The quiet coastal village of Dalmeny is the perfect base when looking to explore the NSW Eurobodalla coast
Let me introduce you to my old man – Terry. Also known as T-Bird, he is one of the most patient, determined and passionate fishermen to ever ‘wet a line’.
And given his history he is possibly one of the worst fishermen to ever ‘wet a line’.
Throughout his fishing career T-Bird has experienced a number of comical and serious injuries. A few years ago he fell off some rocks while fishing alone on the Gold Coast. He nearly drowned and later required a shoulder reconstruction. It never dampened his spirits. Once, while towing his boat to the Murray River, the trailer dislodged and crashed into a nearby paddock.
“Just a minor hiccup” he said.
On the rare occasion that T-Bird does actually catch a fish there’s a fair chance it will bite, spike or sting him. So you can understand why I’m a little nervous about going fishing with him as something unusual always seems to happen. And to make things worse he never knows when to call it a day. Rain, hail or scorching sun – he will persist for hours on end!
On this occasion I’m surf fishing with the old man on Kianga beach between Dalmeny and Narooma on the South Coast of NSW. It’s a pleasant day but the fish aren’t biting so I’m ready to call it a day.
T-Bird looks up to sky and then out to sea in a lame attempt to assess the weather conditions.
What he says next sends a shiver down my spine. “Just a little while longer”.
I’ve heard this a million times before and I know exactly what it means. We won’t be going home anytime soon!
Lucky for me, T-Bird quickly hooks a nice Australian salmon which he miraculously lands without incident. He proudly holds up the fish for a photo and that’s when the salmon bites down on his finger. He yelps in pain and struggles to free his bloody finger from the fish’s mouth. “No pain, no gain” is all he can say.
Happy with his catch and nursing a bloody hand, T-Bird is finally ready to call it a day. Thank goodness!
Our home for the week is Dalmeny, a sleepy coastal village just 8km north of Narooma. The Dalmeny township is built upon headlands looking over the Pacific Ocean to the south, and the shore of Lake Mummuga, a coastal lagoon, to the north. Due to its location, Dalmeny is a popular camping area, with a large camping ground located in the centre of town overlooking the southern end of Brou Beach (commonly called Dalmeny Beach).
There are many walking and cycling paths through Dalmeny and along the coastline. Bushwalking is also possible in areas of the Eurobodalla National Park. The Narooma to Dalmeny Story Track is one of the areas highlights.
This 6.8km shared pathway winds along a spectacular coastline and is part of an extensive network used by Aboriginal people over thousands of years for travel and trade along the coast and inland to the ranges.
Fish, oysters, other shellfish and game were plentiful as were plant roots and nuts of the burrawang palm. Tribal groups gathered regularly along the coastline for ceremonies or meetings, taking advantage of seasonal resources such as beached whales or seabird eggs.
The route passes shell middens and abundant marine resources still valued and enjoyed today. There’s also a number of lookouts, information boards and sandy beaches to stop at.
As you approach Narooma the track links up with the Mill Bay Boardwalk. This scenic boardwalk (850m) overlooking Wagonga Inlet is wheelchair accessible and suitable for all levels of walkers. It’s a popular fishing spot and if you’re lucky you might even spot seals, dolphins and manta rays.
Narooma is a popular seaside town famous for the beautiful blue waters of Wagonga Inlet, its pristine beaches and various water sports. It also has one of the most spectacular golf courses in the country. There is also a wide range of clubs, pubs, shops and eateries. Located in an old boatshed the Quarterdeck restaurant overlooking the inlet serves up some delicious seafood.
Narooma’s Surf Beach Reserve has two remarkable sites of ancient geological significance at either end of the sandy beach. At the southern point lie the imposing Glasshouse Rocks; recognised by the Geological Society of Australia as dating between 510 and 440 million years old. They are possibly the most photographed rocks along the Eurobodalla coastline.
At the northern end of Surf Beach at the Wagonga Head ‘bar crossing’ is a unique formation known as Australia Rock: another freak of nature forming from the remnants of volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago. The rock face has been shaped by centuries of tides leaving an uncannily accurate map of Australia.
Montague Island is situated just under 10km off the coast of Narooma and is a famous fishing and diving location. It is also a great place to experience the local wildlife – the island is home to NSW’s only known colony of Australian fur seals, as well as sea eagles, penguins, mutton birds, hawks, terns, silver gulls, harriers and peregrine falcons. Tours to the island run from Narooma and some packages include fishing and snorkelling/diving opportunities.
From Narooma it’s only a short drive (15-20km) to the quaint heritage villages of Central Tilba and Tilba. Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, these historic settlements feature a range of unusual shops, cafes and galleries. The lolly shop, bakery, woodturning gallery, leather store, cheese factory and historic pub are all icons of the region.
