Shoalhaven Heads is a beautiful town located on the South Coast of NSW, in the Shoalhaven region.
After a fairly hectic 2016, we knew that 5 days away just after the New Year period was in order, so my partner and I booked a 4-night stay in the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel (a.k.a ‘the Heads Hotel’), packed our stuff, and headed down the coast.
Just a few minutes drive from Gerringong and Gerroa, Shoalhaven Heads boasts stunning waterviews – including those of the famous Seven Mile Beach and a very blue river located right across from the hotel.
As if the drive to this region wasn’t rewarding enough (the Soath Coast of NSW features one of the most gorgeous coastlines), we were also pleasantly surprised when we checked in to the hotel. The room was spacious, neat, and tidy, plus it was equipped with all of the basics you want for a few nights’ stay – tea, coffee, a kettle, T.V – not to mention a very comfortable queen-sized bed.
While this was meant to be a relaxing holiday to tune-out, read in the sun, and enjoy the tranquility that this region has to offer, we certainly never felt bored.
One day we could find ourselves walking up to the nearby op-shop (thrift store / charity shop), heading into the famous pub on the hotel’s premises for a beverage with the most amazing view, or driving into nearby Gerringong to enjoy its array of shops, boutiques and cafes.
There were also so many spots to set-up at Shoalhaven Heads to read, enjoy some snacks, listen to music, and enjoy crafty things like drawing, coloring-in, or Polaroid-taking.
We also became big fans of the local Sholahaven Heads Bowling Club Bistro whilst we were away. Surprisingly (for what’s affectionately dubbed “the local bowlo”), this place is modern, large, and has a really impressive menu on offer. People would flock here every night to enjoy the generously portioned meals for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay at any other restaurant. Our recommendations are the steak (one of the best, according to my partner), the sweet potato croquettes (one of the lighter meal options, but I certainly wasn’t left hungry afterwards!), or the pulled beef sliders.
During our stay the weather was pretty good (we even had a close-to 40 degrees day!), but one morning we woke to grey skies and decided to swap our beach plans for a visit to Shoalhaven Zoo. It was such a fantastic experience!
I was (perhaps too) excited about seeing the koalas, along with the llamas, but there were a wide array of animals at the zoo, including everything from exotic birds to camels, crocodiles, monkeys, lions, tigers, and more.
As you can see from some of the images above, the zoo also has beautiful water views as it borders onto a serene, blue river. We couldn’t help but take some photos against this stunning backdrop.
One of the highlights of the experience was the two adventure walks offered in the zoo. These are rain forest trails which take you through caves, up and down ladders, and even across a little plank. We were so glad we wore our walking shoes to enjoy both of these fun trails.
The largest highlight of all though, for me, came when we stopped by a ‘furry friends’ animal show to watch the keeper introduce us to some of the animals and share interesting facts about them. The wombat and baby kangaroo (joey) were adorable, but the biggest treat of all came right at the end when we were able to see the zoo’s young male koala – Blue Gum. Petting this little guy was wonderful and something I certainly didn’t expect from the visit (I thought I’d be lucky enough just to see one!).
All-in-all, we absolutely loved exploring Shoalhaven Heads and had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable stays here that we’ve had in a while. If you’re contemplating visiting this region in the near future, you’ll find our recommendations below.
Things to do while visiting Shoalhaven Heads (in a nutshell)
- Pop by the local pub, The Heads Hotel. Not only do they have an award-winning restaurant, but you get to enjoy views of the beautiful river while sipping on drinks in their front courtyard. If you’re after affordable accommodation too, I’d certainly recommend their hotel rooms which are on the premises (but far enough away from the pub so that you don’t hear the hustle and bustle).
- Visit the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling & Recreation Club (just a short walk from the Hotel) for a very cheap (but delicious!) lunch or dinner. It quickly became our favourite place to eat at.
- Don’t forget to drop by the Shoalhaven Zoo if you have a spare 2 hours up your sleeves. It was certainly one of our highlights seeing the various animals and exploring those amazing rain forest walks. Try and catch one of the animal shows throughout the day too if you can!
- Swim and enjoy the sunshine at Seven Mile Beach. There’s a reason why this is one of the most-loved beaches in New South Wales and when it’s on your doorstep in Shoalhaven Heads, you can’t miss checking it out.
- If you fancy hopping in the car, visit one of the nearby towns to enjoy even more spectacular ocean views, sprawling coastline, boutique shops, and great picnic spots. Gerringong, Gerroa, and Berry are our three recommendations.
- A quick walk to the local shops at Shoalhaven Heads will provide you with everything you need for a short stay. There’s a bakery, newsagent, takeaway hot food store, liquor store, op-shop, grocery store, Chinese restaurant, cafe, and more.
This is our first travel post in what we hope will become a semi-regular addition to the Whim website. We’ve been very inspired by exploring our own backyard recently (a.k.a NSW, Australia) and can’t wait to give you an insight into our future escapes and adventures!