Campervan Trip - Sapphire Coast NSW
To kick-start our Xmas Roadtrip, we picked up our Van at Banksmeadow is Sydney to get started & head off for our 10-day adventure! This was all booked with Travel Playground (click the link to take you directly to their options) (Colleen10 is my Referral Code to use) The booking was so effortless and we got a great deal which suited what we were after. Our van had no shower/toilet. however, the sites we stayed in along the way (mostly catered for this). We chose a 2–5-person van which was perfect size for us and all our belongings! The van includes a table / chair - on pickup its $40 for the equipment. Tank will already be full for fuel and gas for cooking etc.
Campsites / National Parks: We booked through NSW National Parks App/Website, and through Hipcamp/Aircamp If you book with Travel Playground you will receive an itinerary with best places to book and check out for camping - based on where you get your quote for.
Top Tip: Book WELL in advance for your campsites, parks. I thought we could rock up anywhere and just stay in a van near a beautiful beach (Byron Bay vibes) but in fact left it pretty late to book our accommodation so didn’t have the luxury of choice at some locations! Always remember during school holidays - the family friendly places in particular will be snapped up.
Packing everything into the van was a real effort on a sweltering day so we didn't travel far for our first night. First stop-off was in Otford - Stanwell Tops NSW, less than one hour from Maroubra! Total Cost for one night was $40. This had no electricity, but it had water & a toilet. Very secluded, firewood was included, and the host was nice. As this was our first stop, we thought this was a rather good deal - close by to a beach and the town. The beach nearby is part of the Royal National Park; Bulgo Beach - very steep descent down here. However, we got much better value along the way, so I wouldn't highly recommend this place - more so just somewhere to put your head down until you get to the next spot. We had a really nice meal here and some wine, listening to the birds as the sunset - before hitting they hay.
Up early to explore is always my motto no matter where I am in the world. So once the sun had risen, we were off again to venture further down South after a quick coffee & breakfast to get us going.
Nan-Tien Temple in Wollongong was ticked off the list on our way - completely last minute, and we just decided as we saw the sign on the road to pop in. So glad I got to see this beauty - absolutely fascinating - The Gratitude Bell was my favourite. This hugely popular tourist attraction is free to enter. Please wear suitable clothing, to ensure you are covered up.
Next, we visited Werri Beach - the weather was not on our side, really overcast day so we didn't spend too much longer here. But it would be a spectacular beach on a sunny day!
For a little stop-off along the way I recommend visiting Gerringong – a beautiful little friendly town with shops, restaurants, bakeries etc.
Meroo National Park is where we stayed for our 2nd night - very basic option, with a toilet here. (Termeil Point Camping Area) That night it rained quite a lot, so by the time we drove the whole way into the park (amongst the gravel) we made dinner & relaxed. This area would, again, be so perfect with pleasant weather. There is a stunning beach surrounding the campgrounds here which I'm sure would be a very pretty sunrise/sunset moment. This park was unbelievably cheap $12 per night - and considering it almost offered us the same as the previous night - this was very decent!
Bawley Point Beach was our breakfast spot the next morning as we got up and ventured again incredibly early. We enjoyed bacon & eggs by the beach and looked out at the grey cloudy skies feeling so cosy. Although we had rain and clouds these first few days, the temperatures were quite warm.
Kioloa Beach was a destination we stumbled upon and so glad we did! Despite the gloomy weather, we still decided to check this place out, and much to our surprise & delight - we got up so close & personal with beautiful Stingrays just splashing at our feet! I had an amazing sense of adventure which suddenly came over me - freedom and the realisation that we are on this adventurous trip - we don't know what is ahead of us at every stop - let's make the most of it! I whipped off my clothes and dashed into the water to enjoy every minute we had - our underwater camera came out and we spent a lovely afternoon here!
Batemans Bay A town that has been on my list for so long, was finally visited. Albeit not great timing. We were only passing through and needed to refuel again. We fancied popping into a restaurant as we had a lot of van-cooking so far on the trip. If you are visiting Batemans Bay - Do Not Expect anywhere to serve food between 2pm - 5pm. We tried so many venues and were disappointed. Luckily a Dominos happened to be open, and we enjoyed this quickly before trying to get to our campsite for the night ahead of darkness falling!
