Heading to the South Coast this summer? Thousands of Canberrans will be joining you, along with a new influx of overseas tourists benefiting from direct flights here from Singapore.
Oyster farmers are targeting tourists from South East Asia this season, hoping to attract visitors from countries including China and Singapore as customers for their produce and attendees on their tours.
Elsewhere on the coast, the first stage of a $1.6 million, all-abilities playground will open for the holidays.
Yet the long stretches of clean beaches remain the number one attraction for a population that swells to more than 100,000 in January. Just don’t expect your mobile phone or Wifi to work during peak times, when networks are swamped.
For families, here are six suggestions to enrich your South Coast holidays this summer:
Watch for rare birds
At lakes and estuary entrances keep an eye out for rare shore birds, and signs alerting people to the birds and their chicks. Conservationist and Durras Lake shorebird recovery volunteer John Perkins says for much of the year no one goes to the lake, creating ideal conditions for rare shore birds like the pied oystercatchers to raise their chicks.
But Boxing Day brings more than 200 people onto the beach. Volunteers erect signs in some areas.
To enjoy nature while on holidays go to ncmg.org.au for a program of holiday activities delivered by skilled conservationists from the Nature Coast Marine Group.
Savour fresh oysters
If sampling fresh oysters straight out of the estuary is your thing, head to Narooma.
At Wagonga Inlet near Narooma tours will run daily from 2pm as part of Australia Oyster’s Coast’s trail, which runs from Nowra to the Victorian border.
Wagonga Inlet tour guide Bill Dudley says the local oyster is the Sydney rock oyster.
“They are exactly the same except they grow in Wogonga Inlet which is renowned for the products which comes out of it,” he says.
“It is pristine. You come in to Narooma, down the hill and everyone comments, the water is magical, so clear, clean. It is one of only two inlets in NSW that has never been commercially fished by the professional fishermen.”
The tour will visit grower David Maidment, who will explain how the industry works today, and will serve samples from the water.
Cheese from ABC Cheese Factory in Tilba, and Rusty Fig Winery at Cobargo will be served, while Mr Dudley talks about the beautiful surroundings.
Swing, slide or climb
Corrigan’s Reserve inclusive playground, 3km south of Batemans Bay, will open during the holidays to people of all ages and all abilities. The Bay Push, a community group creating and promoting a holiday destination friendly to people with disabilities, is behind the new playground.
Spokesman Charles Stuart says when $800,000 was raised for the $1.6 million project they decided to go ahead and open the playground, and work will continue next year to finish it.
Loads of excitement awaits all members of the family, with a flying fox and all manner of swings, including a parent and child swing and capsule swings.
Close by is a ramp and two water wheelchairs for access to the beach.
Build a sandcastle
On New Year’s Eve, join mums and dads and kids with little buckets who crowd onto Broulee beach for a building frenzy which drowns out the sound of surf and wind.
Three classes of sandcastle sculpting race to a climax in the late afternoon salty haze, and have done so since 2001.
Mossy Point community stalwart Richard Spencer, who has helped run the contest, says it makes for a lovely afternoon.
“There must be something in their air, because you don’t hear one child squawking or screaming or crying,” he says.
Referees pace the beach past the designated sculpture patches, whistle to signal start, monitor the development of sandy lizards, cars, lounge chairs and bare bums, yell five minutes to go and whistle to stop.
Avoid the rips
Many of Eurobodalla’s 83 beaches are unpatrolled. South Coast Surf Lifesaving president Steve Jones says swimmers should check Eurobodalla and Bega Council’s websites. The patrolled beaches will have a lifesaver on duty between 9am and 5pm.
The biggest risks are rips. Mr Jones says swimming early in the morning and at dusk is not advisable, because bait fish are close to the shore, possibly attracting sharks.
Catch a fish
Fishing coach and high school teacher Scott Mazzucchelli guarantees children will catch something during his fishing classes at Tuross Heads Boatshed and Narooma.
“We catch poddy mullet and nippers. Most of the kids get such a kick out of catching bait,’’ Mr Mazzucchelli says.
“We have a lot of little children on bait, a lot of adults fishing with soft lures and hard-bodied lures, but poor catch rates.
“Sometimes it is only one or two tiny little things they have not got right.’’
So here are two hot tips to catch a fish:
- Use the smallest sinker you can get away with, nothing any bigger than a green pea.
- Make a prawn ice cream. “Fish hate prawn shells, particularly bream and blackish, and you can steer the fish to the point of the hook by making a prawn ice cream,’’ says the fishing coach. “Put the hook into the side of the tail and take the head off and first row of shell. The fish takes the bait like a kid eating an ice cream and it will hook through the lip, making it easier to release.”
Corrigan’s Reserve Playground. Photo: The Bay Push.
Pied Oystercatchers nest on the mainland, just above the high water mark, along beaches and lake entrance areas. Photo: John Perkins.
Oyster leases on the South Coast. Photo: Eurobodalla Tourism.
A creative sandcastle builder in action. Photo: John Hicks.
Fishing commentator Rob Paxevanos with a jewfish. Photo: Eurobodalla Tourism.