The town of Bomaderry lies on the north bank of the Shoalhaven River, across from Nowra, which is the major settlement in the City of Shoalhaven.
Bomaderry and Nowra are practically contiguous, and attractions like Shoalhaven Zoo, the historic house museum Meroogal and the sheer cliffs lining the river are all a few minutes away.
Bomaderry is also perfectly positioned for cruises along the Shoalhaven River and trips out into the fast-growing Shoalhaven Coast Wine Region to cellar doors.
Head down the coast and in no time at all you’ll be in the Jervis Bay National Park, loved for its powder-white beaches and astounding array of natural habitats.
1. Shoalhaven Coast Wine Region
Bomaderry is in the middle of an extensive wine region that tracks the coastline from Kangaroo Valley down to Milton.
With vineyards bedded on north-facing slopes in lush green valleys, this region has really come to the fore over the last couple of decades.
Shoalhaven Coast has warm summers offset by the pacific is known, and is known mainly for red grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and also Chambourcin.
This variety does especially well here because it can withstand the occasionally wet summers, and produces great young wines.
As for Bomaderry, you couldn’t choose a better spot from which to discover the region.
There are three wineries practically in the town’s backyard, at Two Figs Winery, Collangatta Estate and Mountain Ridge Wines.
2. Shoalhaven Zoo
The riverside zoo a couple of minutes west in North Nowra holds all of the famous species associated with Australia.
As well as a variety of kangaroo and wallaby species, there are wombats, echidnas, koalas, quokkas, emus, dingoes and saltwater crocodiles.
Shoalhaven Zoo also keeps plenty of exotic animals, among them lions, meerkats and all sorts of domestic animals.
The park is in 16 acres of native bushland, and encompasses the spectacular cliffs that frame the Shoalhaven River.
Between 11:00 and 15:00 every day there’s a schedule of animal shows to catch, or for a memorable experience you can select from a range of special packages.
The Ultimate Aussie Experience for instance lets you cuddle a koala, hold a snake and get as close as is safely possible to a salty.
3. Fleet Air Arm Museum
HMAS Albatross, the air main station for the Royal Australian Navy’s aviation branch is just outside Bomaderry and has a history dating back to 1942. The museum here opened in 1990, with a collection that has been assembled across five decades.
As of 2020 this fleet contains more than 30 planes and helicopters, mostly displayed in a 6,000m2, two-storey exhibition centre.
Some of the most noteworthy exhibits are a twin-boom de Havilland Sea Vampire, the anti-submarine Grumman S-2 Tracker, a McDonnell DouglasA-46 Skyhawk and a MiG-15. In the helicopter collection are a range of American and British models, including Bells, Sikorskys and Westlands.
As well as a raft of other aviation artefacts and a theatre for audiovisual presentations, there’s an observation platform at the museum looking over HMAS Albatross.
A prized piece of heritage, this weatherboard Carpenter Gothic house over in Nowra was home to four generations of women in the Thorburn and Macgregor families.
The property was constructed in the 1880s and manages to encapsulate the lifestyle, tastes androle of women, as well as the culture of rural New South Wales down the years.
Meroogal is filled with the families’ belongings, from furniture to ornaments, books, photographs, art, diaries, home appliances, clothing and everyday documents.
Touring the house you’ll get an enlightening picture of the occupants’ day to day, their hobbies and skills, while the garden bursts into flower in spring and has been restored to its 1920s layout.
5. Trees Adventure
Up in the canopy of the woodland by Shoalhaven Zoo is a thrilling high ropes course that integrates the cliffs lining the river.
Trees Adventure combines testing transitions like rope bridges, cargo nets, swinging wooden obstacles and monkey bridges, with no fewer than 13 high-adrenaline flying foxes.
Every now and then you’ll catch a glimpse of the zoo enclosures from the treetops.
There are six colour-coded courses to choose from, ranging between yellow for children aged four to seven, and black, 15 metres above the forest floor and equipped with no fewer than 21 challenges.
A 2.5-hour session includes gearing up and 15 minutes of tuition.
6. Grotto Walk
We’ve seen that the banks of the Shoalhaven River just west in Nowra are lined with high sandstone cliffs, and there are interesting nooks to be discovered on both sides.
On the north bank, west of the Nowra Bridge you can walk a two-kilometre trail to an impressive overhang known as the Grotto.
The trail guides you through dense stands of spotted gum and stringy park, and occasionally you’ll be granted satisfying views over the river.
Although it covers a short distance, the hike can be tricky and involves steep stone stairways and scrambling over rocks.
7. Hanging Rock Lookout
Bens Walk is a 5.5-kilometre trail beginning on the other side of the Nowra Bridge from Bomaderry.
The trail hugs the south bank of the Shoalhaven River for a little way upstream before cutting along Nowra Creek and then returning.
Surely the most scenic point along the route is Hanging Rock, a ledge almost 50 metres above the river where you can look upstream to the Grotto and North Nowra.
