How do you spend a perfect day on the coast of Australia? By extending your self drive holiday in your camper van down to Jervis Bay, just 3 hours South of Sydney and staying the night!
After our time enjoying Sydney, and our road trip up to the Blue Mountains we were ready for some beach time. Australia is known for having some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world, so even though we were short on time we knew we needed to spend at least 1-2 days exploring it.
The drive down from the Blue Mountains was beautiful; rolling hills, stunning coastline, and perfect weather. We started to wonder if it ever gets cloudy or rains. Locals insist that it does, but we are not sure we believe them and rather prefer to keep Australia on its perfect weather pedestal. Deep blue skies were all we saw the entire time! The drive was to be about 3 hours long but we left late and stopped a few times so it was nearly night time when we finally approached town.
We had been seeing kangaroo crossing and koala crossing signs all over the place so we just assumed they would be easy to see. Growing up in the US I think I spent my childhood envisioning that they were everywhere in the land down under. We were quickly learning that this was not entirely true as after almost a week here driving around and exploring the city the only place we had spotted either was at the Taronga zoo!
We are big animal people so the thought of seeing them in the wild had us searching the side of the road constantly. Finally, about 15 minutes from the Huskisson Tourist park we pulled over to check the map and there in a huge field were at least 10 kangaroos! We were beyond thrilled and may have even screeched a bit with excitement. I grabbed my camera and changed lenses as fast as is humanly possible. We stayed about 20 minutes watching and photographing. It was a real highlight to the trip as there is just something magical about being allowed into their world even if only for a brief moment.
Luckily there also was a sign for the tourist park so we were able to get back on the road knowing we were headed in the right direction. Just as dark settled we pulled into the campsite and quickly got settled into our area. The Huskisson White Sands tourist park is directly on the beach and even though we could not see the ocean we could hear the waves lapping against the rocks all night long.
We set up quickly and started dinner while the kids chased down bunnies and explored. The park is quite large and has powered sites, camp sites, and numerous cabins available to rent. The bathroom and laundry facilities were also great and luckily very nearby to our site. I did find the security and need for keys to enter all the buildings a bit much, it was a nuisance with so many of us and only 1 key. The cooking facilities were not as nice as they were in our Blue Mountains park so we didn't really utilize them, but they were available to all park guests. There was no wifi but this is a common thread throughout Australia.
As we started cooking the boys came screaming in the camper for me to come see what they found. There eating right next to them were the absolute cutest set of possums I have ever seen. We watched and played with them nearly the whole evening. Possums in the US are downright icky with rat like long tails and creepy little beady eyed faces. These things were like small raccoons and so cute and friendly. The boys thoroughly enjoyed them and we may or may not have fed them a little...shhh, we couldn't help ourselves!
When we woke in the morning we were ready for breakfast but felt held hostage inside as it was super chilly out although it was warmer than up in the mountains. To be fair our idea of super chilly is not really that cold at all but we are ill prepared with warm clothes and have avoided cold weather for the past 7 years, making us real wimps when it comes to cold. Bring warm clothes if heading there April-Sept.
Around 10am we were warmed up enough to head down for a walk into town. The tourist park is wonderfully located with just a 7 minute walk along the ocean to get to town passing by a fantastic playground for the kids. A quick divergence down the stairs to the ocean helped us to discover dolphins frolicking just off shore. Beyond thrilled we stayed at least 20 minutes watching. Later we found out that this was no rare occurrence as every time we looked out there were dolphins to be seen.
The town of Jervis bay is adorable. A quaint and quintessential small coastal town. We spent the morning at the playground, sipping coffee in one of the small coffee shops, and enjoying a breakfast amongst the kayak rental shops, dive shops, and small town stores. It has a nice feel to it, comforting and warm with a nice blend of locals and tourists.
We were meant to go diving but as we only had 1 day I felt it would be better to do something all together as only Dylan and I are able to dive. The air had warmed up quite a bit so after a little time on the playground by our campsite we rented a kayak and stand up paddle board. We had never really done either in the ocean so it was quite a challenge. Getting the kayak and board down to the beach being the hardest part. Or was it the way back up? I guess it was the latter especially since darling 5 year old was throwing a tantrum the entire way. I digress...
For both the SUP board and kayak we paid $50 for 2 hours, which was plenty of time as the water is cool and as the sun began to come down the air was quickly joining the sea to cooler temperatures. Even with the cool water it ended up being so much fun. We all tried out the stand up paddle board but Dylan did the best on it by far. I think it used every single muscle I had just to stay upright on that thing. Laughter was a constant! Perhaps in a lake it would be easier, but surely not as funny. The water was fairly calm but there were enough waves to make me feel unstable basically the entire time. I shiver to think what the other beach goers were thinking as I struggled and begged Dylan for assistance at, most likely, a higher decibel than I intended. Yes, there are photos and NO, I will not be sharing them!
The kayak was more fun for the little guys and I. On a 2 person we were able to fit all 3 of us comfortably. As we paddled out there were some waves to contend with but that seemed to be the most fun aspect. As we reached about 50 feet from shore we saw something surface in the distance and wondered if it could be a whale or dolphin. As we got closer sure enough it was a dolphin. There is something really special about riding so close to such a beautiful and intelligent creature. We paddled along with him for a while before he bid us farewell.
There are numerous dolphin tours on offer in Jervis Bay, but honestly I don't see the need to pay all that money. We only spent 1 day there and saw dolphins every single time we went to the beach, so save your money for something else, like kayak rental. We spent the rest of our time down at the beach, eating dinner and watching dolphins through crystal clear water, all in all a most wonderful day on the Australian coast!
Does this sound amazing to you? I always thought Australia was way out of our price range but it really can be done. We were even able to find some really inexpensive flights, like under $200 each from Asia. I think we got a great deal and I do not suggest that is always the rate but keep an eye out and compare prices. Believe me it can be done if you can stay flexible, and keep a good eye out!