Expert’s Guide to the Sapphire Coast with Lara Forsdick
What Lara Forsdick loves most about the Sapphire Coast is the laid-back way of life. “No-one rushes, everyone helps each other out,” she says.
What’s your favourite family-friendly place to eat?
The Tathra Hotel and Humpback Brewery is a really good place to go with the kids. They have a great playground which includes this phenomenal whale sculpture that sprays water out of the blowhole. You can sit on the deck and watch the kids play while you have lunch. The menu is family-friendly, with everything from burgers to salads. The location is also great. The pub sits on top of a cliff and you can see out across the coast, so you may even spot a whale while you’re there.
And if we want the kids to burn off some energy?
Take them kayaking with Kiah Wilderness Tours. Jenny, who runs the tours, is a great person and she makes it a fantastic experience for everyone. You can head out at different times of day: I recommend going out early, as the river is phenomenally beautiful when the sun is just coming up. The river is also really calm, so even if you’ve never gone kayaking before, it’s easy to get the hang of it.
Any advice if we’re looking for something to do that’s free?
When you’re on holiday, costs add up quickly! That’s why I think the Merimbula Boardwalk is great. You can follow the boardwalk through different environments, past the oyster leases and mangroves on Merimbula Lake, and it’s easy if you’re pushing a pram. You can even take your dog along if you want! It’s a decent walk, a couple of kilometres in total, but of course you don’t have to do the whole thing. If you do make it to the end, there is a little cafe and a boat hire place.
Are there any local characters we should meet?
You don’t want to leave without encountering Captain Sponge, aka Brett Weingarth – he’ll put a smile on your face. He leads Captain Sponge’s Oyster Tour and although you might not think it’s a great activity for children, you’d be surprised. Last time I was on board there was a five-year-old girl who ate her way through a whole bucket of oysters, and laughed her head off the whole time because Brett was so funny. It’s great to go out on the lake and discover how they farm oysters, how they flip the bags over, how they sort them and why they don’t harvest them if it’s been raining heavily. And of course he shows you how to shuck oysters and you get to eat some fresh from the water.
The Sapphire Coast is famous for whale-watching in spring. What’s the best way to do it?
I really love hopping aboard a Cat Balou Cruise out of Eden. The scenery is always spectacular and you never know what you are going to see. It’s different every day. Last year a massive pod of 100 whales came through, which was really exciting. But you will always see something interesting out on the water. It might be dolphins swimming next to the boat, or something more unusual. When I went out, we had a sunfish come right near the boat. I’d never seen one before and it was amazing – it was huge, at least a metre across.