August 9, 2020 / By Tim Falk
No matter which way you look at it, Narooma would have to be one of the best destinations for a weekend getaway anywhere in New South Wales. Tucked away in the unspoilt Eurobodalla region, this sleepy seaside village offers all the good stuff you’d expect to find on a Far South Coast holiday — and then some.
We’re talking uncrowded beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, scenic country drives and abundant native wildlife, and a thriving café and restaurant scene offering everything from cheap eats to fine dining. Oh, and did we mention that Narooma is just three hours from Canberra and less than five hours from Sydney?
Surrounded by water
From the first moment you arrive in Narooma, the sheer natural beauty of this place grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. If you’re arriving from the north, as most visitors do, you’re welcomed into town with sweeping vistas of the Wagonga Inlet.
On a sunny day, the pristine blue waters here are so bright you’ll be glad you’re wearing sunglasses — in fact, the town’s name is actually derived from the word for 'clear blue water' used by the Yuin, the first inhabitants of the area.
If you’re keen to get out on the water, the inlet is the best place to start. You can hire a kayak and set out to explore at your own pace, or book your spot on a cruise if you don’t fancy doing any heavy lifting. Along the way, you’ll catch beautiful glimpses of old-growth forest and Narooma itself, as well as close-up views of the oyster farms that produce the area’s famous local delicacy.
Choose your own adventure
Once you’ve seen everything Wagonga Inlet has to offer, the water-based fun is just getting started. If you’re a beach bum, you’re spoiled for choice in and around the Narooma area — head either north or south and you’ll come across one gorgeous, unspoilt beach after another. Surfers will feel right at home at Narooma Surf Beach and Bar Beach, while Mystery Bay, just to the south of town, is a beautiful and secluded spot.
Narooma is also the ideal place to indulge in a long, lazy walk on the beach. The sea breeze is invigorating, the views are spectacular, and it’s not all that uncommon to have a long stretch of sand all to yourself. And if you’re strolling along Narooma Surf Beach, the fascinating rock formations of Glasshouse Rocks and Pillow Lava will have you reaching for your camera.
For a memorable wildlife encounter, hop on a boat out to Montague Island. Located just 9km offshore, this small island is a protected nature reserve and home to a diverse range of creatures great and small. You can see hundreds of fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks, catch a glimpse of more than 90 bird species (including adorable little penguins), and even get up close and personal with migrating humpback and southern right whales.
Swimming, snorkelling and diving are all offered on the island, and several Narooma-based tour operators can easily get you there and back in a day. Of course, if you’d like to stay a little longer, the refurbished Montague Island Lighthouse Keepers' Quarters can be rented out for overnight stays.
If you prefer your adventure on two wheels, make sure you pack your bicycle before leaving home. The Narooma to Dalmeny cycle route runs 21km north from Narooma to the pretty little town of Dalmeny, making the most of the spectacular coastal scenery along the way.
You’ll ride along the shoreline of Wagonga Inlet, the Pacific Ocean and Mummaga Lake, and you might also spot stingrays, seals and whales along the way. Just make sure you don’t let the views distract you from where you’re going.
Food, glorious food
All this exploring will help you work up a hearty appetite, and that’s when Narooma really comes into its own. The town is teeming with a host of lovely cafes and restaurants, so there’s plenty to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Unsurprisingly, the highlight in this part of the world is the seafood. Narooma sits right at the heart of the region known as the Oyster Coast, with eight different estuaries in the local area where these underwater delights are grown and harvested. Oysters are a staple menu item at many Narooma restaurants, and there’s even an annual Oyster Festival held every May.
But there’s something to suit nearly every taste and budget in Narooma. If you’re craving a lazy Saturday-morning breakfast, Narooma Ice Creamery Café and The View — Coffee & Bites are hard to beat. If fine dining is more your thing, The Whale Restaurant uses local ingredients to serve up delicious dishes with a view.
Regardless of what your taste buds desire, there’s one dining experience that’s a must on every South Coast holiday: fish and chips by the water. Crumbed fish and freshly-cooked chips, sprinkled with juice from a lemon wedge and then eaten straight from the wrapping — perfection.
Then all you have to do is find the perfect spot to enjoy it, so try the Apex Park Picnic Area. With the sun setting and the waters of Wagonga Inlet putting on a sparkling show, there’s no better way to finish your Narooma weekend escape.
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