Switch off from the hustle and bustle and tune into your inner wild child
There's no better way to slow down and calm your soul than by disappearing off-grid for a little bit. Life can get so crazy these days and we all could do with a refreshing digital detox. So this winter, swap the snow for the NSW South Coast and take an adventure through our unspoilt wilderness. Embark on long bushwalks, catch your own fish, camp under an abundance of stars and cook some bush tucker over an open fire. The wifi will be far from sight and you won't even miss it. It's time to unwind, unplug and rewild.
Stay: Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay
Are you new to this whole off-grid game? Maybe you don't want to go full bush straight away and would rather ease yourself into the experience? Don't worry, we totally understand and Paperbark Camp has got you covered. This glamping option is all about unwinding in ultimate luxury. The safari-style tents are perched high amongst the eucalypts and paperbarks, making guests feel like they are actually sleeping amongst the treetops. Each tent also includes an open-air ensuite so you can feel at one with the surrounding bushland while relaxing under a steaming hot shower. This is no ordinary camping experience, you'll really get spoilt here and can even indulge in a decadent meal at the on-site Gunyah Restaurant, serving up dishes such as the fresh Kingfish sashimi or the creative pear crumble with eucalyptus ice cream. Get cosy in front of the dining room's fireplace or toast some marshmallows over the roaring outdoor bonfire, it's the perfect way to cap off a rejuvenating winter escape at Paperbark.
Play: Into the Wild Nature Tours, Jervis Bay
Combine your stay at Paperbark with a fully guided tour from a local wildlife ecologist. Into the Wild Nature Tours runs a full day Jervis Bay itinerary that takes visitors through stunning white sand beaches, lush bushland and rocky shoreline cliffs. Expert guide, Darren O'Connell provides detailed information on the natural wonders of the bay as well as giving insight into the rich cultural heritage of the area. This is an excellent way to get off the beaten track for a little bit and on a wonderful wildlife experience that many tourists miss. Make sure to bring the camera because you'll have plenty of opportunities to spot kangaroos, parrots and kookaburras on land in addition to dolphins, fairy penguins, seals and whales in the water.
Stay: Booderee National Park
The cooler months are the perfect time to head into our national parks for plenty of uncrowded camping options. (You might just have to share the campground with some of the local kangaroos!) Set up your own little outdoor haven in Booderee National Park, where Mother Nature's delights are right at your doorstep. Booderee gets its name from the Aboriginal Dhurga language and means 'bay of plenty'. And there really is plenty of things to see and do here. Located in the coastal paradise of Jervis Bay, there are many white sand beaches to explore, secluded swimming spots in abundance and tonnes of water activities such as surfing, fishing and snorkelling on offer. You might even get a chance to witness the humpback whale migration between May to November. The camping area at Green Patch is popular amongst families and is fully equipped with toilets and shower facilities. Cave Beach also provides a secluded spot set amongst the coastal tea trees and is a popular surfing destination.
Play: Rewilding with Blue Gum Bushcraft
Want to equip yourself with a full myriad of off-grid survival skills? Then book into some "rewild" mentoring sessions with the outdoor experts at Bluegum Bushcraft. Move over Bear Grylls, these guys will teach you everything you need to know about bushcraft, nature awareness, tracking and survival - all in an easy and digestible way that's most interesting and relevant to you. All rewilding sessions begin with all the bushcraft basics which includes activities making camp, knife work, knots, firelighting with matches, blade sharpening and cooking on open fire. Thereafter, participants choose the area of expertise they'd like to master. There are many options including shelter building using found and foraged materials, primitive hunting with sticks, slings or spears and nature connection in order to feel at home in the wild. The Bluegum Bushcraft team operates in various locations around Jervis Bay and even have a "rewild your child" program for all the little ones.
Stay: Coolendel Bush Camping
Take your pick of traditional tent camping, cute cabin accommodation or a full comfort glamping option run by Flash Camp at at Coolendel. This sustainable bush camping paradise set along the Shoalhaven River is the ultimate off-grid destination. You'll lose phone service before you arrive here and be thankful for the chance to go remote and switch off for a few days. Situated on 52 hectares of pristine bushland, the campground is filled with an abundance of wildlife including wombats, kangaroos, wallabies and goannas - it's not a rarity to wake up next to a family of native animals just chilling next to the tents! The property backs onto to Morton National Park which offers outdoor activities galore for those seeking some adventure. But, to be honest, we wouldn't blame you if you just want to take it easy and relax amongst the wildlife at the campsite.
