Reconnect in Tilba

History and culture meeet holiday hideaway in the tiny community of Tilba
Road sign to historic Tilba

It’s a cheeky adage, but one with plenty of evidence behind it: size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts. It’s certainly the case when talking about the picture-perfect destination of Tilba, tucked amongst the lush valleys of the Eurobodalla region on the NSW South Coast. The town might be small, but its identity is unique, combining a continuing connection to indigenous culture; a rich, diverse history; and impressive natural landscapes. The combination makes Tilba a rewarding destination for foodies, nature lovers and heritage buffs alike.

While most visitors to this breathtaking region tell friends and family they are heading to “Tilba”, technically speaking they are likely to be spending their holiday in not one but two tiny villages. Although officially separate, Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba are just two kilometres apart, making it easy for visitors to move between each.

Couple exploring the historic streets of Central Tilba

While Tilba is stunning, it’s no longer a secret. Many enjoy visiting off peak, for the opportunity to share Tilba with fewer visitors and to better connect with the towns’ combined population of just 444 residents. (The weekly local growers market, held on Saturday mornings in the historic Central Tilba Hall offers the perfect opportunity for the latter.)

Regardless of the season, most visitors start with a stroll down Bate Street, Central Tilba’s main drag.  It’s an ideal location to connect to the area’s colonial heritage, boasting well-preserved buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Even better, while it may look like a movie set, this is a real working village – complete with thriving community hubs at the bakery, lolly shop, pub, post office and the famous cheese factory. Taking it slowly is generally the most rewarding way to soak up the history and atmosphere

Gulaga Mountain

Of course, Tilba’s history goes well beyond buildings and its colonial heritage. One of the town’s most significant landmarks is Mount Gulaga, visible from almost every corner of Tilba. A sacred site for the area’s Yuin people, who consider it their spiritual mother, Gulaga’s importance to the region can’t be overstated. As the jewel in the crown of Gulaga National Park, Gulaga is a reassuring, constant presence for both locals and visitors.

While some visitors are content soaking up Gulaga’s beauty from the streets and cafes of Tilba, the more active venture out to hike this sacred mountain, experiencing the impressive views across to the coast as you climb up to the summit.

Cycling in Tilba

Other outdoor activities are plentiful: beautiful bush walks, beach walks, mountain hikes, and bike trails abound, making it easy for visitors to reconnect to nature. Not all options are strenuous – for the less active, picnicking on local produce while enjoying ocean or mountain views is one for the memory books.

While hiking, biking and fresh air naturally boost the appetite, there’s no excuse needed to tuck into the local delicacies. The rolling hills of Tilba are well known for their artisanal produce, local farms and producers. It’s unsurprising then that most visitors spend a respectable portion of their stay sampling locally made cheeses, local brews, wines and other delicious treats.

Central Tilba aerial view

Once sated, you’ll want save time to explore the region’s art and culture scene. Both villages have a rich history of creativity, and many artists, writers, and musicians have found inspiration thanks to the natural beauty of the region. You may also want to time your visit with the Tilba Festival. Held annually, this one-day festival celebrates the towns’ vibrant community and showcases local talent, including musicians, artists and craftspeople. The 2023 festival is decidedly off peak, being held on Saturday 29 July.

When it’s time to leave (what, already?) don’t go too far too fast. The Eurobodalla area is known for its pristine beaches dotting the nearby coastline – it’s less than a ten-minute drive from the rugged, ancient lands surrounding the Tilba villages to splash in the waters of Mystery Bay, or to launch a kayak on the crystal-clear waters of Wallaga Lake.

It’s the perfect way to ponder on the experience of these little villages with a big history, and like most visitors, start mentally planning your next visit.

For more information visit the Visit Tilba website.