All the Fun of the Shoalhaven

Kerry van der Jagt — 6 May 2021
From national parks to water parks, wine tasting to whale watching, the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales offers a world of family fun.

The Shoalhaven region stretches from Shoalhaven Heads near Nowra to North Durras on the NSW south coast. It is a two-hour drive from Sydney making it the perfect destination for a short road trip, with stopovers in Jamberoo, Berry or Nowra before arriving in Huskisson, the gateway to Jervis Bay. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of major towns or the calm of quiet villages, there’s a beach, river or national park campsite with your name on it.


Jamberoo, where you control the action! Operating for 40 years, Jamberoo Action Park boasts adrenalin-fuelled rides such as The Perfect Storm, Funnel Web and Taipan. Daredevils will love The Rock, a 5m drop into a 5m pool (this reviewer will argue that the 3m option is equally worthy of bragging rights).

For a relaxing ride there’s Rapid River, where visitors bump and bounce along a watercourse while floating in an inflatable ring. Landlubbers are well catered for with two bobsled tracks, an 18-hole mini-golf course and a colourful train that stops at all the major sites. 

Where: Jamberoo is 115km south of Sydney, 10km west of Kiama.

Stay: BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park in Kiama offers cabins, caravan and camping sites. Families will love the kids’ club, adventure park and pool complex.

Cost: $55/4–12 years, $65/13–59 years, $55/60+ years. Children three and under are free. Buy online to save $10/ticket.

Suitable for: The whole family.

Good to know: During the summer school holidays, the park operates ‘Dive-in movies’ on Saturday nights.



“Look, I can fly!” shouted while zipping through the canopy is as close to feeling like a bird as you’ll get. From the top of the turpentine trees the Shoalhaven River is a blue ribbon unfurling through a patchwork of muted greens. Far below, people and zoo animals take on the dimensions of a child’s play set. 

Trees Adventure offers six courses, 77 challenges and 13 flying foxes, all within the grounds of the Shoalhaven Zoo. With different levels (yellow, green, blue, red and black) the adventure park is suitable for ages from four years. 

A 2.5-hour session includes gearing up, training and free-time enjoying the variety of aerial challenges. The course becomes increasingly difficult as you climb higher, meaning you can find a ‘Goldilocks’ level that is just right for you. 

Where: At North Nowra on the banks of the Shoalhaven River, 160km south of Sydney

Stay: Shoalhaven Ski Park has riverside powered and non-powered caravan and camping sites

Cost: $51/adult, $41/youth and $28/kids

Suitable for: Thrill seekers and nature-enthusiasts

Good to know: During the NSW school holidays instructors can take your 8–12 year-old monkeys into the treetops while you keep your feet on the ground (preferably in the onsite cafe)



When a lion roars you don’t just hear it, you feel it. At Shoalhaven Zoo in Nowra visitors can get up close and personal with a pride of lions during a private ‘Lion Feeding Encounter’ or if you prefer a bit of Marmoset monkey business there’s the ‘Monkey Madness Experience’. 

What sets this 6.5-hectare zoo apart is its location on the banks of the Shoalhaven River. Blessed with a warren of natural rock formations, the park’s walking tracks are just as compelling as the native and exotic animals. Expect to see everything from koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles, to lions, wolves and camels. 

Where: At North Nowra on the banks of the Shoalhaven River, 160km south of Sydney

Stay: Shoalhaven Ski Park has riverside powered and non-powered caravan and camping sites

Cost: $30/adult, $25/seniors and $17/children or $85/family

Suitable for: Animal lovers of all ages

Good to know: The riverfront location is perfect for a BYO picnic



While migrating whales steal the limelight in Jervis Bay from May to November, it’s the bay’s resident pod of bottlenose dolphins that are the year-round stars of the marine show. Clearly these intelligent creatures know a good thing when they see it, and you will, too, on a 90-minute cruise with Dolphin Watch Cruises Jervis Bay. 

Operating for over 30 years, Dolphin Watch Cruises boasts a 95 per cent success rate, an enviable statistic that goes a long way to avoiding tears (yours and the kids). 

The louder the cheer squad, the more dolphins will turn up, gliding through the water like mammalian missiles, lurching sideways to look you in the eye, riding bow waves for the sheer fun of it. 

Where: Huskisson is 180km south of Sydney or 210km from Canberra

Stay: Holiday Haven White Sands at Huskisson offers premium caravan and camping sites with views across Jervis Bay

Cost: A 90-minute cruise with Dolphin Watch Cruises costs $35/adult, $25/child (2–14 years) and $32/ concession

Suitable for: The whole family

Good to know: On the slim chance that you don’t see dolphins Dolphin Watch Cruises offers a return voucher



Together with Parks Australia together, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community jointly manage Booderee National Park, using a mix of traditional knowledge and modern science. 

Start your visit at the Booderee Botanic Gardens where you can learn about bush tucker, the medicinal uses of plants and the long association the Koori people have with the area.

From there, point your thongs toward one of the park’s many beaches — Green Patch for safe waters and family-friendly walks, and Steamers Head for sand dunes and remote beaches. 

