Merimbula is just one of the many beautiful little towns that dot the south coast of New South Wales. The town is situated on the Merimbula lake and named after the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’. Merimbula is primarily a tourist town, renowned for its fresh rock oysters and annual Jazz Festival, which is held on the June Queens’ Birthday Long weekend. We stayed there one weekend a few years ago and it is a place I would love to visit again because of its beautiful beaches.
Merimbula is close to Bournda National Park, South East Forest National Park and the northern end of Ben Boyd National Parks. For walkers, check out the coastal walk which runs through Bournda National Park from Tathra to Tura Beach just north of Merimbula taking in coastal scenery. Southern Right Whales (less frequent) and Humpback Whales are big feature in the areas.
There are lots of fun things you can do in Merimbula including horse riding and roller coaster rides. I would love to check out Magic Mountain, Merimbula’s own theme park as it has a roller coaster and one of the best toboggan slopes in New South Wales.
Today’s place is a little gem on the south coast of NSW with a great name – Mollymook. I first remember visiting Mollymook, when I was about 20. Not long after moving to Sydney, I travelled there for a long weekend. I remember it was a wonderful journey: a girlfriend had borrowed her boyfriend’s old VW Combie and we cruised our way down the coast on the old Princes Highway, singing along to Fleetwood Mac on the way.
The Australian Traveller website gives Mollymook a great writeup and also has some clues about how the place got its name:
It’s thought that the name Mollymook is a variation on “mollymawk”, the slang name sailors use for a type of albatross (from the Dutch mallemugge, meaning “foolish gull”.
We stayed overnight with some friends in Ulladulla and then spent the next day at Mollymook beach. I remember thinking at the time, that this beach was very beautiful and great for swimming and bodysurfing. Here is a blurb from the Visit NSW website:
Mollymook Beach is one of the South Coast’s most popular beaches. This golden stretch of sand has ideal conditions for experienced surfers, body surfers and anyone keen to learn how to surf.
Mollymook has more recently become famous as celebrity chef Rick Stein has a restaurant there – Bannisters. This restaurant is famous for fabulous seafood with an incredible ocean view. I haven’t been there yet, but it would be wonderful to experience this place.
Day 90: Tulip Top Gardens, Old Federal Highway, Sutton NSW
Today we went to Tulip Top Gardens to see the beautiful display of spring flowers. The gardens are not as big or as busy as Floriade, which makes it a relaxing time in the gardens. As part of the entry fee we got a sausage sizzle and some Dutch Pancakes – yum!! Apparently it was a ‘special’ day as the pancakes are not always available. As you walk through the gardens, piped music makes for a lovely ambience and a feeling of being lost in time, to another, more genteel time and place.
Spring in the Capital region is a stunning time of year, when the Wattles are in bloom alongside the Apple, Peach, Cherry and Plum trees. To make this colourful display even more brilliant are the many Daffodils, Jonquils,Tulips, Pansy and Sweet Peas.
Day 60: Mermaid Pool, Manly, New South Wales, Australia
Mermaid Pool is a place, I have never visited but would love to check out. Situated close to the famous beach of Manly, Mermaid Pools has had a chequered history.
Indigenous people occupied the Northern Beaches area for many thousands of years and there are many rock carvings and engravings in this area. Local Aboriginal believed creator spirits resided in deep bodies of water such as Mermaid Pool and no one would dare swim there, though there is evidence of blade sharpening grooves in the rocks.
History has it that in 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip traversed this creek-line when it was surrounded by dense forest and swamps. In the 1930s Depression years there was a camp at Allambie for people who had lost their homes. Girls used to slip away to the pool to swim naked, hence the name, Mermaid Pool. In those days the water was crystal clear, the bird-life rich and varied and the bushland vibrant and colourful.
There is still a rare pocket of coastal rainforest beneath the rocky overhangs of Mermaid Pool which echoes a long distant era. A mere seventy years ago much of Manly Vale was unspoilt bushland, platypus still occupied some waterways and even quolls and koalas were ‘in residence’.
Once the area became part of suburbia Mermaid Pool sadly became a dumpsite but recently it has been lovingly restored thanks to the “Return of the Mermaids” project, which started when 4 tonnes of rubbish were removed by 71 volunteers on ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ in 2002.
Today, I am writing about a place I love which is very close to Canberra, but over the years has been much maligned by Canberrans, who thumb their noses at Queanbeyan calling it “Struggle town” amongst other things.
When I first moved to Canberra from Queensland I did not relate to the orderly lego-like city of Canberra and found Queanbeyan a welcome reprieve as it had character and the feel of a country town.
The word Queanbeyan is the anglicised form of Quinbean – which is an Aboriginal word meaning “clear waters”. It is no surprise that there is a reference to waters in the town’s name as it sits on a bend of a river.
Queanbeyan was established as a town long before Canberra was planned as the national capital in the early 1900s. Here is some history from Wikipedia:
The town grew from a squattage held by ex-convict and inn keeper, Timothy Beard, on the banks of the Molonglo River in what is now Oaks Estate. The town centre of Queanbeyan is located on the Queanbeyan River, a tributary of the Molonglo River and about one mile east of Oaks Estate. Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838 when the population was about 50.
Over the years Queanbeyan has supported many different industries from mining, manufacturing, agriculture to high tech industries like solar.
Interestingly, in the early days of Canberra, people would not have been too snooty about crossing the border to spend time in Queanbeyan. Canberra was a “dry” town from 1911 at the time of the foundation of the Australian Capital Territory until 1928 when Federal Parliament relocated from Melbourne. In that period many of the capital’s residents crossed the border to drink at one of Queanbeyan’s hotels.
