Category Archives: Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay, The Toddler Tour

Jervis Bay, Little Aussie, Sydney Weekend trips

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.

In fact, we were the ones who had changed. Our baby was quite small on our last visit, but this time, our aim was to entertain a boisterous toddler. Jervis Bay was up to the task.jervis bay2

Here are the highlights of the Jervis Bay Toddler Tour:

Eat

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. jervis bay10

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.Jervis Bay1

Play

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.

Playground Jervis Bay

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.

Bakery Jervis Bay

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.

Whale watching on an earlier visit. Fun for the whole family.

Whale watching on an earlier visit. Fun for the whole family.

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.

The little beach is so toddler-friendly. The surf is light and it’s  very shallow.jervis bay13

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. Jervis Bay14

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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.jervis bay7

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.jervis bay6 jervis bay8

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.Jervis Bay4 Jervis Bay5

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.

Trip To Jervis Bay: Or, the Time We Saw Sand Whiter Than in Florida

Jervis Bay, national parks, Sydney Weekend trips
Draw a circle around Sydney for places that one could reasonably drive to for a weekend escape, and the possibilities are daunting. We toyed with visiting places with names like Kangaroo Valley, Shoalhaven, and the Aboriginal equivalent of Beautiful Vista or somesuch. We were eventually won over by a dot on the map called Jervis Bay, which promised both a coastal drive and a beautiful, quiet beach. What a fortuitous choice that dot turned out to be.

 

The drive to Jervis Bay took about three hours, perhaps longer than necessary because we detoured off Highway 1 in favor of the prettier Pacific Coast Drive.

 

Upon checking into our hotel, we were greeted by our hotelier who offered us a 30 minute, fully rehearsed, lecture on all that Jervis Bay has to offer. I mean all… Five minutes were dedicated to the local Bi-Lo grocery (which is the largest Bi-Lo in the area and was once open 24-hours, but now only 7 – 10, and attracts residents from miles away, drawing record queues …). My partner in fact, spent considerable effort for the rest of the trip quizzing unsuspecting Bi-Lo employees about whether these facts about the awesomeness of their place of employment were, indeed, true.

 

Besides the discursive field trips on grocery stores and other titillating topics, our august host did provide us with some useful information, such as the suggestion to eat dinner at the delicious Stonegrill, where to find kangaroos, and which beaches offer the most stunning views (or, as he said, most people can only say two things at Jervis Bay. One begins with an F. The other begins with an S. Both have 4 letters.).

 

On our first night, we set out to see Hyams Beach, which we were instructed, is honored with the title of Whitest Sand in the World. We did mention that we came from Florida, where we had very white beaches, which was met with considerable consternation and gnashing of teeth from our proud hotelier. We had, rest assured, come to a beach whiter than ours. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my spectrometer, but I can attest that the sand did look rather white. Even more striking was the clarity of the water and the postcard-worthy Pacific Blue hue. We were appropriately awed.

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After the beach, we did what any good American tourists do, and set off in search of the mythical kangaroo. We spied some lallygagging on an open field and careened off onto a dirt road to get a closer look. We ended up in the courtyard of a rental property, where the proprietor and his golden lab curiously came out to enquire about our presence. As is the way with Australians, this was not a suspicious or angry confrontation, but a jovial tete-a-tete in which he told us all about his rental properties in the area, the habits of kangaroos, and where we might go to rent bikes and kayaks to enhance our enjoyment of the Bay. Australians, in general, are exceedingly outgoing and genuine.

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We spent the next day at Booderee National Park. It is a little park, in comparison to the expansive Western ones we’ve come to love in the States, but still grand in scope of experience. The best spots we found included the beautiful Murray’s Beach. Again, postcard material. I had a swim in the opalescent water until I got a bit spooked by a nearby jellyfish the size of a dinner plate.

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We were surprised to be the only people at the lighthouse, which offered the most breathtaking views yet seen in Australia. We often compare our sightseeing to how it measures up to our “Perfect 10,” Glacier Park, and this was certainly a solid 9.5 view, complete with the dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and nearly-neon blue water. We expect to come back later in the year to see whales, on their migratory route, from this spot.jervisbay5

At dusk, we visited Green Patch Beach, on the lookout for the holy grail of tourist sightseeing, kangaroos frolicking in the water. We did see kangaroos (actually, there was some discussion by passing parents and children as to the kangarooness vs. wallabieness of the animals, and we Americans are certainly not qualified to weigh in), but alas, they only frolicked on land. There were also parrots and a number of other birds. The scenery was nothing to complain about:

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Our final day included a stop at the curious Moona Moona Creek, which doubled as a dog park, family beach, and volcanic rock formation spectacular.

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We rented bikes for a quick tool around the town of Huskisson, which hosts a friendly bike trail, and concluded with the determination that we must invest in our own bikes and camping gear for more Australian excursions. We got the feeling that we’d “discovered” the wonder of Jervis Bay, and will certainly be back for more exploration of this dazzling nook.