Bodalla was the little village we stopped-off to admire. Such a little charming town part of Eurobodalla. If you have some time to kill whether you're headed for Sydney or Melbourne, it’s worth checking out. Beautiful cafes, cute rustic shops and a dairy factory. If I was in the area again, I would squeeze in Potato Point (we just ran out of time), but we had to hurry to check into our next Campground that evening before dusk!
Dalmeny Campground - This was my favourite campsite without a doubt. Extremely substantial value - we had electricity here so got to charge up the van for the first time. Hot showers, running water and just an amazing holiday vibe. The Beach is opposite, to enjoy the views and check in was easy - just refer to email booking. This spot cost $36 per night - and worth it. Again, depending on what time, you can check into your locations, really determines how much value you get from where you are staying. We only stayed here one night, ready to check out the following morning which was Xmas Eve! Bring Microwave Popcorn with you for the Van - for those nights when you have the van powered up, it is a real treat! Also, we had our laptop and hot spotted from my phone here to Watch YouTube / Netflix. Throughout our trip - the signal and connection was poor, and we were essentially off the grid until we got here. So be prepared on a Road Trip you won’t have vast amounts of screen time / internet connection which is quite nice.
Day 4: (Xmas Eve)
Waking up here amongst the excitement and the buzz of kids surrounding us was lovely. Dalmeny Beach is stunning, Take the Dalmeny - Narooma Story Track (6.8km) to get your steps in and lean of Aboriginal, European & Natural heritage! Eurobodalla National Park is also worth exploring. These are all within stone’s throw from the Campgrounds.
We adventured through Narooma - when you are here - make sure to see Australia Rock / Bar Rock Lookout which are one of many amazing rock formations along The Sapphire Coast. There may be a few other tourists here, so just be patient enough to wait for the right moment to capture your image. There is lots more to explore in this beautiful scenic town, including Montague Island, looking out for the Seals, snorkelling etc. However, depending on how much time you have, it might just be a very quick place to pass through.
Tilba this town was certainly a little highlight for me on the journey. It's a unique heritage village; one of a kind, close to the spectacular Mystery Bay Beach - part of the Eurobdalla Shire. Quaint tearooms, and decor, you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
Bermagui Only a short distance from Tilba town, we reached our next destination for 2 nights in luxury (a HOTEL). We decided to book Xmas Eve & Xmas Day in a lovely hotel with lots of comfort to break up the campervan trip. We stayed at The Bermagui Hotel, and it was perfect! This was such a modern King Room with Seaside View. Every little detail was absolutely amazing! Such a beachside beauty, with balcony views we even spotted Dolphins overlooking Horseshoe Bay, The Hotel serves an amazing menu with such a great buzz, friendly staff and a stunning setting - opposite the beach!
Day 5: (Xmas Day)
We woke up to the most beautiful, peaceful and calming sunrise in Bermagui. Drone footage captured that morning was incredible and we visited the famous Blue Pool Bermagui. This Rock Pool has actually been voted in the Top 10% of Worldwide Attractions! It is simply a gorgeous place to cool down and enjoy a swim - in the heart of The Sapphire Coast!
To start our 'Bermi' exploring, we headed in search for Camel Rock and spent our morning on Haywards Beach. It was so nice to have a peaceful Xmas morning enjoying the sun, with no crowds around. Make sure to check out the tourist spots in this area Horse Head & Camel Rock - such unusual and stunning formations. Following this, we set off again in the van and drove to visit Mystery Bay Beach - only 15 mins away. In this region most things were close to each other. In the afternoon - not much was open as you can imagine on a public holiday, so we spent a few hours unwinding, and my partner Fished at Bermagui Harbour as I sat journaling. Before we left, we happened to come across another nice spot worth checking out - Bruce Steer Ocean Swimming Pool. This is great for families, as there is a BBQ area here, the kids can paddle as it is so shallow with a sandy area. The water is just so nice, and an aerial shot of Bermagui really highlights this fabulous part of town. To wrap up our day of exploring, before settling down in our hotel room for the evening we took a final trip to check out Wallaga Lake National Park. This was another amazing walk, with birds eye views of Horse Head Rock below us and plenty of viewing platforms. We returned to our balcony to capture the idyllic sunset views from our hotel room overlooking the picturesque mountains in the distance.
