The Sapphire Coast is a hidden gem of South Coast NSW. Also known as Bega Valley, the area stretches from Bermagui in the north to Eden on the Victorian border in the south. The Sapphire Coast NSW is located further away from Sydney than other coastal areas such as Kiama, Jervis Bay, Bateman’s Bay and the Eurobodalla Coast.
As a result, the Sapphire Coast isn’t explored as much. So it’s quieter and feels less disturbed. This feeling is amplified if you’re visiting outside of peak season. Plus, Ben Boyd and Mimosa Rocks National Parks are some of the best kept secrets of NSW National Parks!
Table of Contents
South Coast NSW: Two Day Hiking Guide
As part of our South Coast NSW / Victoria Road Trip, we spent 2 days speed hiking and exploring the Sapphire Coast. Starting in Bermagui, you can enjoy spectacular beach walks and crystal clear turquoise oceans and bays. You can also visit the attractions of the lesser known Mimosa Rocks National Park.
The following day can be spent at the Ben Boyd National Park. There you’ll have marvellous geological rock formations, wildlife watching opportunities and more stunning and secluded beaches. Plus, you could squeeze in a visit to the nearby Nethercote Falls in the Pambula region near Eden.
This ultimate two day itinerary of Sapphire Coast NSW is tailored towards outdoor enthusiasts. Beck and I experienced this trip together. So the itinerary would work perfectly for 2 people exploring the great outdoors along the Sapphire Coast. Feel free to use our website to book your Sapphire Coast trip today!
Other Highlights of the Sapphire Coast
- Camel Rock
- Bermagui Blue Pools
- Bruce Steer Ocean Swimming Pool
- Kiannini Bay
- Haycock Point Beach
- Ben Boyd Tower & Bilgalera Point
- Disaster Bay Lookout
- Green Cape Lighthouse
- Bittangabee Bay
Sapphire Coast Itinerary – Day One
At least half the day will be spent in and around Bermagui. It’s the northernmost section of Sapphire Coast NSW. Similar to the nearby Eurobodalla Coast, the highlights of Bermagui for outdoor lovers are its sea stacks and stunning coastal settings. It’s a beautiful coastal town that can be visited all year round!
SIDE NOTE: Interestingly, Bermagui was the favourite holiday destination of my next door neighbour growing up. His name was Jack and he was a lovely man. It was awesome to finally get to visit the coastal town he raved about and visited every summer!
1. Camel Rock
To kick off proceedings, park at the Camel Rock Beach Car Park. It’s a fairly large car park so you shouldn’t have problems finding a space. Particularly if you head there early. From there, it’s a quick and flat five minute walk onto the beach to see Camel Rock. As you approach the ocean, views of the huge wondrous rocks by the saltwater will start to fill your vision.
There’s also a viewing platform at the car park to view Camel Rock. Funnily enough, someone was cooking their breakfast there when we rocked up. Nevertheless, you should definitely walk on to the beach to get a closer look at Camel Rock.
We were quite impressed with this sea stack. The resemblance to a camel was uncanny! Nature never stops leaving us amazed! Photography can be a bit tricky by mid-morning with the sun out to play. So being there for sunrise would negate this issue. Otherwise, visiting the afternoon or for sunset will suit photographers down to the ground.
Of course, the more well known sea stack of Bermagui is Horse Head Rock. You will find information about Horse Head Rock below. But we found Camel Rock just as awe inspiring. So make sure you spend some time there before you set off to see Horse Head. Actually, it’s from Camel Rock Beach that your coastal walk to Horse Head Rock begins. So it’s all part of the adventure anyway.
2. Horse Head Rock
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 2km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: Minimal
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Camel Rock Car Park
The walk from Camel Rock Beach to Horse Head Rock should only be attempted at low tide. The majority of the walk is over slippery rocks and did involve the odd small rock scramble. So we don’t recommend speed hiking this walk. According to Destination NSW Sapphire Coast branch, there is also a 1.5km one way walking track from Camel Rock Car Park to Murunna Point at Wallaga Lake above the beaches.
At Murunna Point, you’ll find a viewing platform of Camel Rock. But by the sounds of it, you’ll be quite a distance away from the spectacle. Doing the walk from Camel Rock along the rocks gets you up, close and personal with Horse Head Rock. So let’s hope it’s low tide when you visit. Perhaps juggle around this itinerary to time your trip here for low tide.
