Bay and Beyond Sea Kayak Tours


The drawcard for South Durras is its incredible natural beauty that remains virtually unaltered since its first discovery by holiday makers looking to camp and fish by its beaches and lake foreshores. Surrounded by Murramarang National Park the town is a gem for those who enjoy being close to nature.

The history of Bay and Beyond Sea Kayak Tours

It has been 20 years since Philip MacDonnell moved to the country and fulfilled his love of the outdoors by launching Bay and Beyond Sea Kayak Tours with his wife Carolyn. The family-run tour and rental company in South Durras, on the NSW South Coast between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla has something for everyone. The open coast with its surf beaches, the sheltered waters of Batemans Bay, the twists and turns of the Clyde River and the beautiful coastal lakes like Durras Lake.

How has the last 12 months affected the business?

A dry thunder storm in November created a lightning strike that started a fire in the Currawon Forest. While the strike was northwest of the business, Phil and his wife did become worried. They watched as the fire grew bigger and moved closer. This was the Currowan fire and it went on to burn for 74 days, across 499,621 hectares and destroyed 312 homes.

Early December, the community of South Durras began to receive evacuation messages. Half of the town chose to leave, while the other half decided to stay and defend. For five long days Phil and his family waited, watched and prepared for the worst, while each day the fire grew and each night the red glow edged closer. Smoke filled air, helicopters, planes, news reporters and neighbours helping neighbours became the new reality for South Durras. Phil can vividly recall the day he and his family watched water bombers spraying the forest across the lake to save the neighbouring North Durras. Little did he know that two days later, he himself would be helping stop the fire from taking houses in his own town.

Fortunate enough to not lose any homes in South Durras, the town was devastated by the desecration of Murramarang National Park. The community was without electricity, the road into town was closed and all businesses, including Phil and Carolyn’s came to a halt for a majority of December. Tourists began to return in late December, but the Currowan fire wasn’t done yet. On New Year’s Eve, the fire roared down the mountains and wreaked havoc on Batemans Bay and other coastal communities.

While Phil and his family are reminded of the fire each time they look at the forest, they were offered little reprieve. The devastation to tourism caused by the fires and now, COVID-19 has ensured that Bay and Beyond Sea Kayak Tours have received little to no income.

How are things today?

Post bushfires, the international campaign to bring tourists to Australia, started to show early signs of shifting the dial. However, the COVID-19 crisis soon completely halted tourism again, with no foreign tourists arriving and domestic travellers also staying away due to fear of spreading the virus. Phil and Carolyn are getting by with the help of JobKeeper, but are uncertain as to what the future holds. They believe that if we keep working successfully as a country to suppress the spread of the virus that there will be a return to better times, with an increase in local tourism.

How you can help

Carolyn says that ‘people can help support us by coming and enjoying what we have to offer’. She believes that connecting with and being in the natural world is good for everyone and will help with the healing that the community needs in such stressful times. ‘Come kayaking on the lake at Durras, or join in on a kayak tour on the ocean – walk on the beaches, look at the stars, dive into the ocean and let it absorb you. Eurobodalla as a shire has a heap to offer’.

Why do road trips matter to your business?

Has your business been impacted by extreme weather or lack of tourism?