I have wanted to get down to Jervis Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales since I first heard that Hyams Beach has the whitest sand in the world (seriously, it was in the Guinness Book of Records), then subsequently seeing a picture of the beach.
There was no going back from there. Just look at this place.
Ridiculously good looking or what?!
Jervis Bay is a large bay located in the South Coast of NSW, only 2 ½ – 3 hours’ drive south of Sydney. It is made up of protected National Park, gorgeous beaches, and small towns with Huskisson where we stayed being the largest. Unbelievably, the bay is at least six times larger in volume and four times bigger in area than Sydney Harbour. And Sydney Harbour is BIG.
We convinced a couple of friends to make the trip with us which admittedly wasn’t hard. I found a cute studio on Air BnB with a separate bedroom and a sleeping alcove with queen size bed above the lounge. Filled with art work by the artist owner and pieces from around the world, it was a cheery place to call home for two nights.
Trav and I want to build our own tiny home one day and will likely have a small loft bedroom so it was a good test run. The ladder was a bit steep to get up there but other than that, we loved it.
We had a quiet evening after the three hour drive through Friday night traffic and after a good night’s sleep in our little bird’s nest, it was time to explore.
Brunch is always a good idea, especially in this part of the world, so we headed to Hyams Beach Café to get the weekend started. Bustling and light filled, the café was a meeting place for both locals and tourists. And the food was delicious.
Shortly after leaving the café we got our first glimpse of Hyams Beach in the flesh. It was even more stunning than the pictures. It seemed to stretch for miles before gently curving around the Bay. There were a lot of people at the main swimming area but as soon as we walked further along, the number of people dwindled until we had the beach to ourselves.
The water was iridescent with shades of sparkling blue and the sand was as white as we imagined it to be with a sugary quality to it. It was one of those perfect days with scattered puffy clouds and not too much humidity.
We walked along the shore, dipping our feet into the cool ocean. Planes flew low overhead before dropping boxes above the army base further around the Bay; cascading on tiny parachutes to the water below. I was dying for a swim but we made ourselves walk to the end of the beach and most of the way back before we rewarded ourselves with a cooling dip.
It was worth the wait. I don’t like swimming in water that is as warm as a bath or on the other hand, water that feels like there should be icebergs floating in it. The temperate at Hyams Beach was perfect: refreshing but comfortable.
Lying on the sand and letting the large crystal-like grains run through my fingers while the sun warmed my back was a blissful way to spend an hour.
Somehow we managed to drag ourselves off perfect Hyams beach to visit Booderee National Park, home to protected native bush with hiking trails and more pristine beaches. Murrays beach, at the eastern point of the national park was our first stop. I had been told by a couple of people that Murrays was even more beautiful than Hyams which after going to Hyams seemed impossible. Murrays beach was indeed beautiful but I did prefer Hyams where the water seemed clearer and the sand whiter. It was also a bit windy away from the sheltered inner bay which made the water choppy.
The cool wind coming off the water deterred me having another swim but we lay on the beach for a while and even saw an unusual looking kangaroo poking its head out of the bushland behind the beach. It looked like its ears had been burnt off or deformed in some way. It was a curious little thing and stood for ages at the tree line watching us before turning tail and retreating back into the undergrowth.
I can only lie around relaxing for so long before the ants in my pants become too much and I have to get up and do something. Luckily Trav is the same. Our friends Hannah and Russ were enjoying lying in the sun so Trav and I left them to it for a bit to undertake the short hike to the look out over Bowen Island. It was an easy hike that only took about 30 minutes return. Hiking through a Eucalyptus forest the air was still and refreshingly cool. We emerged at the cliffs edge with views out to sea and over to Bowen Island, only 250 metres off shore. The Island is home to 5000 breeding pairs of my little friends, the little penguins. After working with the tiny population of little penguins that live under Manly Wharf, it warms my heart to see they are being protected in such large numbers in other parts of the country.
After picking up our friends who had drifted off to sleep on the beach, we made our way back to our cosy apartment via a quick stop at the lovely Green Patch Beach. Parking in the carpark we crossed a bridge that spanned a small river with a trickling waterfall further upstream. A small kangaroo was greedily eating grass on a clearing by the beach. Green Patch was another stunner but Hyams was still number one for me, although the Kangaroo definitely gave Green Patch extra points.
Huskisson was busy with Saturday night foot traffic when we drove in for dinner. It was a festive atmosphere with the pubs overflowing with people despite the early hour. I had heard good things about the Huskisson (Husky) Pub so we decided to grab dinner there. The temperate had cooled as the sun went down so unfortunately it was too cold to sit on the balcony to enjoy the water view that the Husky is famous for but we got a glimpse of it from our table inside. The place was heaving with long lines for drinks and food. Unfortunately the pizza I ordered was mediocre and I wished I had ordered one of the other dishes I had seen go past our table that looked delicious. Oh well. The hot sugary donuts I got for dessert from the ice-cream parlour across the road made up for it.
On our last morning we stretched out legs on the White Sands walk from Nelsons beach to Hyams beach. It was a weird day weather wise, with the sky a dull, slate grey and threatening to rain. The walk was an easy meander along a forested trail and past the beautiful Greenfields and Chinamans beaches. On a sunny day I imagine this walk would be even prettier. It was our last taste of Jervis Bay with its small town charm and spectacular scenery.
We had all afternoon to get back to Sydney so as we left before midday we decided to stop off at a couple of places on the drive back.
I was told about the small town of Berry a while back and I then promptly forgot about it, then when we were driving down to Jervis Bay on Friday evening we went right through it. It looked like a cute little town with lots of historic buildings that was worth a visit, then I saw a donut food truck and I knew that we must return. So we did.
The Famous Berry Donut Van was the first place we headed when we rolled into town on our return journey. There was a large line but it moved fast and the donuts were worth the wait. Freshly made, piping hot, and covered in cinnamon sugar – I can see why they are famous. The donuts put me in a great mood despite the less than stellar weather and when I found Pez in the incredible sweet shop on the main street – my mood got even better. I could say that I didn’t eat all eight rolls of Pez on the car ride back to Sydney but I would be lying.
Berry is such a sweet little town and it was a joy to wander the tidy main street and explore the eclectic shops. I wanted to buy all the crystals at Shambalaa and there were a large number of stores selling chic homewares, even one that mainly sold cuckoo clocks. The historic buildings were well-maintained and regal, with some having the intricately designed cast iron terraces that are distinctive to Australia. A small local museum staffed by volunteers was worth a look for old photographs of the town and a varied collection of bric-a-brac. I love poking around in small town museums; there is always so much random stuff.
Our second stop was in the holiday town of Kiama which is famous for its Blowholes. I like a good blowhole but am usually left unimpressed when they fail to deliver. Kiama’s were actually quite impressive. It is incredible how high the water can shoot up when there is a particularly powerful surge, and as we visited on a day when the oceans were rough, that was quite often. Down from the crowds of people watching the blowhole explode water into the air, there was a beautiful rock pool that looked like a peaceful place to spend the day. On a less windy day I would have been in there too.
We stretched our holiday fun out a bit further and took a detour to drive the spectacular road just before the Royal National Park that juts out on stilts over the ocean with sweeping views, reminiscent of Big Sur. A great way to end an amazing weekend away on the South Coast.
I do love the small towns in New South Wales, almost as much as I love donuts.