Things to do in Sussex Inlet & Shoalhaven
Whether you're looking to enjoy a tranquil holiday in the bush by the water; or seeking non-stop adventure, Sussex Inlet and Shoalhaven will not disappoint.
Discover nature on your doorstep in Sussex Inlet
The town of Sussex Inlet, located on the lands of the Native Dhurga People on the South Coast of NSW, is a popular escape for those who are longing to get away from it all. Whether you yearn to get out on the water, explore the beaches, or lose yourself in the surrounding forests of the Conjola or Booderee National Parks, Sussex Inlet makes the ideal base camp.
Filled with friendly locals, the pace of Sussex Inlet is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby cities. The town centre is situated amongst a system of tidal canals that lead into the narrow waters that the town takes its name from, and that link St Georges Basin to the nearby Tasman Sea. Across the inlet, Sussex overlooks the well-known Jervis Bay Territory and Booderee NP, as well as being the southernmost boundary for the territory. The region has a reputation for its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant native land-based and marine wildlife.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to visit Haven Holiday Resort Sussex Inlet, whether it be to sample the region's food and wine, relax on the river, hike in the national park, enjoy the legendary fishing, or visit the local markets, walk the white sand beaches, or simply to get away from it all for something simpler, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Life on the Water
With much of the town of Sussex Inlet built around a system of tidal canals that flow into its namesake, joining the large lake of St Georges Basin to the nearby Tasmin Sea, it is of no surprise that both the folks of Sussex Inlet and visitors to the region spend much of their time out on the water.
The inlet, with its crystal clear waters, overlooking Jervis Bay Territory on the far bank, makes for a safe, sheltered place for families with children to swim, standup paddleboard and kayak, and is dotted with stretches of sand along the shore.
Nearby Swan Lake (a mere five minutes from the heart of town) is also the perfect spot for kayak and paddleboarders, and for those that prefer a dip or paddle in the ocean, the Sussex Inlet Surf and Life Saving Club is a five minute drive to the south located on the long stretch of sands that are Cudmirrah Beach.
When you are surrounded by water in all directions, it is also of no surprise that Sussex Inlet is a renowned fishing destination with visitors returning again and again to snag the ultimate thumper.
No matter what your style, freshwater, rock, beach or open-sea game fishing, Sussex Inlet has it all. The canals and the jetty in town are also the perfect place to take the kids to wet a line.
So whether you have come prepared, or decide to fish on a whim, the Sussex Inlet Marine Centre has all the fishing tackle you will need for hire or purchase, as well as offer boat, kayak, SUP board, and bicycle hire.
Read our guide to fishing in Sussex Inlet here.
You cannot get a better spot for boating than Sussex Inlet! St Georges Basin and Swan Lake are a favourite for boating enthusiasts. There are ample boat ramps in Sussex Inlet to access St Georges'; and one in the town of Swanhaven to the South-West of Sussex to access Swan Lake.
Sussex Inlet Marie Centre has spots for visitors to moor their boats for a small daily fee, and if you didn't bring the boat, not to worry, they also have boats for hire.
Sussex Inlet Pontoons offer luxury guided or self-guided pontoon hire and are a fabulous way to discover the waterways of Sussex Inlet, and for families or groups to spend the day.
For those that enjoy sailing, the Sussex Inlet and Basin Yacht Club sail Swan Lake all year round, and St Georges Basin in season.
Haven Holiday Resort is located on the lands of the Yuin (Djuwin) Nation, and in the spirit of reconciliation, we acknowledge the Saltwater Dhurga Traditional Custodians' past, present and future, and their connections to land, sea, and community.
The Yuin Nation extends from Nowra down along the coast to the NSW/Victoria border, with the Dhurga language people roughly inhabiting the area between Nowra to Narooma.
The history of the Yuin people dates back over 40, 000 years, with their ancestors having cared for this sacred country over innumerable generations.
There are several local Yuin sacred sites close by to Haven Holiday Resort. The closest significant site is Booderee National Park which is home to the Dhurga Wreck Bay People. Booderee means "bay of plenty" or "plenty of fish", and the people of Wreck Bay, are said to still to this day be great fishers.
The village of Wreck Bay, although within the National Park is located on private land and is not open to the public, however, the majority of the Bherwerre Peninsula where Booderee is located has public access and contains over 100 Native Peoples historical sites that consist of shell middens, burial grounds, ceremonial grounds, rock shelters, and tool-sharpening grooves thought to date as far back as 6,000 years.
