This month we look at a great spot just three hours’ drive down the South Coast from Sydney and less than half that from Canberra. In Europe you could travel through half a dozen countries to cover the distance and still not find a spot as picturesque, relaxing and with so much to offer as Batemans Bay.
So where are we staying? At the East’s Riverside Holiday Park, right on the Clyde River straight opposite the main town. You are close enough to everything the area has to offer, from shopping to fishing, clubs and the beach, yet far enough away across the river to have peace and quiet.
Positioned on the northern bank of the river just east of the landmark bridge, virtually every park site has water views. You become relaxed the moment you arrive, partly due to the friendly service and fabulous attitude of the staff.
The smiling, enthusiastic greeting and wealth of information, from tide times and fishing reports to where to find the best meal, was a breath of fresh air. A lot of tourist destination operators could book in for a night and get a lesson on what service with a friendly smile is all about.
So let’s look at the camping and caravan options. There are 52 campsites available, many so close to the water that most of the residents I saw had a line in the water every moment they were in camp, some with rods set up in holders from the kitchen table. You just don’t get any closer than that.
There are 44 powered sites and eight have their own ensuite bathrooms. The showers and toilets are spotless and there is a laundry with coin-operated washing machines, dryers and irons.
There is also one of those great bungalows where the travelling camper can have all the conveniences without the need of taking them. There are barbecues, gas hot plates, tea and coffee conveniences, tables and chairs, wash-up facilities and fridges. From this building you can see the Tollgate islands to the east, up the river to the bridge and beyond to the west. South across the river is the main town, whose lights over the water during the evening make a fantastic backdrop to sit back, relax and unwind.
There are 30 cabins that blend into the surrounds. Most have water frontages, some where you can fish off the front verandah, while others have a fabulous grassed area before hitting the sand and the river. The few that are set back from the river are elevated so they don’t miss out on the views.
The cabins are fully equipped with everything you can need for a great stay, with ratings from three stars to four-and-a-half that come with washing machine, dryer, dishwasher and spa. All have full cooking facilities, TV, microwave and most have air conditioning.
All cabins come supplied with linen, towels and blankets. It really lightens the load when travelling if everything is supplied.
There are barbecues scattered along the foreshore and the office has drinks, ice creams and other assorted goodies and the milko and fruit truck serve the park as well.
Now you have arrived and settled in, what is there to do? You can do absolutely nothing! If you just want to sit by the water’s edge and read a book, that is all well and good. The kids have a great grassed play area fringed by a sandy beach. A game of cricket or footy is not a problem as it is a large area and you can sit on the verandah and watch it all.
Straight in front of the cabins are large shallow expanses for the little ones to splash around in complete safety but, as always, under the watchful eye of an adult.
To the western end, where the sand drops off into deeper water, the older kids can run and launch themselves into the river. This is also a great spot for you to beach the boat between outings so you don’t have to launch and retrieve as often.
If you need supplies, a five-minute walk over the bridge to town means all the shops, boutiques, eateries tackle stores you’d ever need.
If you fancy a night at the club, one of the courtesy buses from either the Soldiers Club or Bowling Club will pick you up and drop you back at the park.
So what else is there to do? There is great fishing, be it up the river for all the usual species like bream, flathead, whiting and mulloway, or head offshore around the Tollgate Islands for snapper, kingfish, salmon, tailor, groper and mowies. Further out there are big tuna and marlin.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a boat. There are top-quality charter operators for estuary and offshore enthusiasts, so all the options are covered. There are boat ramps on each side of the bridge to get you up the river or offshore.
Or you may just want to fish from the shore. There are hundreds of access points all along the river and the beaches and headlands along the coast can supply some sensational fishing.
If you get sick of fishing for some reason, there are any number of beaches, the Catalina championship golf course, Bird Land or the famous Mogo Zoo. Or you could take a couple of hours off and have a relaxing river cruise on the Merinda.
Whatever your holiday tastes, there is something for everyone when you stay at the Riverside Holiday Park at Batemans Bay. For booking details and prices phone 02 4472 4048.
The cabins are complete waterfront with a great grassy area for the kids before you get to the river. Some are so close to the water you can fish off the verandah.
Some of the caravan and campsites are right on the water with fantastic views of the Tollgate Islands.
The famous Clyde River Bridge is only a minute away and an easy walk to town and great fishing around its pylons.
Looking out over the river from the verandah late in the afternoon is very relaxing.
A view of the park from town sees it nestled among the trees right on the waters edge.
The fishing in the river for most species including flathead is pretty good year round.Reads: 800