Along with other areas of Australia, the NSW South Coast was decimated by the bushfires earlier in the year. Over the last few months the NSW South Coast, like many regional communities, has also been significantly impacted by COVID-19. With the recent easing of restrictions permitting travel within NSW, my partner and I decided to book a week down in Culburra Beach with Lola (our dog) and Olive (our dog's best fur-friend). I want to share this trip to showcase the spectacular scenery, local produce, and encourage others to explore locally while still abiding by the current social distancing measures.
I want to reiterate that final point, the easing of restrictions is not the opportunity for people to go back to life before COVID-19 and travel without any regard to restrictions or other people's health. It does provide the opportunity to help local businesses, however, this has to be done safely by following the current regulations to prevent rates of community transmission increasing. Disregarding the current measures will only impact these already affected communities. With many businesses re-opening on 1 June this is a great opportunity to show support and try to get communities reliant on tourism back on their feet.
Sunrises, Sunsets, & Dog Walks
The last time I was in the Shoalhaven region was for the Vagabond Photographic Escape and Create event, which if you missed you can read about it here. For those who aren't familiar with Culburra Beach, it is a small coastal town located on the South Coast of NSW, approximately 2.5 hours from Sydney. I have had quite a hiatus from photography and was aiming to reconnect with my craft and get out of my creative rut. Before leaving Sydney I shot sunrise at one of my favourite local spots which started the week off on a great note.
We booked a beach house at Culburra called Lemon, Lime and Bitters. It was a fantastic house to call home for the week. From the moment we walked into the house you could tell the owners had lovingly restored the vintage 60's home to include bright and bold colours to create a unique stay with character. It was very dog friendly, close to the beach and featured a phenomenal gas fire for those cold nights. It was a fantastic beach house and we highly recommend it.
Each day started with a morning dog walk with my camera in hand. We would then spend our days exploring the region including Callala Bay, Huskisson, Nowra, Greenwell Point, Crookhaven and Currarong. Encircled by a river, lake, ocean and national park, Culburra Beach offers the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Each day would end with a dog walk on the beach and some more photography at sunset!
On the other side of Culburra beach is Warrain Beach which gives another option for photography. During our stay, there was some significant swell even midway along Culburra Beach which is not common. Landscape photography is my absolute passion. However, I have been wanting to expand my photography to include other styles or genres so I am not one dimensional and have versatility as a photographer. Quite a while ago I invested in an underwater housing to learn more about ocean photography and diversify the way I shoot one of my favourite subjects. Learning to shoot from the water is something completely new for me but I love it and the new creative possibilities it provides. It was time to dust off my Aquatech housing and jump back in!
In terms of local produce, there are a few places I'd recommend when visiting to make sure you sample some of the freshest seafood in the region. We ate lunch at the Huskisson Hotel which is a fantastic historic pub with a phenomenal view of Jervis Bay. They did a great job of adapting to the new "normal" with regards to the COVID-19 regulations. I'd recommend booking a table as they have had to limit their seating capacity in separate areas of the venue. We ate seafood pasta and salt and pepper squid which was delicious. Not to mention we had our first local tap beer which was the best-tasting beer I've had in a long time.
You can't make a trip to Culburra without visiting Jim Wild's Oysters at Greenwell Point. Located on the foreshore of the Crookhaven River. Jim Wild's Oysters is a small family-owned and operated Oyster Farm which was established in 1979. Anytime we make a trip down the South Coast we always get fresh Australian prawns and oysters from here. I have eaten a lot of oysters in my life and I honestly think these are the best I have eaten.
Another place we have eaten previously is The Little Snapper which has recently reopened with a new menu. Like many hospitality venues, they have had to adjust to the new regulations and they have also done a fantastic job. If I am perfectly honest, I do miss the old favourites from their previous menu like the massaman broccoli and fish tacos but the new menu does feature an impressive array of burgers. Their seafood is always fresh and their chips are bloody outstanding!
On our drive back to Sydney, we stopped in at Kiama to visit one of my favourite spots, The Hungry Monkey, to grab some lunch. I have had their incredible bacon and egg roll on countless occasions after a sunrise shoot at Bombo Quarry. However, I'd never eaten their burgers and they were delicious! We can wholeheartedly recommend the Southern Fried Chicken and the Classic with a side of exceptionally crunchy sweet potato fries.
The trip ended beautifully with a final sunset followed by a moonrise and an impressive sunrise the following morning. I wasn't prepared for the incredible moonrise and without a tripod had to improvise by laying down on a rock.
To sum up, it was a phenomenal week away in an incredibly beautiful part of NSW. The NSW South Coast was one of the hardest-hit Australian communities when catastrophic bushfires destroyed homes and took lives across the summer. With the easing of restrictions permitting travel within NSW this is a great opportunity to show support and try to get communities reliant on tourism back on their feet but please do it safely and within the current measures.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Please stay safe during this challenging time and respect the need for social distancing and isolation.
If you would like to view more of my work please visit my website. I also offer custom prints and an online print store. If you have any suggestions for blog topics you would like covered or just want to say hi, then please get in touch :)