A little Further afield and west from Milton to the south of Sussex Inlet lies the rugged Budawang
mountain range and the recognisable Pigeon House Mountain, traditionally known as Didthul or Balgan, where the Wandi Wandian, Walbanja and Budawang people made the surrounding country their hunting grounds and sacred places for thousands of years. The ABC's 'This Place' series featured a five-minute video on the dreamtime story of Balgan titled "Bumbi, Balgan, and the Budawang People".
Image of Pigeon House Mountain (Didthul), Morton National Park - Credit: Destination NSW
For anyone seeking a deeper connection to Country on their holiday, there are a few tours operated by local Native Peoples to experience whilst visiting. The Booderee Botanic Gardens are the only Aboriginal-owned and managed botanic gardens in Australia and often run guided tours where visitors can learn about the Indigenous history of the region, how to find bush tucker and medicinal uses of local plants. Activities and workshops are held during most school holidays, and information can be found at the Visitor Centre.
Djiriba Waagura (meaning Two Crows in the Dhurga language) runs guided tours in both nearby Huskisson, and at Nowra's Warigala Badha (Ben's Walk). These tours are a great way to experience the region's Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in some of the most beautiful landscapess in the country.
All guided tours are subject to current regulations and restrictions, so please check to see if they are running prior to your trip.
Walk the White Sands
Jervis Bay is home to some of the whitest sand beaches in the world, having been formed by quartz crystals that have been weathered over thousands or millions of years. Beginning at Huskisson and stretching down to the northern tip of Booderee National Park you will find the majority of the best beaches in the world.
There are two walking trails that can be taken to explore the stunning beaches; the pathed accessible Round the Bay walking track from Huskisson to Vincentia which passes five of the white sand beaches, the stand out is the family friendly Moona Moona; and the better-known White Sands Walk which travels across the sands in some spots and is flanked by national Park with the stand out being the busy Hyams Beach, and Greenfields which is a great spot for family BBQs. Within Booderee Murray's Beach is a must visit with sands as white as Hyams, often with visiting wallabies and a variety of marine life close to the shore making it a great spot for a snorkel. Cave Beach on the far said of Booderee near Wreck Bay is our recommend for surfers.
Pristine Marine Park Waters
The waters do not get much better than what you find at Jervis Bay. A rich turquoise and filled with an abundant selection of endemic marine life such as the Weedy Sea Dragons, as well as many varieties of Sea Horse, endangered Pipefish, soft corals, Port Jackson and Grey Nurse Sharks, Dolphins, Seals and of course, migrating Humpback Whales that use the Bay as a rest stop for the newly born young on the way south.
There are many ways to experience the protected waters of the Jervis Bay Marine Park, from snorkelling along the shores, by paddleboard or kayak, day sail with Jervis Bay Sailing Charters, dolphin or whale watch with Dolphin Watch Cruises Jervis Bay or Jervis Bay Wild, and for a full immersive experience, join Dive Jervis Bay for an underwater experience you will never forget.
Image of Dive Jervis Bay, Jervis Bay - Credit: Jordan Robins
Booderee National Park
Located within Jervis Bay Teritory, Booderee National Park is located on the land of the Wreck Bay people who manage the park in conjunction with Parks Australia. When you visit, it becomes abundantly clear why the Dhurga speaking saltwater people of the area named it Booderee ('Bay of Plenty' or 'Bay of Fish').
Booderee is filled with hiking trails, spectacular beaches, incredible clifside ocean views that are made even better in whale season as they pass alongside the coast, a plethera of native wildlife, and expansive Botanic Gardens. Whether you are there to enjoy the surf or a snorkel, walk the trails, disover the local culture of the Wreck Bay people, or view the incredible variation in flora and fauna, including the rich marine life, it is certainly a destination that needs to be added to your Shoalhaven things-to-do list.
Check for opening times, current restrictions, or purchase a visitor pass.
Fun for the kids at Sussex
Sussex Inlet is the best place to get the kids away from technology and out in the outdoors. There are a range of activities to be enjoyed, from swimming, playgrounds, local skatepark and Inlet Cinema, there will surely be things to keep them busy no matter what their age.
If you are looking for somewhere to take a dip then you need not go far, Haven Holiday Resort has a pool, and the clear waters of the Inlet can make a great place for a splash or snorkel. Sussex Inlet beach is less than a three minute drive and is patrolled during holiday periods. For small children and toddler shallow and calm swimming spot at Swan Lake at the end of Medlyn's Avenue five minutes away from the resort, as well as ten mins away in Berrara at the Kangaroo Lagoon at the end of Berrara Road, and there is a great snorkling spot at the Berrara Cove, as well as fossils to be spotted amongst the rocks.
