Southern Highlands Country Wildlife Discovery
Royal NP, Grand Pacific Drive, Shoalhaven, Kangaroo Valley, Fitzroy Falls
FROM THE ROLLING HILLS TO THE RUGGED COASTLINE
On our long and eventful wildlife discovery tour, we visit spectacular beaches, roaring waterfalls, hidden gems and quaint country towns, as we meander our way to the Southern Highlands via the Royal National Park and the rugged South Coast. But our highlight – and reason for our later departure time – is the common wombat. And the kangaroos, wallabies, water dragons, goanna’s and rich bird-life.
The high country and coastal region south of Sydney is a part of NSW that is little explored and travelled, even by Sydney residents, let alone frequently visited by foreign tourists. And that’s just as well, because we have this great piece of Australia with its picturesque villages, wombats and kangaroos, dramatic surf, rolling meadows, deep canyons, waterfalls and other “Australiana” to ourselves. And that’s as soon as we cross Sydney’s southern suburbs and enter the Royal National Park.
In Australia’s oldest national park and the second oldest in the world, we are greeted by yellow-crested cockatoos on the Hacking River in Audley Weir. Who will be the first to spot the monitor lizard AKA goanna? Further into the park, we look out for Superb Lyrebirds and, with a bit of luck, a Wallaroo (a marsupial between the size of a kangaroo and a wallaby) hiding among the giant ferns and eucalyptus trees.
At Bald Hill Lookout at the exit of the park, we marvel at the daredevils among the paragliders who fearlessly plunge into the abyss from the high cliffs. We gaze at the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge – a brilliant piece of engineering along the road that awaits us: the Grand Pacific Drive. This 140-kilometre award-winning coastal road is lesser known than the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and the Captain’s Cook Highway in Far North Queensland, but no less spectacular.
Of course, we’ll stop at a beach for a photo, a short beach walk or, why not, a refreshing dip in one of Australia’s signature safe rock pools. Look out for oystercatchers and hunting Pacific gulls.
After surfing, it’s time for the Southern Highlands. Incredible how many types of green there are. Our country road winds through rolling meadows to historic towns like Berry and Jamberoo, where we earned a local beer at the Jambaroo Pub. With a meat pie! Football fans might recognise the player in the many pictures on the wall: we are in the childhood home of Johnny Warren, the Australian football hero of the Soccoroos who died in 2004.
Time for the next adventure: a steep drive to the top of Mt Cambewarra, from where we have a breathtaking view over Shoalhaven to Pigeon House Mountain and even Jervis Bay. Rosellas and Australian King Parrots wave to us as we continue our safari. By now it has become dark and we set off in search of the nocturnal animals that have so far been hiding for the sun: Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.
So we drive into the picturesque Kangaroo Valley. At the Friendly Inn, in the company of some locals, we wait for nightfall before heading to the grassy plains of Morton National Park for a close-up view of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Common Wombats in this southern foothill of the Blue Mountains. For many, this is the highlight of the day!
We leave the Kangaroo Valley via Hampden Bridge (the oldest suspension bridge in NSW) and arrive a short time later at the magnificent Fitzroy Falls. The best photos of the water thundering 80 metres down are taken at the end of a walk along the edge of the gorge. Look out for grey lyrebirds, Lewin honeyeaters and the satin bowerbird.
By now it is about 8pm and it is time for our 2 hour drive back. Around 10 pm we arrive at the hotel. Tired, but full of experiences that will never be forgotten.
Jervis Bay – Hyams Beach – Dolphins
The programme of our day tour to the Southern Highlands and Coast can of course be tailored to better match your interests. We can include wine tastings, visit a few more rural towns, e.g. check out the fascinating history of the Hungarian-German internees along the Wingecarribee River during World War One… Another such customisation could see us departing at 7am for the long drive to beautiful Jervis Bay.
Jervis Bay boasts the purest seawater in the world. No wonder, then, that it is home to a large group of bottlenose dolphins, which we can visit on a cruise. Other marine life can also be spotted in the bay: Sea dragons, small penguins, seals, the endangered nurse shark, Pacific gulls and – in the migration months October-December and May-August – even right whales and humpback whales!
On a day trip to Jervis Bay, a walk on the whitest beach in the world, Hyams Beach, is not to be missed. With a bit of luck, we might even spot a wallaby.
Jervis Bay follows the tour plan from Highland and Branding to Berry and the Blowholes of Kiama. From Kiama we drive directly to the town of Huskisson where we start our two-hour dolphin cruise (or whale watching cruise in the migratory months). Lunch will be taken in Huskisson or Berry.
OTHER TouRS TO THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS AND COAST
FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SURF
Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Valley, Jervis Bay, Grand Pacific Drive
This 4-day journey showcases some of NSW’s most beautiful and unspoiled areas, offering an unforgettable experience that engages all your senses.