The ABC Cheese Factory in Central Tilba commenced operations in 1891. In 2012 a local dairy family purchased the factory and installed new cheese making and milk bottling equipment, bringing back the age old tradition of dairy manufacture to the area. The milk produced and cheese made on site are from two local jersey dairy farms, one in Tilba one in Cobargo.
The entire Central Tilba village, and surrounding lush volcanic farmland rolling down to the ocean, have been protected by the National Trust. The striking Mt Dromedary or “Gulaga – the Mother Mountain”, towers up 800 metres behind the village, and is widely known for its pristine rain forests and aboriginal sacred sites. The mountain and the surrounding area are significant to the Yuin people, particularly the women.
It is possible to walk up the mountain with a track leaving from behind Pam’s Store in Tilba Tilba. Visitors should allow half a day to enjoy the walk and experience the wonderful rainforest near the summit.
Next, we head a little further south to Bermagui, renowned for its deep-sea and game fishing. It’s close proximity to the continental shelf provides excellent angling for marlin and a variety of tuna.
Bermagui features some spectacular cliffs and seascapes – including the Blue Pool. Located off Pacific Drive at the base of a dramatic rocky cliff face, this natural rock pool is continually washed with clean ocean water. It’s stunning setting makes it a wonderful swimming and snorkeling spot. A viewing platform at the top of the cliff offers magnificent coastal views and is the perfect spot for whale watching.
During our stay we also explore the villages to the north of Dalmeny. Our first stop is Bodalla, a delightful dairying village and home of the ‘Big Cheese’. It’s surrounded by lakes, dairy pastures and state forest. Dairy farming and cheese making were introduced to the Bodalla area in the 1860s. The town has retained a number of timber houses and a granite church with impressive stained glass windows from the 1800s.
Afterwards, we head a little further north to Tuross Head where we pick up a tourist drive brochure from the information centre. The scenic drive takes us in a loop around the Tuross Head village starting first at Coila Beach and then sweeping along the coast with a stop at Plantation Point and One Tree Point. It then follows the southern shoreline to the lookout over the stunning Tuross River mouth then continues on to Lavender Bay and the Tuross boatsheds.
Next is Moruya, situated on the banks of the beautiful Moruya River. As you pass through the main streets of the town you will see a number of historic buildings as well as the collection of large wooden sculptures scattered around the town by Bryan Carrick an internationally recognised wood carver. The name Moruya is derived from an Aboriginal word, mherroyah, meaning “home of the black swan. So keep an eye out for black swans that can be seen in the local lakes and rivers.
The small village of Mogo is our next stop for lunch. Mogo is a small heritage town established during the gold rush in 1851. Bimbimbie, the last gold mine in the Mogo area, closed in 1984 with the floating of the Australia dollar. It is now home to a variety of tourist-centric stores including cafes, art galleries, potters, and furniture stores.
Mogo’s biggest attraction is arguably the Mogo Zoo, a private zoo specialising in breeding programs for endangered species. Although small in comparison to metropolitan zoos, Mogo Zoo is home to many exotic species, such as the red panda, Sumatran tiger and snow leopard.
Our final stop for the day is Batemans Bay, the largest town in the Eurobodalla region. Settled by Europeans in the 1820s it has since relied on timber, ship building, dairy farms and fishing as its main source of income over the past 200 years. The town is accessed from the north by its famous lifting span bridge, the oldest of its kind in Australia. Here we stretch our legs and walk along the foreshore to check out the many boats and yachts at the marina. We then devour scores of fresh oysters from the Oyster Shed while watching the sun set over the Clyde River. It’s the perfect way to end the day!
With our trip coming to an end T-Bird and I take the opportunity to have one last fish off the Narooma Wharf. We land a few little bream straight away but then it goes quiet for some time.
“Should we try another spot” I suggest.
T-Bird looks up to sky and then out to sea in another lame attempt to assess the weather conditions.
“Just a little while longer” he says.
“Ok, well I’ve had enough. I’m going for a walk” I reply.
“Give me a call when you are done”.
Lucky for me O’Brien’s Hotel is a short walk up the road. The pub has sensational panoramas over the Wagonga Inlet so I grab a beer and settle in to enjoy the ‘million dollar’ view. Over the next hour I enjoy a few drinks and watch a storm approach from the north. It doesn’t take long for the wind to pick up and for the rain to start.
T-Bird finally calls and says “are you ready to go. Things are getting a bit a nasty down here”.
I look up to sky and then out to sea in a genuine attempt to assess the weather conditions.
“Yeah soon dad” I reply. “Just a little while longer”.
Dalmeny is about 400km south of Sydney, 820km from Melbourne and 210km from Canberra.
Dalmeny Campground – www.dalmenycampground.com.au