Upon checking out of our hotel for 2 nights - it was back to Van Life with next stop -off to Bega! On our way we enjoyed stopping off very briefly in Cobargo, based in the Bega Valley Shire. Another historic little village, full of charm & gnomes! Bega Valley Lookout really reminded me of stopping off on the Irish country roads, admiring the greenery around us. Tathra is another immensely popular location along the Coast. We visited here but didn't stay too long - again as we were really trying to squeeze in so much. It was another dull start to the day after having glorious weather in Bermagui. There are fabulous walking trails here and Headland Walks to spot whales (on a non-windy day) After a dullish start; this day then turned out to be one of our most memorable days! We drove further down south, chasing the blue skies (literally) until we came across SUNSHINE! Low & behold we visited Eden - which was a further 40-minute drive from Tathra. This was the most southerly stop on our trip. Eden is a 6-hour drive south of Sydney CBD and 6.5 hours from Melbourne. I had wanted to see Eden for so long - it's been high on my Aussie bucket list! If you're visiting Eden, be sure to visit Asling's Beach & don't stop there - go up to Asling's Beach Rock Pool which is to your right-hand side as you face the Ocean. It is now one of the favourite beaches I have visited in New South Wales - I decided that there & then and I still agree! I'm sure it is usually a busy photo spot for Instagrammable Moments - but we got lucky! It just turned out to be an unexpected beach day and when we got there it was just bliss and really got some amazing drone footage. To follow this, we then spent some time in Pambula another seaside town along the Coast. We drove back on ourselves here to head back up north and wanted to see as many beautiful locations as possible! Pambula Beach was still lively in the evening and proved to be a popular family friendly spot.
Having navigated our way around some the local jewels of the Coast we were ready to find our new camping location where we stayed for 2 nights - in Merimbula! This place is a bustling town and strangely enough driving into it - it really reminded me of driving into Wexford town, remarkably similar layout with the harbour and descending own from a hill! This is a seaside town with lots happening. Our campsite was Merimbula Bush - Secluded Plateau booked though Hipcamp. This place was more expensive, and cost $142 for just 2 nights (which includes the service fee of the site). This location was the first spot we actually had steady, reliable connection & signal. A Toilet was available here but that was it. Plenty of space to light a fire and water to fill up the van. Showers are available at Pambula Beach to freshen up! The stars at night here are just magnificent, enjoy the sounds of wildlife & nature and be greeted by friendly kangaroos early in the morning!
When you're in Merimbula, it is worth booking a Boat Tour to try spot Whales, Dolphins Seals etc. We were unlucky on our trip, but we booked with @SapphireCoastalAdventures (check out their Instagram handle). On the day - it was quite choppy, but we saw a Hammer shark & a Seal - no Dolphins which is really what I was hoping for. However, during the trip, the tour operator pointed out an amazing Rock Pool along a beach in front of us from the ocean - apparently a local gem. And the beaches along the coast are truly breathtaking - we really enjoyed that aspect of it along with learning about the renowned Oyster Farms in this region - very interesting to look at hear all about!
Coming up to the last few days of our Adventure and we made the most of every hour we had on the trip. We made our way back down towards Eden to visit The Pinnacles - part of Ben Boyd National Park. We took the Pinnacles Loop walking track and made our way down to the beach! This was up there with another one of my favourite days here in Australia - in all the years I have been here. As we set off to find a lookout, get comfortable with our trail and simply explore - right as we looked out into the Ocean we saw the most beautiful pod of Dolphins swimming past - it was incredible! Of course, we whipped out the Drone and captured sensational footage from above. We missed out on the Boat Tour, but we made up for it here. What were the chances of being there at that exact spot! To find how to get to these Pinnacles - check out a grid post on my Instagram with further details and information @HERE Once this Bucket list moment was experienced - before we left Eden - I wanted to visit one final spot. That Rockpool that we discovered while out at Sea on The Boat. Tura Beach Rock Pool, oh this really was a little haven for us as we basked in the last bit of sunshine in Merimbula! This spot is so unknown as a local lady asked us how we had heard about it?! I love a hidden gem like this - so enjoy!
