Named in the local Yuin dialect for its swirling clear blue waters, life in the town of Narooma orbits around its unspoilt coastline. Here on the NSW South Coast, colliding currents have created a truly spectacular marine environment.
Thousands of visitors each year are drawn here, wishing to try plump, creamy oysters plucked straight from the salty waters of the Eurobodalla region. Stingrays can be spotted through the gaps on the wooden boardwalk, darting in the sun-speckled shallows beneath. Above, humans dangle their lines, waiting contentedly for a fresh catch.
The sheer volume of churning life continues out to sea, on Montague Island. It’s here you’ll find the state’s largest seal colony – which you can swim with – and at night, little penguins can be seen returning to their nests. Come here in winter, and you are sure to spot migrating whales, basking here on their annual travels.
Rent a board or bring your own, before moseying on down to Dalmeny Beach or Narooma Surf Beach, where you can surf on a patrolled stretch of sand. If you’d prefer to watch the waves, the Narooma to Dalmeny cycleway provides 21 kilometres of magnificent ocean views.
The Mill Bay Boardwalk is ideal for a spot of fishing in the incredible turquoise waters of Wagonga Inlet. Try your hand at catching some snapper or bream, or pace the 350 metres of timbers to spot the frolicking stingrays and fur seals – often found waiting patiently for a feed at the boat ramp. Afterwards, walk to Forster’s Bay for a hearty meal of fish and chips.
At Narooma Surf Beach, the Glasshouse Rocks have been estimated to be around half a billion years old. Pick your way across the sands to check out this ancient structure at low tides for the best vantage point. Also go to Australia Rock, where natural erosion has created a rather patriotic hole, curiously shaped like Australia.
The Montague Island Nature Reserve is one of Narooma’s most popular experiences. Located nine kilometres from town, Montague Island / Barunguba is home to little penguins, schools of fish, dolphins and a seal colony. It’s also a magnificent spot during whale watching season.
The Narooma Oyster Festival is a major regional attraction. Book a ticket ahead of time for your chance to attend the Long Table dinner tent, shucking competitions, hear live music and visit Oyster Alley to try all the varieties.
Fancy exploring further abroad? Tourist Drive Five will take you to the nearby coastal villages of Kianga and Dalmeny. Alternatively, the country villages of Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba are famous for their cheeses (check out the ABC Cheese Factory) and heritage buildings, and you can take a walk up the ancient volcano that is Gulaga.
To visit the adorable fur seals and penguins of Montague Island, you’ll want to head out on a tour. Book in with Montague Island Adventures to visit its 19th-century lighthouse, snorkel with the seals or go out there in the evening to see the penguins waddle across the shore as the sun is setting.
For cheap camping not too far from Narooma, there are free and low-cost campsites further afield in Eurobodalla National Park at Congo campground and Brou Lake campground.
Closer to town, Dalmeny Campground and Mystery Bay campground both have beachside camping. BIG4 Narooma Easts Holiday Park has lots of facilities that are perfect for families, such as swimming pools, go-karts, tennis courts and camp kitchens.
The four-star Whale Inn and Restaurant is perched on a hill above the inlet, with amazing views of the kaleidoscope of blues below.
Ocean views and breakfasts out on the terrace await at the adults-only Anchors Aweigh, a B&B with friendly local hosts. Alternatively, the Top of the Town Motel is centrally located and family-owned, with a saltwater pool to cool off in.
There are plenty of gorgeous holiday rentals to discover in Narooma, like this waterfront apartment overlooking Wagonga Inlet on Airbnb. You could also book an entire house with Buena Vista 62 in North Narooma. With room for eight guests, and close to Montague Island, this retro-style house has amazing views of the inlet below.
For a touch of BoBo-chic, The Cottage on Airbnb is superb for two couples looking to sleep in the rainforest, just a few minutes from the beachfront.
Located on the Narooma Marina in Wagonga Inlet, salt has simple, but scrummy, breakfasts on offer. Think pumpkin toasties with goats cheese and pesto, or house granola topped with yogurt from the nearby Tilba Real Dairy. The Bound to Earth Espresso Bar has some of the best coffee in town, as well as serving choice small dishes out of this little cafe.
For a sweet treat, Narooma Ice Creamery has thick shakes and spiders that’ll make the whole family crave a sugar high, as well as hearty breakfast options like pancakes and caramelised bananas.
Come lunchtime, nab fish and chips over at The Inlet, which serves up freshly caught seafood for takeaway or dine-in. To taste the celebrated delicacy of the region, stop by the Montague Oysters shop to pick up some shellfish to take back to the holiday apartment for a downright feast.
The Whale Inn bistro is well-regarded among diners for its vegetarian and vegan options, which take advantage of the local seasonal and garden produce. For a pub dinner with a twist, Wildfire at Lynchs Hotel dates back to the early 1900s and has a series of Nepalese, seafood and tavern dishes. (Just make sure to try the popular Nepalese Chilli fish curry.)
Change the pace with a stop at the lively Quarterdeck. A vibey tiki bar on the water, the food here includes Mexican-style food, tapas and oysters. If you time your trip well, you might get to hear some live music as well. Another popular watering hole is the Tilba Valley Winery and Ale House, which serves up its own brews and wines in a relaxed atmosphere among the hills.
Narooma is a five-hour drive from Sydney along the Princes Highway and three hours from Canberra, located on the far South Coast of NSW. Moruya Airport is just north of Narooma (45 minutes), and you can fly here from Sydney, before renting a car to get into town.
There are also bus services that will take you from Sydney’s Central Station down to Narooma, and from Canberra.
With highlights like the Narooma Oyster Festival taking place in May and humpback whales travelling offshore from September to November, the shoulder months are a stunning time to visit Narooma.
If you’re here in summer, expect warm, sunny days where the temperature is around 25 degrees. In winter (a popular time to visit and enjoy the area’s delights in the cooler weather) the thermostat hovers around 17 degrees.
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