Located on the spectacular Sapphire Coast in the far south of New South Wales, Bournda National Park is Mother Nature’s playground and offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re into camping, walking, bike riding, swimming, fishing, sailing, bird-watching or water sports, you will love Bourdna National Park. The kids will have as much fun playing in the park as the adults will exploring.
The Sapphire Coast
Bournda and Tura Beaches stretch out for miles, the blue ocean hitting the golden sand, to form part of the Sapphire Coast, while Wallagoot Lake is a wonderful spot for swimming and other activities. Bournda Lagoon’s still waters are also a popular destination in summer, with the six-kilometre Bournda Track the ideal way to explore the Lagoon’s upper reaches, as well as Bournda Island.
Rock fishing opportunities are in abundance at Boulder Bay and White Rock in the northern end of the park, where you are likely to catch salmon and tailor. Alternatively, you can launch a tinnie at Wallagoot Boat Club or Scott’s Bay to explore the area.
Freshwater Bondi Lake, nestled behind the coastal dunes, is an important habitat for threatened waterbirds like the little tern, pied oystercatcher and hooded plover, and it’s also listed as a nationally significant coastal lake and a great spot for bird-watching.
Bournda National Park camping
The park has one large camping ground that has been set up to accommodate tents, camper trailers and caravans. The campground is well set out, but the showers can be a bit of a hike if you choose a site at the western end (sites 40-54).
The facilities do come with a substantial price tag – $35 for an unpowered site for a family with four kids – but the hot showers and laundry are well worth it.
There are a number of sites to choose from and the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s (NPWS) website encourages people to ring 1300 0PARKS (1300 072 757) to make a booking. However, contacting the Merimbula NPWS Office can help in securing a spot that suits your needs. The local rangers know the park and are able to give information that the office in Sydney can’t.
Most campsites have plenty of room for a camper trailer and for the kids to run around.
While camping here, be prepared to really get in touch with nature. It’s not unusual to wake up to the sound of kangaroos hopping by the tent and kookaburras laughing nearby. The small beaches can entertain the kids for hours, but keep an eye out for jellyfish and other potentially harmful creatures.
Turingal Head is on the north side of Wallagoot Lake and the rock formations here are an amazing sight. The picturesque bay is shaped like a wineglass, hence the name Wineglass Bay, and grants good access to Wallagoot Gap when the tide is out.
Before heading to the Wallagoot picnic area, marvel at the amazing water spectacle created by an opening in the steep cliffs. The picnic area is located next to Wallagoot Boat Club and is a great place for families to stop, particularly in summer, where the kids can have a swim in the lake while you cook up a feast on the free barbecues.
From the campground, there is a 900-metre track that leads to Hobart Beach. It’s definitely worth the look, and those who can drag themselves out of bed at 5:30am will be rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise over the beach.
The old wharf in the historic town of Tathra is the perfect spot for a sit at the cosy café or throwing a line in for some fishing. The wharf was constructed in the early 1860s and was the main source of transport to and from Sydney, playing a large part in the economic and social development of the area. Saved from demolition in 1974 by a group of dedicated supporters, it is the only original steamer wharf along Australia’s eastern coastline.
The wharf was used as a passenger terminal and the transit point for exports such as cattle, dairy products, railway sleepers, coal, and many other items. The cattle race was the only one incorporated into a wharf at that time. The bullock and horse teams had to double up to haul the heavily laden wagons up to the headland. It is now described as a ‘gem of craftsmanship’. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, especially if you’re a keen angler.
It is not uncommon to spot a seal or fairy penguin playing in the surrounding waters of Montague Island, a nature reserve nine kilometres off-shore from Narooma.
Tathra Wharf is also a popular place for whale-watching. From late September to late November, humpback whales make their way to the rich breeding grounds of Antarctica to rear their young after spending most of the winter in the warmer Queensland waters.
On the way back, keep an eye out for the White Rock turn-off, which can be easy to miss – GPS comes in handy here. The area is known for its rock fishing and can only be accessed via a rough 2WD track, but a 4WD is highly recommended when travelling this road.
The view from the top of the rocks is nothing to rave about, but there is a hard-to-find path leading around to the right that takes you to a spot where the crystal-clear water meets the deep blue sky – a spectacular view. The sound of pounding waves and screeching seagulls makes this secret place almost perfect.
A couple of kilometres south, in the parking area near Bournda Lagoon, there is another lookout with stunning views of the lagoon and ocean beyond. There’s no signage, so it takes a bit of exploring to find it, but when you do, you’ll be glad you didn’t give up.
Bournda National Park has several walking tracks, most of them graded as easy, that will reward you with stunning views of the coastline. The most challenging hike is the nine-kilometre Kangarutha Track, starting at Kianinny Bay in the north to Hobart Beach campground in the south. But it’s possible to break the walk into shorter sections.
If you get a chance, add a stop at Scott’s Bay to the to-do list and check out Scott’s slab hut, which dates back to 1890. Built by Thomas Scott, an Englishman who came to Australia at the age of 17, the cottage now known as ‘St John’s Wood’ has since changed hands a few times and is now in the care of the Bournda Trust.
Bournda National Park is a place of breathtaking scenery and a wonderful family destination. It’s definitely an area that offers something for all ages.