Oh, how we love Jervis Bay. The quiet beach region three hours south of Sydney was our first Aussie road trip, and we’ve yet to top it with a place we love more. Since our visit in 2010, we’ve been back at least half a dozen times, but as we’ve had a lot of international travel recently, our last trip was over two years ago when Hushpuppy was only 7 months old.
On an absolute whim (read: we packed in an hour), spurred by last week’s burst of Spring weather, we pointed the car south for a mid-week break.
I have so much of Jervis Bay etched in my mind, that I began to worry when it occurred to me that things may have changed since our last visit. What if our favorite restaurants weren’t there or the landscape looked different? We pulled into Huskisson, the little town where we like to stay, and I was relieved to see that it was exactly as we left it, beautifully molded in time.
Here are the highlights of the Jervis Bay Toddler Tour:
On arrival, we made a beeline for Stonegrill, whose $35 3-course menu makes us Sydneysiders swoon. It was packed, despite the fact that the rest of Huskisson looked to be nearly deserted. No problem, as we got a table out on the sidewalk. Meat served on hot stone may not seem the most child-friendly option, but they were careful with how they served everything, and though I wasn’t brave enough to order my two year old a stone of her own off the child menu (yes, it was an option), she loved her pasta, and happily pranced around the empty sidewalk while we finished our meals, helping us polish off our desserts, as well.
For breakfast, I insisted on my favorite cafe, Kiosk. They don’t have a kid’s menu, but an $8 bacon and egg roll, plus a babyccino, more than suited Hushpuppy, while I enjoyed smashed avocado, tomatoes and goat cheese curd on toast.
We also ate at Huskisson’s local woodfire pizzaria, Faro Bianco, and they were happy to offer up a high chair. They had a kid’s menu, though I was surprised that there was no pizza on it!
And, lest we forget the ice cream, a beach holiday essential (the name of the friendly shop we frequented evades me, but the it’s across from the RSL on Owen Street in Huskisson). We made a couple of pilgrimages.
Just off the main street (Owen) in Huskisson is a beautiful, waterfront municipal park. We logged some good miles on the colorful playground here. We also wanted to swim in the public toddler wading pool, but it had mysteriously been drained overnight by our second day there when we’d brought our suits down with us, so we regretfully missed that one.
For breakfast on our last morning, Hushpuppy and I went in for scones at Huskisson Bakery and Cafe. It’s a sprawling restaurant, and we chose a table in the back of the patio where I was pleased to find an ex-McDonald’s play gym set up. It was a smidge on the dirty side (Hushpuppy came away with dusty pants), but still good entertainment. And, they made her an awesome babyccino – complete with M&Ms. That’s ‘ccino game.
One thing we didn’t do this time was a dolphin or whale watching tour, one of Jervis Bay’s most popular attractions, but I’ll still mention it here because we did a couple of them on our trips when Hushpuppy was a baby. They were more than welcoming of children, and very cognizant of their safety. I’d certainly suggest it for anyone’s Jervis Bay Toddler Tour.
A Child in Nature
Though we have some super parkland around our apartment, my kid is a city slicker. I sometimes wonder if she needs more nature in her life, and this trip just reinforced my dream of getting her more immersed in the great outdoors.
Just across from our hotel was the reassuringly named Shark Net Beach. In the morning, Hushpuppy and I would quietly get dressed and head straight there, as the sun was rising. We’d have the beach nearly to ourselves, and it was as close to magical as anything I’ve experienced.
On the other end of the beach is volcanic rock, and in the crevices are tide pools full of shells, plants, and little snails. This spot became an object of fascination for my little collector, who pridefully filled her bucket with an assortment of seashells and grew her confidence climbing across the rocks, which were challenging, but quite safe. She and I spent hours tucked away at this little corner of beach, and I felt like it was my girl’s natural environment.
In the afternoons, the three of us would venture to Booderee National Park. On our first stop at Green Patch Beach, we were hoping to show her some of the kangaroos and wallabies who are usually plentiful there. We didn’t spot any, but she was so happy to be out of the car and on the beach (she called the white sand “snow”) that she literally stripped down to her diaper and jumped up and down in the water, laughing “I love it! I love it!” … I think she liked it.
We also spent a long afternoon at Murray’s Beach. The surf was a bit too strong to call it a great toddler beach, but she and I took a swim together in the clear water and we built all manner of sand castle/sand-snowman/sand city/sand road, etc. And, we also got to see our wallaby up close, which our girl has only ever seen before in the zoo.
For our last afternoon, we saved the spot we thought she’d love the best, the weird and wonderful Moona Moona Creek. At low tide, the water level on the whole small beach is no higher than Hushpuppy’s knees. At high tide, any adult would be submerged. This makes for some interesting sea life like little crabs and fish that we could investigate. We even caught a tiny fish in our bucket (and later let it go, of course). Further along the beach is more fun-to-explore volcanic rock. Hushpuppy’s Sun Sox came in extra handy for this adventure. Moona Moona Creek is such a perfect place for toddlers, I was a little jealous that we don’t live there so that she could wile away her childhood days here.
Our mini-mid week break was complete joy. The drive from Sydney is easy, the location is beautiful, and there’s just enough to do, for my taste. Watching my child immerse herself in nature, though, was the highlight of the trip. She was practically shining from being so in her element. I could see it’s where she belongs. I expect we won’t wait another two years to give her the gift of our whole family’s favorite destination, once again.