Other highlights of the park include the ruins of Cape St George Lighthouse, the trail to Steamers Head or camping at Green Patch.

Where: Booderee National Park is located in the Jervis Bay Territory of Australia, 2.5 hours from Sydney or Canberra

Stay: Green Patch and Bristol Point both have limited, unpowered sites. Online bookings essential

Cost: Park entry is $13 per vehicle for two days. Overnight camp fees start from $11 per site, off-peak

Suitable for: Nature lovers

Good to know: You do not need to buy a park pass if you are entering the park on foot or bicycle



Twice the size of Sydney Harbour, Jervis Bay is a paddlers’ paradise. For still waters head to the mangrove-lined Currambene Creek, easily accessed from the Woolamia boat ramp near Huskisson. Paddle across rippled sand flats where fish leave characteristic ‘fingerprints’ in the sand or glide through a wonderland of flooded mangrove forests. Pass waterside villages and feel time slow down as you adapt to the ebb of the tide. 

Jervis Bay Kayak and Paddlesports offers guided kayaking tours, lessons and hire. Departing from Huskisson, the two-hour tour is tailored to the abilities of the group with a focus on nature and wildlife. Kids will love free time at a remote beach, beachcombing and learning to spot soldier crabs, sooty oyster-catchers and sea birds.

Where: Huskisson is 180km south of Sydney or 210km from Canberra

Stay: Fronting Currambene Creek, Jervis Bay Holiday Park is the perfect spot to launch a boat, canoe or kayak

Cost: A two-hour guided kayak tour with Jervis Bay Kayak and Paddlesports costs $59, including all gear and tuition. Children must be five and over

Suitable for: Nature and water lovers

Good to know: Woollamia boat ramp on Currambene Creek is the place to see smooth sting rays as they gather to feed on fish scraps.



Flaunting a red and green coat, weighing 96 tonnes and capable of carrying 500 passengers, Lady Denman is one imposing dame. Built in Jervis Bay in 1912 she is a former Sydney Harbour passenger ferry, having worked for 67 years before retiring in 1979. In 2000 she was returned to her birthplace where she was restored to her former glory. Today she is the belle of the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum, her (landlocked) decks once again echoing with the sounds of excited travellers.

The museum also houses a vast collection of navigational instruments, permanent exhibition spaces and a wing dedicated to Indigenous arts and crafts. There is a pirate trail for kids (and older buccaneers), an outdoor boat shed and a 1.4km mangrove boardwalk.

Where: Huskisson is 180km south of Sydney or 210km from Canberra

Stay: Fronting Currambene Creek, Jervis Bay Holiday Park has cabins, camping and caravan sites

Cost: $12.50/adults, $10/concession and children under 16 free

Suitable for: History buffs and sea dogs

Good to know: The Jervis Bay Tourism Office is inside the same building



Do you want to laze on a beach with kangaroos? Visit some of the whitest sand beaches in the world? Or relax by a sheltered bay? To find your beach match sign up for the ‘100 Beach Challenge’ an online event that covers 100 beaches from Gerroa to North Durras.

Broken into various itineraries — adventure, wine and dine, family — the game introduces visitors to off-the-beaten path experiences. From Lobster Jack’s Beach, a hidden beach on the northern side of Warden Head in Ulladulla, to Callala Beach, the longest beach in Jervis Bay, there is a patch of sand just waiting for you.

Where: The 100 Beach Challenge stretches south for 170km starting from Seven Mile Beach near Gerroa

Stay: Holiday Haven Culburra Beach has cabins, camping and caravan sites with direct access to the beach

Cost: Free

Suitable for: Beach lovers, road trippers

Good to know: Hyams Beach may be the most famous, but there are 16 white sand beaches in Jervis Bay



Huskisson has a thriving cafe culture, with a window seat to suit all tastes and budgets. For a brew and breakfast look no further than 5 Little Pigs, Pilgrims or Salty Joes. If you’re in a rush, try The Nook juice and coffee Bar. For pub grub with ocean views there’s only one place, the Huskisson Hotel. And why settle for any old fish’n’chips when you can have World Famous Fish N Chips (it’s on Owen street, and yes, that’s its name). 

Wildginger serves up inventive South-East Asian dishes, while Stonegrill Steakhouse is the place to get your barbecue fix. Jervis Bay Brewing Co offers live music, daily food trucks and nine different beers. Try the Cow & Calf Pale Ale, named for the migrating humpback mothers. Those with a sweet tooth should make a beeline for The Great Husky Bite.


Best rainy day activity — Funland Ulladulla: Arcade games, retro classics and pinballs

Best family hike — White Sands Walk: Greenfields Beach to Hyams Beach

Best trip down memory lane — Huskisson Pictures (popcorn and movies in a 1913 theatre)

Best commute — Husky Ferry from Huskisson to Myola

Best family-friendly winery — Cupitt’s Estate: Between Milton and Ulladulla (wine, beer and cheese tasting, and live music on Sundays)


Travel Destination Shoalhaven Jervis Bay Coastal adventures


Kerry van der Jagt