Three-day Sapphire Coast itinerary

The Sapphire Coast is known for its many natural wonders, from ancient geological marvels, to heritage landmarks and the state’s most untouched coastal wilderness areas. But among its many gems, oysters may be the jewel in the crown.

Oysters grown on the Sapphire Coast are some of the most highly regarded in Australia, thanks to the pristine natural environment in which they are grown, coupled with a passionate oyster farming community and regenerative farming practices.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sapphire Coast NSW (@sapphirecoastnsw)

A long weekend trip to the Sapphire Coast offers great opportunities to savour the sought-after Sydney rock oyster straight from the source, in the stunning nature surroundings that make them so special. Far away from the fine-dining restaurants of the nation’s cities, you’ll discover oyster shacks, farm tours, tasting experiences and tide-to-table dining, all centred around the key producing estuaries of our coastline.

This three-day itinerary takes you from Bermagui to Pambula, designed to show off the best of the Sapphire Coast’s oyster offerings, packed into three epic days.

Read: Take three: Limestone Coast

Day one – Bermagui to Tathra

Begin your morning at beautiful Bermagui River, the northernmost oyster-producing estuary on the Sapphire Coast. There’s no local farm gate open to the public, but you can take an intimate guided kayak tour with Navigate Expeditions to explore the river’s network of mangrove forests and oyster leases, complete with a delicious morning tea of local goodies. Confident paddlers can explore solo on their own watercraft, or hire kayaks from Bermagui Bait and Tackle. After your morning paddle, visit the Bermagui Bait and Tackle shopfront to pick up a dozen fresh oysters, delivered fresh from Wapengo Rocks.

Stop in on Bermagui’s famous Blue Pool before continuing along the Tathra-Bermagui Road, one of the most spectacular drives on the Sapphire Coast. You’ll cross stunning rivers, creeks and estuaries on the timber planks of charming one-lane bridges, and cruise through stunning country farmland, surrounded by spotted gum forests and wooded mountains.

After crossing the Murrah River, you’ll soon glimpse the turnoff to Mimosa Wines, set on 250 acres in a tranquil valley between the mountains and the sea. Their restaurant enjoys expansive views across the hinterland, matched by a refined and thoughtful menu showcasing local produce. Enjoy a selection of local oysters, followed by your choice of main with local ingredients such as Mystery Bay kelp, Narooma octopus and Snowy Mountains rainbow trout.

Next is a visit to Nelson Lagoon, one of the most stunning locations on the Sapphire Coast. It’s a short walk from the car park to the lagoon, through a beautiful spotted gum and burrawang forest. Nelson Lagoon is the home of Tathra Oysters, which has been farming Sydney rock oysters on secluded lagoon leases since 1988. Surrounded by the forests of Mimosa Rocks National Park, oysters here are grown in true wilderness conditions. These oysters have won more than 180 awards to date.

Enjoy a refreshing dip in the lagoon’s turquoise waters before continuing south on the road to Tathra. Head to the top of town to pick up fresh Tathra Oysters at the Rodley family home shopfront, then drive along Bega Street to Tathra Headland car park. You can stroll the 300-metre Tathra Headland Walk, which leads to the historic Tathra Wharf, the last surviving original deep-water wharf on the eastern seaboard of New South Wales.

Dinner is at Pividori’s Tathra Beach, a new relaxed fine dining venue, located literally on Tathra Beach. The simple, elegant menu offers oysters from Wapengo Rocks, seafood from Narooma, and glorious ocean views.

Day two – Merimbula

Any Merimbula local would argue that there is hardly any better way to start the day than by strolling along Merimbula’s famous boardwalk. Following the curving foreshore of Merimbula Lake, the boardwalk meanders 3km return through mangrove forests, over deep red Devonian rock and past Merimbula’s bobbing flotilla of oyster leases. Oysters have been farmed in Merimbula Lake since the 1900s, and the estuary is now a key producer of around 600,000 dozen oysters annually.

Read: The slices of paradise voted Australia’s top holiday towns

After a leisurely morning, jump in the car to head south along the Princes Highway to Millingandi, located on the wide open flats of Merimbula Lake’s western edge. Turn left onto Oyster Track and follow signs to The Oyster Barn, the home of family-owned Merimbula Gourmet Oysters. At the end of the winding dirt road, you’ll find their lakeside sheds situated among the mangroves, with a delectable selection of seafood offerings on the menu.

Their range of hot and cold oysters prove irresistible, with toppings such as wakame seaweed and kewpi mayo, grilled cheesy mornay, Kilpatrick, and garlic herb and butter, just to name a few. They also serve generous prawn baguettes with crunchy salad, grilled half shell scallops, Narooma crayfish, crispy garlic bread, and specials such as local seafood chowder. They’re BYO too, so don’t forget to bring along your favourite drop for this authentic lakeside dining experience.

For a taste of local oyster history, pay a visit to the Merimbula Old School Museum, located in town on Main Street. It’s only open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1.30pm – 4pm, but history buffs will consider it well worth a stop. The museum’s collection includes a 1920s flat-bottomed timber oyster punt that was built by a well-known local oyster farmer, fisherman and boat builder Augustus Cole, as well as range of beautiful oyster and scallop plates from around the world. Wander the historical displays, showcasing history of the region including fishing, oyster farming and agriculture.

For a luxury dinner experience, book a sunset sitting at Valentina. Perched above Merimbula Lake, be transported to the Mediterranean coast as you step into their stunning dining room. An impeccably styled interior is eclipsed only by a divine seasonal menu and excellent service. Their small plate dishes are best shared, with offerings such as scallop crudo with orange saffron and chervil, charred scampi with caviar beurre blanc, and stracciatella with figs. But don’t forget the oysters, served with ginger and lime mignonette.

Day three – Pambula

Take the easy drive to Pambula Lake, stopping in at historic Pambula village for your morning brew before continuing along the Princes Highway towards Eden. After crossing the heritage-listed Yowaka River Bridge, take a left turn on to Landing Road, down to the oyster sheds on the water’s edge. Pambula Lake is a natural spawning ground of the Sydney rock oyster, and is home to 16 oyster farms with a cumulative 60 hectares of lease area.

Captain Sponge (aka Brett Weingarth) farms a number of oyster leases in Pambula Lake and Pambula River, based out of his rustic oyster hut on the foreshore. Jump on board his oversized oyster punt for an Magical Oyster Tour, an unmissable experience for both seasoned oyster lovers and newbies. You’ll get to sample Pambula’s renowned rock oysters straight from the water, receive a crash course in oyster husbandry, plus enjoy a scenic cruise along one of the most spectacular waterways in New South Wales.

Read: Travel SOS: Broome on a budget

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, both underwater and on land. Pambula Lake is surrounded by the coastal woodlands of Beowa National Park, home to soaring white-bellied sea eagles that nest in the lofty treetops, as well as pied oystercatchers that forage for molluscs along the sandy mudflats. Spot the silver shimmer of stingrays as they glide along the sandy-bottomed seabed, or dolphins as they chase salmon schools up the river.

Are you a fan of oysters? What do you think of this itinerary? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -