You don’t have to travel to tropical north Queensland to find crystal clear water and stunning white sand beaches. In fact, the Jervis Bay area on the NSW south coast (180km south of Sydney) claims to have the whitest sand anywhere in the world. Jervis Bay and Booderee National Parks protect valuable bushland to the north and south of the large bay while the waters and more than 100km of coastline are part of the Jervis Bay Marine Park. Booderee is owned by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community. There aren’t a lot of long-distance hikes or extreme adventure activities around (and the water is a little cooler than on the Great Barrier Reef) but if you just want to relax and explore – and photograph – superb coastal scenery you’ve come to the right place.
St Georges Head circuit (20km, 7 hours)
Start/finish: Steamers Beach car park
A full day exploring the St Georges Headland including visits to several stunning beaches and clifftop viewpoints. It’s 2.3km from the car park to Steamers Beach walking through eucalypt and tea tree forest and finishing with a steep set of stairs to reach a magnificent wild beach backed by cliffs and sand dunes. The views are fantastic but swimming isn’t recommended due to strong undertows and a local shark population. Heading back along the trail, turn left at the junction and left again to take the 1.4km detour to Brooks Lookout for expansive views. Return to the junction, turn left then left again to head south on the circuit trail. It’s 4.9km from Brooks Lookout to St Georges Head, the southern-most point of Booderee. Stick to the western side of the headland for the return journey, with short sidetracks to natural attractions including Kitty’s Point, Kitty’s Beach and Whiting’s Beach, before turning inland to complete the circuit Blacks Waterhole. It’s 3km from the waterhole to the car park.
Green Patch to Bristol Point (1km, 40 minutes)
Start/Finish: Green Patch picnic area
Green Patch is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the national park; there is a large car park and picnic area – turn left off Jervis Bay Road just past Jervis Bay village. Cross the footbridge to reach the beach and turn right, accessing the rock platforms at the eastern end of the beach via a small footbridge – this walk is best attempted at low tide. Cross the rock platform to reach a small, secluded beach then locate a track through the bush that leads to Bristol Point picnic area. Return the same way or via a track through the forest.
Munyunga waraga dhugan loop walk (5.4 km, 2.5 hours)
Start/finish: Murrays boat ramp
A self-guided nature tour, Munyunga waraga dhugan means “white-bellied sea eagle’s home camp” in the Dhurga language of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal people. Head to the gorgeous Murrays Beach from the boat ramp then continue then return to the track and turn right, heading south to complete the circuit walking anti-clockwise. Look for birds as the track passes through bush to hit the coast, turning north to Governor Head, where there are excellent views of Bowen Island offshore. It’s a short walk from here back to Murrays Beach.
White Sands and Scribbly Gum Track (2.5km, 1 hour)
Start/Finish: Greenfield Beach picnic area
Follow the White Sands walk south along the coast, walking the length of Chinamans, Hyams and Seamans Beaches – take a towel if you want to go for a swim. The walk showcases magnificent coastal views of torquoise waters backed by stunning beaches and bushland. You’re a good chance to spot a dolphin along the route. Return via the Scribbly Gum track through tall forest to the picnic area.
Hyams Beach trail (2km, 1 hour)
Start/Finish: Lister Crescent, Hyams Beach village
This easy walk was designed by birdwatchers and you’re likely to see a variety of birdlife including eastern rosellas, crimson rosellas and eastern spinebills. Signs along the route point out what to look for. After about 1km turn left to the beautiful Seamans Beach. Return via the pure white sand of Hyams Beach.
Hare Point track (6km, 3 hours)
Start/Finish: Red Point picnic area
This walk is on the northern shores of Jervis Bay, with the track passing through sand forest to reach Hare Point at Carama Inlet, a great place to see mangroves. Return along the beach.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Apart from walking and enjoying the sunshine, the best way to enjoy Jervis Bay is to get out on the water in your a kayak or on a whale watching/sightseeing cruise. There is excellent snorkelling at Scottish Rocks and Murrays Beach and dive equipment can be hired in Huskisson. Line fishing is also popular.
FLORA AND FAUNA
There are more than 200 species of birds in the Jervis Bay area and swamp wallabies and echidnas are commonly encountered on walking tracks, while eastern grey kangaroos are regulars at Berrara. But the mammals in the sea are the real stars here. Bottlenose dolphins can often be seen from the shore playing in the waves. And this is one of the best spots in Australia to see humpback whales on their annual migration – visit between June and November and jump on one of the numerous tours that operate up and down the coast.
Jervis Bay is about three hours’ drive from Sydney on the M1 and Princes Highway. Turn off at Falls Creek south of Nowra, following the large sign to Jervis Bay. The road leads all the way to Booderee National Park with turn-offs earlier for the towns of Huskisson and Vincentia. The Princess Highway continues down the coast.
Jervis Bay is pleasant all year round, with mild winters (average maximum 15 degrees in July) and summers (average maximum 24 degrees in January). But the beaches are very crowded in the warmer months. May is the wettest month of the year and September is the driest. Visit in winter to have the place mostly to yourself – and to catch the whales while they’re in town.
CAMPING AND ACCOMMODATION
Inside Booderee National Park there is a large campground at Bristol Point with tables and barbecues, and more secluded sites at Green Patch and Cave Beach. Places fill up quickly during peak periods and a ballot operates over the Christmas-New year holidays. There is a wide range of holiday accommodation in Huskisson, Vincentia and all the holiday towns on the coast.
Take care walking near cliffs and on rock platforms, and watch out for snakes in the bush. Always carry plenty of water when walking.
The walking trails are all in good condition and are easy to follow, with lots of beach walking.
Or call the Booderee Visitor Centre on (+61) 2 – 4443 0977
These descriptions are a guide only. While we have made every effort to make them accurate, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained while using them. Make sure you use an up-to-date map and consult rangers before heading out.