The South Coast from above on a scenic seaplane flight
The kidlets play in the sand on the banks of the Moruya River while we watch our pilot from South Coast Seaplanes beaching our plane nearby and getting it ready for us.
“Is that thing really gonna fit all four of us?” I wonder out loud.
“And the pilot, too.” The Fairy Princess exclaims.
“It’s a good thing you guys are little.”
When he seems ready, we approach and introduce ourselves. He’s very welcoming and great with the kids. The Chop has been freaking out about the whole light aircraft thing but he quickly seems more at ease.
After our safety briefing, I elect to take the front passenger seat, so I watch as everyone else hops in. It’s like watching clowns pile into a tiny clown car. Once I join them, I realise it’s much roomier than it looks. At least in the front.
Soon we’re cruising out into the river. The novelty of being in a plane floating on the water hasn’t even started to wear off when the front of the plane suddenly lifts and we’re climbing steeply skyward.
As we ascend I keep looking back to check on The Chop. At first, he’s holding on for dear life but once we level out to cruising altitude he slowly relaxes and his expression changes to one of excitement. With our headsets on, our pilot’s commentary is occasionally interrupted by cries of “this is the best thing ever!” by both kids.
We fly south from Moruya for about 7.5 minutes, but it seems much longer. We keep a look out for whales and our pilot points out all kinds of interesting places, including the rusting boiler from the wrecked cargo ship, SS Monaro, which lies on the rock platforms at Bingi Point.
Eventually, we make a big U-turn in the sky and head back towards the Moruya River. On the return, we go slightly inland so that we see some different scenery.
I’m already well aware of how beautiful this part of Australia is, but there’s really nothing that compares to seeing its wild forests and rugged coastline from above.
My excitement really kicks in, though, when we start to descend. Landing is normally my least favourite part of a flight, but the novelty of landing on water has well and truly taken over. I can barely contain myself as we get closer to the water, and we all cheer when we feel it cushioning our landing.
Mangrove Walk, Batemans Bay
“Neil, what’s a mangrove?” asks The Fairy Princess.
“It’s a type of plant that grows in salty water. You can see some through there,” I explain, pointing some out beyond the Coastal Banksias that line the bush track we’re walking. “I hope we get a better view of them than this, though.”
Soon we come to an opening where the track meets Cullendulla Creek, interrupting a couple of White Ibises foraging on its sandy banks. There are mangroves everywhere.
“There you go, Moo. That’s what they look like up close.”
The walk continues along a boardwalk that takes us through a dense mangrove forest, protecting the delicate swampy ecosystem below. There are all kinds of coastal birds fluttering in the vegetation and flying overhead, and the views across the creek to Square Head are stunning.
Need to know
Length: 3 km
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Partial Circuit
Region: New South Wales
Park: Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve
Closest Town: Batemans Bay (4.5 km)
Car Access: Follow the Princes Highway north from Batemans Bay, turning right into Peninsula Drive. Follow this to the end and turn right at the roundabout, then immediately left onto Wharf Road and right onto Timbara Crescent which becomes Myamba Parade. Park in the carpark on your right near the end of Myamba Parade.
Map: No map necessary.
Path Taken: From the carpark, walk left along the walking track. After 5 minutes or so you’ll come to a beach. Walk east along the beach until you come to a track, which you’ll turn left onto, then right onto the boardwalk. Finish your loop along the beach and return to the carpark.
Native wildlife at Birdland Animal Park, Batemans Bay
The kids are sold on Birdland Animal Park within minutes of walking through the gates. The two of them run around from enclosure to enclosure, talking to the animals, dancing with the cockatoos and corellas, and feeding the peacocks that roam freely around the park in between (with food provided by the park).
Periodically, The Fairy Princess yells “Mum, how many minutes until our train ride!?”
“We’ll tell you when it’s time,” we repeat with dwindling patience.
A miniature train winds its way around the park, starting and finishing from a station near the park entrance. When it’s time, we call the kids over and pile into a couple of tiny carriages, and then we’re off. The kids love every minute of it. They wave at the other park visitors and at all the animals we pass. They scream “hello” to Bruce the goat. The best part is that we get an idea of how big the place is and how many animals we haven’t visited yet.
We arrive back at the station just in time to hop off and make our way over to the presentation area where we’ve been promised there’ll be a close-up encounter with some of the animals. Sure enough, we all get a chance to hold a snake around our necks, pat an orphaned joey named Bear, and the adults get to cuddle a wombat called Wombly. It’s the highlight of our day and makes the entry price worthwhile by itself.
“You know how I’ve always wanted a pet snake?” I poke at Lori. “Now I REALLY want one.”
Lori just gives me the look.
We spend another hour or so visiting the animals we missed before our train ride. My favourite parts are hand feeding the cutest little Tammar Wallaby and the kangaroo enclosure where we hand feed some lazy roos and their friend, Arthur the deer, who prefers the company of the roos than his own species.
Need to know
Birdland Animal Park is at 55 Beach Road, Batemans Bay. At the time of writing a family pass is $72. Animal food and train rides come at a small extra charge. I’d visit again just to hold a snake and cuddle a wombat, but I’d advise trying to visit at quieter times because when it’s busy you might miss out on this.