We departed and started to make our way back up towards Jervis Bay which was our final stop for 2 nights - the final leg of our holiday! This was a long drive back - the furthest we travelled with minimal stops, but we decided to see Mollymook! Oh, this place was so dreamy. I really enjoyed this destination, the laidback vibes - the sun was starting to go down, but we still had that evening glow upon us! I would totally return here even for a weekend getaway from Sydney. Mollymook is only over 1 hour drive from Jervis Bay. Once we hit Huskisson we went straight for a feed to The Huskisson Hotel - The Steak Sandwich was mouth-wateringly delicious - now this could have been after the long drive, or the fact we had been eating a lot of pasta & quick meals in our van - but it hit the spot and we had a wonderful time here. Stopping off at Jervis on the way back was such a different vibe for our trip - so many people & queues outside Restaurants and back to checking in everywhere with our QR codes! The first campsite we visited - was only again somewhere for us to sleep - for literally a handful of hours.
We were up before the crack of dawn to experience the breathtaking sunrise over the ocean at Hyams Beach - Jervis Bay and this did not disappoint! This was another 'Pinch Me' moment on our trip. Here we were on the whitest sand you can ever dream of, feet touching the ocean wathcing that glow rise in front of us. Once again I thanked my lucky stars that we were living this freedom of adventure in a van - and that morning I had just thrown on my bikini in case I felt like little dip and I surely did! Off I ran into the ocean and had that magical sunrise swim. Everything was ready for me in the van to get changed afterwards and dry off - zero fuss! I highly recommed visiting @HarleysatHusky for a refuel and a coffee - this food truck / van is a popular one and no doubt will be sticking around Jervis Bay for a long time to come! Bendalong Point is another spectaular beach to check out on the South Coast. Get friendly & personal with huge Stingrays, spend your time Paddleboarding / Snorkelling. This spot is approx. over half an hour drive from the heart of Huskisson, and totally worth visiting! When in Jervis Bay check out the many meserising beaches in the area such as Greenfield Beach, This was such a lovely treat relaxing, snorkelling, sunbathing and then a fabulous warm shower afterwards to freshen up before heading for dinner & drinks! Throughout my whole trip actually I had this perfect accessory with me to sleep on and its also sandfree. I have a discount code for this brand Covella (Colleen15) for 15% off - click the link to head to their website! The last night we stayed at the beautiful Cobblewood Cottage in Jervis Bay - booked through Hipcamp again. The welcome here was amazing - unlike any other place we had been. The hosts were so frienldy and I really recommend booking this place. It had power options - but actually had no toilet / shower. When going on a Campervan Trip I do suggest investing in one of those Compost Bins in Bunnings to take with you to use at your leisure. It would have came in handy here - I'm sure thats what a lot of families had.
Be sure to check out @TheFlamin'GalahBrewery when you're in town - this place is so unique. The interior design, the atmosphere & the food/drinks were perfect amongst the most stunning beer garden. We ended our final night here really enjoying it as we came across this venue. It is in an Industrial Park , not in town so be mindful of transportation / driving plans!
As we made our way - gratefully back to Sydney for our last hours of the trip before returning the van on our last morning, we did indeed make a few more stops along te way! Other notable spots to check out on your South Coast; Culburra Beach & Callala Bay. These are just beautiful! I would return in a heartbeat for a stay down here, another time.
The van was returned by 3pm to Banksmeadow, tank refilled and our hearts were full of memories made again - once in a lifetime!
I hope you enjoyed reading my experience on this RoadTrip. Plan your journey as much as you can, and allow enough time in between locations. Of course if we could have stayed longer we would - Some day next on my Aussie List is touring the West Coast in a van!