Camel Rock to Horse Head Rock Trail
The walk from Camel Rock Beach to Horse Head Rock is no longer than 1km. Although the walk begins on the sand, most of the trail ends up being over slippery rocks. So please take care! Beck lost her footing on the way back when hiking over some rocks. Luckily she was all fine. Just a bit wet! Because of the terrain, we rate the hike as difficult. Admittedly though the walk is not too exhausting. That’s because the tricky terrain will keep your speed quite slow. And for good reason. You don’t want to be having an accident out there!
Throughout the walk, you’ll see lovely multi-coloured shells dotted across the sand and crabs darting in and out of the rocks. Expect to see some nice rock pools, hopefully bouncing lovely rays of sunshine on to you! There’s something completely exhilarating about walking right next to the ocean. The power and energy of the waves crashing nearby. It’s hard to beat that feeling of being totally enthralled in nature. With the ocean right by your side, expect to get a little wet though. Because of this, you should wear waterproof shoes with good traction.
Please note that it takes around 20-30 mins one way. This is important to know when you’re timing the walk around tide times. Completing the walk early will ensure you beat the crowds. We visited during winter around 9am and only encountered two other walkers on our way back.
Once you arrive at Horse Head Rock, you’ll be blown away by this geological wonder. It’s truly a photographers playground. Visiting mid-morning, the sun was behind us. So the morning seemed a good time for photography. We had an absolute ball! The smell of seaweed and seawater as we snapped photos was unforgettable. You could easily spend hours here. Horse Head Rock was better than expected. But we had a busy day planned. You know we can’t help ourselves! So after half an hour there, we made our way back to Camel Rock Beach Car Park. Next on the itinerary will be some pools for you to explore!
3. Bermagui Blue Pools
In researching Sapphire Coast NSW, you will come across the Bermagui Blue Pools a lot. It’s certainly worth a visit. We visited in winter and were not brave enough to go for a swim though. But really, you should visit for the scenery alone.
From the car park, there is a paved path leading to a fairly steep set of steps descending to the ocean pools. There are about 75 of them. Once you make your way down, feel free to go for a swim or merely walk along the rocks. Either way, you’ll be next to the ocean. And that’s more often than not a wonderful thing! Once you are finished there and have conquered the stairs, there are various spots to view the ocean pool next to the car park. Viewing the pools from above will provide a great perspective of the ocean pool among its coastal surroundings.
On a sunny day, you will be filled with joy! There’s something awfully calming about the colour blue. The juxtaposition of blue tones of the ocean, ocean pool and adjoined shallow ocean pool with the sky was mind blowing. With photography, the sun really accentuates the blue tones. So visiting on a clear day is ideal for that. Make sure to pack a pair of sunglasses as there will be glare to face on a sunny day. A trip here shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. This will give you time to tackle the stairs, explore the Blue Pools and use the restroom facilities at the car park.
4. Bruce Steer Ocean Swimming Pool
There is another ocean pool worth checking out! This time, it’s the Bruce Steer Ocean Swimming Pool. Admittedly after 10 days of car camping, we were a bit tired and craving a coffee. So we picked up a take away flat white each from a nearby cafe and headed to this oceanside pool to enjoy the caffeine hit.
The Bruce Steer Pool isn’t as spectacular as the Bermagui Blue Pools. But it’s definitely worth the visit if you’re good for time. You should park by Dickinson Park and walk by the ocean pool, towards Bermagui Point. This involves walking out on a pier towards the water. Lovely views of the bay and Rockwall beach will surround you. Being a popular spot for fishing, it will literally smell a bit fishy! But don’t let that put you off. Visiting in winter was fantastic. It was really quiet. So you’ll feel like you have the place to yourselves!
SIDE NOTE: Even in winter, you can have clear blue skies and sunshine along Sapphire Coast NSW. Being from the UK, Beck is still blown away by what she calls a “so called Australian winter”. After devouring our coffee and soaking up the sun, we hung out with the pelicans! It was just us and them. It was very peaceful. Again, there are public toilets here for your convenience!
5. Mimosa Rocks Walking Track
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 2km
- Time: 0.5-0.75 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: None
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Aragunnu Campground
The Mimosa Rocks National Park was next on the itinerary. This national park actually covers a large area of Sapphire Coast NSW. According to a report by NSW National Parks, Mimosa Rocks National Parks reserves stretch over approximately 70% of the Sapphire Coast. Essentially, it’s located throughout the South East Corner Bioregion. This area encompasses the Sapphire Coast and the hinterland mountain ranges of south-east NSW and Victoria.
