Just off the coast of Narooma, Montague Island is a natural treasure. Home to a colony of fur seals, thousands of little penguins and over 90 bird species, it’s one of the most popular attractions on the South Coast. It is also sacred to the local Yuin people, who call it Barunguba, and there are a number of important sites across the island.
Montague Island is just 1.4km long and 525m wide, and was first spotted by Captain James Cook in 1770. He incorrectly thought it was connected to the mainland, so named it Cape Dromedary. The name Montague, which came about in 1790, is after the Earl of Halifax, George Montagu Dunk.
The only way to visit the island and see the wildlife is on a guided tour or by staying overnight at the island’s accommodation. The minimum age for visitors to Montague Island is five years.
Montague Island is home to the largest colony of little penguins in NSW, thousands of birds and a thriving colony of fur seals, both Australian fur seals and New Zealand. In peak time, there can be over 1,000 of them. The island is a breeding ground for shearwaters and crested terns as well as other species. Whale watching is popular during the migration with humpback whales regularly spotted in these waters during spring.
Things to do
Boat tours to Montague Island Nature Reserve leave from Narooma and offer a variety of experiences. One of the most popular is snorkelling and diving with the playful seals, which you can do through operators including Underwater Safaris, Montague Island Discovery Tours and Narooma Charters.
Many tours combine snorkelling with a guided tour of the island’s famous lighthouse. Built in 1881, the granite lighthouse has breathtaking views from the top. Stay overnight in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage or the Assistant Keeper’s Cottage for an unforgettable experience. In the morning, walk around the 1.5 km Montague Island Walk track for stunning vistas and penguin spotting.
The fishing is excellent with the island waters teeming with fish, including tuna, marlin and kingfish. Enjoy a fishing trip with Montague Island Adventures or Narooma Charters. If time is tight, organise a scenic seaplane flight over the island with South Coast Seaplanes.