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Unleash your sense of adventure in Shoalhaven

You won’t fully appreciate the sheer size of the Shoalhaven region until you immerse yourself in its hidden treasures such as Jervis Bay, Huskisson, Berry, Mollymook and more. WellBeing editor Kate shares her experience in this magnificent part of the world.

Nestled along the striking south-eastern coastline of New South Wales lies a hidden treasure waiting to be explored: Jervis Bay. Located in the Shoalhaven region – which is also home to Ulladulla, Huskisson, Berry, Lake Conjola, St Georges Basin, Nowra and more – Jervis Bay is renowned for its pristine beaches, azure-blue waters and thriving bushland. This coastal paradise beckons the intrepid adventurer seeking an unspoiled blend of wellness and excitement.

Located just a two-hour drive from Sydney or two-and-a-half-hours from Canberra, Shoalhaven is easily accessible for a long-weekend getaway – which is exactly what my young family did.

Our first adventure was a South Coast Passage at Jervis Bay Wild. My son was beside himself with excitement. As for me, I was feeling grateful for the sea-sickness tablets dissolving in our tummies as I looked out to the horizon. Henry, our captain, gave a safety briefing then motored us out of the mariner. From there, we cruised along the spectacular beaches of Huskisson, Vincentia and down to Hyams Beach, with Henry sharing local tales along the way.

The crystal-clear turquoise waters were truly captivating, lining the rugged cliffs that gracefully embrace the unique coastline. The waters here were calm, so Captain Henry could tuck the cruiser into unspoiled beaches like Green Patch, Hole in the Wall and Murrays Beach.

As the boat cut through the cerulean waters of Jervis Bay, I took a deep inhalation. Relaxing into my chair, I gazed at the white sandy beaches. This place is truly something special. Before I got too comfortable, Captain Henry started heading out to sea. “Put on your wind jackets, passengers – we’re crossing the open waters!” he announced. We were off to Point Perpendicular and a southerly wind was blowing. As the vessel set sail, anticipation hung in the air. With rocky cliffs looming on the horizon and the promise of untamed wilderness beckoning, we braced ourselves as we begun to cross the passage. The sheer motion of the ocean put my son straight to sleep in my arms. At first, I thought, “He’s going to miss all the action!” But then I was quickly consumed by the loveliness of his warm body against mine.

A rush of adrenaline jolted me out of my thoughts as we leapt over the swell. My stomach rose and fell with such force, I was sure my son would wake up, but he stayed sleeping peacefully. My husband and I locked eyes as we plummeted over the swell, shared an excited laugh and copped a splattering of water to the face. The salt stung my eyes and the water drenched my hair, but I didn’t care. This was exhilarating! My son, who was safe and dry under my jacket, didn’t even stir.

Once we arrived at Point Perpendicular, I was mesmerised by the severity yet serenity of the rugged cliffs. These striking rock formations have been standing sentinel against the crashing waves for more than 350 million years.

As our captain navigated the turbulent waters that swirled around Point Perpendicular, we witnessed the untamed force of the sea. My son woke as Captain Henry pointed out the untouched wilderness of Pancake Stack, the Outer and Inner Tubes and Silica Cove. We then journeyed towards a calm Honeymoon Bay and back to the dock, finishing our two-hour round trip with a newfound appreciation for the raw power of the ocean and the solid ground beneath our feet.

Afterwards, my husband, who has an insatiable thirst for adventure, was eager to join Dane from Sea Kayak Jervis Bay for a two-hour guided kayak tour. Dane, who has more than 25 years of experience navigating the intricate waterways of Jervis Bay, revealed the local secrets of the waterways and landscapes.

After our water activities, we grabbed a bite to eat at 5 Little Pigs and some fresh oysters from Jim Wild before heading to our accommodation.

A deep sense of reverence

As we unlocked the front door of Driftaway at Wrights Beach, which is managed by Supercalla Private, our jaws were left on the floor. The picturesque view across the water was like a scene straight out of a postcard. In the distance, a couple leisurely kayaked while fishermen cast their lines nearby. Directly in front of us stood a quaint boat shed and jetty, which my son and husband took off towards to explore. It was a sight to behold and, as I reclined into the outdoor lounge and watched my son walk to the end of the jetty, I felt a deep sense of reverence for this remarkable region.

Our waterfront paradise had even more to offer upstairs. Expansive views across Wrights Beach tidal waters and a super-king bed offered me the perfect spot to settle in with a book and a glass of wine from the local winery, Mountain Ridge Wines.

Thoughtfully and respectfully

Aunty Deidre is a Walbanga woman of the Yuin nation, a revered custodian of Indigenous knowledge and the only Aboriginal national parks ranger in the region. She may be softly spoken but Aunty Deidre’s full of profound wisdom, passed down through generations.

As we ambled the White Sands Walk, we learned the different ways Aunty Deidre and her ancestors worked in harmony with nature. She introduced us to a cornucopia of native plants and herbs, each offering a unique flavour and medicinal property. She revealed which native flora can be used as bush first aid, providing protection from blue bottle stings, leeches, ticks, mosquitos and offering many more remedies. She pointed out the sweetness of bush wattle and the earthy richness of wattle seed, which Aunty Deidre adds to ice cream. We tasted native sarsaparilla (Smilax glyciphylla), which has a sweet flavour not too dissimilar to sarsaparilla. My son loved it, sucking and chewing away on his leaf and then mine. We learned how to whistle with grass strands and that the sound intrigued snakes, drawing them closer, and discovered that Banksia pods could be used to brush hair – plus so much more.

Together, we walked thoughtfully and respectfully. Beyond the culinary experience, we discovered the deep connection First Nations people have with the land. We learned the intimate relationship between Indigenous Australians and the natural world, where every plant, animal and body of water is revered as a custodian of sacred knowledge.

In the heart of Shoalhaven, in Booderee National Park, amid the golden sands, shimmering waters and paper bark trees, I gave thanks to the region, to the elders and to the ancient wisdom shared to us by Aunty Deidre.

Honouring the land, honouring the self

Once we returned to Driftaway, I sipped my tea in the boat house and watched two black swans frolicking in the bay. I reflected on the importance of learning about the land, honouring and preserving it. This land is our collective legacy – the legacy for my son, children everywhere and all the generations to come. I thought about my body – my vessel and conduit for this life. It too needs honouring and preserving.

Despite our busy lives, it’s imperative we make time for wellness escapes and nature-based adventures. Shoalhaven ticks all the boxes when it comes to crafting a truly memorable trip filled with ease, enjoyment and fun. Immerse yourself in the serenity of the region’s pristine beaches, explore its rugged coastline, experience the untamed beauty of its national parks and find stillness in the moments of quiet reflection –

Shoalhaven truly has it all.

Exploring Shoalhaven

Go The Shoalhaven region can be enjoyed year-round.

Stay The Berry View Hotel in Berry or Driftaway at Wrights Beach, hosted by Supercalla Private.

Pack Swimmers, sunscreen, a jacket and your hiking boots.

Eat You can’t miss Pasta Bouy in Huskisson. Order the vodka rigatoni and nero di sepia lobster.

Drink Jervis Bay Brewing Co, Jervis Bay Coffee Co and Salty Joe’s.

Don’t miss Murray’s Beach, Cave Beach, Greenpatch Beach and Depot Beach in Booderee National Park.

More info Visit shoalhaven.com for walking trails and more information.

Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan is the Editor of WellBeing and WILD. She loves surfing, creating raw desserts, flowing through nourishing yoga sequences and spending time with her new pooch, Maribou.

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