Visiting in June 2020 meant areas of Mimosa Rocks National Park were still closed due to bush fire damage. So this itinerary is shaped around areas still open to the public at that time. Your first activity here will be completing the short Mimosa Rocks Walking Track. It’s an easy and flat 2km return walk that takes around 30-45 minutes. So it’s an easy trail to do some speed hiking.
Even with an increased effort of walking, you shouldn’t feel too tired. If you intend on completing this trail, you’ll need to park at the Aragunnu Campground. Arragunnu Road that leads there is an unsealed 3km dirt road. We managed with a 2WD but it was a bit bumpy and rocky throughout.
WHAT’S SPEED HIKING? Speed hiking is essentially fast walking completed on a trail. But it’s not trail running. In a recreational sense, speed hiking is all about walking a trail at an increased speed and intensity relative to an individual.
Mimosa Rocks Walking Trail Details
Once you arrive at the campground, locating the trail is easy. Basically, follow signs towards Mimosa Rocks! Initially, you’ll walk on a dirt trail among the coastal bushland. After walking through sections of the large campground, you’ll reach a boardwalk hugging the shoreline that takes you to the Mimosa Rocks. The campground was surprisingly busy so it disturbed the peacefulness of the area to some degree. But admittedly the trail itself was very quiet considering it was midday when we visited.
The constant rushing in of waves created a nice upbeat tempo when walking. The end of the boardwalk takes you close to the Mimosa Rocks and the surrounding coast. The Mimosa Rocks is a sacred site for the Indigenous people of Australia, so please stick to the boardwalk. Even if there are better photography opportunities on the rocks, respect the signs and wishes of the Aboriginal people.
Honestly speaking, the Mimosa Rocks didn’t quite meet our expectations. But that’s probably because earlier in the day, we enjoyed the incredible Camel Rock and Horse Head Rock. They were a hard rock to follow!
6. Tathra Beach to Moon Bay Trail
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 6km
- Time: 2-2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 50m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Ray Whyman Reserve
We found limited information online about trails around this area of Mimosa Rocks National Park. So honestly speaking, we just sort of made it up along the way. In hindsight, we essentially combined the Fords Walking Track, Moon Bay Walking Track and Wajurda Point Walking Track.
Strictly speaking, we didn’t start from Tathra Beach though. That would have involved walking along a bridge which didn’t seem too exciting. So we decided to park at Ray Whyman Reserve opposite the Mogareeka Car Park. This allowed us to start the walk closer to Moon Bay. Ray Whyman Reserve was actually where we enjoyed lunch before the walk!
Fords Walking Track
To begin this combination of trails, walk from Ray Whyman Reserve, around the Bega River to the start of the Fords Walking Track. Alternatively, you could park at the end of Bay Drive in Mogareeka. This is where the Fords Walking Track starts. Parking there will shave off the 500m walk from Ray Whyman Reserve.
Nevertheless, you will then follow this track further along the river. The track is mildly steep in sections and isn’t signposted that well. But it’s straightforward enough to follow. It’s a fun trail for speed hiking. That’s because the trail is only lightly trafficked. For the most part, it’s fairly wide. Plus, the climb isn’t too difficult. So it’s a good workout without being overly exhausting.
The trail gives stunning views out to Bega River and Tathra Beach before bending around to Moon Bay. So make sure you have your camera ready! The contrast between the river and beach is breathtaking. The views stretch out quite a distance. From the slight elevation gained, a great perspective of the Bega River will be enjoyed here!
The route from Ray Whyman Reserve to Moon Bay Beach is about 2.3km. Moon Bay is another beautiful and secluded beach along Sapphire Coast NSW. Walking along the beach here is thoroughly enjoyable. Even on the most beautiful day, expect very little people at the beach. One of the reasons is that to reach the beach otherwise, you have to descend around 80 large steps. They are in fact the steps you’ll have to initially ascend to get to Wajurda Point!
From Moon Bay, we highly recommend doing the additional 1.5km return walk to the Wajurda Point lookout. To emerge from Moon Bay Beach, you’ll ascend those stairs we mentioned. Those stairs are actually known as the Moon Bay Walking Track. It’s tough work but it will be over before you know it. You’ll then reach the end of Nelson Lake Road. If you just wanted to visit Wajurda Point alone, park here!
From the end of the road, the Wajurda Walking Track is a lovely walk through more coastal bush to a viewing platform. It’s a very easy and flat walk. You’ll easily be able to pick up some speed here. The tall eucalyptus trees are really pretty with the ocean in the background. You can’t mistake that pungent smell of eucalyptus. It’s a shame that the trees impede some of the epic views out to the ocean. But there is a lookout at the end of the trail. This lookout provides views towards Nelson Beach which are simply superb!
