Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Soak up the NSW Sapphire Coast

 What to see and do 

Beautiful beaches abound on the Sapphire Coast, but for a particularly memorable swimming or snorkelling experience, Bermagui's Blue Pool is a natural rock pool that lies at the base of a dramatic rocky cliff face. You can also go kayaking on the beautiful Bega River with Coastlife or go game fishing with Headland Fishing charters in Merimbula. Further south, Eden is a paradise for whale watching — get up close to bouncy cetaceans with Cat Balou Cruises, which runs regular trips during peak season from September to mid-November.  

While best known for its cheese, Bega also has the excellent Bega Valley Regional Gallery, which hosts touring exhibitions of national significance along with its own exclusively curated artistic program. In Eden, don't miss the intriguing Killer Whale Museum.  

The only remaining deep-water timber wharf on Australia's east coast, Tathra Wharf, built in 1862, holds a significant place in maritime history. Once a docking station for steamships carrying cargo and passengers between the Bega Valley and Sydney, the wharf is now more popular for its café-gallery, The Wharf Local, and the fascinating Tathra Wharf Museum.  

Tathra is also a great base for mountain biking, with the Bundadung Mountain Biking Network beginning just 800m from the hub of all things mountain biking, Tathra Beach and Bike

Where to eat  

Sapphire Coast oysters are prized — find out everything there is to know about oyster farming river and shuck your own with Captain Sponge's Magical Oyster Tours on the Pambula River. You can also taste fresh award-winning Sydney rock oysters from family-owned Tathra Oysters' Little Shop Behind The House in Tathra, or order a dozen how you like them at local restaurants such as Fat Tony's Bar and Grill, also in Tathra.  

In Bega, learn the history of cheese at the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre, relax with a milkshake overlooking the Bega River, then take home some local cheese, preserves and honey. In Eden, buy local produce at Sprout Eden, which also has a café menu that skilfully reflects the seasons. For a special meal, plan a lunch or dinner at Mimosa Wines, a family-owned vineyard, cellar door and restaurant in Murrah, where head chef Glen Simpson whips local produce into signature dishes such as his seared fresh kingfish, slow-cooked pork belly, and local oysters and mussels. 

Where to drink 

True to its name, the multi-award-winning North of Eden microdistillery is located on a working farm in Stony Creek, 64km (or 50 minutes' drive) north of Eden. All its London dry-style gins are all made in 200-bottle batches and feature ingredients grown on the farm or foraged locally. With most of its bar/cellar door seating outdoors, sunny days are the best time to visit.  

If craft beer is more your thing, pull up a seat at the historic Tathra Hotel, which is home to the Humpback Brewery.  

Where to stay 

The Sapphire Coast is a popular family destination, with plenty of campgrounds and self-catering holiday apartments to choose from among the region's accommodation options. For a little more luxury, book one of the stylish serviced apartments that make up Coast Resort in Merimbula, where resort facilities include two pools, tennis court, barbecue areas and undercover parking. Mimosa Wines also has two charming cottages across the vineyard from its restaurant; The Farmstead can sleep nine and The Vineyard Cottage sleeps four.  

For a holiday house with character, consider Clifftop at Tathra Beach. This two-bedroom, 1960s-era home set on the cliffs above Tathra Beach has a wonderfully retro beach house vibe. For would-be whale watchers, a stay at the Green Cape Lightstation Keepers' Cottages, in Ben Boyd National Park outside of Eden, might bring you luck spotting one of these magnificent mammals during their annual migration. 

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