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Summer is here and Batemans Bay is very tempting!

By Maryann Mussared 31 December 2017 18

‘On the Pier’ restaurant occupies a picturesque riverside position. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

For my annual pre-Christmas mini-vacation, I headed to a long-time favourite coastal destination, Batemans Bay. There seems to be some confusion about who the original “Bateman” was, but there is no doubt the name is synonymous with getting away to the coast for a summer holiday and enjoying some relaxed seaside living. I particularly love Sandbar Lounge and Dining @ Quays Hotel, and it was interesting chatting with locals and finding out what they particularly liked about living either in the Bay or in one of the nearby coastal villages. Ideas ranging from the active (think beach and bushwalking, whale watching, kayaking, joy flights) to the usual food-related activities (with lots of suggestions for good cafes and restaurants). Since we are already well into the holiday season, surely it must be time for some fish and chips!

JJs at the Marina is a great place for lunch. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Bateman’s Bay didn’t really come into its own until the bridge was completed in 1956 and the Bay has been expanding steadily for the past 60 years. Prior to that, the bridge crossing had been at Nelligen. If summer visitors feel the need to constantly carry-on about the traffic delays on the Kings Highway to Batemans Bay between Christmas and New Year, I discovered a complaint in a Sydney newspaper about a four-hour delay in waiting to cross the Clyde River by the old vehicle ferry in the summer of 1955.

The sight of the bridge over the Clyde at Batemans Bay gladdens the heart of all holidaymakers. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Now, with the future of the new bridge assured, as well as Federal funding for pontoons to allow access for cruise ships, I think things are going to change mighty quickly. There is even discussion about a permanent cruiser wharf being built to the south-east of the township beyond the Marina near Hanging Rock. The arts are not being ignored; with generous patronage, a sculpture walk is being developed. That Batemans Bay is no longer just a haven for lucky retirees shows in the quality of the restaurants and cafes and the variety of tourist activities that are booming.

The “Escapade” alongside in central Batemans Bay waiting to take visitors up the river for lunch. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

In recent years, Rosedale has been one of my favourite coastal destinations and a morning excursion into busy Batemans Bay a must. Favourite activities include celebrity-spotting in the well-situated waterside Starfish Deli, which offers an all-day menu with good coffee, seafood and pizzas. Later we would indulge in traditional fish and chips at the delightful historical Innes’ Boatshed.  Nearby, a three-hour lunchtime cruise regularly departs from the small jetty. The day I waved the “Escapade” off, it was almost full.

Historic Innes Boatshed serving delicious eat-in or takeaway fish and chips and more, located right on the edge of Batemans Bay. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Innes’ Boatshed is a great spot to watch the huge stingrays and pelicans, and fight off the bold seagulls, who are as addicted to fish and chips as the rest of us. Central Batemans Bay has the benefit of lovely water views: the bridge frames the western end and beyond is the Clyde River. In North Batemans Bay, you will find a small oyster shed on Wray Street, selling the freshest oysters on this part of the coast, and there are tables on the verandah for those who can’t wait to get home! Another very popular restaurant is On The Pier, located in the heritage punt house, which has lots of shaded outside seating and a lovely location right on the Clyde River just near the bridge. We often plan our departure to coincide with an early light lunch before we head back up the Clyde Mountain.

Wray Street Oyster Shed, located on the northern side of the Clyde River off Old Punt Road. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Another fun way to get near or on the water is a BBQ Boat Hire. Clyde River Houseboats have boats to hire for both BBQs and fishing, with no license required. They also have drive-yourself luxury spa houseboat hire, but these are immensely popular and early booking is essential.

Back on the other side of the Clyde River, an attractive boardwalk from the centre of the Bay offers an enjoyable 900 metres walk to the marina and  JJs at the Marina, serving some of the best fish and chips on the coast. With excellent service, really good views over the Bay and the sandbar, and plenty of shaded outside seating, this is a great spot for all the family.

JJs at the Marina, located on the boardwalk from Batemans Bay. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

More on-water activities are available in the area. Highly rated by locals and Tripadvisor, RegionX offers an amazing range of water-based adventures for all tastes. From oyster-tasting kayak tour to glass-bottom kayak paddle through the Cullendulla Sanctuary to an onboard kayak pizza dinner at sunset on the Clyde River.

If you have time to explore further, head down the coast towards nearby Moruya, sparing time to pop and visit the quaint Old Mossy Point Shop which is now the Mossy Cafe. With new management, a makeover and blissfully open seven days a week and public holidays, it is popular with locals and visitors, and there is plenty of parking and a diverse all-day menu.

Mossy Cafe is going to be busy this summer. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

On the way south is the Mogo Zoo, always a popular destination for families, with the village full of the most amazing assortment of craft shops and cafes.

The drive into Moruya along the Deua River takes you past the pretty riverside Quarry Park. It marks the site of the quarry for the stone that was used for the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Moruya is just as busy as Batemans Bay and is loved for the regular Saturday Country markets. At peak times there are over 140 stalls presenting high-quality local craft, bric-a-brac and locally grown produce and food under the shade of the trees in Riverside Park. These community markets have been compared to both Salamanca in Hobart and Channon in Byron Bay, and Moruya is one of the few markets in Australia that are on weekly.

The Moruya Markets are colourful and popular with tourists and locals. Photos: Mischi West.

