The Shoalhaven is the kind of location that inspires wanderlust.
With its unique mix of coastline, rugged mountain ranges and beautiful bushland, there’s an ‘insta worthy’ shot at every turn. Yet beyond its white sandy beaches and picturesque rainforests, this is a destination with so much to offer wellness seekers. Effusing a laid back island-like feel, the Shoalhaven is a place where hours feel like days and you can step away from the daily grind to truly rejuvenate.
The region is a collection of small coastal towns and rural villages off the main road, all of which are like hamlets with their own vibe. In the north, Kangaroo Valley is where you’ll find the famous Hampden Bridge – Australia’s last surviving wooden suspension bridge. With its gothic Victorian towers, you’ll feel like you stepped back into medieval times. After stopping to admire the historic architecture, carry on to Morton National Park and walk or ride the 3-4 hour Three Views trail. One of the easiest, most accessible and rewarding tracks in Kangaroo Valley, explore cliff edge views of river gorges, spot the local wildlife, marvel at the wildflowers and take in the beautiful wilderness as far as your eye can see.
"Bangalay Dining – the seasonal menu is inspired by the surrounding coastline and focuses on native and local ingredients."
If you’re keen for a guided tour or looking for something more exhilarating, Valley Outdoors have a range of canoeing, hiking and abseiling adventures that showcase the best of this area. And for an unforgettable stay, check in at barranca. Framed by a remarkable escarpment and undisturbed bushland, the property comprises four luxury self-contained villas that sleep up to eight. Be sure to take up their recommendation to go wild swimming at the creek just a short walk from your villa!
A 30 minute drive from Kangaroo Valley towards the coastline will bring you to the historic township of Berry. Known as the first proper country town south of Sydney, it exudes a warm country charm and its collection of boutique shops, trendy cafes and picturesque rural backdrop make it a must visit. For a restorative weekend with a small group, check out Willow Farm. This pretty property curates bespoke weekend retreats for 8-10 guests offering the perfect opportunity to relax in a beautiful country setting with a few of your favourites.
10 minutes on from Berry will bring you to Seven Mile Beach, a national park packed with activities to keep you occupied for the day. Hike either of the Sand Track walks through ancient rainforest, enjoy a picnic at the lookout, relax on the sand or take a dip in the clear waters. At the southern end of Seven Mile Beach is Shoalhaven Heads, the most northern coastal town in the Shoalhaven. A picnic hamper from Bangalay is the perfect accompaniment to take to the beach where you can breathe in the fresh salty air and wander the shoreline. Make sure you also enjoy the full experience at Bangalay Dining – their seasonal menu is inspired by the surrounding coastline and focuses on native and local ingredients.
On your way south, why not take a day trip out to Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River? A property rich in cultural history, this art museum embedded in a unique landscape offers an insightful view into the past and an abundance of opportunities to interact with local wildlife.
A wellness trail in the Shoalhaven has to include Jervis Bay with its infamous sandy white beaches and turquoise waters. If you’re in need of a bit of ‘Vitamin sea’, there’s no better base than Worrowing. A historic 250-acre coastal farm estate, their collection of self-contained houses, cottages, huts and villas are spread out across the property offering complete privacy. You may like a location close to the beach or nestled amongst gum trees. Regardless of what you choose, all of their accommodation options are within 4kms of the stunning beaches, including Hyams Beach, the national parks and other main attractions of Jervis Bay.
"Take a 20min drive inland from Jervis Bay for some hot and cold therapy at Bewong’s Life Centre."
While you’re in the area, hire a kayak from Sea Kayak Jervis Bay or take one of their guided kayak tours to explore the magic of the Marine Park with a local. Don’t miss the incredible sculptural sea caves at Caves Beach. Be sure to take note of the time as you can only explore them at low tide. Or, take a 20min drive inland from Jervis Bay for some hot and cold therapy at Bewong’s Life Centre. Let one of their float tanks ease your busy mind or hang out in their mineral pool after an ice bath and infrared sauna session.
The Shoalhaven is also a region with deep connection to culture and the perfect place to immerse yourself in bush and Country. Djiriba Waagura offer cultural bush walks, bespoke tours and on Country camps that fuse together an exploration of the region’s Indigenous culture, history and significant sites. An experience you will not soon forget!
Image credits: Tourism Australia, Bangalay, Life Centre Holistic Health & Wellness