Batemans Bay, South Coast NSW Family Review
A review of family fun, short scenic drive ideas and more in Batemans Bay, a popular little NSW South Coast holiday town…Bateman’s Bay is a sleepy fishing town on the South Coast of NSW. Popular with holidaying Canberra residents due to it’s 2-hour drive from inland ACT, plus many Sydney-siders making the 4-hour drive, Batemans Bay experiences a massive population increase during the hot Summer months – particularly over the Christmas holidays and the Easter holiday break.
The trip from Canberra to Batemans Bay includes a rather steep traverse over the Clyde Mountain, where you pass-by the famous hairpin-bend located “Yogi Bear’s Cave” up near the top of the mountain. Also known as “Pooh Bear’s Cave”, this little natural cave formation is stuffed with soft toy Pooh Bears in an on-going tribute from Canberra and local children. You’ll find this little landmark around 20 minutes from Bateman’s Bay on the Kings Highway to Canberra.
Entering town, you’ll cross the Clyde River on the iconic Batemans Bay Bridge. Turn left immediately after exiting the bridge onto Clyde Street and you’ll find yourself in the picturesque Batemans Bay town centre.
Batemans Bay (and the neighbouring Batehaven area) is the largest town centre for some distance, and so has many essential services. There is a small hospital, medical centre, all major banks, several service stations.
Batemans Bay Accommodation
Being a popular holiday town, there is a multitude of hotels (mostly three to four star) and caravan and camping parks dotted around the Batemans Bay / Batehaven area.
Some of the larger caravan parks to search for include the Clyde View Holiday Park and Big 4 Batemans Bay. Hotels and resorts include the Mariner’s Resort (cheap, on the waterfront), Zorba’s (cheap waterfront), Coachhouse Marina Resort (self-contained villas), the Reef motor inn (next to the bridge), Batemans Bay Boutique (pricey waterfront), and the Esplanade (couples only, expensive).
You can read our Lincoln Downs Spa Resort review here.
Batemans Bay Shopping Centres
Being a regional area and coastal holiday town, people don’t usually come to Batemans Bay to shop for anything other than the basics, or beach gear. That said, there are still lots of shopping options.
The main shopping area is an open-air shopping mall, the Village Centre, which houses a Kmart, Aldi and Coles supermarket, plus small boutiques and cafes. There’s also a Woolworths supermarket located in a smaller shopping mall, the Bridge Plaza, off Clyde Street. A Target store is located on Orient Street.
Road repairs in the centre of town are happening now, as it is the off-season, in preparation for the busy summer season, so you can expect some temporary shopping road access disruption. However, it is nice and quiet – no crowds, traffic, or queueing for a restaurant table!
Family meal options in Batemans Bay are numerous
It makes a lot of sense to enjoy the water-front eating options for real Batemans Bay atmosphere – and super-fresh sea food!
Along the water front on Clyde Street there are lunch cruises on the Clyde River, and a cheap but tasty fish and chip shanty overlooking the jetty. Here you can eat fresh fish and chips whilst watching the Pelicans preen, waiting for the fishing boats to return. Kids fish and chips meals are priced at $7.
There several small cafes lining the charming little esplanade area along the water front.
The trendy “Starfish” café (for a window table, be sure to book ahead) is a nice option. We had breakfast here one morning, and although the food was a little light-on (one small piece of toast each for everyone’s poached eggs on toast just wasn’t enough, we were still starving after!), it was a lovely spot to enjoy the view whilst you are eating.
The Pizzeria and Aussie Pancake Parlour can all be found along this waterfront promenade, and you can sit admiring the view at one of the outdoor tables whilst the kids explore the rocks and jetties.
For a reasonably-priced family dinner out, there are a couple of large town clubs which offer good value meals for the family. We had dinner at the local Soldiers Club – $10.50 children’s meals (meal and an ice cream desert) and $16 roasts and other specials. My $16 chicken risotto was just as tasty as any expensive restaurant, and there was a nice family atmosphere – plenty of room for high chairs and large families. In-season there is even a child care room if mum and dad want to play the poker machines for a while. This is a great option for a bit of single parent time-out, too.
Of course, you’ll also find all the regular fast-food franchises of home in Batemans Bay too, such as McDonalds, KFC, and a Hogs Breath Cafe located on the main street which sometimes has kids-eat-free specials too, so worth checking out.
Things to do
For holidaying families, there is a popular Mini Golf centre located on the Princes Highway through town. There are also some great near-by animal parks such as Birdland – perfect for pre-schoolers and primary school-aged children, and, as mentioned, the excellent Mogo Zoo. Numerous parks and playgrounds are all along the coast, plus there are tennis courts to hire, and some good bike paths.
Fishing is a big pursuit here too, plus you can hire boats, jet skis and even Houseboats (next to the bridge) for a trip down the Clyde River – relatively expensive, but a true get-away for the whole family.
A large fair, Bell’s Carnival, takes up residence every Christmas holidays, the odd seasonal circus passes through. If you’re visiting in January, there are Australia Day fireworks at Batehaven near the Carnival too.
Go for a scenic South Coast tourist drive
The Batemans Bay to Moruya area is also well known for its pretty scenic drives. Here are a couple of half-day trips for you to consider.
The Coastal loop
Leave Batemans Bay main street, turning left and sticking to the coast towards Batehaven. Keep driving, choosing any major left turn as you go, and you’ll come across surf beaches and pretty little bay and beach cove towns and inlets such as Surf Beach (as the name implies, there’s a great surf beach here!), Malua Bay, Rosedale, Tomakin, Guerilla Bay (a fascinating big rock is here), Broulee and Barlings Beach (basically, a huge caravan park along a beautiful beach). If you’re lucky, out to sea from the cliffs you may spot dolphins playing in the waves, or even whales out in the ocean-proper during South Coast whale season.
The coastal section of this drive only takes about twenty minutes, and if you head back to Batemans Bay via the inland highway, that’s only around another twenty minutes drive back, plus you can stop off at Mogo, a tiny town full of cute little craft shops and cafes. Here also you’ll find the brilliant little Mogo Zoo – well worth a look, with it’s mix of small right up to large African animals, including rare white lions. You can have a lovely lunch at their café, with the roar of lions in the background!
To drive this costal loop, here is a map guide to roughly follow
Highway trip to the Bodalla Cheese Factory
If you opt to turn left and continue on up the highway, or take the Princes Highway direct from Batemans Bay, you can visit some great little towns such as Moruya (30 minutes from Batemans Bay via the Princes Highway, some nice cafes here) and Bodalla (50 minutes), home of the Bodalla Cheese Factory and Dairy Shed café.
This charming little café has a great tree-top seating area out the back and huge lawn for the kids to play on, and their resident calves, alpacas and goats in a paddock just off it. If you are there at 4pm, you can even help feed the calves!
To drive to Moruya and Bodalla Cheese Factory, here is a map guide to roughly follow
Batemans Bay is worth the trip
This picturesque little area is popular for family holidays for a reason – there so much to see and do, and there’s not a sky-scraper to be seen, making it a true city get-away holiday.
Even if you are just taking the coastal-route to Melbourne or Adelaide from Sydney, definitely plan for a decent stop-off in this great little New South Wales South Coast town – Batemans Bay is well worth the trip!
For more information on Batemans Bay and the NSW South Coast, visit the Eurobodalla Coast website here.
This review is an independent, non-sponsored Australian travel blog review. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever visited Batemans Bay or the NSW Eurobodalla Coast on a family holiday? What did you enjoy doing, or where did you enjoy staying? Tell us in the comments below…