I had the best start to 2016. Along with a bunch of dearly missed friends, I attended the beautiful wedding of my incredible life-long friends Frankie and Gareth. They’re both British, from the charming Cotswolds and not so charming Swindon respectively, but live permanently in Sydney now. As such you’d think they’d spare barely a thought for the January weather forecast, with only UK brides-to-be fretting about a washout on their summer wedding day. Take this as a warning now – it is not all sunshine and blue skies in Australia! Far from it. We endured some epic downpours during this side trip to Jervis Bay, as well as quite a few hours of misty driving that were pretty atmospheric – like driving through a Costa Rican rainforest. The good news is that all the crossed fingers and toes delivered: the rain held until 10pm on the big day itself. By which point we were all far too busy partying on the dance floor to notice, or care. And at least now I can tell you what to do in and around Jervis Bay when it rains!
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
MERRIBEE | I was honoured to be bridesmaid to a very dear friend, who’s gorgeous wedding took place on 3rd January 2016 at this cracking countryside venue. Three cheers to the bride and groom for keeping it small and intimate; the tear-jerking speeches; the magazine worthy table settings and roses; the faultless food and classy whiskey bar; the oodles of love-in-the-air.
HYAMS BEACH | after the wedding, three of us crossed our fingers for some sunshine (it is Australian mid-summer after all….) and headed South to the popular area of Jervis Bay. I’ve been before and can vouch that it’s a great spot, but beach spots really do suffer in torrential downpours! The ‘whitest sand in the world’ at Hyams Beach still squeaked, but the waters were chopped and uninviting. Such a shame.
KANGAROOS | in my experience, these guys seem to relish the rain so you can go Roo spotting in Jervis Bay when it rains. North of Huskisson are stretches of open fields and from the road it was easy to spot large groups of kangaroos in the distance. Sneak a little closer and they’ll quickly pick up your scent and go bounding through the bush like a tame Jurassic Park scene.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
GRAND PACIFIC DRIVE | avoid the A1 – unless you’re in a rush – and try to hug the coast starting at the Royal National Park (1 hour’s drive south of Sydney) and passing through Wollongong and Kiama until you reach Nowra. In hindsight, we should have taken the A1 on the drive down, as we left Sydney 4 hours later than planned due to our car not starting…. meaning I missed the wedding dress rehearsal :/ Even in questionable weather it’s still more pleasant than the highway.
KIAMA BLOWHOLE | Kiama itself seems like a cute seaside town, with some good stretches of beach and enough going on if you wanted to holiday there. We added the Kiama Blowhole to our wet-weather-things-to-do list: it’s situated on a promontory right next to Kiama lighthouse and performs regularly to keep the crowds happy! Kiama is 1.5 hours drive north, but worth the visit if near Jervis Bay when it rains.
BERRY | is like stepping back in time with a twist of the twee: you’ll find a bunch of impressive old store fronts and antique shops, alongside the usual tourist tat that springs up out of a popular town. I’ve always liked the pies from the Berry Bakery in town. Wasn’t such a fan of the supposedly famous The Famous Berry Donut Van.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
FLIES | oh wow weeeee. This is dairy country. And what loves moo-cows more than us human carnivores? Flies. Bloody 1000s of them. Luckily the wedding photos look serene, as if all the guests are casually fanning themselves on a balmy summers day. No, no, no. They are furiously batting away flies! Don’t tell…. One bonus: the rain keeps them at bay!
JERVIS BAY MOTEL | we plumped for Huskisson, one of the several bigger towns in and around Jervis Bay. I’d been there before and had fun, fond memories of The Huskisson – or Husky – pub (again, a good back up plan for Jervis Bay when it rains). The accommodation options for the whole area were expensive in January – this one seemed particularly over-priced to me at £140 a night for a double room with no WiFi or breakfast included.
Also check out: the RSL next door to The Husky called Club Jervis Bay, where we won first prize in the meat raffle! Half a lamb. Only in ‘Straya.
NOWRA | was a landmark on the way to the wedding for us, rather than a destination in itself. It’s a decent size but fairly nondescript, with low/ high lights (depending on your point of view) being a 24 hour K Mart; Flame, a popular pizza joint with overly thick dough; and ‘top-rated’ Indian Kohli’s serving tasty but pulverised sauces. The nondescript tag seems true of many towns in this part (all?) of Australia?
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
ROYAL NATIONAL PARK | this fab park kick starts the aforementioned Grand Pacific Drive and makes for a great day trip in itself. There is plenty of easy bush walking, as well fresh water swimming in the lagoon at Wattamolla.
Also check out: you can choose to stay overnight in the lovely village of Bundeena, which is surrounded by the Park and can be reached by ferry from Cronulla.
AND KNOW THIS: The white-bellied sea-eagle has an awe-inspiring wingspan of up to 2.2 metres: we saw a couple at Hyams Beach, but I doubt this big. It is the guardian of the Aboriginal people of Wreck Bay and features on the Booderee National Park logo.