Expert’s Guide to the Sapphire Coast with Captain Sponge
When Brett Weingarth traded his high-country farm for oyster leases at Merimbula and Pambula 15 years ago, he adopted a new alter-ego – Captain Sponge, the lovable rogue who leads oyster tours for visitors.
Where’s a good place to stay for families?
Oh, it’s hard to choose just one. If you are looking for something that feels a bit wild, Tanja Lagoon Camp has glamping tents right on the lagoon surrounded by bush – it’s a rugged and beautiful setting. Our bushland is home to so many animals – kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas – so it’s worth keeping your eyes open. If you’re a group of families travelling together, Green Cape Lightstation Keepers’ Cottages is a great option. You can each have your own accommodation and you are perched out on the point looking out over the ocean. It’s just stunning.
Do you have a favourite beach to swim at?
One of the great things down here is how many beaches we have – it doesn’t matter which way the wind is blowing, you can always find somewhere to swim. I like to head down to the Blue Pool at Bermagui. It’s a lovely natural ocean pool surrounded by dramatic rocks, so it’s great for swimming. There’s a toddler pool there, too, where the little ones can have fun.
Any other great swim spots?
The Pambula river-mouth is a great place to go with children. It’s only a small beach but it’s very sheltered. There’s beautiful soft white sand and the water stays shallow for a long way out, so it’s a relaxed place for children to play. There is no danger of them getting smashed by waves. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a picnic, this is a really good choice.
Where’s a good place to have lunch?
I really like the Seahorse Inn at Twofold Bay in Eden. It’s an old sandstone pub right on the beach and there is lots of room for the kids to run around. It has a big undercover outdoor area, there is plenty of grass to play on, and if the kids run down to the beach, you can watch them as you eat. The food is pretty upmarket – you’ll get much more than a standard schnitty here. Another great family-friendly option is Longstocking Brewery at Pambula. It’s part of a complex that also has a cafe, a giftware and garden area, and a petting zoo with calves and rabbits and ducks that the smaller ones love. They also serve really good wood-fired pizzas – not to mention oysters out of Pambula lake!
And if we want a meal with a view?
Merimbula Wharf Restaurant perched above Bar Beach does breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has stunning ocean views. There’s an aquarium underneath, where you can take a look at all the local fish species; funnily enough, the restaurant also specialises in seafood! They do fish and chips, poké bowls and a seafood platter that I often order. Bar Beach is also home to a kiosk where you can have a coffee while the kids play on the beach. The views are pretty incredible: you look out across the lake and the ocean and the beach.