Montague Island Nature Reserve
Montague Island Nature Reserve (Barunguba) is an iconic south coast NSW landmark 9kms offshore from the coastal town of Narooma.
Montague Island Nature Reserve is one of NSW south coast’s major attractions.
Montague Island is a mecca for wildlife and a top destination for whale watching, seal viewing, penguin tours, scuba diving, snorkelling, seal dives, grey nurse shark dives, wildlife cruises and bird watching trips.
It’s maritime history is evident in the architecture of the Lighthouse precinct but the island is also a significant landmark in an ancient indigenous songline.
Access to land on the island is managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who have stewardship over the island’s extraordinary natural features and Aboriginal history.
History of Montague island
The Montague Island lighthouse was first lit in 1881, and converted to a fully automated system in 1986. It remains a part of Australia’s coastal navigation system and nautical history.
Since 1881, visitors have taken the boat trip to land here to inspect the island’s renowned lighthouse and enjoy a guided tour of this scenic area which boasts colonies of seals and Little penguins.
Staying on Montague Island Nature Reserve in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages is an experience for those wanting to get away to this unique place, learn about its environment and its history, and enjoy it all at their own leisure
Looking back towards the Tilba region on the mainland from Montague Island you can’t help but feel watched by the imposing Gulaga (Mount Dromedary).
There’s a local Indigenous tale of a mother and her two sons that adds to the mystery. In this story, Gulaga’s youngest son Najanuga (Little Dromedary), stayed behind with his mother while his brother Barunguba (Montague Island) went out to sea on an adventure and never came home.
Montague Island Nature Reserve - Wildlife Hot Spot
Seals, penguins & birds
If you are looking for amazing wildlife encounters then arguably the jewel in Eurobodalla’s crown is Montague Island Nature Reserve. Montague Island is a sanctuary for wildlife.
The far south coast island is home to NSW largest colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals and one of the largest little penguin breeding sites in Australia.
The rounded grey and orange granite of Montague is home to thousands of pairs of nesting birds such as little penguins, crested terns, silver gulls and shearwaters while peregrine falcons and sea eagles patrol the skies.
Migrating whales favour the waters around Montague Island for the abundance of krill. Spotting them is just about guaranteed during the spring migration season.
Eurobodalla’s whale watching season runs from September to November. The waters off Eurobodalla’s coastline become a thoroughfare for migrating whales, providing some excellent whale watching opportunities.
Humpback whales, southern right whales and orcas can all be spotted while aboard a professional whale watching tour.
Montague Island Nature Reserve Tours
Montague Island is only accessible by boat and is a focal point in Eurobodalla for whale watching, dolphins and seal viewing, penguin tours, scuba diving, snorkelling, grey nurse shark dives, wildlife cruises and bird watching trips.
A large colony of mostly male fur seals will be the first to greet your boat as the skipper steers you into the small harbour.
Tours of the island must be booked through a charter operator who is licensed by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Wildlife tours and experiences
Montague Island tours are operated regularly, offering boat trips to experience the wildlife that inhabits the island and the waters surrounding it. Scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing are very popular activities that you can do near the island without landing on it.
Snorkelling with Australian and New Zealand Fur Seals
No visit to Montague Island is complete without an encounter with the resident New Zealand and Australian fur seals.
Only available in Summer, take an evening guided tour to the island with NSW National Parks guides to observe the Little Penguins as they return to their nesting grounds for the night.
Whale watching tours
Observe whales during the spring migration which sees thousands of whales travel past the island annually. You can spot whales from land but there is nothing quite like seeing humpback whales up close.
Take a fishing trip with one of the local Narooma fishing charter operators.
Overnight island stays
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service offers the opportunity to stay in either the Head Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage or in the Assistant’s cottage. The heritage cottages have been restored with modern conveniences that will make your stay comfortable and relaxed.
Staying on the Montague Island Nature Reserve is a genuine bucket list experience and one that offers a unique package of almost complete solitude, magnificent ocean vistas, an amazing variety of wildlife, and luxury heritage accommodation.