Known as the “Land of Many Waters” (or the “Land of Many Runways” to floatplane pilots), where dazzling turquoise estuaries meet the sparkling sapphire sea, the Eurobodalla coast looks particularly spectacular from above.
south coast seaplanes
For pilot Tim Gilbo, (pictured) this made it an ideal destination to move his family back to Australia from southern Africa, and go on to set up flightseeing business South Coast Seaplanes.
“We had three kids at that stage, and it felt like the right time to come home,” says Tim, who is originally from Melbourne. “I was looking for a nice airport and some mountains and my wife wanted beaches, and after Google Earthing Australia, I said to my wife: Moruya looks good, have you been there?”
After flying his beloved 1976 Maule M5-235C around Africa for several years on wheels, Tim was keen to put floats back on the aircraft, which he purchased in Alaska after completing his floatplane training in the US.
“I was initially doing some consulting work when we moved back, but I was enjoying the flying and everyone wanted to go for a ride, so I thought, well, I may as well turn this into a business,” Tim says. In 2014, South Coast Seaplanes became a reality.
Welcoming an additional aircraft and pilot to the business along the way, Tim now offers a range of flightseeing options departing from Moruya spanning flights over Montague Island and the Tollgate Islands, to a flight above the beaches around Tuross Head. There is also an option for a gourmet picnic catered by Les Gourmandises, Moruya’s gourmet French patisserie, on a secluded South Coast beach. Prices start from just $99, and Tim hopes to relaunch flights to Narooma and Nowra in the near future.
“We’re also working with our partners on some new themed itineraries, including an oyster tour that will visit several local oyster farms,” says Tim, also a floatplane instructor who runs training courses at his Moruya base.
Despite being temporarily grounded by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020, South Coast Seaplanes played an important role in local firefighting efforts.
“We were able to brief the pilots on things like the best places to scoop water, and give them access to our hangar facilities, as they do a lot of maintenance at night,” says Tim.
South Coast Seaplanes’ aircraft can accommodate three adult passengers or two adults and two smaller children, though many clients book flights as a special occasion for two.
“We’ve had seven engagements so far, with a 100% success rate!” Tim says.
While flights are available year-round, Tim particularly enjoys taking to the skies during the autumn and winter months, when the conditions are generally clearer.
“The whales are also a big hit,” Tim adds. “You can also see them under the water when they’re about to breach, which is pretty special.”
“It’s just so physically beautiful here.”
Tim Gilbo’s top five top things to do in Eurobodalla
- Visiting Montague Island, not just on a scenic flight but also on a snorkelling tour, which allows you to get up close to the island’s resident seal colony.
- Walking Eurobodalla National Park’s Bingi Dreaming Track, ideally with Brinja-Yuin Custodian Trisha Ellis of Minga Cultural Experiences, who leads tours on a significant section of the trail at Bingi Bingi Point.
- Signing up for a kayak tour on some of the region’s most scenic waterways with Region X, which is based in Mossy Point.
- Stocking up on baked goods at Les Gourmandises in Moruya, which Tim reckons turns out some of the best pastries outside of France (where he lived for a while during his 23-year stint overseas).
- Skydiving at Moruya with Skydive Oz, one of Australia’s premier skydiving outfits, where jumpers land on the beach near the river mouth.
South Coast Seaplanes provides scenic flights and specialty tours along the beautiful South Coast of NSW.