After an hour of speed hiking, it was a relief to have a break whilst taking in the glorious views of the surrounding coastline. By early afternoon, photography was a bit tricky with the sun out in all its glory. So consider visiting at a different time to avoid the glare of the ocean. In total, from Ray Whyman Reserve to Moon Bay and Wajurda Point was an approximate 6km return walk taking around 2 hours. It exceeded our expectations! If you’re keen for a swim along the way, don’t forget to pack a towel!
7. Kiannini Bay
The last stop of the day is Kiannini Bay. For the initial 10 days of our trip, we were usually rushing to a campsite by mid-late afternoon. This was so we could set up camp before it went dark. But considering we were spoiling ourselves with a motel stay, we enjoyed being able to soak in some more nature around dusk.
To enjoy Kiannini Bay, park at the end of Kianinny Street in Tathra at the Chamberlain Lookout. From there, you will get your first taste of this hidden gem. The emerald green of the water is stunning. Admittedly though, the best views are to be seen from a lower perspective.
To have the best viewpoint, descend some steps down towards the bay. During the descent, there will be some epic photography opportunities. Mid-late afternoon was a great time to snap because the sun wasn’t in the way but it was still very light. That gave us the spectacular emerald tones of the bay.
Continue your walk down the steps to the boat ramp. In total, there are about 50 steps. This is actually where the Kangarutha Track begins. Unfortunately, we had run out of time. So we wouldn’t get to speed hike this trail. But we enjoyed the bay nevertheless. In and around the bay are popular spots for fishing, so expect to see evidence of this around the water’s edge.
Overall, Kiannini Bay is a quick stop but a good stop to add to your Sapphire Coast NSW itinerary. It was certainly a nice relaxing end to the day for us. You won’t need longer than half an hour here.
Sapphire Coast Itinerary – Day Two
Ben Boyd National Park
Ben Boyd National Park is a thoroughly enjoyable outdoor playground. You’ll need just about a full day to see all the highlights. Unfortunately, given the recent 2019-2020 bush fires, the southernmost sections of Ben Boyd National Park were closed when we visited. But this actually gave us a little extra time in the afternoon. So we were able to visit the Nethercote Falls at the end of the day. But when the park is operating at full capacity, you’ll probably want a full day there.
SIDE NOTE: Without getting too political or off track, it was fantastic to see that the Western Australian government was recently planning to rename the King Leopold Ranges to the Wunaamin-Miliwundi Ranges. After all, the land at the very least should be named appropriately in association with the traditional owners.
Hopefully, we’ll see something similar happen with the Ben Boyd National Park in the future. From the sounds of it, Ben Boyd really shouldn’t have a National Park named after him. But we digress! This national park is one of the most beautiful we have seen in NSW. Get an early start to make sure you fit in all the main attractions here.
8. Pinnacles Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 1km
- Time: 0.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: None
- Difficulty: Grade 3
- Trailhead: Pinnacles Car Park
Amazingly, the Pinnacles were formed 65 million years ago! The orange and white cliffs of the Pinnacles are surely the icon of Sapphire Coast NSW. What a sight to behold. Beck and I agreed that seeing the Pinnacles was THE highlight of our entire South Coast NSW road trip. You’ll be blown away by the beauty. Plus the magnitude of the rock’s age is barely comprehensible!
To get there, you’ll need to drive on an unsealed dirt road. Actually, most of your time driving in the Ben Boyd National Park will be spent driving on these unsealed roads. We managed fine with a 2WD. At least these roads were a little kinder than the ones that took us to the Mimosa Rocks a day earlier!
The Pinnacle Lookouts
To get to the main viewing platform, simply complete the Pinnacles Loop Track. This means parking at the Pinnacles Car Park. From there, it’s an approximate 1km flat and easy trail through coastal bush. An easy trail to do some speed hiking. It takes only 20-30 minutes. But we did spend a long time at the lookouts playing around with some photography. Early morning is a great time to visit the Pinnacles. Before the sun is too high, there is a period of sufficient light to allow you access to the vivid orange and white colours of the rock. Seeing it in person is truly breathtaking.
There are actually 2 main lookouts along this trail. If you walk around the track clockwise, we recommend the second lookout you’ll pass. It gave us less obstructed views of the Pinnacles. We were here around 8:30am and had the lookouts to ourselves. It was brilliant and certainly exceeded all expectations. It was a bit chilly in the morning during winter so make sure to pack some warm clothes if you arrive early.
