On the last week of September we started our adventure down the south coast of NSW. A section of the map that had been highlighted a “must do” for quite a while. The Princes highway threw a few hills at us to tackle both up and down and in a few spots needed to use low gear to avoid over heating our brakes (especially between Sydney and Wollongong). We feel sorry for the poor truckies that travel that way regularly. We had passed a few that had broken down in different spots.
Our first stop along the coast was supposed to be Kiama, but with school holidays in full swing the Big 4 wanted to charge $60 plus per night which was out of budget so we ended up travelling a few km’s further south to the town of Gerringong and set up camp there for a week. As it was school holidays there were plenty of kids around for Cooper to play with which was great, but of course the school holidays brings its downside too. With more people about (especially kids) the amenities resembled a war zone and there was a lot more riff-raff hanging around late at night. We encountered a few incidents in the park of the petty theft of eskys by opportunistic thieves but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits and simply took it in our stride. That kind of stuff happens everywhere. And as travellers we have learnt to be vigilant and accepting of these busy times.
Gerringong itself was a small town that was very popular with surfers and holiday makers. It was a great place to base ourselves while we ventured out in the car on day trips to see a few nearby places. A rather long day trip saw us head north back past Wollongong to a very popular engineering marvel the Sea Cliff Bridge. Click here for more info on the Sea Cliff Bridge.
We briefly visited Wollongong, Port Kembla and called back into Kiama, mainly to witness the spectacular blow holes. However upon our visit they were rather dry- not even a dribble.
Treat Factory at Berry
We took a day trip south bound to Nowra along the scenic coastal route and back home along the Princes Highway through the town of Berry, a small but busy town with quite a few quirky shops, a town with lots of character. While at Berry we made a visit to the Treat Factory, a home to delicious fudge and other sweet treats. Were we couldn’t resist buying our own selection to sample which we must admit half of which had been consumed before we even got home that afternoon.
The second week of NSW school holidays was spent at Batemans Bay were we were lucky enough to stay in an ensuite site for a great price. The only down side was the first few days were horribly windy which kept us confined to the caravan. Jane and the kids went for a walk into town along the foreshore (which was quite a hike). I actually expected Batemans Bay to be larger than what it was, more so commercially- with more shops but there only seemed to be one small shopping precinct. Which was great but I had just envisaged a larger town. There seemed to be plenty of residential areas, especially within 20km’s south along the coastal fringes. Heaps of expensive looking beach-villages and housing estates. I could see it being a great place to retire.
The waters of the bay looked fantastic. Peaceful and relaxing- with the odd boat here and there, plenty of bird life and sheltered beaches all around. A nice little holiday destination.
Bodalla Dairy Shed
Once we left Batemans Bay and headed towards Eden we passed through Bodalla in the heart dairy country. It is hard to imagine that this town and everything in it was once all owned by a single man, Thomas Mort and his family. From the churches, the pub, the post office, the butcher, the baker and even the school, he was responsible for it all. Mr Mort had a vision to produce delicious cheese in this town. It was this vision that put Bodalla on the map. However the original factory closed in 1987.
We made a short stop at the Bodalla Diary Shed where they produce many products sourced from local suppliers and of course their own dairy farm. Here we were able to spend a few minutes watching a short film in the cheese lab learning how cheese was made and learned about the establishment of the town of Bodalla. We also took time looking at old milk urns, milk separators as well as a variety of nostalgic kitchen wares in the café. The retail counter of the dairy shed had a tempting selection of cheeses that were made on site from your standard Edam, feta and cheddar varieties to your more gourmet varieties of Bush Tucker Lemon Myrtle, double cream brie and even a cheddar cheese called “you’re kidding” which has a unique flavour combination of vegemite and sultanas. Although sounding strange we found the flavours worked well together Moving along their display cabinet was their range of fresh yoghurts. We couldn’t resist purchasing a tub of the honey lemon myrtle and the mixed berry yoghurts- sensational! It is hard to describe just how good they were, so rich and creamy. You would need to try some for yourself. We were delighted to discover they also sold fresh milk straight from the moo to you complete in the old fashion glass bottles.
The café was busy; the food looked and smelt delicious. We didn’t have time sit and enjoy something from their menu but we promised ourselves we would on our next visit. Their menu had a huge range of cheese inspired dishes, burgers, platters, hot beverages and milk shakes including a “peanut butter shake” that I was almost tempted to try and was assured that they were delicious and very popular. The setting was magnificent, you can dine inside or outside with views over the farm and take in the true retro-feel of a good old-fashioned milk bar.
Bega Cheese Factory
On the subject of cheeses, whilst we based ourselves at Eden we took a day trip to Bega and called into the Bega Cheese Factory. Although we weren’t able get up close and see the cheese being made or any part of the production line it was still interesting to view the factory from the outside. You could see the huge vats, milk trucks coming and going, smoke-houses and just witnessing the hive of activity about, trying to imagine all the goodies being produced inside. Beside the factory is the tourist information centre incorporating a café and a deli with Bega cheese products for sale.
We had been made aware of Eden Beach Holiday Park via a couple we had met via Facebook. That became our home for a week- until we decided to extend our stay to 17 days. We had a great ensuite site and had lake views. We finally got to meet our Facebook friends Ramona and Brian face to face. They are a couple who have recently hit the road full time in their van and are travelling Oz too. It was great to meet them, I’m sure they got bored with all our stories but they kept a smile on their face the whole time anyway. We spent quite a few arvos having cuppas and even a few bbq dinners together. That’s one of the things we love about this lifestyle – meeting people, learning new things and socialising.
We loved the fact they had a very similar sense of humour to us- proof we aren’t the only weird ones out there.
Eden (or Port of Eden) is another small town but big on personality. So laid back and friendly. It was whale season and we were treated to some great displays of playful activity- right from the headlands.
Eden is located on the side of the southern hemispheres 3rd largest natural harbour. There is a large naval wharf where naval vessels dock to unload explosives before heading north into Sydney (as they aren’t allowed to take them in). The wharf is also used by logging ships to transport logs and woodchips from the area (Eden’s main export) and occasionally cruise ships use the port too. Eden is also home to a large fishing fleet and once was home to the Green seas Tuna Cannery (closed in 1999).
The whale season brings the tourists flocking to Eden every year, an annual whale festival is held and an educational whale museum is located in town for visitors to enjoy. From the beach at Eden you can look south and see Ben Boyd tower. Originally built as a lighthouse but was deemed unsuitable and was then used as a lookout for whales. Whaling was a big thing in Eden and not far from the naval wharf are the remains of the historic whaling station- well worth the 40 min drive to go and see. If you are lucky the naval wharf may be open to the public and you can walk onto it or have a fish.