Queanbeyan remains an interesting town which has a lot going for it. We enjoyed living there for two years and loved the strong sense of community that exists in this much underrated town.
Day 58: Berowra Waters, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
When I lived in the northern suburbs of Sydney nearly 30 years ago, one of the places I loved to spend time was Berowra Waters.
I particularly loved to go on the Berowra Waters ferry: driving down the gorge on the Berowra side and then coming to the top of the gorge to drive through the pretty villages of Berrilee, Aracidia, Galston and Dural. These days I expect that these areas are now quite suburban, though back in the mid 1980s there were many hobby farms dotted along Bay and Galston Roads.
Some of the most special memories I have of living in this part of Sydney are of bushwalking and discovering many Aboriginal carvings in the rocks and middens. It was obviously a place of significance for many thousands of years for the people who first lived in this beautiful region.
Eden is a beautiful place on the far south coast of New South Wales. In many ways it is considered remote, as it is a long way from the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
Located at the edge of Twofold Bay, Eden has the third deepest natural habour in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, it was once considered as a potential site for the national capital, because of its proximity to Sydney and Melbourne and the deep harbour. Thankfully these plans didn’t go ahead, leaving this region as a treasure for locals and visitors alike.
The ocean here is like a sapphire and the temperate rainforest surrounding this region is stunning, making for great bush walks and explorations of nature.
The Visit Eden website says:
It’s a truly stunning location with a host of unique attractions. The heart and soul of Eden – and its history – is Twofold Bay. It was home to shore-based whaling stations and Old Tom, the legendary killer whale whose story can be learned at the Eden Killer Whale Museum.
It was the centre of operations for entrepreneur and pioneer Benjamin Boyd who built Boyd’s Tower, Boydtown and the Seahorse Inn as part of an extraordinary empire, before the vision crumbled.
A few years ago Marty took me to the Seahorse Inn for my birthday, which was a wonderful gift. We spent a wonderful time checking out Boyd’s Tower, the ruins of the Davison Whaling Station and the lovely little township of Eden.
The Whaling history for me sits uncomfortably, especially as it is the only place in the world where Orcas helped whalers to catch smaller whales. Visit Eden says:
Incredibly, Eden’s Twofold Bay is the only place – worldwide – where there has been documented evidence of orcas working in co-operation with man to hunt smaller whales. The orcas herded the whales into the bay and even into particular whaling stations. They would then alert whalers of their arrival by splashing and flop tailing. The orcas would also herd whales onto the beach, where they were an important food source for the local Indigenous people.
As with all histories there are always gaps and omissions, and I would love to know more about this time from the perspective of the descendants of the local Indigenous people, to yield a fuller understanding.
Day 37: Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
May 26 is a special day in the Benson Drury calendar, as it is our wedding anniversary. For this reason, I dedicate today’s post to the beautiful seaside town of Port Macquarie, the place where we were married.
Port Macquarie is famous for its beautiful beaches, rainforests, great fishing and whale watching expeditions.
The town also has a history as one of the first convict settlements in Australia. Nowadays British tourists are stunned that people were sent here for ‘punishment’. In many ways, it has become a bit of a joke between the two nations, though there is a very serious side to the history of penal colonies in Australia. Convicts were the builders for the colonists and in Port Macquarie you will find many historic buildings were built by prisoners, including the church where we were wedded.
St Thomas’ is one of the oldest churches in Australia, in fact St Thomas’ is the oldest church outside of any of Australia’s capital cities. The St Thomas’ website says:
St Thomas’ Church was built by convict labour when Australia was still part of the Diocese of Calcutta and Port Macquarie was a penal settlement. The foundation stone was laid in 1824 and the first services held in 1828, when the worshippers were the Chaplain, Camp Commandant, a detachment of British Infantry and the well guarded convicts who stood at the west end of the nave.
Port Macquarie is not just a place for colonial history, it is also a place of modern creativity, with the Glasshouse Port Macquarie functioning as a cutting-edge venue for cultural and arts events year-round.
Port Macquarie is a town we love to visit when we travel up the coast of New South Wales. It is not only beautiful, it is also a place that holds a lot of significance for us.
Day 35: Surveyor’s Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Today, the special place is a bit closer to home and a place that has great sentimental value to my husband Martin and I. Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard is about 10 minutes drive from the historic village of Hall.
The Vineyard is a fabulous place to stay for a weekend getaway, as there is a lovely restaurant, plenty of nice walks around the area and very comfortable B&B style accommodation. When Martin turned 50, my gift to him was a weekend staying here, which we both enjoyed very much.
Surveyor’s Hill is the remains of an ancient volcano more than 360 million years old, rising to 736 metres above sea level.
First established in the mid-1980s, our vineyards are among the older plantings in the district and grow at the foot of the hill between 550 and 585 metres. Soils are free-draining and derived from weathered porphyritic rocks.
When we stayed I booked a special deal that included a three-course dinner with wine tasting and breakfast as well as the accommodation. The food at the Pomegranate Bistrot was first class and all the meals had lovely attention to detail as well as being delicious.
Surveyor’s Hill Vineyards
215 Brooklands Road
Wallaroo via Hall, NSW 2618
My wife Tracey and I have identified Sawtell New South Wales (affectionately known by the locals as Sawty), as a potential site for us to spend some time in future years . Here is a selection of shots of this stunning coastline taken on a recent sortie (short return trip).