Tuross locals Mischi and Peter West have a regular, brightly coloured stall called “Kaleidoscope”. They present a wide range of tie-dyed shirts, sarongs and silk scarves perfect for all-natural casual summer holiday wear, as well handmade timber mirrors, and handspun and hand-dyed pure Australian wool. This is a stall not to be missed! The market site was developed specifically for the market and there are many attractions including South Coast Seaplanes, who do joy flights over Montague Island. Tickets can be purchased from their stall at the markets and they provide a variety of other services including flights to popular spots such as the Tuross Boatshed for lunch.

South Coast Seaplanes are well known to locals at the many favourite waterside lunching places such as the Tuross Boatshed. Photo: South Coast Seaplanes.

I was advised not to miss the French patisserie Les Gourmandises, conveniently co-located next to the Moruya IGA in a shady arcade. I was delighted to meet Isabelle and Joseph and could immediately see why their pastries are so admired.

Chocolate Almond and Almond croissants from Les Gourmandises patisserie of Moruya. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Open almost three years, they have delighted locals with their authentic French style cakes, quiches, pastries and excellent coffee. Isabelle told me they source their coffee beans from an Italian coffee roaster in Batemans Bay, The Venetian. News of my search for real French croissants seems to have travelled some distance and Joseph kindly rewarded me with a still warm croissant to have with my morning coffee. It was a perfect croissant.

Yes, I do believe an authentic French croissant can be obtained in Moruya. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

Yes, the whole of the South Coast is going to be busy for the rest of this summer, but I am assured there is still space down there for more holidaymakers! Eurobodalla Tourism can assist with all types of accommodation, bookings and general advice about spending time in the area around Batemans Bay and Moruya.

There are always so many places and things to try down the coast? Do you have any special recommendations you would like to share with The RiotACT readers? Comment below.

 


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18 Responses to
Summer is here and Batemans Bay is very tempting!
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Tracy Anne Heslop 10:44 am 10 Feb 18

Great article! Just wondering if there is a place where I can go to find out about the funding of pontoons for the cruise ships in Batemans Bay

Margaret Freemantle 10:00 pm 01 Jan 18

31 Dec saw the start of the George Bass Surf boat Marathon, the longest and toughest in the world. Starts Batemans Bay and ends Eden. Not nearly enough fuss or crowds to send these crews from all over Australia off. Come on, do better for these super athletes next year!!!!!

Maryann Mussared 7:37 pm 01 Jan 18

Sam's Pizzeria is shaping up as a much loved Bay favourite! Thank you for adding your recommendation and I have it on my list for my next visit... 🍕🍕🍕

Reech 6:45 pm 01 Jan 18

While waiting in the heat for the punt, someone would nick into the pub, buy a schooner for dad, perhaps a shandy for mum, and a lemon squash for the whingeing billy lids. Local kids collected the empty glasses from your car (presumably for a price). Quite civilised really.

    Maryann Mussared 11:28 pm 01 Jan 18

    Thank you Reech, you paint a really lovely image of times past and waiting for the punt. My family used to travel from Sydney to Jervis Bay and Sussex Inlet c. 1960. I love being reminded of a shandy – there is lemonade in the fridge (there is beer of course!) and if it is warm tomorrow (likely) I think I will have one to celebrate a lovely old-fashioned summer…

Ed N Joanne Towner 6:20 pm 01 Jan 18

Sam's Pizzeria a favourite. Good food and a relaxed atmosphere.

South Coast Travel Guide 11:16 am 01 Jan 18

Great article RiotACT and Maryann Mussared

Scott Abela 8:49 am 01 Jan 18

I like to drive straight through to the real south coast further on, at least Moruya has an airport for some real holiday attraction.

Guy Speake 7:37 am 01 Jan 18

At this time of year, it must be hell.

Nifty 7:32 am 01 Jan 18

Even though the lifting bridge on the Prince’s Highway opened in ’56, travellers from Canberra still had to use the punt at Nelligen into the ’60s. Around Christmas, there was often a long wait as traffic built up.

In fact, I remember on one occasion we had to detour via the old coach road through Araluen and the valley of the Deua/Moruya River.

This was an absolutely terrible road in those days: I remember it because a very young Nigel was dreadfully car sick!!!

    Maryann Mussared 4:20 pm 01 Jan 18

    Nifty, that is an interesting update about the development of roads and access to the Bay in the 1950s. I can assure you the road from Araluen to Moruya is still pretty dreadful although the area at the back of Moruya is very beautiful with the road running parallel to the Deua River. I wanted to attempt it going down to the coast but my fellow travellers were reluctant to agree, even in my sturdy little car.

Mike Cairns 4:31 am 01 Jan 18

Remember the other big development that changed the Bay forever was the highway bypass - growing up I remember trips to the coast at busy times of year would bottleneck trying to get through the main street of the Bay for up to an hour or more.

    Chris Brooks 8:11 pm 01 Jan 18

    Actually, it's been relatively quiet this year. I've been going into town from North Durras every day and not had to wait at all.

Linda Charnock 11:05 pm 31 Dec 17

Charlie Fitzgerald a BBDA comment could be good!!

Simon Mitchell 8:36 pm 31 Dec 17

Great article. We have the joy of cruising the Clyde River on our 101yo ex-Sydney Harbour Picnic Ferry. JJ’s at the Marina are great, as is the Ralston Brothers Farm Gate. Sam’s Pizzeria and the Starfish Deli are also excellent. We have regularly enjoyed oysters from the Blue Oyster shed on Wray Street.

Jessica Burne 8:13 pm 31 Dec 17

It sure is!:) love that place

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