There are a few bike tracks close by to enjoy as a family with a picnic in tow, and little kids can easily ride the accessible Waterside Walk along the foreshore in town, or head off to Huskisson to ride the shared path alongside the waters of Jervis Bay.
There are a range of playgrounds in Sussex and surrounds including Lions Park and Jacob Elmoos Reserve, which are both along the water, and playground at the Thompson Street Sports Complex near the skatepark, Sussex Inlet Aquatic Centre and learn-to-ride bike path.
Spend the Day in Nowra
Nowra has a range of attractions to make the perfect family day trip whilst staying in Shoalhaven. Shoalhaven Zoo has a range of native and exotic animals on display situated along the Shoalhaven River and is open every day except Christmas. There are also encounters from feeding the lions, to snuggling with a Meerkat for anyone wnating to get up close and personal. Located next to the zoo, Treetops Adventure has courses for ages 3yrs and up, and if you are lucky, you may even get to spot some of the zoo inhabitants down below.
Enjoy views of the Shoalhaven River and countryside with Ben's Walk. Starting at the showgrounds, there is a two-hour or ten-minute option to the footbridge and back. When the sun is sweltering, head to Nowra Aquatic Park for a splash. along with the outside pool, they have waterslides for the big kids and a splash zones for the little ones.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum is an interactive way for the family to learn about our Naval Aviation history and is open Tuesday to Sunday. Best thing of all, entry is free.
Image of Trees Adventure, North Nowra - Credit Dee Kramer
Rainy Day Adventures
Keeping the kids busy on rainy days can be challenging, if settling in with a movie at your accommodation won't cut the mustard, here are a few things to keep them entertained in the meantime.
Sussex Inlet has a range of op shops, indoor Aquatic Centre, and the Inlet Cinema to help the time pass.
If you head down to Ulladulla, most kids will be ecstatic to visit the three-level Funland with its dodgem cars, interactive rides and arcade games. The Arcadia Twin Cinema usually has a few children's movies to select from and the Ulladulla Leisure Centre has a toddler pool, or if you prefer to go for a swim or use the gym, a child minding service.
Huskisson's Indoor Climb South Coast has rock climbing for all ages over five and can provide lessons for newbies, catch a film at Huskisson Pictures, or enjoy a few hours boutique shopping followed by delicious cafe and bar eats in town.
No matter what gets your blood pumping, you are sure to find adventure when you stay in Shoalhaven. From diving in Jervis Bay, epic climbs, to intense mountain bike missions through the many National Park trails in the region.
Head to Nowra's Treetops Adventure to tackle an obstacle course with climbing and zip-lines amongst the treetops for an exhilarating couple of hours. If rock climbing and abseiling is more your cup of tea, then Outdoor Raw have a range of climbing packages from half and full-day climbs, Cliffnics (picnic suspended from a cliff-face with superb views), and group packages.
There are two medium-grade biking routes through the nearby Conjola National Park beginning at Cudmirrah, the 22km return loop Heath Circuit and the 1km one-way Walter Hood ride ending at Monument Beach picnic area. 30 minutes away just south of Nowra, the South Coast United Mountainbikers manage a range of trails to suit varying abilities.
Dive Jervis Bay has all your diving needs sorted, with a range of diving sites around the protected waters beautiful Jervis Bay, and experiences that can be tailored to your ability. Diving is an exhilarating way to get up close to the whales, seals, and grey nurse sharks, as well as the many more endemic marine species that exist only in the waters of Jervis Bay.
Image of Outdoor Raw, Nowra - Credit: Destination NSW
Catch a Wave
There are plenty of great waves to catch in Shoalhaven, with ample great surf beaches and hidden coves to suit all types of surfers, whether you are learning or a pro. It is highly likely that you would have heard of the surf down in Mollymook and Ulladulla, or up in Culburra, with various World Champions having hailed from there, and there is a reason they are so well known. There are some equally good spots that are a little off the beaten path, such as Wreck Bay's Cave Beach which is perfect for beginners, and Sussex Inlet/Cudmirrah Beach with more advanced waves to the left of the Sussex Inlet Surf Life Saving Club, and beginner to intermediate waves towards the southern end of the beach. Make sure you stop in at the Ocean and Earth surf shop in the town of Sussex when you visit.
