The Great Aussie Road Trip - Sapphire Coast

Rachel is the mummy behind the Great Aussie Road Trip. She, her husband Greg and their 3 kids travel our country and share their experiences to help other families get out and see Australia. Here is Rachel’s account of their latest trip.

I’m sure everyone in Australia has a favourite family holiday place. The place that you might have gone to when you were a child, or that place that you go to with your family every holidays you can get. For us it’s Tathra on the NSW South Coast.

We know the area quite well, but there are always those wonderful spots that you always say you should visit but often don’t. This time we vowed to visit as many as we could. We based ourselves in Merimbula in a holiday house and this time we had more than just our family, we were accompanied by Greg’s brother Vince, and our niece Theresa. Our children, Jasmine (7), Jemma (5) and Teddy (15 months) are well used to travelling but the extra people made this adventure even more fun for them.

Working closely with Samantha from Sapphire Coast Tourism we put together a wonderful itinerary that was not too full, but included some of the area’s best family friendly attractions. This was the first time that we had put together an itinerary and the best thing about it was that we didn’t waste our mornings deciding what we were going to do each day. We knew exactly what time tours were, and what time was best for the places we were visiting.

We started our visit with a trip to the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre in Eden. We were taken out by Sharee and Jade on a Rocky Shore Ramble across a little cove in Eden. Here we all learnt about the shells, animals, fish, seaweed and more we were seeing – the girls got a little worried about what they were walking on after a while! After our Ramble we explored the Centre where Jemma delighted in photographing Matilda the octopus as she swam and played in her tank. The discovery table was also a highlight for all 3 children as they could pick up and play with all manner of dried fish, star fish, sand, sea sponges, sea horses and lots of other sea life from the area.

The children, and adults too, learnt so much about what we saw on the coast every time we visited and also just how fragile the ecosystems are. Certainly a place that I highly recommend visiting, especially for families.

Potaroo Palace was our next stop, for a close encounter with some land animals! A lovely wildlife sanctuary where the kids favourite animal was easily Luna the albino echidna. Here again, Jasmine amazed me with her courage in trying new things. Presented with the opportunity to feed the kookaburras in their enclosure she accepted and timidly held a piece of meat in her hands as the beautiful birds swooped past collecting their meal. After 4 pieces she decided that was enough for her, she didn’t want to go any further but I was so proud that she pushed through her fear and managed to give it a go.

Potaroo Palace was a wonderful place to spend the day with lots of grassy areas perfect for a picnic lunch. Jemma chased the kangaroos around trying to feed them, Teddy fed the swans and we all got to witness the pure love for the animals that the keepers all have. This is what makes Potaroo Palace stand out for me.

Another fantastic place we visited was Wheeler’s Oysters. We took the tour around the factory and were shown how oysters are farmed (which was pretty amazing), how they are sorted and packed and then the best bit, how to taste them! I had never thought about this process before and have to say, it is incredible how a few simple ideas have revolutionised the industry in the area in recent years. Now while I love my oysters, I normally only eat Kilpatrick (bacon, Worcestershire and tomato sauce) yet the fresh oyster straight from the south coast waters was absolutely delicious. More fascinating was to see Jasmine down a fresh oyster and come back for more!

From Oysters to fish, after plenty of years saying we would visit the Merimbula Wharf Aquarium we finally did! Fish feeding was on at 11:30 so we made sure we were there for that. Situated just under the Merimbula Wharf Restaurant, the Aquarium houses sea life native to the South Coast region (oh, and a few Nemo’s because it wouldn’t be an aquarium without them). Again, it was fantastic to listen to passionate people who have a great local knowledge. The BIG tank houses lots of decent sized fish (good plate sized as Greg puts it) and was the start of our feeding tour, yet to my surprise not the only feeding!

Our Tour took us around every tank in the Aquarium as they fed every fish, crab and octopus in there – well to be fair, the octopus fed itself as it opened the jar to get its lunch out. We were shown actual cray fish shells from the cray in the tank to massive mud crab pinchers, the kids loved the hermit crab that spit water at them all and they were able to ask all those questions that we didn’t know how to answer.

If you visit the Aquarium, make sure you stay for lunch at the restaurant. Sit by the window or on the balcony and drink in the breathtaking views. The perfect excuse to do very little and enjoy every second!

As with all of our adventures, we always leave time to explore the National Parks, something that there is no shortage of in the South Coast area! Ben Boyd was one that we particularly wanted to visit this time round so of we headed down past Eden. The best thing about National Parks is the dirt roads. Most of them are fine for 2WD vehicles but there are so many you could spend days driving them all. Each time we took a new road we would pop out at the most incredible lookouts, secluded beaches and gorgeous little camping areas. We headed out to Green Cape Lighthouse and found some wonderful places like Disaster Bay, Pulpit Rock and of course the lighthouse itself set on a windy but beautiful point.

By Rachel Power

Thanks so much for sharing Rachel, we look forward to hearing all about your next Great Aussie adventure! For more information on the Great Aussie Road Trip, please visit www.greataussieroadtrip.com.au

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