There’s no better place in Nowra-Bomaderry to watch the sun setting.
Getting to this vantage point is fun too as there’s a natural corridor through a giant wall of rock.
8. Shoalhaven River Cruise
The bushland, farms and striking cliffs lining the Shoalhaven River are all best viewed from the water, and there’s a company ready to take you to see it.
Embarking from the public wharf opposite Bomaderry, Shoalhaven River Cruise is a family company organising trips aboard the Shoalhaven Cruiser, a multi-level vessel with a choice of viewing platforms inside and out.
Amongst the itineraries, you can sail east to the mouth of the Shoalhaven River at Greenwell Point for fish and chips, or go upriver on a 2.5-hour adventure to Red Rock, hearing informative commentary from the skipper as you go.
9. Nowra Fresh Fish & Meat Market
The largest wholesaler for fresh meat and seafood on the South Coast is right across the Shoalhaven River from Bomaderry.
You don’t need to be a foodie to appreciate what’s on offer here.
You can buy many different cuts of locally-reared meat, while the seafood selection is amazing, running to squid, octopus, mussels, prawns, lobsters, oysters and a staggering variety of fish.
There’s a counter where they’ll shuck Sydney rock oysters for you, and you can also pick up some ultra-fresh sushi and sashimi.
For something completely different, the market stocks game meat like crocodile, emu, buffalo, kangaroo, wild rabbit, wild boar and goat.
10. Jervis Bay National Park
South-east of Bomaderry is a national park protecting an amazing diversity of habitats.
Jervis Bay is also steeped in Aboriginal culture, with the highest concentration and greatest variety of archaeological sites of anywhere on the south coast.
These sites range from rock art to coastal middens, axe-grinding grooves and stone artefacts and can be discovered on special excursions organised by the park.
As for nature, there are sprawling eucalypt woodlands, gullies lined with rainforest, rare bangalay sand forest, mangroves, powder-white sandy beaches, saltmarsh, wetlands and a lot more.
And in terms of experiences, there are bush-tucker walks, bird-watching expeditions or snorkelling in the crystalline seas, encountering beautiful wildlife at every turn.
11. Jervis Bay Maritime Museum
This museum can be found right on Currambene Creek surrounded by bush in Huskisson.
The town has real maritime heritage thanks to its historic shipyards.
In fact the star of the museum is the 33.7-metre MV Lady Denman, a Sydney Harbour ferry built right here in 1912. This wooden vessel was returned to Huskisson in the 1980s and then placed in a permanent shed in 1998. The preserved Lady Denman is the last of its kind in NSW and is accompanied by masses of models, photographs, nautical equipment, paintings and photographs relating to the seafaring heritage of the Jervis Bay area.
12. Drawing Room Rocks
For an intrepid excursion you could make for these peculiar formations on the edge of the Illawarra Escarpment in Berry.
At Drawing Room Rocks, the sandstone has been weathered into strange shapes that resemble tables and chairs, which is where the name Drawing Room Rocks comes from.
And added to that, the rocks command sensational views over Kangaroo Valley.
If there’s a drawback it’s that they literally sit on a cliff-edge and you’ll need to go carefully.
Drawing Room Rocks are accessed via a 4.5-kilometre loop, with plenty of steep and tricky sections for a 2.5-hour hike there and back.
13. Callala Beach
The longest beach in Jervis Bay is 20 minutes or so from Bomaderry.
And as with all the beaches in this area, Callala Beach is blessed with pure white sand and shimmering aquamarine waters.
For swimmers the best part is the more sheltered northern end, where there’s a little creek inlet screened from the bay at high tide by a rocky reef.
Just up at the seaside village of Callala Bay there’s a boat ramp for trips out into Jervis Bay, sailing, fishing or snorkelling.
Chances are you’ll see a dolphin pod on your trip.
Back at Callala Beach there’s also Club Callala, featuring the Beach & Bay Bistro and an 18-hole golf course roamed by kangaroos.
14. Nowra Farmers Market
The South Coast has a sparkling reputation for its produce, and you can sample it at this store by the Nowra Fresh Fish & Meat Market.
As the name suggests, it’s a permanent farmers’ market, sourcing its stock from a huge network of farmers and makers across the region.
Drop in for seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheese, milk, eggs, yoghurt, bread, olives, spices, cured meat, dips, honey, preserves, sauces and a great deal more.
Nowra Farmers Market keeps tight links with nearby growers, so a lot of the fresh produce here will be on the shelves just hours after being harvested.
15. Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre
A couple of minutes from the heart of Bomaderry there’s a regional destination for performing arts.
A striking piece of modern architecture, the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre opened in 2008 and has an expansive auditorium with a capacity of 1,200. On the menu is a diverse and crowd-pleasing program of classical music, comedy, dance, children’s entertainment, live gigs, musicals, theatre and workshops.
There’s also a studio theatre at the complex for more low-key performance, while if you’re up for a pre-show drink or meal there’s the Encore Cafe and Bar in the foyer.