9. Pinnacles Beach
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1km
- Time: 0.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 54m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Pinnacles Car Park
After returning from the Pinnacles Loop Track, you’ll be back at the Pinnacles Car Park. Next, simply follow the sign towards the Pinnacles Beach. It seems to otherwise be known as Long Beach. The flat boardwalk will take you through the coastal shrub. You will then reach steps that lead down to the beach. Unfortunately, when we visited it was high tide. So we couldn’t walk around the bend to get right up to the Pinnacles. But we had enjoyed them so much from the lookouts that we weren’t too disappointed.
Instead, we enjoyed hanging out at the beach and getting some cool shots as Beck climbed the stairs. Although the sun was well and truly up, it actually made for epic photography! The beach itself was another ripsnorter along Sapphire Coast NSW. I could tell Beck was absolutely blown away by its beauty. The walk is about a 1km return and again takes only 20-30 minutes. We encountered only one other soul along the relatively wide trail and steps. Ideal for some speed hiking. Definitely make sure to have your sunnies here on a clear day!
10. Haycock Point Beach
Next on the itinerary is Haycock Point. In fact, the Haycock Point to Barmouth Beach is a popular 6km return walk taking 1-2 hours. Considering we had a busy itinerary, we didn’t have time for this walk. But you should at the very least spend some time at Haycock Point Beach.
The drive from the Pinnacles is a little bumpy but worth the time and effort. At Haycock Point Beach, there are amazing purple coloured rocks. We visited around 9:30am. The sun had not yet set its rays on the rocks. So our photography was lacking the true brightness of the purple colours. Perhaps consider visiting later in the day for ideal photography of the rocks.
Regardless, the beach itself is yet another gorgeous stretch of coast. But then again, are there any bad beaches in Australia? Luckily, we had the beach to ourselves. It was just us, the purple rocks nestled in the golden sand and the ocean smell. It was nice to be able to quietly soak it all in!
The walk from the car park to the rocks is very minimal, maybe 300-400m one way, mostly walking on sand. It’s a short distance but walking on soft sand is always tough work for the calves! There’s not a lot of information about Haycock Point online. But it’s worth calling in. It exceeded our expectations.
11. Ben Boyd Tower & Bilgalera Point
Next on any Ben Boyd National Park itinerary should be the Ben Boyd Tower. Unfortunately, this site was closed when we visited due to bush fire damage. It’s unimaginable to think that these stunning places along Sapphire Coast NSW were only a few months ago, being burnt to the ground. Considering how severe the bush fires were, we felt blessed to be able to even visit some of the attractions. To be honest though, other than the Ben Boyd Tower, we were able to see most of the other main attractions in June 2020.
Once Ben Boyd’s Tower is open again, you can enjoy the return trail leading to the tower and lookout. It’s about a 1km return and once again, takes 20-30 minutes. Of course, there’s also the popular Light to Light 30km multi-day trail that starts here and ends at the Green Cape Lighthouse. For now though, you may have to settle for a modified or shortened version of the trail given Ben Boyd’s Tower is closed. For more information, visit NSW National Parks.
To our disappointment, Bilgalera Point was also closed. To our understanding, it wasn’t closed due to bush fire damage. But rather, because it’s a multi-purpose navy wharf and was closed to the public that day. When it’s open to the public, the 200m wharf extends out into Two Folds Bay. Apparently, the water around the bay is crystal clear!
12. Disaster Bay Lookout
The next stop is the well known Green Cape Lighthouse. Along the way though is a stunning lookout called Disaster Bay Lookout. As expected, the lookout provides gorgeous views of Disaster Bay! The views stretch a far distance and are spectacular. We felt blessed to be here on such a clear day so we could see as far as the eye could see. Well at least as far as Beck’s eyes can see when she doesn’t have her glasses on!
Specifically, the views extend out to the Nadgee-Howe Wilderness area that edges towards the Victorian border. Visiting around midday was a good time to visit in regards to the placement of the sun. We didn’t have to squint to enjoy the views. Because you won’t need to spend a long time here, you might get the lookout to yourself. That’s certainly preferable as the lookout itself isn’t overly large. There is a car park situated at the lookout. You will get such a huge reward for essentially no effort!
