|Shoalhaven: Coast & History
10-12th September, 2004
||Text and photographs © David Powell, except where indicated.||
|On the 11th September, 2004, the Shoalhaven Country Line Dancers
held their Annual Ball at the St Georges Basin Country Club near the
shore of the very scenic Jervis Bay. A group of us made the most of the
opportunity and took a long weekend. We did end up doing a bit of
dancing, but most of the time was spent sightseeing and other
distinctly non-dance related activities.
Back onto the road and onto Kangaroo Valley. Just north of the famous bridge (more on that latter) we just had to stop at "The Old Barrengarry Store" that claimed to sell the "world's best pies". The shop was an old 1880 country store and post office. As for the pies, I dunno if they were the best in the world, but they were certainly very good.
After the pies we had a look at the bridge. Variously known as the Kangaroo Valley Bridge and more correctly as the Hampden Bridge. The bridge was opened in 1898 and named after the then Governor (hint, if you want your name preserved for posterity, you obviously need to be a governor!). The bridge is one of the few suspension bridges in Australia and is the only surviving colonial suspension bridge in the state. It has medieval style sandstone towers at either end and a span of 77 metres. The river bed is about 17 metres below. Well enuf statistics. The bridge isn't large, but it has a grandeur, no doubt from the styling of the towers. 17 metres doesn't seem much, but the river (Kangaroo River) does seem quite a way down. Next to the bridge is the Pioneer Farm Museum. It was closed - but I've been thru' it on a previous visit.
Over the bridge (no overtaking, it's one lane) and onto the town of Kangaroo Valley. The valley is said to be one of the most picturesque and charming areas in the state, a claim I can hardly dispute. Lots of walking trails and nature to be seen in the valley, however this time 'round it was the history I was interested in. However the spectacular natural scenery of the valley cannot be left un-noted. It's worth a visit, just for that. Almost every building in the town is historic, especially those along the main road. There's the obligatory old inn - the Friendly Inn Hotel (built 1892), churches, monuments, old homes and shops and a school (built 1884). I was taken by the Church of the Good Shepherd - when I was living in the USA, I attended a church with this name, a Catholic church. This one was Anglican and was built in 1878. For better or worse the town has been 'discovered' by the rich set, so it's full of cafe's, restaurants and the like, but the place has still managed to keep the atmosphere of a sleepy small country town. In part, no doubt, because most of the newer additions are discretely off the main road. The town also has something of a reputation as an antique centre and there're several antique shops in the town, each catering for a different niche. I did manage to pick up a few presents at the antique stores. Add to that a plethora of craft shops and you have a village that has been well and truly "touristised". Still, I guess that has ensured the town's survival when many others have long since given up the ghost.
From there we headed on south to Vincentia, a suburb village of Jervis Bay, where we would be staying the weekend at the weekender belong to some friends, a nice place that had more beds than many motels! Ducked out to have dinner at a local club - where I picked up a prize in the local meat raffle.
Got up at the disgusting time of 7am (well disgusting for a weekend) for breakfast. The local parrots were having a feed. Dunno what breed, but they were certainly colourful ... loud .. and quite unafraid of people. Anything for a free lunch I guess. Tho' in this case a free breakfast. Our hosts were garage sale fans so in between trawling several sales we spent the morning sightseeing. Ended the day's sightseeing at Hyams Beach. According to the local tourist PR the beach is listed in the Guinness Book of records as having the "whitest sand in the world". More reliably, the beach (and town) was named after Michael Hyam who received a grant of waterfront land there in 1859.
Alas for the PR claim, it was overcast at the time and the beach looked, well, much like any other beach to me. I guess bright sunshine is needed to make it look white - as it does in the postcards. Whether they've been touched up or not is another matter. Still, I did see another beach earlier in the day when the sun was still out and the sand there certainly did look quite white. Not exactly pristine, but then it was a boat ramp. After I'd taken a bunch of foto's at Hyams Beach, we stopped for lunch at a cafe overlooking the beach. After lunch spent the afternoon at a linedance workshop. Then after dinner back to the same venue for the ball.
Not much to write about but there were a lot of beautiful foto's. After packing up, made the most of the clear sunny skies and had a look at a beach a few minutes drive away in Vincentia. The sand there did look white and the water was crystal clear - you could see the sand beneath the water for at least several 100 metres out from the shore, as well as large rocks beneath the water. Continuing along the coast road between Vincentia and Huskisson we made several stops to admire the brilliant views of Jervis Bay - the weather was obligingly beautifully. The different colours of the water was pretty amazing. Hmmm... are there any superlatives I've forgotten to use? Well add them in yourself. :)
Here are some more foto's I took along the coast between Vincentia and Huskisson. These small images don't really do the brilliant blues of the water and sky real justice. You'll just have to go and see for yourself one day I guess. But make sure you bring the sun with you!
Before we headed back to Sydney there was one notable event, tho' at the time it didn't seem much - Cynthia and I had our first date. Things have certainly progressed a lot since then, but that's another story - and not necessarily all for publication. :)
Some web sites of relevance (valid as of June 2005)
Fitzroy Falls: http://www.highlandsnsw.com.au/nature/fitzroy_falls.html
Fitzroy Falls: http://www.walkabout.com.au/theage/fairfax/locations/NSWFitzroyFalls.shtml
Hampden Bridge & Kangaroo Valley: http://www.kangaroovalleytourist.asn.au/content/about.html
Kangaroo Valley: http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/NSWKangarooValley.shtml
Kangaroo Valley: http://wvwv.essortment.com/wollongongaus_rdgw.htm
Hyams Beach & Jervis Bay: http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/NSWJervisBay.shtml
Jervis Bay: http://www.jervisbaytourism.com/