The Sapphire Coast in southern NSW is one of those locations where the name really does match the location. The stunning coastline along this stretch of the mainland is blessed with sapphire waters which sparkle in the sunshine and offer all kinds of adventures and experiences.
There are plenty of iconic beach towns along this piece of coastal wilderness and one of our favourites is Bermagui. Famous for its deep-sea game fishing thanks to the fact that the continental shelf is at its closest point to the mainland just 12 miles offshore, it might only have around 2000 local residents, but it offers a huge amount for visitors, from spectacular beaches and water activities to food and wine experiences.
From the Blue Pool to iconic Camel Rock beach, both local landmarks that show the stunning beauty and recreational options the area has to offer, it is easy to find something new to do every day.
Just 10 minutes drive from Bermagui is Wallaga Lake, the largest lake in southern NSW, and, like Bermagui, is overlooked by Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) which, 60 million years ago, was an active volcano and holds a particular significance for the local Yuin Indigenous Australians.
We based ourselves right on the shore of the lake at BIG4 Wallaga Lake Holiday Park, a spectacularly located park that in our minds sets itself apart from others for two reasons; its absolute lakefront location offering direct access to the water for fishing, boating, waterskiing, you name it…. And for its on-site craft brewery.
That’s right, the Camel Rock Brewery is located within the BIG4 Holiday Park and is the passion of holiday park and brewery owner Steve. It is a place where both locals and guests of the park come together, enjoying craft brews, live music, happy hour, American BBQ style food and plenty of alfresco seating. In fact, to Steve’s knowledge, the park is probably one of the only holiday parks in the world to boast its very own brewery and he is equally proud that it is located in an historic building, Allawah House, that he rescued from the land when he bought it, then refurbished to create the pub that stands there today.
Named for scenic Camel Rock beach that lies just over the road from the Holiday Park and brewery (with iconic rock formations in the shape of a camel of course), Camel Rock Brewery was full of people enjoying cold ales, live tunes and the atmosphere. And after sampling the beer flight, we could see why this place is so popular around here. Better still, it was only a few steps back to our cabin in the park at the end of the day.
It was hard to go past the water activities on offer here and we could hire boats, fishing gear, kayaks and more from the Holiday Park to spend some time on the lake. Plenty of other guests and locals were doing the same thing, in fact every second caravan site and cabin had a boat parked out the front. As they say, ‘location, location, location’.
You could easily while away days on end exploring the lake with all of the different options available, and the kids could certainly get their thrills on the water with activities like waterskiing and tubing. Off the water, there were pedal karts, a jumping pillow, tennis courts, swimming pool, adventure playground and more to ensure they were entertained at all times. Pets are even welcome at the managers discretion.
And the lake isn’t the only place in the region to throw a line in. Bermagui is famous as a game-fishing hot spot so we joined one of the most experienced deep sea fishing skippers in town, Steve, on board his boat, Fish Bermi Charters. At any time of the year, the fish are biting and people flock here to catch tuna, shark, marlin and more. We were chasing reef fish and despite an average history catching fish, had landed one within minutes of throwing our line in. Our haul didn’t stop there and one after the other, we reeled in Trevally, Rainbow Perch, Ocean Perch and Sergeant Baker. It was clear as the day wore on that it wasn’t just luck or skill on our behalf – it was literally location. The sea was teeming with fish, attracted by a bounty of bait fish. However we were also in some of the most experienced hands in the business and it was clear Steve knew where to take the boat to find the fish.
We returned to land with a large esky full of fish, perfect to fillet and cook back at the holiday park for dinner.
We had figured out by now that this region was all about two things; having fun on the water, and filling your stomachs, and the locals had let us in on one of the local highlights we simply couldn’t miss; a stop at local institution Mimosa Winery and Restaurant. We met Glenn and Gail, the owners who had built the winery from scratch after buying the picturesque pocket of land around 30 years ago. Today, the property boasts around 6 acres of rolling vines which produce two white and two red wines that service the popular architect-designed restaurant.
Outside on the deck, with views across the property, a bottle of their crisp Verdelho and a platter of Sydney Rock Oysters from Wapengo Lake down the road was the perfect way to spend the rest of the afternoon.
Have you spent time on the NSW Sapphire Coast? We’d love to hear about your experience and all your highlights in the comments!