A Guide to Pambula and the Stunning Sapphire Coast
Living in a country as big as Australia, we have no shortage of amazing places to visit. Whether they’re in our home state of Victoria, or any of the other states or territories, our country is full of little gems to see. We’ve visited several of them on more than one occasion. But there are some that we’ve only recently heard about, and there are plenty more that we are yet to discover. Until recently the Sapphire Coast fell into the last category. That all changed when a close friend put it on our radar by suggesting the town of Pambula for our Christmas getaway.
About six hours from Melbourne and five hours from Sydney, the Sapphire Coast extends from the town of Eden near the Victorian border, all the way up to the town of Bermagui further north. It is home to plenty of sparkling, white, sandy beaches, stunning national parks, oodles of wildlife and some spectacular coastal walks. Combine that with some amazing local produce and wines, and I was totally sold on it!
So during our week off between Christmas and New Year, we drove up to New South Wales. We made Pambula our base on the Sapphire Coast, and we stayed there for a total of six nights while we explored the region. Pambula is a cute little coastal village, and its proximity to many of the coast’s attractions made it a logical place to base ourselves.
What to do in Pambula?
Swim in the Pambula River Mouth
The top thing to do in Pambula is to visit its river mouth. Due to its location, the Pambula river mouth is well sheltered from the winds and the swells that come from the south. This makes it a perfect place to head to for a swim with the whole family. Not only is the water there calm and beautiful, but there are stunning views across the northern end of the Ben Boyd National Park.
When you’re done with swimming and relaxing, take the short Pambula River walking track. This 1.2-kilometre walk offers scenic views over the bay to Haycock Point. It winds along the coast through woodlands, before reaching a lookout with fabulous views across Severs Beach and the Pambula River.
Surf Pambula’s main beach
If you’re a keen surfer or boogie boarder, Pambula’s main beach is a fine, white, sandy stretch with rolling waves and a beautiful blue sea. If you simply want to swim, the southern part of the beach is patrolled during summer. Even if you don’t fancy getting wet, Pambula’s main beach is perfect for walking along. To really burn some calories, you can walk along it all the way to Merimbula. It’s a long but beautiful walk. For a shorter stroll, take the headland walking track between the main beach and Pambula River mouth, or check out the rock pools at low tide.
Have a picnic and a stroll in Panboola Wetlands
The 77-hectare floodplain of Panboola is a nature reserve and wetland comprising fresh water billabongs, salt marshes, mangroves, a tidal channel and tidal mud flats. It has excellent walking and cycling tracks, some great birdlife and an abundance of Eastern Grey kangaroos. The park is wonderful for friend and family outings for all ages. Take a picnic lunch with you and enjoy it at one of the many picnic areas inside the park.
Check out the wildlife at the Pambula-Merimbula Golf club
Even if you don’t play golf, you should visit the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club. Why? Because it’s home to eight hundred wild kangaroos, including a rare family of white-tail and white-nose kangaroos! For $12, the club offers a thirty-minute wildlife eco-tour of the golf course. They drive you around in a golf cart to check out the roos and other wildlife!
Go bushwalking in the Ben Boyd National Park
The Ben Boyd National Park surrounds Pambula Beach, but the best part is ten kilometres south of Pambula, accessed via the unsealed but easily driven Haycock Road. This area of the park offers some magnificent coastal walks, deserted beaches and some great wildlife spotting.
Be sure to tackle the six-kilometre return walk from Haycock Point to Barmouth Beach. This easy walk gives you dramatic coastal views over Merimbula Bay, as you walk through a Banksia forest filled with singing birds. You’ll end up at the practically deserted Barmouth Beach. However, you may have to share the beach with the local goannas! This walk is also great for spotting wallabies, Eastern Grey kangaroos and echidnas (we saw three echidnas on our walk!).
Once you’re finished with that walk, stop off at both the Pinnacles and Quondolo Point for some more stunning views.
What to do in Merimbula?
Merimbula is right next door to Pambula, just a short five-minute drive away.
Stroll the Merimbula Boardwalk
The Merimbula Boardwalk path is an easy three and a half kilometre return walk. It follows the shores of the lake, meandering through mangroves, under eucalyptus canopies, past oyster farms and Melaleuca. Along the way, you’ll find informative guides and a kiosk cafe for refreshments at the far end.