13. Green Cape Lighthouse
So you’ve finally made it to the southernmost part of Ben Boyd National Park. This is where the Green Cape Lighthouse is situated. Next to the Lighthouse are the Green Cape Lightstation Keepers’ cottages. It’s to our understanding that you can book online to stay there. That would be a very cool experience. But for us, the motel in Eden would have to do!
So what should you do at the Lighthouse? There are tours available. If you choose not to do a tour, you can do the short walk to the Green Cape Lookout. From the car park, it’s a very easy and flat 1km return walk. It’s not a hiking trail or anything like that so just walk at a leisurely pace. Even so, the walk shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes one way. Along the way, you’ll have epic views of the coastline.
From numerous vantage points, you’ll see the ocean as rough and powerful. It can also get pretty windy so make sure your hat is on tight and you have a windproof jacket! Along the trail also, you’ll get closer and closer to the magnificent lighthouse. Due to the wooden fence, you won’t be able to get right up to touch it. But you get a sense of its magnitude as you walk by it.
It’s well known that the Green Cape Lookout is an excellent spot for whale watching in winter. We were lucky enough to see some whales from afar. The whales were waving with their fins. Others were gently dipping above the surface of the ocean when gliding through the water. Luckily enough, a nice French couple with some top-notch camera equipment also showed us some footage they had taken of the whales. It was amazing to see that also.
Additionally, there were fur seals close by playing in the water. Luckily, we had also seen seals at Narooma! The ocean was full of life! Admittedly, seeing this marine life had us feeling ecstatic. But just around the corner would be even more amazing wildlife.
On our way back to the car, we spotted a wombat! This was the first time that Beck had seen a wombat in the wild. To say she was beside herself is an understatement. The ocean in the background made for an excellent backdrop as we captured the moment! The lighthouse itself is one of the main tourist attractions in Eden so expect a few people here when you visit. If you have a pair of binoculars, bring them along so you can see the whales a bit better.
14. Bittangabee Bay
Stop in at Bittangabee Bay: If you take the time to make it all of the way to the Green Cape Lighthouse, you should also stop in at Bittangabee Bay. For the keen walkers, consider completing a component of the 30km Light to Light trail by walking from Green Cape Lighthouse to Bittangabee Bay. It’s 7km one way and takes 2-3 hours.
Again, given our busy day, we didn’t have time. But if you have walked this trail or any of the Light to Light, please let us know in the comments sections below. We’d love to hear about your experiences walking these trails.
At Bittangabee Bay, there is a campground and a picnic area. We found it a great place for lunch and a cup of tea. The bay itself is quite small. But it’s packed with beauty. The water is a shade of clear turquoise blue and the bay is surrounded by rocks and coastal bushland. You’ll feel remote and far away from civilisation. There’s certainly a sense of tranquility that comes with that. Walk along the beach there to soak up the environment. Other than another couple preparing for spearfishing, it was very relaxing to have the bay to ourselves.
15. Nethercote Falls
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.5km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: 81m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Nethercote Falls Picnic Area
Only if you have time! As previously mentioned, you’ll likely need a full day to explore the Ben Boyd National Park. But given sections were closed due to bush fire damage, we had some time up our sleeves! So if you have time after leaving Bittangabee Bay, head back towards Eden. You’ll actually need to pass Eden and drive towards Pambula before turning off to Nethercote.
Driving through Nethercote will have you nestled further inland, passing farms and countryside. The Nethercote Falls are actually not very well known. Upon researching, we came across an interesting article. It explained that there were plans to close the waterfall track in 2015. But it was uncertain whether the track had actually closed.
So we thought we should check it out for ourselves! Park at the Nethercote Falls picnic area. Upon inspection, we found no signage or any evidence to suggest that the track was closed. It only appeared that an unsealed road leading to the start of the trail was closed to vehicles. So from the picnic area, you will basically follow that road downwards to the start of the trail.
Nethercote Falls Trail
The track itself isn’t too wild or overgrown. If anything, the trail was quite clear and safe to walk. Although it is slippery and rocky in parts. An approximate 1km trail will lead you down to the small waterfall. In contrast to the rest of this Sapphire Coast NSW itinerary, you’ll be walking further inland so the terrain is different. No ocean, no waves. Think more bush and creeks.
Admittedly, photos really don’t do this place justice. The main falls appear to be spilling out of a small cave situated above it. But that was a bit hard to capture though. There was only one other local out and about hiking the trail. So it was very quiet and peaceful. Take care around the rocks and waterhole. Otherwise, the trail leading there is an obvious one to follow. Ascending back up the road you entered will be a tough slog to finish off this hike.