Depot Beach to Pebbly Beach Walk, Batemans Bay
With our stay in the Eurobodalla region coming to an end, we decide to make one last stop before we move on to Sydney. Our trip has brought us all a level of calm and closeness that we haven’t felt for a while, so we’re keen to hang onto that for as long as possible.
Having lost the map of our intended short walk, we opt to just stroll north up the beach to the rock platforms. Here the kids discover rock pools where all kinds of creatures are hiding, so we slowly make our way from pool to pool, excitedly watching the sea urchins, crabs and tiny fish.
Before we know it we’ve walked way further than we intended, but with plenty of daylight left we decide to just keep going.
“Pebbly Beach is a few kilometres this way,” I offer. “Let’s just turn around when we get there.”
Everyone’s having too much fun to disagree.
So we continue on alongside the sea cliffs and spotted gum forest, chatting, exploring, and skimming rocks. The Fairy Princess collects shells of all shapes and colours.
“It’s okay, Neil,” she says. “I know I can’t take them with me but I just want to hold them.”
On our way back, with the sun sitting close the horizon, we round a bend and see a roo hopping its way along the sand.
“Look, there’s another one!” The Chop yells, pointing to a grassy patch at the base of the cliffs.
His screams obviously startle them, because another five or six emerge from the bushes and hop down the beach away from us.
“It’s not every day you see kangaroos on a beach,” I remark.
Need to know
Length: 6 km
Time: 3 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Region: New South Wales
Park: Murramarang National Park
Closest Town: Batemans Bay (24 km)
Car Access: Head north from Batemans Bay on the Princes Highway. After a little over 15 km, turn right into Mount Agony Road. Continue for a further 5 km, turning right into N Durras Road and then left into Depot Beach Road after a short time. Follow this around into the village and park at a set of steps leading down to the beach. Follow the steps to the beach and turn left to follow the beach along the water.
Map: No map necessary. Since it’s beach walking, you’ll only really need to know when you’re at Pebbly Beach, so you can turn around and head back. At about the 3 km mark you’ll find yourself at a wide sandy beach with a large grass clearing and steps up to the carpark. It’s easy to spot.
Further Info: You’ll need to check the tides before you go, as this walk will be impassable at high tide. We were originally intending to do the Rock Platform Walk from the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service website (1 km / 1 hr) so that might be a good alternative if this one’s too long for you.
Other Adventures Nearby
Snorkel the best spots on the Eurobodalla Coastline on the Batemans Bay Snorkelling Trail.
If you’re looking for other hikes north of Batemans Bay (eg. if you’re heading to Sydney or the Blue Mountains like we were), check out the Lake Walking Track at Lake Durras (8 km return / 2 – 4 hours) or the Pebbly Beach to Durras Mountain walking track (6.6 km return / 3 – 5 hours).
Breakfast: Espresso Yourself, Batemans Bay
We’ve never felt quite so welcome in a cafe as we did here. The owner is the most friendly guy and the other staff are absolutely lovely, too. We stopped off on both mornings of our stay for a quick and easy round of coffees and bacon sandwiches (a bacon and double egg sandwich for me) and we got the yummiest food and coffee imaginable, with a side of incredibly good service. If you don’t believe us, check out their TripAdvisor reviews. Espresso Yourself is at Shop 23, Village Centre, Perry St, Batemans Bay.
Lunch: Innes Boatshed, Batemans Bay
Innes Boatshed is right on the water in the main street of Batemans Bay and has an outdoor eating area where you can enjoy a meal overlooking the water and watching the pelicans. The chips and calamari were pretty good. I ordered a piece of flake, which you could tell was lovely and fresh but unfortunately, everything came out a bit too oily. If they can do something about that, they’d get a rave review from me. In the mean time, maybe order your fish grilled.
Lunch: Narooma Icecreamery & Cafe, Narooma
Narooma Icecreamery & Cafe rates well on TripAdvisor and was certainly very popular. Lori & the kids were very happy with their pancakes but I was very disappointed with my baked beans. Staff were friendly and prices were reasonable.
Dinner: Sam’s Pizzeria on the Waterfront, Batemans Bay
Sam’s Pizzeria was a highlight of our stay in Batemans Bay. We loved it so much we had our dinner there two nights in a row. The pizzas and pastas were incredible on both nights and service was better than average. We were both regretful and grateful for deciding to order a desert calzone on our second visit. It was one of the most decadent things I’ve ever consumed but none of us really needed it.
Image courtesy of Easts Holiday Park Batemans Bay
We stayed in a Waterfront Deluxe Cabin at Easts Holiday Park Batemans Bay. I’ve already mentioned the best feature, the waterfront porch, but it’s also equipped with two bedrooms (a rare luxury for our family holidays), one with 4 single (bunk) beds and another with a queen-sized bed. There’s a fully self-contained kitchen, lounge room and dining area. The master bedroom has a TV and the living area has a TV and DVD player. The décor is what you’d expect from a cabin in a holiday park but the location is five star.
We were guests of Eurobodalla Tourism on this trip. This has no influence over the opinions presented here.
Have you been to Batemans Bay or the Eurobodalla region? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.