1 February 2017

Picturesque Shoalhaven an alternative to the Bay

| Roger Allnutt
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View along the Shoalhaven River to Great Dividing Range

An alternative to the usual migration of Canberrans to Batemans Bay and further south is to focus on the Shoalhaven River area and also Jervis Bay.

The much improved road from Bungendore via Tarago, Nerriga and past the HMAS Albatross naval base brings you to the thriving regional town of Nowra picturesquely situated on the Shoalhaven River.

Although totally sealed, the section between Tarago and Nerriga needs care as parts are rather narrow and the sealed surface often seems to break up – there are plenty of heavy vehicles at times.

The pub at Nerriga is a popular stopping point. To me it always seems so remote but is often quite busy. It is a classic old bush pub.

Tianjara Falls near Nerriga

Just past Nerriga take the turnoff to view Tianjara Falls, which plummet from the escarpment into a deep gorge. Unfortunately every time I have stopped it has been nearly dry but it would be spectacular after rain. Further on another (unsealed) side road takes you (4km each way) to Jarrawangala Lookout from which you get fantastic views down to the coast. Wedge-tailed eagles often soar above the escarpment.

Nowra has developed rapidly in recent years with many retirement enclaves close by in towns such as Gerringong and trendy Berry. It has all the facilities of a modern regional town, good shopping, cafes and restaurants and a couple of hospitals.

The Shoalhaven River flows through the town (which is on the Princes Highway) and a pleasant way to while away a few hours is to join one of the scheduled Shoalhaven River Cruises from Nowra Wharf (close to the bridge across the river) either upstream to Red Rock or downstream to Greenwell Point.

I really like the area along the southern shore of the Shoalhaven River out to the Pacific Ocean. The land is very flat and rich pasture for cows. Huge herds always seem to be on the go to and from their milking sheds and a quaint sight is what look like lots of dog kennels but are actually protection for calves in colder months.

A diversion takes you by vehicle punt across the river to Comerong Island which is a great place for walks. Close to the mouth of the river where the smaller Crookhaven River merges is the pretty village of Greenwell Point. A couple of excellent fish and chip shops are a good stopping point.

Turning off the road to Greenwell Point at Pyree the road heads out to a number of smaller communities. Culburra and Currarong both face out to the Pacific Ocean and have become dormitory ‘towns’ for Nowra. The beaches are excellent and at both there are many signposted walks especially out to Beecroft Head at Currarong.

At the southern end of the promontory near Currarong is Point Perpendicular with stunning views to Jervis Bay from the lighthouse (the building is closed). The gravel road to the lighthouse is not great and at times the road is closed because of Naval gunnery training exercises.

There are a couple of communities on the northern rim of Jervis Bay, Callala Bay and Callala Beach and both are good spots for swimming or kayaking. The road ends at Myola which is cut off from the rest of Jervis bay (Huskisson and Vincentia area) by a narrow creek.

If you want to return to Canberra by a different route then the scenic drive through Kangaroo Valley past Fitzroy Falls brings you to Moss Vale and from there back along the Hume Highway. Nowra is next to Bomaderry which is the end of the South Coast railway line so Sydney is possible for a day’s excursion without the hassle of a car.

Pictured at top, view along the Shoalhaven River to Great Dividing Range. Above, Tianjara Falls near Nerriga. Photos: Roger Allnutt

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wildturkeycanoe1:07 pm 03 Feb 17

JonathanW said :

great fishing (try Booderee NP for good shorebased options) and far less crowded than Bateman’s Bay.

When we got to the sign that said it woud cost another $11.00 or so to continue, we decided it too expensive to enter just to explore and see if there was a good fishing spot, considering also that only ocean beach or rock fishing is available in the area. With three kids to keep entertained and light tackle, that just isn’t suitable. Kingfish and Salmon appear to be the only species promoted in the waters you can get to by car. That is if you can get to them too, as maps do not show you tracks that are closed to the public as we found in the Georges Basin area.
I’m not sure how you figure it is less crowded than the “Bay”, as everywhere we went you couldn’t swing a cat by it’s tail without hitting somebody.