Snorkel at Bar Beach
Bar beach is a small but gorgeous beach situated on Merimbula Lake. Because it is quite sheltered, it’s another popular swimming spot for families. So arrive early if you want to secure a place. In the summer, you can snorkel at Bar Beach. But be careful, although the water appears quite calm, there are strong tidal currents that can take you by surprise. It’s definitely not the Great Barrier Reef, but we did see a few fish during our snorkelling session!
Check out the soldier crabs at Spencer Park
At low tide, Spencer Park is a great place to see thousands of soldier crabs leaving their burrows for their daily stroll on the beach. You need to be patient though; it can take a while for them to appear!
Eat some Oysters!
The Sapphire Coast is home to many oyster farms, and they produce some of the nicest oysters in Australia. The Sapphire Coast oysters are delicious, creamy, and very easy to find. They are served in most restaurants, or you can buy them straight from the oyster farms. If you want to learn more about the farming process, you can even sign up for a tour. Wheelers Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Farm conduct a daily farm tour, Monday to Saturday at 11 am. No bookings are required. Cost: $12.50.
What to do in Tathra?
Tathra Steamer Wharf
Tathra has the only remaining timber wharf on the eastern seaboard of Australia. After undergoing some major restoration, it is now a tourist attraction. The storage shed has been restored by the locals and turned into a small museum. The museum provides an insight into the shipwrecks in the area and the history of the wharf. During whale season (late August to November), the Tathra Wharf is a prime spot for observing the whale migration.
Drive up to the Mimosa Rocks National Park
You will find two easy walking tracks to Mimosa Rocks and Aragannu Beach in the carpark at the end of the unsealed Aragannu Road (no 4WD needed, just drive slowly). The wheelchair accessible track to Mimosa Rocks crosses an aboriginal midden on the way to the lookout. As you reach the lookout, you will see a pyramid-shaped rock. Beneath this rock lies the SS Mimosa, a paddle steamer shipwrecked in 1863. The National Park is named after it.
You can also take an easy walk through a forested area to Aragannu Beach. Look out for birdlife along the way. This beach is 630 metres long and is accessible via a set of stairs. Swimming is not recommended due to the strong currents, but it is a nice beach for a stroll.
Take a swim or kayak at Wapengo Lake
Wapengo Lake is located between Narooma and Tathra and is a pristine estuary. It is best accessed by turning off Tathra-Bermagui Road onto Haighs Street. At the end of the gravel road, you’ll find a stunning lagoon that is perfect for swimming and for kayaking. At the far side of Wapengo lake, there are some oyster farms where you can buy fresh, tasty oysters.
Where to eat?
Wheelers Seafood Restaurant
Wheelers is an obligatory stop for seafood lovers. Try one of their seafood platters or some of their fresh farmed oysters. Pair it with a nice bottle of local white wine!
Address: 162 Arthur Kaine Drive, Pambula – opposite the Pambula Merimbula Golf Club
Pier One is located right on Merimbula’s waterfront. It offers the best views in town and more delicious fresh seafood.
Address: 2/5 Market St, Merimbula
This is a great place for breakfast or lunch, complete with pretty surroundings, an animal farm to keep the kids happy and a gift shop and garden centre.
Address: 3546 Princes Hwy, Pambula
Dulcie’s serves the best American burgers on the Sapphire Coast and the food is cooked inside a restored, quirky 1950’s caravan. It’s a popular spot in Merimbula, so go early.
Address: 60 Main St, Merimbula
Where to stay in Pambula?
The Love Shack
During our stay in Pambula, we stayed at the Love Shack. The Love Shack is a one bedroom “shack” with striking views over Pambula Beach. You can enjoy those views as you drink your morning coffee on the large deck. You might be joined by some playful lorikeets, who seemed to enjoy having a squawking session first thing in the morning!
We sometimes had Eastern Grey kangaroos our the front garden. In fact, when we first arrived there were a mother and her joey casually relaxing under the trees. The shack is an easy walk from both the main beach and the Pambula River mouth. It’s the perfect place for couples!
Prices from AU$350 for a two-night stay. Click here to check out the latest prices. Any booking you make helps support this site, but won’t cost you any extra.
Discovery Parks – Pambula Beach
This caravan park is set on 500 metres of absolute beachfront location and is surrounded by the Ben Boyd national park. The best part is that the park has an abundance of wildlife, including kangaroos, possums and lots of birds.
We didn’t stay there but we walked around the park to check it out. I am not into camping, but the wildlife and proximity to the beach made it very appealing! If like me, tents aren’t your thing, they also offer cabins.
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