One of the positive that came with borders being closed to NSW residents by at least a couple of states - Queensland and Western Australia - is for us to visit beautiful places in our own backyard. And there are many of these amazing sites.
My husband John and I decided to do a road trip to the Southern Highlands and South Coast and allocated three days all up for the visit. Aside from the sightseeing, we were to also visit my niece, Zyra Eser, who has settled in Merimbula since January 2020. Zyra is a frontliner who works in the kitchen of the local hospital there. We were glad that there were number of available pet friendly accommodation so our 14-year old canine, Snoopy was able to go as well. I am delighted to share highlights of this trip, covering Tuesday to Thursday.
We set off at 8.30am from our place in the Sydney Olympic Park area. The initial part of the journey was an easy drive on the Hume Highway. We then made a quick stop at Bowral [at about 10.30am] for morning tea - scones with homemade jam and fresh cream with generous pot of tea, and allowed for a bit of walk and drink for Snoopy. A brief walk around showed many shops with interesting items, but there was no time for shopping. I think it is definitely worth a trip back.
Next stop was at Fitzroy Falls which was only about 22 kms and took 20 minutes to get to. There is a good walkway that brought us to the very edge to the Falls; the beautiful sight complemented with the loud sound of crashing water and the cool water spray.
Then we were off to Kangaroo Valley, which is a quaint village and only 18 kms further away. Aside from the 'nostalgia' type shops, there are a lot of eateries and cafes which was perfect for our lunch stop. We had meat pies which were to die for - 'handcrafted' on site, with really chunky meat and delicious gravy.
As we drove for our final destination for the day. Merimbula, we went past beaches and rivers with sparkling deep blue water.. This is truly New South Wales' Sapphire Coast! Merimbula is considered to be the heart of the Sapphire Coast with all its best kept secrets of beautiful beaches, surfing, diving areas, and river inlets.
Zyra came over to the holiday park we are staying, which is adjacent to the Main Beach. The sound of the crashing waves was therapeutic and immediatey gave us the "holiday feel" so we felt recovered from the drive. Our accommodation was a cabin, with double bed and a double bunk bed on the side of the lounge; dining area and cooking facility with stove microwave, toaster and kettle; ensuite; aircon, tv and wifi. We were quite impressed with fresh and crisp white bed linen, and fluffy white towels.
The holiday place has three heated pool, with a kiddie pool and aquatic installations, bbq areas, and a big recreation room.
A bit later on, it was lovely catch up over a delicious dinner at the Merimbula RSL Club. The meals are typical of RSLs - huge serve and freshly cooked. John with satay chicken and rice; Zyra the enjoyed signature burger and I had combination chow mein. I must say that Snoopy was good being 'incharge' while we were at the club,
Zyra was our tour guide and photographer for the day! :) With the well planned itinerary, we covered a lot in the one day.
We started the day with a visit to Short Point atop a hill which is in the city centre. It has a breath taking view of the ocean and has a big off leash area for dogs.
From there, it was akin to a tour itinerary maximising the number of places visited, with 'precise timing' of stay in each of the stops. These included: Merimbula Wharf, Bar Beach, Wild Rye.
We then got take away freshly baked almond croissants and baguettes laden with olives, cuppa tea and cappuccino. We went to a spot, which according to Zyra is not widely known to tourists; the Pambula River Mouth.
Then off to the furtherest end to work our way back: Green Cape, the Navy's multi-purpose wharf at Eden; enjoyed delicious fish and chips, calamari rings and prawn cutlets while gazed out the bluest blue water at Eden Lookout and Rotary Park.
One of the highlights for me of our trip to Eden was our visit to the St Mary Mackillop Museum which was where the St Joseph's local school was established by Australia's first and only Saint. Next to the museum is a modern looking Catholic church "Our Lady Star of the Sea" which looks out to the water, and has a replica cross of the Cross which visited the place during World Youth Day 2008. Then to Eden's historic cemetery which is also looking out to the sea and which has a sign posted at the entrance a warning that venomous snakes may be in the area and what to do when we encounter one.
We went back to the holiday place and had a short rest/nanna nap. Afterwards, we took Snoopy for a romp on the beach next to our holiday place. We were set to also go for a swim but the wind and water were cold, so that was the end of that plan. :)
The day was capped by meeting Zyra's friends at their place. Her friend Joye [De la Cruz], cooked a lovely dinner despite being on night duty as a Nurse in the local aged care facility and only catching a few winks. We had seafood Paella, roasted pork belly, roasted capsiscum, salad, fruits and cheesecake.
Joye's younger sister Mai and friend Alex Aguirre are Nurses in aged care and Dr Lui Lorenzo is a female General Practitioner in Sapphire Clinic; with her husband Joseph a Nurse in an aged care facility. These hardworking and cheerful frontliners all have inspiring stories to tell which we hope to share too in another article.
[L-R: Alex, Mai, Dr Lui, Zyra and Joye]
We were greeted by another sunny day in the Sapphire Coast but we had to make our way back. Our first stop was at Tathra which also has beautiful beaches and interesting places like the historic wharf, the Tathra hotel and the walk along the headland which is sacred to the Aboriginal people.
Then we went to Bermagui which is well known for its Blue Pool, a rock pool which can be reached via several steps of stairs. On that day, there were six seals frolicking by the edge of the water. Like the day before, there was a chill in the air and the water was not exactly warm so we opted not to swim.
Lunch was by a beach at Narooma, where the water was soo clear and the sand so fine. Despite the cold wind and water, there was a group of young kids who were having a whale of a time swimming.
The last stop was at South Nowra where we had afternoon tea - the usual fare: scones and cuppa tea. The drive home was without any issues, and we got home at 7pm.
We certainly enjoyed the trip very much and certainly planning another trip in NSW where Snoopy can come along again. So don't let closed borders get in the way in having a break. Visit places and spend your tourism dollar here.