We spent about 1 hour total at Nethercote Falls which included a healthy break at the waterfall. It wasn’t the biggest waterfall we had seen on our trip. That accolade goes to the monsters of waterfalls in the Southern Highlands. But it’s still worth visiting Nethercote Falls for something unique in the area. Plus, it’s considered to be a locals spot. So you won’t find many, if any tourists here. Please use our Wikiloc map for specific directions. Please note the route below only demonstrates the trail one-way.
We didn’t see too much of the town of Eden itself. We spent the daylight hours we had in winter exploring the natural beauties of the Sapphire Coast. But we can highly recommend Eden as a great base for exploring the Ben Boyd National park and surrounds.
For whale watching enthusiasts, Eden is the place to be from May – October. There’s even an Eden Killer Whale Museum and an Eden Whale Festival late October – early November! Also, without knowing, we had covered some portions of the Killer Whale Trail. It’s essentially a self-drive for the best lookouts to see whales. If you’re interested in a walk around the town of Eden, follow this map.
Sapphire Coast NSW Recap
So there you have it! The ultimate two day guide to seeing the Sapphire Coast. Personally speaking, the best part of this trip was seeing the stunning geological formations. Camel Rock and Horse Head Rock in Bermagui, plus the Pinnacles in Ben Boyd National Park were stunning. When you consider the amazing coastal settings where the rocks are located, you’re guaranteed a trip full of beautiful scenery and nature. We also think that the Ben Boyd National Park remains to be one of the most underrated national parks in NSW!
Please find below extensive information on how to organise, plan and book this trip to the Sapphire Coast. You’ll also find some information on total costs.
Getting to Sydney
Flights: Of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this trip from abroad. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, you should use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts to and from Sydney.
Getting to & from the Sapphire Coast
Drive there: Exploring Sapphire Coast NSW requires a car. Public transport isn’t really an option. From Sydney, trains will only get you as far south as Nowra. In fact, Bomaderry near Nowra is the final stop. So you should have your own set of wheels when exploring the Sapphire Coast.
The drive from Sydney to Bermagui is around 5-6 hours. So it may be a tad long to drive there for just a weekend trip. You could certainly visit over a long weekend. Alternatively, this itinerary could be added to your own South Coast NSW trip. Driving the length of the Sapphire Coast from Bermagui to Eden takes around 1.5-2 hours. But this itinerary has many stops spread throughout the Mimosa Rocks and Ben Boyd National Parks. So hours of driving will be closer to 3-4 hours along the Sapphire Coast.
If you don’t have a car, use RentalCars.com to find one! We hired a car using RentalCars.com for our road trip in Tasmania to see Cradle Mountain and Bruny Island. They were easy to book with, reliable and trustworthy.
We drove a 2WD for this trip. However, there are unsealed roads to drive on when reaching Mimosa Rocks and the Ben Boyd National Park. But when driven slowly and sensibly, a 2WD should suffice. Of course, a 4WD might make the drives quicker and more comfortable. Use the search widget below to find your ideal vehicle.
Sapphire Coast Accommodation
Accommodation: We recommend staying 1 night close to Bermagui and then 1 night in Eden or vice versa. Let us explain. We had just finished exploring the Eurobodalla Coast prior to visiting the Sapphire Coast. The Eurobodalla Coast is north of the Sapphire Coast. So we ended up staying at a campsite close to Narooma in Eurobodalla which borders the Sapphire Coast. It was a great base for exploring Bermagui and surrounds the next day.
As we headed further south, we decided to stay the following night in Eden. It’s a great location for exploring the Ben Boyd National Park and surrounds. We’ll go into more specific detail about these accommodation options near Bermagui and Eden below. If none of these options suit you, then consider using Airbnb.
Bermagui Accommodation Suggestion
Prior to exploring Bermagui, we camped in southern Eurobodalla at the Mystery Bay Campground. It’s a basic campsite, but is huge and doesn’t need advanced bookings. Using the honesty box system, a night of camping came to $12AUD ($8USD). Mystery Bay is a lovely location and best yet, is close to Bermagui. Its actually about a 25 minute drive away.
If you camp at Mystery Bay, find a site that’s well protected from the wind. We advise that you drive up the dirt road upon arrival. You will then find more protected positions to set up camp in the surrounding bushland. There are no official or numbered sites. You can just set up wherever you want really. Mystery Bay Beach is a quick walk from the campsite. The display of rocks and sea stacks is typical of the Narooma area and the Eurobodalla Coast.
