Part country town, part laidback beach village, the sleepy Far South Coast enclave of Merimbula has long been a popular holiday town and really is the best of both worlds.
- The Killer Whale Trail
- Merimbula Aquarium
- Magic Mountain
- Ben Boyd National Park
Merimbula is at the heart of the Sapphire Coast, sitting roughly halfway between Melbourne and Sydney on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. Take one look at the ocean and you’ll see how this region got its name.
It’s dotted with charming towns and villages set on the sparkling ocean, beside glassy lakes or tucked into the gentle hinterland. Drink craft beer themed for the Roaring 20s, pluck fresh oysters straight from the water and look out for migrating whales.
Where to eat
Merimbula locals Kirsty Pongratz and Mitchell Nadin have transformed a charming 1920s house into the region’s trendiest cafe and bar, Dulcie’s Cottage. Pongratz’s husband is Sydney hospitality icon Jason Scott of the Swillhouse Group, who brings a bit of big city cool to this little country cottage. Expect classic American style burgers (cooked in a restored 1950s caravan parked in the courtyard) and plenty of fresh local oysters.
After an early morning swim, refuel at the Bar Beach Kiosk. This tiny wooden shack serves up great coffee, superfood bowls, salads and housemade muffins right on the edge of Bar Beach.
If you’re looking for a cafe dedicated to local, healthy fare, then you’ll love Sprout Eden Cafe. Offering up Eden’s finest fresh produce, the food is delicious, nutritious and pesticide-free. It’s dog-friendly and you can sit street-side with your dog or enjoy a more relaxed experience in the secluded back garden.
Nosh Merimbula offers a bright and airy space where you can enjoy exceptional coffee and delicious food options with all menu items being gluten free, nosh offers something fresh and different. Pair one of their house-baked treats with a speciality coffee or a fruit packed smoothie. Their breezy, pet-friendly deck is perfect for an afternoon drink, with an enclosed playground to entertain the little ones.
The craft beer revolution arrived on the Sapphire Coast with the opening of Longstocking Brewery in Pambula at the start of 2016. The brewery is open Tuesday to Sunday with about a dozen beers on tap including Gypsy Ginger Beer, Al Capone Amber Ale and Tommy Gun IPA. Sit down for lunch with a schooner and a plate of fresh oysters or prawns.
Where to play
The Sapphire Coast is one of Australia’s kitesurfing hubs, thanks to its long beaches, calm water and reliable winds. Try it yourself with South Coast Kitesurfing. Lessons can be tailored for all levels of experience and you can choose between the flat waters of Wallaga Lake or the gentle waves of the ocean.
Discover a colourful array of sea creatures at Merimbula Aquarium, located on a horizontal rock shelf that juts out to sea. Wildlife abounds at Potoroo Palace, a sanctuary where you can amble amid kangaroos and touch a snake. An exciting range of tours is also available, from fishing charters to whale-watching cruises, diving and snorkelling.
Sample oysters at their absolute freshest on Captain Sponge’s Magical Oyster Tours, where the captain himself will pull oysters straight from Pambula Lake. You’ll also learn about the process of oyster farming and see how they are harvested.
The port of Eden was the centre of Australia’s whaling industry for more than a century. Local legend has it that a pod of killer whales used to help the whalers in their hunt, driving frightened humpbacks into Twofold Bay. Today, the Killer Whale Trail self drive tour visits five significant historic sites along the coast. Interpretive signs have been set up at each point: scan with your smartphone for more information. From September to November, you will see humpbacks migrating along the coast.
Where to stay
You can see the ocean from almost every corner of the NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort. After a major refurbishment, facilities now include a heated pool, water park, jumping pillow, tennis court, sand volleyball court, games room, kids’ club, bikes and go karts. This 4.5 star park has a huge range of accommodation options, from a beach house and clifftop bungalows to condos, spa villas, cabins and units, as well as powered and unpowered sites. The park is also pet friendly, so it’s a great option if you’re travelling with furry family members. NRMA Members can take advantage of stay 4, pay 3, or those hitting the road for a shorter stay can still save 10%.
Image credit: Destination NSW