Play: Kayak along the Shoalhaven River
There's never a shortage of activities around Coolendel, with options aplenty such as canoeing, mountain biking, fishing and bushwalking, all of which can be tailored to suit all ages and abilities. Paddling through the Shoalhaven River, though, is an absolute must while you're staying here. You can bring your own kayak or hire one nearby from the team at Nowra Kayak Hire (pick this up on your drive in, it's on the way!) Roaming the river is a peaceful way to immerse yourself in nature and discover many things you wouldn't see on land. For the more hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, try an extended packrafting expedition over a few days, inspired by the adventure junkies at We Are Explorers.
Stay: Murramarang National Park
Further south past Bawley Point and Kioloa, you'll find Murramarang National Park, another excellent national park to call home on your off-grid holiday. Ditching the wifi and devices is easy here - there are 44kms of dramatic coastline just waiting to be explored. It's the ultimate spot to wander through beaches, cliffs and headlands and also a great location for all astrophotographers to get some stunning night time shots of the starry skies. During winter, there are tonnes of birdwatching opportunities and you might even get a chance to catch the courting displays of lyrebirds in the park's rainforest areas. There's a choice of campgrounds if you prefer to rough it or for those who'd like a little bit more comfort, book yourself into the on-site accommodation at Depot Beach Cabins, Pebbly Beach Shacks or Pretty Beach Cabins. There's currently a special offer where guests can stay for 3 nights and pay for only 2! Make the most of this and venture down on a Thursday night for a rejuvenating nature escape over a long weekend.
Play: Pretty Beach to Pebbly Beach Walk
Right in the middle of Murramarang National Park, lies the Pretty Beach to Pebbly Beach walking track. This challenging walk will take the better part of a day and lead you through rock platforms, isolated beaches and lush coastal forest. It can be completed in about 5 hours but we think it's best to slow it down even more and take your time. This gives you the chance to really soak up all the wilderness that this walk has to offer. The grasslands near Pretty Beach are often filled with kangaroos, the spotted gums and lilly pillies provide a scenic backdrop and the sounds of the birds calling from the treetops all combine together to create a calm and refreshing atmosphere that can only be found in nature. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded when you arrive at Pebbly Beach with its unrivalled panoramic coastal views.
Stay: Yadboro State Forest
So now we get to the pièce de resistance for all the hardcore explorers who really want to escape the world. Spend a weekend in the bush at Yadboro Flat, located in Yadboro State Forest. This completely off-grid camping area is dog-friendly and an excellent place to retreat in the winter - it gets crazily busy in the summer so take advantage of the peace and quiet! Make sure to bring your fishing gear as bass fishing is extremely popular here. You might even get to catch your dinner and cook it over a fire, delicious! Nearby, there's also the Long Gully Picnic Area, which is another excellent place to set up camp. Both campsites are very basic with minimal facilities and offer a remote and secluded spot to really break away from civilisation. Who needs a shower anyway when the beautiful Clyde River is right there to cleanse off your body and refresh your soul?
Play: Discover the Budawangs and Hike the Castle
Yadboro State Forest is an excellent base camp for hiking opportunities in the rugged and isolated Budawangs area of Morton National Park. The Castle is a spectacular and challenging day walk to one of the most iconic peaks of the region. This trek is not for the faint-hearted so make sure you only embark upon this journey if you are an experienced bushwalker. While the total distance isn't huge, it's the whopping 800m climb and the series of rock scrambles near the summit that make this walk incredibly challenging. But most great things come from hard work, right? That's exactly the case here, the 360-degree views from the summit of The Castle are just tremendous and well worth the journey. We really recommend this expedition for anyone who wants to get the heart-rate pumping. The walk is best ventured upon from late autumn to early spring, as the cool weather allows for a more pleasant climbing temperature. If you weren't already keen enough, our video of this adventure, made in collaboration with We Are Explorers will definitely give you some motivation!