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Rhapsodies in white: the beaches of Jervis Bay

by Bernard O'Shea

The brilliant white-sand beaches of Jervis Bay, many of which are in national parks, are a prime drawcard for those wanting the perfect weekend getaway.

You can go whale-watching at Jervis Bay, enjoy dolphin and scenic cruises, take part in fascinating Aboriginal cultural experiences and do some lovely walks, but at some point you will just want to relax on a beach. And at Jervis Bay you’re spoilt for choice.

The 102 square kilometre bay on the NSW south coast has curvaceous beaches, many abutting a national park.

The most famous is probably Hyams Beach, which at one point was touted as having the whitest sand in the world. It was a spurious claim, but very believable. The main stretch of beach is about 2km long, and the rockpool at the northern tip is great for snorkelling.

Hyams Beach is a small township on the southern side of Jervis Bay, where there’s little public parking, so it’s best visited on a day when there are few tourists around. In peak visiting periods such as long weekends you may find it more rewarding to visit the following.

Greenpatch at Jervis Bay, NSW.

A bridge over untroubled water at Greenpatch.

Greenpatch/Iluka Beach

This is the place to go when you want to make a full day of it. Greenpatch is in the Booderee National Park, and has a large car park near shady picnic areas complete with tables, sheltered electric barbecues, showers and toilets: you will need to bring your own food and drink as there are no shops nearby.

Bird life is abundant here. On my last visit, patrons the picnic area were feeding an assortment of parrots – king parrots, crimson rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos…  I stopped to watch and before long a rosella took a fancy to me. It landed on my head, where it lingered for a couple of minutes, imperiously surveying the terrain. Luckily, it was very well toilet trained!

To get to the beach, there is a little wooden bridge over a narrow freshwater gulley, where you might spot kangaroos and wallabies having a drink.

Don’t confuse Greenpatch (sometimes spelt as Green Patch) with Greenfield Beach, which is little bit north of Hyams Beach, in the Jervis Bay National Park (you can guess from these names that there’s a lot of greenery in the Jervis Bay region).

Murrays Beach has beautiful sand and good snorkelling among the rocks.

Murrays Beach

Also in the Booderee National Park is Murrays, my favourite beach in the region. Jervis Bay is very sheltered and the water generally is calm; it’s great for kids, for a gentle dip when you need one, or for swimming up and down if you want to exercise, but it lacks the excitement that comes with open waves. Murrays, on the other hand, is close to the mouth of the bay, and while the water is still reasonably calm, it has more of an ocean feel. The beach looks out over to Bowen Island, home to a penguin colony, and beyond to … well, it’s a long swim to New Caledonia!

Murrays Beach is a great spot for snorkelling. If I am heading out from Sydney on a short break with my snorkel, wet suit and flippers packed in the boot, this is where I would most likely go.

If you have good walking shoes, a hat and a bottle of water with you, the circular Murrays Trail walk will showcase some of the best sights in the vicinity, including Governors Head lookout.

Huskisson Beach in Jervis Bay NSW

Walk on water in front of Holiday Haven Huskisson Beach.

Huskisson Beach

For pure convenience, if you’re in Huskisson, the bay’s main commercial hub, you should take advantage of this great beach’s prime location. It’s peacefully tucked away on the fringes where urban bustles gives way to  suburban tranquility.

There’s ample overnight accommodation in the vicinity, including Holiday Haven Huskisson Beach, so if you fancy quick dips in the sea before breakfast, this is the place to go. But there is a reasonable amount of public parking in the vicinity, and some picnic tables under shady trees, so even day-trippers can have a good time.

The 700 metre-long beach is shaped a bit like a hockey stick – it curves to the east at its southern tip, beyond which lies the entrance to  Moona Moona Creek. Local residents use the two ends of the beach as markers for their daily swims. Lucky them!

Take the 100-beach challenge

Jervis Bay is part of the Shoalhaven region, which is blessed with beautiful coastal scenery. Indeed, many Sydneysiders prefer the coast to the south – Shoalhaven and beyond – to its counterpart to the north. To promote some of its lesser known beaches, Shoalhaven Tourism has created the 100-beach challenge.

Time To Wander likes a good challenge and we’re looking forward to ticking more of them off our list. We’ll keep you posted.  TTW

Photos © Zora Regulic and Shoalhaven Tourism (Murray Beach drone). Bernard O’Shea travelled as a guest of Shoalhaven Tourism, in conjunction with Holiday Haven Huskisson Beach.

See also

Hot on the tails of humpbacks in Jervis Bay
Lady and the ramp at Jervis Bay Maritime Museum
Tickled pink by Shoalhaven wineries

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