JonathanW said :

Avoid the traffic on the Kings Highway altogether by driving through Bungendore / Tarago / Nerriga – there isn’t even a steep, windy road like the Clyde at the end of it! Takes 2 and half hours from Canberra.

The road may not be as steep as King’s Hwy, but there are still a lot of windy sections. The last time I went that way I rounded a corner and nearly went straight into an idiot who had stopped dead in the middle of the lane. He eventually decided he was going to turn right. So take care.

Having spent a lot of time in Bateman’s Bay and Shoalhaven I have to say the Shoalhaven and Jervis Bay area is, by far, my preferred option. Canberrans should give a Jervis Bay a look – beautiful beaches, great fishing (try Booderee NP for good shorebased options) and far less crowded than Bateman’s Bay. Avoid the traffic on the Kings Highway altogether by driving through Bungendore / Tarago / Nerriga – there isn’t even a steep, windy road like the Clyde at the end of it! Takes 2 and half hours from Canberra.

I am really warming to your travel articles Roger and you are no slouch when it comes to photography either.

Your image depicting mountains in the background, the beautifully manicured lawns on the river bank and the river in the foreground is almost perfect.

The only “blot on the landscape” are those ugly electricity transmission lines which should have been under-grounded like we have done in Canberra.

wildturkeycanoe3:37 pm 01 Feb 17

We went to Jervis Bay this summer for a change and were unimpressed. It is definitely not the place to go fishing if you haven’t got a boat. All the places that would have been suitable for land based angling were either part of a private backyard, inaccessible by car or restricted fishing sanctuaries. The few spots we did find were okay, even though not much was caught, but the locals showed up and we immediately got our “Welcome to Jervis Bay”. It wasn’t a warm welcome either. There were three of us fishing the bank, about ten metres or so apart, relaxed in our camping chairs, winding in, re-baiting etc. Then a family of local bogans decided to let their kids just jump into the water right in front of us. I mean, how rude is that! Do they own the shoreline? No. Apart from the rudeness of this action, we felt it best to move in case we hooked a juvenile St. Georges brat. At the very end of the day, on Seven Mile Beach, I tried to give surf fishing a whirl. After walking what seemed an age, to find some space of our own, I cast out into what appeared to be a nice pool. Well, what would you know, again I had a family deciding that swimming in the waves right where I was casting would be an appropriate place. The sheer rudeness of these people just did my head in. I can’t say for sure if they were locals or tourists, but either way they should have shown some courtesy or etiquette on the beach.
After exploring other options, none of which were fishing friendly, we had lunch at a local Husskison cafe. I won’t say the name for obvious reasons, but three kids meals with two adult lunches, plus drinks, set us back almost $80. I think the most we’ve ever spent on eating out is around $50, especially for a fish’n’chip shop.
So, after waiting the nominal 45 minutes before swimming by looking for more fishing spots, we gave up on that idea altogether and decided to hit the beach. Yes, the waters are beautiful and clear, I’ll concede that it is about the only thing going for the place at this stage. The lack of changing facilities was pretty disappointing. After baking in the sun and the waves for an hour or so, we decided to pack up and hit the showers. Showers? What showers? We’d been keeping an eye out as we did the touristy thing all along the beaches and did not see one single tap or shower with which to wash off all the sand. What gives? The south coast has a shower head at almost every beach, but there wasn’t a single one in the entire Shoalhaven area. I searched the internet and found nothing. Even toilets were few and far between, plus they also didn’t have showers.
The entire trip has brought me to the conclusion that the Shoalhaven Heads area is not a tourist friendly area and seems to be a society that wants to have it all to themselves. The locals drive around like they have a model T Ford, incapable of reaching the speed limit. The pedestrians expect you to stop your car as they and their toddlers wander in a zig-zag formation diagonally across the main thoroughfare, glaring at you if you put your hands out in the “What on Earth are you doing numbskull?” fashion. I did not feel at all welcome to the area. Next time we are going back down to Tathra, Bermagui, Moruya or anywhere they have much more accommodating facilities.
If I was to give shoalhaven a review rating, it’d be two stars, no more.

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