The mighty Shoalhaven River is one of our most famous natural assets, waiting to be explored.
Right up there with Pigeon House Mountain and Jervis Bay, a visit to this body of water is an excellent way to experience the Shoalhaven's great outdoors. Stretching over 300kms, it runs from Middle Mountain, near Moruya, all the way to Shoalhaven Heads. The river collects over 30 creeks and smaller bodies of water along its way out towards the sea. There are many spots to let your adventurous self run wild or to unwind and relax. Here are our favourite river activities, all easily accessible from Nowra. Don't cry me a river, there's plenty of things to do by the water for a splendid time!
There's an army of nooks and crannies along the Shoalhaven River, perfect for a day of kayaking. Launch out at Grey's Beach, just northwest of Nowra Bridge. From there, you can choose to paddle east or west along the river. Some recommended areas to check out include Nowra Creek (under the suspension bridge) or upstream (past the golf course.) If you're blessed with great weather, turn into the creek opposite Shoalhaven Zoo and catch a view of the spectacular running waterfall.
2. Trees Adventure
Looking to get some adrenaline pumping? Trees Adventure offers multiple levels of challenges so that the brave (and the not so brave!) can all have an awesome time. It's a great family activity for everyone, where the kids can monkey about whilst parents can channel their inner wild child, swinging amongst the treetops in the high ropes course. It's a day out that will definitely get the blood pumping! The location boasts stunning views of the Shoalhaven River and you can sometimes hear some lions roar from the zoo next door!
Fishing is one of the most popular river activities down in the Shoalhaven. Those who cast a line at dusk or dawn often get the chance to witness some of the most spectacular above the glistening river. Setting up for camp at Coolendel Camping Ground provides excellent access to Australian Bass and Estuary Perch. You can also find bream, flathead, whiting and mulloway in the water surrounding Nowra Bridge.
4. Ben’s Walk
Get your heart rate up over at Ben’s Walk. The track begins at the hanging rock lookout near Nowra Showground and continues down to Nowra Creek and across the suspension bridge. It features spectacular scenic viewpoints of the river, the escarpment and the cliffs on the riverbanks along the way.The luscious green surrounds provide a habitat for a variety of birds that can be spotted along the way.
If you’re lucky enough to own your own ski boat then this is the place to take it! For the rest of us, Shoalhaven Wakeboard School and Shoalhaven Ski and Wake will provide everything that's necessary. Wakeboarding is of the most exciting river activities you can partake in whilst down on the South Coast. Whether you're just learning how to stay upright or are experienced enough for big airs, wakeboarding on the Shoalhaven River provides endless fun and great views for the entire travel crew.
6. Shoalhaven Zoo
The Shoalhaven Zoo is home to over 100 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It's the largest zoo on the South Coast and picturesquely set amongst the treetops along the banks of the Shoalhaven River. This is a fantastic day out for the entire family. Stroll around the zoo at your own pace or dive into a hands-on encounter. Anyone up for some lion feeding or some monkey madness? Yes, please! When you need a little break and refuel, head to the newly opened Macaw's Nest café. This on-site eatery serves up delicious coffee and share plates. It's also a great spot to end a day of animal adventures with a couple of bevvies on the deck as the sun goes down.
7. Sample Local Wine
Arguably the best view of the river facing east is from Two Figs Winery. (Facing west, would have to be from Hanging Rock.) White wine enthusiasts should make sure to try the chardonnay or verdelho and we recommend the cabernet sauvignon or chambourcin for those who are partial to a drop of red. Spend a lazy afternoon looking outwards to the river with a delicious glass of wine and some yummy local food. The tasting plate is a favourite, packed with scrumptious goodies of cheese, olives and figs.
8. Take a Shoalhaven River Cruise
The Shoalhaven River Cruise offers informative tours as you head upstream from the Nowra Bridge. There's a style of cruise to suit everyone! Hop on at Wharf Rd and cruise west while enjoying a relaxing morning tea, enjoy a ride to the Greenwell point that's capped off with some delicious fish and chips or unwind after a busy week with some sundowners along a tranquil twilight cruise. On each tour, you'll learn all about the magnificent river as well as the area's rich history. A river cruise is a nice and serene way to enjoy the sights of the Nowra cliffs from a brand new perspective. Set up for the day on the Shoalhaven Explorer, with its indoor and outdoor viewing areas plus a licenced bar on most journeys too! Bottoms up!
9. Go Camping
For many people, thoughts of camping by the river can often bring back childhood memories. Reminisce about roasting marshmallows, skipping stones and playing by the river. Coolendel is a particularly favourite campground for its beautiful setting and plentiful wildlife. Another excellent option is Grady’s Riverside Retreat, where you can fish, paddleboard and take your BMX down a dirt track. If you prefer to be right in the middle of the action, consider camping at North Nowra Riverfront Caravan Park. It's conveniently located right next to the Shoalhaven Zoo (you can also camp on the foreshore of the zoo in some seasons) and ski park. Bundanon (more information below) also allows camping on their property once a year for their annual Siteworks event.
10. Visit Bundanon
Bundanon is a parcel of land that is said to have reignited Arthur Boyd’s love of landscapes when he first visited it in 1971. Boyd purchased the property in 1979 and from then on he was determined to share it with other creatives. In 1993 Bundanon Trust was born as a not-for-profit creative retreat. It's open to the public every Sunday for visitors to explore the property and Arthur’s studio.
11. Go Rock Climbing
Shoalhaven River around Nowra is one of the most famous rock climbing destinations in Australia and even the world! The area attracts climbers from near and far, looking to scale the cliffs that line the riverbanks. Outdoor Raw or Climb Nowra can take you out and show you the ropes, literally! For something different for a special occasion, we highly recommend the quirky 'cliffnic' experience with Outdoor Raw. It's one of the most adventurous and romantic dates you can ever have, where you indulge on some delicious local wine and produce whilst suspended over the stunning Shoalhaven River.
12. Pack a Picnic
After all those activities, your tummy will surely be grumbling! There are some fantastic lunch spots along the river so be sure to pack your picnic basket with some nibblies. Our favourite location is Bangalee, with plenty of big, beautiful trees to offer some shelter from the sun. We also highly recommend setting yourself up along the big jetty. Grab some local produce for your picnic such as some Kangaroo Valley Olives, Nowra Cheese, Greenwell Point Oysters and a bottle of wine from any of our fantastic vineyards. Alternatively, go for a cocktail and some dinner at Wharf Rd restaurant and let them feed you instead!
Spend a day along the Shoalhaven River and enjoy some fun, adventure or relaxation. With plenty of river activities to keep you busy, there's something here for everyone!
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