Cradled by the sparkling blue Wagonga Inlet, flanked by surf beaches, and with Montague Island offshore, the blissfully laid-back town of Narooma is the gateway to a veritable marine paradise. Here are seven highlights you won’t want to miss in this NSW South Coast town.
Get the perfect snap of Australia Rock
No visit to Narooma is complete without bagging a photo of Australia Rock, an unusual rock formation at Wagonga Head (near Bar Rock Lookout) with an uncanny resemblance to a map of mainland Australia. There are various explanations for how this continental likeness was formed, including one tale of the hole being inadvertently created when a ship was moored to the heads. But Australia Rock is just one of many impressive geological formations to be found along Narooma’s beaches which form part of the Narooma Accretionary Complex created by the shifting of tectonic plates over millions of years.
Take a tour of Montague Island
Just 9 kilometres off the coast of Narooma, Montague Island (or Baranguba to the Yuin People, the region’s Traditional Owners) is home to NSW’s largest colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals, 90 species of birds, and one of the most productive little penguin breeding sites in the country. Protected as a nature reserve, this wildlife hotspot can be visited on both day and overnight tours from Narooma, during which you’ll also learn more about the island’s rich Aboriginal and colonial heritage. For memories that will last a lifetime, some operators even offer snorkelling and diving alongside the seals!
While the island brims with wildlife year-round, seal and whale-spotting opportunities peak during spring, making these months a particularly good time to visit.
Marvel at Glasshouse Rocks
Just a short walk south from the Narooma Surf Life Saving Club, visitors will discover another site of ancient geological significance in the form of Glasshouse Rocks, a cluster of rocky pinnacles rising up majestically from the shallows.
Recognised by the Geological Society of Australia as dating between 510 and 440 million years old, this location is a photographer’s dream and has been described as the NSW South Coast’s version of the Great Ocean Road’s 12 Apostles.
Sample fresh seafood
Located in the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast, Narooma is the perfect setting for sampling the region’s renowned local seafood. A waterfront tiki bar and grill on the shores of Forsters Bay, The Quarterdeck is a top spot to slurp Narooma-grown Sydney rock oysters alongside kitschy cocktails. Over at The Whale restaurant on Narooma’s main street, local seafood shines on pro surfer-turned chef, Matt Hoar’s innovative coastal fine-dining menu.
Explore Wagonga Inlet
The calm, sapphire waters of Wagonga Inlet beckon on hot summer days, but there are plenty of activities to be had on this idyllic waterway without even getting wet. Narooma Marina offers canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard and pedal boat rentals, perfect for seeking out hidden beaches and getting an up-close view of the local oyster farms.
A great outing for the whole family, Wagonga Inlet Cruises also offers a range of scenic jaunts on the historic, electric-powered Wagonga Princess from just $30 per person.
Ride the Narooma to Dalmeny Cycleway
Tracing the spectacular Eurobodalla coastline from Riverside Drive in Narooma up to Dalmeny Sports Club, the 21 kilometre-return Narooma to Dalmeny cycle track, is one of the most scenic cycling routes on the NSW South Coast. Highlights of the route include the Mill Bay Boardwalk, where the waters teem with seals, stingrays and fish, and Kianga, where the headlands offer great views all year round and whale-watching in spring.
Mountain bikes and electric bikes can be hired from Southbound Escapes in Narooma, and walkers are welcome on the cycleway, too.
Linger in local cafes
Whether you’re looking for an espresso coffee to take away or a lazy gourmet brunch, Narooma’s thriving cafe scene has you covered. Boasting some of the best inlet views in town, The View Coffee & Bites also has an excellent all-day menu featuring the likes of eggs Montserrat with poached free-range eggs, smashed avo on sourdough, spinach, semi-sundried tomatoes, balsamic glaze and dukkah.
Next to the Narooma Surf Life Saving Club, Surfbeach Cafe also has a popular all-day menu, but if you only have time for one coffee in Narooma, grab it from eco-minded Bound to Earth, which serves perfectly brewed organic coffee alongside small meals and a delectable range of sweet treats.
For a sweet treat, you can’t go past the Narooma Ice Creamery Cafe. With a huge variety of ice cream flavours, your biggest challenge will be trying to choose which one (or two!).