Kitesurfers will also be in their element with the perfect conditions consistently found at Jervis Bay's Collingwood Beach in Vincentia anytime after 10 am. Mollymook to the south is another popular spot, as is Callala Beach in Jervis Bay North.
Download the local Shoalhaven Surf Guide before your next holiday.
Image of Surfing in Wreck Bay, Booderee - Credit: Dee Kramer
Enjoy Golf? Well, there's a friendly nine-hole golf course at the Sussex Inlet Golf Club for visitors and locals to enjoy. The golf course is set amidst a relaxed coastal bush setting where it is no surprise to see a roo or two on the green whilst you take your putt. If you haven't brought your clubs, not to worry as there is a pro golf shop on site that can hire them along with your golf balls and buggies. For those whose favourite hole is the nineteenth, there is both indoor and outdoor seating, with barbecue facilities and cool drinks for sale.
On the water in Sussex Inlet you can also find the Bowling Club. A great place to go for a game of barefoot bowls with friends, or join in a friendly competition, the local Bowlo also has some pretty good Chinese and Western-style food at their 22nd End Restaurant. Check out the Sussex Inlet Bowling Club for more information.
Coffee and Brunch?
If you need a good coffee to get you kickstarted in the mornings then head down to Pelican Shores Cafe & Marina for a bacon and eggs breakfast right on the stunning waterfront. Great coffee can also be had from Inlet Eats, where they also have a fantastic selection of homemade quiches and can cater for your picnics and gatherings, and Bean 2 Sussex, a little cafe with a twist. For some very special Hawaiian-infused Japanese, make sure you visit Island Sushi in Cudmirrah for a delicious lunch.
A little further away near the waters of Jervis Bay in Huskisson, you will also find a range of cafes and bars to make the perfect start, or end, of a day enjoying the white sand beaches or bushwalking in Booderee. Our picks are 5 Little Pigs, Salty Joes, Pilgrims Vegetarian Cafe, and Merciers Gelato and Coffee, but really, you will be hard-pressed to go wrong.
Sussex Inlet has a few places along the water to grab a bite at night, however most kitchens close around 8pm so best to organise yourself and book a table during peak holiday periods. The locals in Sussex know to head to the Sussex Inlet RSL's Bamboo River Restaurant near the Marine Centre with its mix of Australian and various Asain cuisines, or to the Bowling Club's 22nd End Restaurant for a mix of Australian and Chinese food with both open seven days for lunch and dinner. On Fridays and Saturdays enjoy dining on the deck of the Pelican Shores Restaurant for a bite of seafood, but bookings here are essential. There are also a few options for grabbing some takeaway to enjoy in the park or at your accommodation if you get in early enough. Kings Porker BBQ serves up some pretty tasty Southern BBQ and chillie sauce and are generally open as late as 9pm, and Batesys Takeaway and Seafood can be found on Jacobs Drive.
More information can be found on Sussex Inlet eateries from the town's Chamber of Commerce.
Cellar Door Discoveries
Shoalhaven has a range of wineries that visitors can make a day or weekend out of, or find one and kick back for an afternoon surrounded by the stunning local scenery.
The winery with possibly the largest selection is Cupitt's Estate just out of Ulladulla. The location is superb with views over the nearby lake and Milton countryside. Not only are they just a cellar door, but there is also a brewery, fromagerie, and restaurant serving up fresh, local farm-to-table fare. With indoor and outdoor seating, this is definitely our pick for whiling away the afternoon.
Further to the North near Nowra, there are many wineries in the lush countryside surrounding Kangaroo Valley and the historic township of Berry. Silos Estate where you can enjoy a range of wines with a tasting, enjoy the fine dining at Silos Restaurant, or view the alpacas. Cambewarra Estate is a family-run, and family-friendly cellar door, restaurant, and high-tea destination set amongst the lush foothills of the majestic Cambewarra Mountain. Taking you back in time, the award-winning Coolangatta Estate is worth a visit for a stroll amongst the vines if nothing else. Enjoy a tasting at the cellar door, or lunch or dinner at the restaurant.
Remember to book ahead so as not to miss out.
Massages and more...
While on holiday what could be better than starting your time away with some possibly much needed pampering?
Lamai Thai Massages are located at 30 Ibis Place in Sussex Inlet and provide a great deep tissue massage for those needing to work on those knots and rid themselves of extra tension. A Healing Touch Massage offers therapeutic relaxation massages with healing work where needed from Gioia (pronounced Joya)'s home a mere five-minutes from town. In Vincentia Rebecca provides remedial massage at Transforming Touch.
