If you’re after something a little more fancy, On The Pier is a gorgeous spot on the Clyde River. The heritage former punt house dishes up fresh, seasonal Mod Oz and magnificent water and bridge views. Brilliant for a long lunch or elegant dinner.

Old Punt Road off Kings Highway, Batemans Bay. 02 4472 6405. onthepier.com.au

WHERE TO STAY

BIG4 Batemans Bay at Easts Riverside Holiday Park

BIG4 Batemans Bay At East's Riverside Holiday Park.

BIG4 Batemans Bay At East’s Riverside Holiday Park.

There are few better locations than BIG4 Batemans Bay at Easts Riverside Holiday Park. Our Waterfront Deluxe Cabin was literally metres from the water’s edge in a quiet location in the north side of the Batemans Bay bridge.

If you’re looking for five-star luxury, Easts probably isn’t what you’re after, but the cabins are comfortable and compact and have  everything you need for a cost-effective break, including a fully self-contained kitchen. The two bedroom cabins can sleep six, with the two bunk beds proving a real hit with our two girls.

Playing out the front of our cabin.

Playing out the front of our cabin.

In the morning, the deck is a perfect spot to sit and sip your cuppa while watching the sun playing on the water’s surface (or the kids doing cartwheels on the lawn).

In summer, I imagine the Park would be teeming with holiday-makers, and the facilities reflect this: pool, playground, BBQ area, camp kitchen, TV room, boat ramp and more. We loved it!

Wharf Road, Batemans Bay. 02 4472 4048. eastsbatemansbay.com.au

Get loads more holiday ideas at eurobodalla.com.au.

The author was a guest of Eurobodalla Coast Tourism. Her opinions remain her own.

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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