News Satire People Food Other

Sea, Sand, Forest, Heath… Jervis Bay, A Place For All Seasons

By Keith Hutton on May 31, 2016 in Other

Photo: Keith Hutton

Photo: Keith Hutton

At the end of summer you may need to get away for a break, no matter how good life is where you spend most of your time. If you live in the bush, the city or the coast might attract you: see the ocean, experience the vagaries of the weather there; eat out or go to a live show. If the city is where you spend most of your time, a quiet, peaceful spell might be preferred, and one of the best destinations is Jervis Bay, where I just spent a few days relaxing. I’ve been visiting there for nearly 40 years and the magic remains.

Hyams Beach is said to have the whitest sand in the world – soft, fine and squeaky, with beaches uncluttered and clean, gently sloping from low dunes into shallow clear waters that exhibit an amazing range of tints, from crystal blue-green to leaden grey, depending on the sky, cloud cover, light and mood of the day. Wildlife is abundant and accessible just a few minutes walk from the café and store. Rare and threatened species such as Ground Parrots, Eastern Bristlebirds and Square-tailed Kites are seen regularly on the heath above the bay; whales, dolphins and fur seals in the water; and bandicoots, possums, kangaroos, wallabies, and Diamond Pythons in and around parkland and gardens. The well-planned ‘Bird Spotters Walk’ followed by a short detour along the road out of the village, at the right time of year, can result in observations of all these Australian icons, some of which are no longer seen as often as they used to be.

There is another longer, wilder walk nearby in the Booderee National Park that starts at Murrays Beach, arguably the best beach in the area. The shady trail leads through old temperate forest to Governor Head lookout. You can see the distant Point Perpendicular and Bowen Island, where Little Penguins breed, and there are amazing panoramic views of Jervis Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Often sea eagles soar above the cliffs, and in spring magnificent Humpback Whales rest briefly with their calves in the water below, en route to their summer feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean. Ahead there is a wild expanse of open heath before the track heads back through woodland and forest.

Throughout the year there is something of interest. There are always spectacular wildflowers, and in spring bristlebirds and heath wrens sing vigorously among the impenetrable vegetation; in summer through to autumn Jacky Lizards are abundant along the sandy path basking in the sun, chasing insects or scuttling away from you; frogs click, trill, plonk and cackle in wetter areas. For most of the year, when the weather is right, thousands of sea birds are out over the ocean moving north and south to feed or breed, close to shore at any time when avoiding ocean storms and inclement weather.

The Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community and the Australian Government jointly manage Booderee National Park and Botanic Gardens in Jervis Bay, in the same way as Kakadu and Uluru are managed, and it is no surprise to me that there are more than 450,000 visitors to Booderee every year, a number roughly equal to all the people visiting Kakadu, Uluru, Norfolk Island and Christmas Island national parks combined.