Four-and-a-half hours’ drive down the Princes Highway from Sydney and two hours on the Kings Highway from Canberra, Moruya lies 6km from the coast on the river of the same name.
Pronounced ‘mo-roo-ya’, the word derives from the indigenous mherroyah, meaning ‘home of the black swan’ but the district is now more famous as the source of the stonework for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The granite in the pylons was quarried from the north side of the Moruya River where 250 stonemasons worked from 1925 to 1932 to produce 18,000 cubic metres of dimension stone for the bridge pylons, 173,000 blocks and 200,000 cubic yards of crushed stone used as aggregate for the concrete.
A small village, aptly named, Granite Town, was formed but European settlement began with Francis Flanagan in 1829 and the Flanagan name is still strong in Moruya today.
The town has an array of cafés, pubs, clubs and retail outlets and every Saturday the River Side Park hosts the Moruya Country Markets, the biggest in the Eurobodalla Shire.
Moruya has an important hospital, and a multitude of van parks and motels and an airport with scheduled Regional Express flights and skydiving and sightseeing charters.
Boat hire, two charter boats and a couple of conveniently located tackle stores cater well to the angler and there’s a Woolworths supermarket and a smorgasbord of restaurants.
Moruya has a challenging 18-hole golf course and a beautiful bowls club on the river right next door to the tennis courts.
Social events such as the Jazz Festival in late October are popular, and regular events are held at the racecourse, the speedway and the surf club. Rugby League is Moruya’s game and you can check out a match through the Winter season.
While the Summer months have some terrific fishing around Moruya, the Winter is quite productive, too.
During Winter, offshore bottom-bashers have success on morwong, snapper, trevally, pigfish, ocean perch and leatherjackets in 45m-60m depths over broken reef. Over the gravel and sand, they encounter gummy sharks, flathead, and gurnard.
Solid kingfish are more common in summer although albacore and yellowfin tuna show up around the continental shelf through the cooler months, with cubing the best option.
Care should be taken crossing the Moruya River bar, which can be dangerous on the run-out tide. The Winter westerly winds usually flatten the sea, making offshore access safer.
Winter beach fishing can be good, with tailor and salmon patrolling the suds on beaches north and south of Moruya Heads. Mulloway and gummy sharks are often taken from these beaches after dark using slab baits.
Tailor and salmon can also be caught from the stones but I prefer to target drummer and groper from the rock ledges – these fish are Winter specials! Berley with bread and use fresh cunjevoi, crabs and prawns.
Don’t rule out snapper, bream and leatherjackets from the rocks, either.
The Moruya River has four boat ramps, two in town on either side of the river near the road bridge, and two towards the mouth – Brierleys to the north and Preddys on the southern side. The two south side ramps are the better launching areas for larger vessels.
I recommend you concentrate your efforts east of the Moruya River bridge, favouring the areas around the mouth, especially spinning or trolling for tailor and salmon around the channel edges and weed beds fringes.
Slow-rolling hard lures across the tops of the weed at high tide will produce some cracking bream.
Bouncing plastics around the current breaks provided by wharves, oyster racks, rocky outcrops, drop-offs and river bends will account for bream, tailor, flathead and trevally.
It’s worth anchoring over a shallow sand flat around patches of seagrass and casting fresh pink nippers, bloodworms, prawns or squid for bread-and-butter species like mullet, garfish, bream, luderick, flathead and whiting. The whiting caught in Winter here are huge!
Use berley to attract the fish and all the fresh baits are easily obtained in the river itself.
There’s plethora of shore-based opportunities. Casting lures and flies along the edges and to snags throughout the river will produce yellowfin bream and black bream as well as some thumping estuary perch. Be sure to release the EPs, especially during the closed season from June 1 to August 31.
During the warmer months, the Moruya River hosts a fantastic Australian bass fishery right into the upper reaches of the sweetwater but these waters are desolate through winter.
I have hosted some video segments in the Moruya area which feature on volumes 14, 16, 26, 28 and 29 of the Fishing DVD series. Check ’em out at www.fishingdvd.com.au . All were filmed during Winter and are definitely worth a look.
Time to jump in the car or on a plane and explore the area – you’ll be surprised by Moruya’s Winter fishing opportunities.
For more on what’s available at Moruya, visit www.moruyamagic.com.au
MORUYA WINTER HOT SPOTS
Bottom bashing: Try in 50m-60m off Pedro Point and Congo. If you find a patch of fish, it may pay to anchor.
Beaches: My favourite beach lies on the south side of Pedro Point. The salmon school up in the gutters and devour pilchards on ganged hooks or metal slugs retrieved at high speeds. North Beach is also good.
Rockhopping: Toragy Point, (Moruya Headland) is a hot spot for drummer. Berley up the small gutters with bread and fish the wash zones. Check out Volume 16 of the Fishing DVD, where Starlo and I host a rock fishing segment here. The north breakwall is worth a look, too.
Estuary bait: Anchor anywhere along the flats on the north side of the river across from Preddys Wharf boat ramp for bream, whiting, flathead, mullet, garfish and luderick.
Estuary lure: Bouncing plastics around the rock walls and channels towards the mouth will produce bream, trevally and flathead. The Hole in the Wall, 200m down-river of Preddys Wharf, is a good spot on the last of the run-out tide. Slow-rolling hardbodies over the weed beds adjacent to Brierleys ramp on the north side of the river will produce bream and tailor. Trolling the channel edges with metals will score tailor and salmon.
Bait gathering: You can obtain pink nippers with a yabby pump at low tide along the sand flats in front of Garland Town on North Heads Drive. Prawns can be found over the shallow weedy sections of the river and squid will grab a jig worked slowly from the stones of Toragy Point. Cunje and crabs can be harvested from the North Breakwall at low tide. Bloodworms can be dug from the mud on the edges of the seagrass beds at low tide but can be tricky to find.
If you’re in town on the right weekend, you may be able to catch the local, Moruya Sharks, in a game of rugby league.
St George Illawarra Dragons and Australian test front-rower Michael Weyman hails from Moruya, where many timber carvings and statues are sprinkled throughout the town.