The country heart of Eurobodalla, Moruya has charm and secrets to share with those ready to explore. The coastal drive from Broulee is stunning, with the road running alongside the Moruya River, before opening to reveal a wide flood plain tracking down from the Deua Mountains.
It’s along this road that the first of the town’s secrets are revealed. Historic Quarry Park on the river’s edge tells the story of how Moruya provided stone for many of Sydney’s landmarks, including the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The tales of quarrying and loading granite onto barges for the sometimes perilous ocean journey are largely unknown, and are why Moruya is affectionately called Granite Town by many locals.
Crossing the river into Moruya on a Saturday morning or Tuesday afternoon, it’s hard to miss the colour and movement spilling from Riverside Park, with two of the south coast’s best markets to explore.
The Saturday market is a great way to ease into the weekend, with fresh food, music, produce and bespoke art and craft. Choose your own pace. Shop and chat with local artists, makers and growers, who are happy to share what they know, or find a place on the river’s edge to sit, eat and watch. The parade of people, dogs and fashion is as hip as it is eclectic.
The SAGE Farmers Market on Tuesday afternoons is one of Australia’s best. It was twice awarded most outstanding farmers market by ABC’s Delicious magazine, not only for the authenticity and quality of produce, but for the atmosphere of the market, which sees the ringing of a bell at 3pm to signal the start of trading. Plot your course in advance, as polite pandemonium follows.
If you miss the markets don’t worry. The rich agricultural land and clean waters surrounding Moruya mean there is always something special on offer at farm gates or on local menus with an unassuming mix of cafes and award-winning restaurants. Not all of these are in the main street, so a short walk and a few questions will reveal more secrets, such as the best coffee outside of Melbourne and authentic French pastries.
On your explorations, you will notice large timber carvings such as the 3-metre tall ‘The Airman’ in Vulcan Street. Hand crafted from large slabs by internationally-recognised artist Bryan Carrick, there are 11 more of these to be discovered. Moruya is a cultural hub with a thriving arts community and hosts a full and surprising events calendar. In May, the town becomes the heart of The River of Art, a 10-day shire-wide celebration of visual art, sculpture, performing arts, and film and theatre. Check local event calendars to ensure you don’t miss the many great experiences Moruya offers, both small and large.
The reward continues in the landscapes surrounding the town, with ocean, mountains and forest within easy reach. The Moruya River heads are less than 8km from town. The river here is wide and clean, fringed with small sandy bays giving way to long ocean beaches to the south. Surfing, swimming, boating and fishing here are all sensational.
Heading inland, the Deua National Park offers opportunities to experience genuine wilderness. The area is best explored by 4WD, as it can throw up steep terrain and river crossings. Those who make the trip are rewarded with beautiful and remote campgrounds, forests, swimming holes, waterfalls and spectacular natural features. The amazing limestone Bendethera Caves, and nearby Hanging Mountain lookout, with its views across the sacred mountains of Gulaga and Biamanga, are highlights.
It’s this mix of authentic country town, food provenance and art culture, set between ocean and wilderness, that makes Moruya a special and rewarding place to explore.