There are a range of mobile spa services for holidaymakers to choose from to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own accommodation. Body & Mind Mobile Day Spa offer a range of premium day spa packages and facials for singles or groups using only organic products. The Organic Day Spa also provide spa packages for singles and couples using only pure organic products, as well as thoughtful pregnancy massage. Justine's Mobile Beauty Therapy provides massage, facials manis and pedis, and can even accommodate pamper parties if traveling with friends.
If you are wanting the full day spa experience, there are a range of businesses 30-minutes away from Sussex such as Beauty Indulgence Day Spa in Milton, Beauty Luscious in Huskisson, Restore Face Body Soul and Wholistic Beauty in Nowra.
Taking it Easy
With private access to the clear waters of Sussex Inlet, and bush surroundings of the Conjola National Park, it is pretty easy to find an outdoor spot to put your feet up at Haven Holiday Resort. Find a patch of beach along the inlet, or layout a picnic blanket on the grass or by the resort pool and relax with your favourite book. Haven is a great place when all you want to do is not much at all.
There are leisurely walks to be had in the surrounding forest including the Alamein Walk from Haven into Sussex Inlet along the river with entry to town via the Alamein Caravan Park, although there are steps so this walk may not be suitable for those with accessibility needs. Waterside Walk is an accessible pathway along the river foreshore in town from the RSL down to where the track joins River Road, and there are plenty more walks in the region to keep you busy.
If you came to be on the water, then you can take a relaxing float along the inlet, lounge in the pool at Haven, or head to the beaches of Jervis Bay to enjoy a day amongst the pristine white sands and clear, turquoise waters.
Art and Culture
Shoalhaven boasts a rich and diverse art community inspired by the richness of the surrounding landscapes. Having attracted the likes of renowned artist Arthur Boyd, connoisseurs of his work and contemporaries such as Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley will want to add the late artist's homestead, Bundanon meaning 'deep valley' in Dharawal, to their itinerary. The Shoalhaven Regional Art Gallery in Nowra is also a must-visit, as is are the street murals throughout the town by world-famous artists.
Further south, Milton's Millhouse Gallery showcases local artists from the region, and the Van Rensburg Galleries features both emerging and current National and International artists. The Milton Theatre is also rich in history and worth a visit if you are lucky enough to catch a show there.
The Berry Museum is certainly a must-do for the history buffs, as is the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum in Huskisson, and the Navy's Fleet Air Arm Museum near Nowra.
Please check with the local businesses for opening times before planning your trip.
Sussex Inlet is the home of fishing, so it is no surprise that it has a fishing festival or two. The Sussex Family Fishing Carnival is held annually over the last week of the July school holidays and is a favourite amongst both grown ups and the kids as they compete to catch five tagged fish. The Sussex Inlet Bowling Club's Fishing Club generally hold the B.R.O.E Classic in May.
If you are interested in all things viking, then you might be keen to learn more of Sussex Inlet's Scandinavian heritage. June 2021 saw the inaugural Sussex Inlet Viking Festival held along the foreshore across the water from Christian's Minde in Jervis Bay Territory with a range of activities including armoured combat and viking games.
Huskisson is the home to a range of Shoalhaven events, from their two day South Coast Food and Wine Festival in March, to the athletic Husky Triathlon Festival in February, Husky Half Running Festival, Tri Husky Festival and the The Bay Games all held throughout November.
Please check that events are going ahead as scheduled before heading on your holiday.
Shoalhaven has a range of monthly markets for visitors and locals enjoy, from arts and crafts, community and farmers markets with the best local produce you can get.
Both the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum Markets in Huskisson and Milton Village Showground Markets are held on the 1st Saturday of every month. Every 2nd Saturday of the month, the Sussex Inlet Community Markets are held on the grounds of the community church.
Pyree Village Arts & Crafts Market run by the Shoalhaven Potters is held the 4th Sunday of the month Jan-Nov and 3rd Sunday in Dec. The Mollymook Beach Markets are held the 5th Sunday of every month as well as the 26th of January every year.
For farmers markets, head to the Nowra Farmers Market open Mon-Sat, on the 2nd Sunday of each month head to the Kangaroo Valley Farmers Markets, and the Berry Farmer's Market is held every Thursday afternoon between 2-5pm in winter and 3-6pm in summer.
Make sure you check before heading out to your chosen market in case there are any changes due to weather etc.