One of the greatest luxuries in the travel world today is space – to reconnect with nature, smell the air, feel salty sea on your skin and appreciate the melody of birdsong. Welcome to the NSW South Coast, where more than 30 national parks, marine reserves and nature reserves drape the countryside, from out to sea, to the coast, to the hinterland.
Near Batemans Bay, this wonderland of beaches, clifftop aeries and rainforest spans 44km of coastline. This is one of the rare places in Australia where spotted gums grow down to the ocean, providing welcome shade while you take a swim to cool off after a day of hiking, fishing and wildlife spotting. Looking to linger? Postcard-worthy Depot Beach and Pretty Beach offer comfortable cabins and campsites for overnight stays.
Rainforest, waterfalls and clifftop lookouts unite in this national park, a 15-minute drive from Kiama, near the charming village of Jamberoo. Among its attractions is the Minnamurra Rainforest, a lush expanse of remnant subtropical forest home to lyrebirds, swamp wallabies and platypuses. Short walks, a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, picnic spots and panoramic views make it ideal for all ages.
Seals, penguins, seabirds and dolphins await in Jervis Bay Marine Park, 25km southeast of Nowra. Small wonder that life here revolves around the water, whether you’re kayaking, scuba diving, swimming, surfing or boating. This ocean wonderland is enveloped by Jervis Bay National Park, known as much for its Aboriginal importance as for its blindingly white-sand beaches – many squeak when you walk on them. Don’t believe us? Follow the White Sands Walk from Greenfield Beach to Hyams Beach to see just how idyllic this pocket of Jervis Bay really is.
Some 85,000 hectares of estuaries, creeks, rivers and lakes constitute this marine park, home to everything from dolphins and rays to penguins and seals. Spot the latter two on a snorkelling or diving trip around Montague Island, a haven for these creatures, just offshore from Narooma. From May through November, you’ll likely see whales breaching and blowing. Back on shore, Narooma is also home to the Glass House Rocks, which cast an orange aura at sunset; and Australia Rock – when viewed from the right angle, it bears an uncanny resemblance to a map of the country.
Beowa National Park, Edrom
Beowa National Park, formerly Ben Boyd National Park
Rocky coastline and sheltered inlets, crystal-clear water and headlands for whale spotting – this may well be the ultimate place to feel the force of nature. On the Sapphire Coast, at the southern edge of NSW, Beowa National Park is also a spiritual place for the local Aboriginal community, as you’ll discover on the Bundian Way Story Trail, a 1.8km interpretive walk near Eden, revealing the area's significant indigenous history. If you can’t bear to leave, check in to a restored lighthouse keepers cottage at the tip of Green Cape, with heart-stopping views over Disaster Bay.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.