Eden Accommodation Suggestion
If your itinerary is heading south, you’ll near Eden as you explore Sapphire Coast NSW. So Eden is an obvious choice for accommodation. Merimbula and Pambula are also nearby regional areas. They are lovely coastal towns with more of the same stunning beaches. But Eden is a more affordable option.
Our road trip was predominantly camping. But after 10 days of car camping, we spoilt ourselves with a motel in Eden. Using Booking.com, we booked Eden Nimo Motel. The motel was great value coming in at $55AUD/night ($38USD). It’s the cheapest property-style accommodation we found along South Coast NSW in June 2020. The room was spacious. Plus it had a fridge, microwave and kettle. The heating from the air con kept us warm during winter.
Laundry facilities are $5AUD ($3.50USD) to use all day for the day you pay! After 10 days on the road, we were in desperate need of washing our clothes and camping gear. So upon checking in, we began washing/drying our stuff.
STORY TIME: Unfortunately halfway through the process, Beck cut her finger pretty badly when preparing dinner. We decided to drive up to Bega Regional Hospital from Eden to have it attended to. So despite the $5/day laundry rule, the staff were very understanding and flexible. They let us use the laundry facilities the next day at no extra cost. So what happened to Beck’s finger?!? Well, a clean, some glue and reassurance did the trick. We’re happy to report 1 month later, that the finger is still attached and has healed well despite mild sensation loss over the cut. Fingers crossed (pun intended) that’ll return with time.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials For the Sapphire Coast
These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Sapphire Coast. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. We go in-depth into what hiking and camping gear we use. There, you’ll find specific recommendations for all the products we love.
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – these boots were super handy when scrambling over slippery rocks near Horse Head and when climbing some rocks around Nethercote Falls.
- Long sleeved shirt (or base layer) – for early morning starts like at the Pinnacles, we were happy to start speed hiking with an extra layer.
- The North Face Venture 2 waterproof/windproof Jacket – wear a windproof jacket at the Greencape Lighthouse. You’ll need it!
- BOGI Microfiber Travel Towel – although not strictly hiking gear, it’s useful to have a compact towel in your bag in case you decide to go for a swim at any of the amazing beaches.
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Oversized Sunglasses – useful to avoid glare when checking out coastal views.
Five Camping Gear Essentials for the Sapphire Coast
We had a great time camping along the Sapphire Coast. Camping gear can make or break a trip. Without the right camping kit, your experience may not be as enjoyable. These are our five camping gear essentials for the Sapphire Coast. You can find more information on camping gear by visiting our in-depth packing checklist and travel essentials guide.
- Vango Alpha 400 4 person tent– we were actually car camping on this trip so we didn’t need a tent. But if you need a tent, this is the one we use.
- Vango Ultralite Pro 200 sleeping bag – this mummy style of sleeping bag will keep you super warm if you are camping in winter.
- Sea to Summit Aeros Premium inflatable pillow – a very compact and useful blow up pillow.
- HIKENTURE inflatable sleeping mat – ensure yourself a comfortable night’s sleep with an inflatable sleeping mat.
- Portable mini gas stove – you can’t beat a hot meal at the end of the day at your campsite.
None of the trails along Sapphire Coast NSW are particularly difficult to follow or require expert navigation. But to be fully prepared, consider downloading a GPS guided map before you set out on any of these trails. We recommend Wikiloc or AllTrails. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
Check NSW National Parks Website: Before visiting the Ben Boyd National Park, check the NSW National Parks website. Due to bush fire damage, some of the park is still closed as of June 2020. You don’t want to drive all the way to a section of the park to find out it’s closed!
- Visit in winter: All year round, you won’t have huge crowds to contend with along the Sapphire Coast. That’s because it’s pretty far enough away from Sydney and Melbourne! It’s actually about a halfway point. The drive from Eden to either city is around 7 hours! But we assure you that visiting in winter means it will be even quieter! Plus, that’s the best time to see whales!
- Don’t skip the Mimosa Rocks National Park: Although not that well known, exploring the Mimosa Rocks National Park will be well worth your time. It’s located throughout the Sapphire Coast region, so there’s no excuse to miss its attractions if you’re in the area!
- Check tide times: The order of this itinerary may change depending on low/high tides. Knowing the tide times will help you plan your visit to Horse Head Rock in Bermagui and the Pinncales. For tide times, click here.
We hope you enjoy your trip to the Sapphire Coast NSW. Please bookmark this page as a reference to help you plan your trip!