For my birthday, V and I had a weekend away at Narooma, approximately 5 hours or 350 km south of Sydney. Narooma itself is a small town of 3,100 people but I expect that swells during the warmer season – the place is abundant with water activities. To the west, there is kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing in Forsters Bay. To the south are numerous expansive beaches and Corunna Lake. To the east is picturesque Wagonga Inlet, which one can pleasurably explore via a leisurely walk along its shore and over the Narooma bridge.
The focus of our trip though, was a further 9km east: Montague Island, a nature reserve that is home to several thousand penguins and a couple colonies of fur seals. We joined a meet up of other keen divers and snorkelers to hop on a boat and meet the seals.
Sunrise at Handkerchief Beach
Firstly, we took the opportunity to take some photos of the sunrise at Handkerchief Beach.
Breakfast at the Forsters Bay
Then, we had brunch at the Narooma Quarterdeck Marina. It’s regular cafe fare (with very friendly service) but what really stood out was its stunning view of the lake.
With a full stomach, we had a look at the inlet. There’s a 30-minute stroll one can do from the north side of the inlet around to the south. The path on the north is over the water and apparently one can see various sea life just underneath.
I more was interested in seeing Australia Rock, a rock formation on the beach where a hole on the rock looks very much like the shape of Australia (without Tasmania).
Sitting on the wharf, we were treated to some daring diving by some local kids. I’d say it was reckless if it didn’t look like they did it all the time.
From the wharf, the group boarded our chartered boat to head on over to Montague Island to the first colony of seals.
It was an altogether different dive to any V and I had done. Firstly, unlike other dives where we’d follow a divemaster (who would guide us through the dive site), we were stationary as the main attraction (the seals) came to us. Secondly, the 5mm suit was the thickest wet suit V and I had each worn – buoyancy control was very tricky. I had a shocking time controlling my depth, bobbing up and down on both dives of the day. Max depth was no deeper than 10m, underwater temperature was 18 degrees and dive time was ~40 each time. Technically, my “worst” dive.
Still, we had a great time as the seals were very friendly and weren’t the least shy about getting close to us. They swam around, over and under us without a care for us. We spotted a few Port Jackson sharks and manta rays too.
Here’s a video I took of the seals and Port Jackson sharks.
After our dives, we took a tour of the island, whose lighthouse and caretakers throughout the decades hold an interesting history. We also watched the penguins come to shore at sunset but alas, I didn’t have the equipment to photograph them.
The word? A great weekend away from the big smoke. Lots of activities abound in the area as the place caters to tourists well. There are no less than 3 dive shops and at least 3 boat operators in the area. Call around. Accommodation ranges from the rustic to the luxurious. Nothing really shouted “tourist trap” to us – the place was abundant with local charm. Check it out.