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Route in focus: Discovering the Eurobodalla coast

Alia Parker's picture
Cycling the coastal bike path from Dalmeny to Narooma. Cycle Traveller

The green hills dip and rebound steeply, carved out by the trickling waters that run to the lakes and onto the ocean. Cycling through Central Tilba, you'll need your granny gears, but don't let that scare you away. Rolling hills don't come any prettier than they do in this idyllic part of  Eurobodalla on the NSW south coast, and you'll want to see them.

The Eurobodalla region of NSW, which runs from Batemans Bay south to Wallaga Lake, has been attracting people for thousands of years. To the Bugelli-Manji and Yuin peoples it was an important place with abundant food, not just for hunting and gathering on land, but from the ocean as well. The area is renowned for being an anglers paradise, with a wide variety of fish attracted to the currents off the coast. And with fertile soils, it's little wonder the popular television series River Cottage Australia decided to call this place home. It's a scenic food bowl. The cows here don't know how lucky they are; or perhaps they do, as they make bloody good cheese.

The coastal road between Sydney and Melbourne is very popular for bicycle touring. You can find out a little more about using it as a bike route in Sea to Summit: a bike route loop of NSW and Victoria. For parts of this route, cyclists don't have much choice but to stick to the Princes Highway, which, being the main road, can get busy – especially during the summer holidays when the NSW south coast become a tourist Mecca. But there are sections where you can break away for a calmer ride.

There is a lot to see along the coast, so here, we're going to focus on one very beautiful part. We've come to spend a few days exploring the Eurobodalla region and to take a look at some of the highlights for cyclists riding through this area. The section in focus spans a route of 122km from Batemans Bay to Bermagui, with Narooma making for the perfect halfway point to pull up stumps.

The route

A suggested route for cycle travellers is to take the coastal road between Batemans Bay and Moruya. This gets you off the main road and closer to the ocean, however, for most of this section you'll need to make little side trips off the road to get a beach view. From Moruya you ride the highway south, exiting at Dalmeny to follow the lovely 6km coastal bike path into Narooma. From here, you can take the backroad inland via Central Tilba to explore the hilly, but very scenic countryside, then rejoin the highway for a short distance south of Tilba Tilba before leaving it to head back to the coast via Wallaga Lake Heights. This is where the boundary of the Eurobodalla ends. From here, riders can head into Bermagui and continue south on the Tathra-Bermagui Road. Click here for a full page map.

Broulee Beach

While the coastal road south of Batemans Bay may not keep in sight of the ocean, it nevertheless is only a stone's throw away. All up there are 83 beaches in the Eurobodalla region and many of these are just a short side trip off this road. But part of the route does meet the ocean, and you'll ride right past a popular patrolled swimming beach along here – Broulee Beach, which is 20km south of Batemans Bay. Broulee is a nice little spot to go kayaking up the pristine Tomaga River, or snorkeling out in the cove. There is also a Caravan Park here as well as motel and B&B accommodation.

Bodalla Dairy Shed

We loved stopping in at the Bodalla Dairy Shed. From the back deck, the view spans out across the rolling paddock, and down by the gate stand two calves waiting for some human attention and a good scratch under the chin. When it comes to cheese, many Aussies will already be familiar with the name Bodalla, and you'll find the cows that make that cheese all throughout here. The Dairy Shed offers cheese tastings and also serves up a tasty lunch. The back deck is a really pleasant place to sit, especially on a nice sunny day.

Blue Earth Cafe

This cafe is a favourite among locals and it rates highly on Tripadvisor too. Unfortunately, we pulled through a little too late to sample its food, but the garden setting looked lovely and the menu had some very tempting items on it. Watch this space though because the business has been put up for sale, so hopefully the potential new owner will be as great as the last. You'll find Blue Earth along the route on the Princes Highway at turnoff to Potato Point.

Cycling Narooma. Cycle Traveller.Dalmeny to Narooma bike path

It doesn't get any better than this. Cycling this 6km shared path along the coast is a real joy as it sticks close to the water's edge and really allows you to relax and take in the spectacular views as they transform into something new at every turn. Keep an eye out for the popular Anton's Restaurant along the path at Kianga. We stopped in here for a great breakfast, but it serves lunch and dinner too. A little further south you'll curve around the deck into the very scenic Wagonga Inlet, past the Oyster Hut and over the bridge into Narooma.

Big4 Narooma Easts Holiday Park

Big4 Narooma Easts has a pretty unbeatable location. It's central and sits right on the edge of the Inlet, with many of its modern self-contained cabins having unobstructed views out over the water. A nice spot to stay halfway between Batemans Bay and Bermagui.

Montague Island Nature Reserve

Montague Island NSW. Cycle TravellerA visit to Montague Island was high up on our list of places to see and this trip didn't disappoint. We took an 8am boat trip out with Narooma Charters, which circled the island and then dropped us off onto the island itself for a two-hour walking tour with a National Park's guide. All up the trip lasts about four and a half hours. There are so many cool things about Montague Island... The first thing you'll notice is that it's home to a number of colonies of both Australian and New Zealand seals. You can go snorkelling with these friendly creatures, although being winter, everyone on our boat opted to stay dry (I'm a massive sook when it comes to cold water). Other than the seals, the island is pretty quiet in winter, with the impressive lighthouse and attached living quarters keeping a solemn watch. The lighthouse is 134 years old, but the granite looks as good as new. The granite, quarried on the island, is super strong, stronger than your average kind. Similar granite quarried near Moruya was used to build the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so that's saying something. Sadly, we were a little too early for Little Penguin season, with the cuties coming up to nest around August and September. In October, about 30,000 Shearwaters (aka muttonbirds) arrive to nest. This event was very important for the local aboriginals, with the men travelling out to collect some of the tens of thousands of eggs laid each year. In fact, the island (Baranguba) is an important mens-only initiation site (see Gulaga below). We may have been too early for the birds, but we were right on time for the northerly humpback whale migration, with our boat stopping to give way to one big fella arching his back above the surface on his way to warmer waters.

Tilba Sweet Spot, Old Time Lolly Shop, Central Tilba. Cycle Traveller


Narooma Charters also take people out on fishing trips, and there's plenty to catch in these waters if you enjoy your angling. Even if you don't go out on the boat, it's worth timing a walk along the wharf with the return of the fishing boats because the stingrays come in to eat the scraps, and they're very easy to see in the shallow clear water.

Bar Beach

Bar Beach in Narooma is a popular patrolled beach and a nice place to just chillax. Locals tell us the cafe at the Narooma Surf Club is extremely good. It was closed when we were there, but should have more frequent trading hours in the warmer months.

Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba

This is where it gets really hilly, and while it makes for tougher riding, it also dials the scenery up to mega lovely. There are two stops along this backroad: Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba. Central Tilba is the larger of these two gorgeous little historic towns, which have hung on to their yesteryear charm. Be sure to pull in to the Tilba Sweet Spot, Old Time Lolly Shop in Central Tilba; it's got just about every sugarly delight you can think of, as well as milkshakes and good coffee.

Mount Gulaga (Dromodary)

Mount Gulaga (Dromodary) seen from Montague Island. Source Wiki. Cycle TravellerAt 806m above sea level, Mount Gulaga towers over the Eurobodalla landscape. You can take a 14km return hike to its summit, with the trail starting from behind the general store in Tilba Tilba. It's steep and can take 4-5 hours. Gulaga is an incredibly important place for the Yuin people, especially the women, who have used it as a sacred birthing place for thousands of years. The mountain is the mother Gulaga herself, reclining pregnant on the landscape. She keeps watch over her eldest son, Baranguba (the men's sacred site of Montague Island), with her younger son Najanuja near her side (Little Dromodary). In addition to the cultural link between these three landmarks is its geographical one. Gulaga is actually the granite core of an ancient volcano, with Baranguba and Najanuja once part of its rim. You can hear a little more about Gulaga in this story by Yuin local Cheryl Davison.

Camel Rock

After crossing the Walaga Lake Inlet, you'll be close to the coast and see a turnoff to Camel Rock. This takes you down to a scenic beach with an unusual rock formation that looks like, yep, a camel. Camel Rock makes a nice little picnic spot and you can swim here in the summer when the beach is patrolled. From here it's just a short ride into Bermagui, which has a range of camping, accommodation and services.

Other bike routes

If you plan to stay in the area for a while, you can find some great suggested bike routes on the Narooma Cycling website, where you can also find info about heading out with the Narooma BUG for a social ride.

We test rode one of these loops around Wogonga Inlet about a year and a half ago and you can get the route and low down here: Sea, Sun and Cycling. Why Narooma is a cyclists haven.

Bike shops and hire bikes

(Coincidentally, these are all located at a number 8 address!)


Disclosure: Cycle Traveller's visit to the region was hosted by the Eurobodalla Tourism.

(Images: 1. Simon cycling along the Dalmeny to Narooma bike path. 2. Map of the cycling route through Eurobodalla. 3. The lighthouse quarters on Montague Island.)

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