The South Coast region of New South Wales has an interesting rural/tourist mix. The area is rich in rural charm, having a strong dairy industry (and cheese-making in Bega). Most of the coastal areas are popular tourist destinations, especially with weekend visitors from Sydney and Canberra.
Historically, the South Coast area of New South Wales has been an area of primary production, with fishing, timber, dairy and other farming contributing to the wealth of the area. Service towns were built, and steamers connected many of the coastal towns to Sydney and to export markets.
It's also a choice for sea-changes and tree-changers. The first wave of retirees are now being followed by hobby farmers and telecommuters.
With unspoilt beaches and national parks in equal measure, the South Coast of New South Wales is a premier holiday destination. In peak holiday season (summer school holidays) the population swells to more than three times the number of long-term residents. It's ideal for road touring or a beach or bush vacation while taking in local food and wines.
Two major local government areas administer the region: Eurobodalla Shire to the south and the Shoalhaven Municipality to the north including Nowra.
The small Jervis Bay Territory was excised from New South Wales as part of the process of federation, and is administered separately with a Federal Police Force and housing a naval base and military airport. The commonly visited parts of the bay and the main townships are still in New South Wales.
80% of the Eurobodalla shire is national park or state forest with extensive stands of spotted gum forest.
The coastal region has a reputation for locals who are easygoing and friendly, environmentally conscious and are even mix between politically liberal and conservative.
You can get to the South Coast by car. Parts are also accessible by train and bus.
Traffic can be very slow around Kiama, south of Wollongong, at the start and end of long weekends or school holidays.
If travelling from Canberra, take the Kings Highway from Queanbeyan to Batemans Bay via Braidwood. The Kings Highway connects to the Princes Highway for access to areas north and south of Batemans Bay.
You can catch a train from Sydney Central or at Hurstville or Sutherland as far south as Bomaderry, on the northern bank of the Shoalhaven River. Nowra is on the southern bank of the same river, but the railway bridge that was constructed for the continuation of the railway line was converted into a road bridge before rail services could begin over the river. Along the way Kiama, Gerringong and Berry are easily accessible by train. Kiama, especially, is a common daytrip for visitors to Sydney, due to many activities there, and easy access by train.
The Premier bus does the Princes Highway route a few times a day, stopping in most major towns en route. Murrays also runs a single daily coach service from Canberra to Narooma via Batemans Bay, with brief stops at the towns along the route. The Premier and Murrays services connect at Batemans Bay.
The best way to get around is to drive. The Princes Highway travels the length of the South Coast and most places aren't far from it.
- Before you drive down Mount Ousley pass, stop to look out over Wollongong and the ocean from the top of the Escarpment
- Hanging Rock lookout in Nowra
- Bega Valley Lookout
- Stanwell Tops
- Swim at one of the region's many beaches
- Canoeing in Kangaroo Valley
- Art galleries in Berry
- Dolphin cruise in Jervis Bay
- Jambaroo Recreation Park (The largest theme park in the state)
- Bega Cheese Factory
- Mogo Zoo
- Feed the birds at Green Patch
- Minamurra Rainforest
- Visit the Beecroft Peninsula (extensive bushwalking and many pristine beaches)
- Kangaroo Valley
Like virtually all of Australia, this is a safe area. However, in the larger towns, you certainly don't escape a level of alcohol-fueled violence at night. Don't let your guard down entirely.
Also, in the locale of Nowra, visitors should stay away from the areas of Junction Court and Nowra East due to higher-than-average cases of pickpocketing, muggings etc.
Beaches are usually patrolled by lifesavers, but ask locals about dangerous surf and bluebottles (aka Indo-Pacific Man o'War). Sunburn is also a risk unless you take steps to protect your skin.
Roads are busy during summer; often people will walk to beaches along the road. Caution is advised during peak periods.