The largest commercial fishing fleet on NSW’s South Coast is anchored at Ulladulla’s adorable harbour, dating back 170 years and embedded between two headlands.
Ulladulla observes some time-honoured traditions like a Blessing of the Fleet festival every Easter, while the seafood is as good as it gets.
Beyond that, the town has much to fall in love with close by, at tranquil coastal lakes ideal for paddlesports and untamed ocean beaches swarmed by expert surfers.
You can explore the magnificent shoreline on trails, and can sign up for special guided walks to find out more about Ulladulla’s Aboriginal culture or its many millions of years of geology.
1. Ulladulla Harbour
Resting in a niche between two headlands, Ulladulla’s picture perfect harbour first took shape in the mid-19th century and is shielded by two breakwaters always patrolled by pelicans.
This is the port for the South Coast’s largest fishing fleet, as well as the place to come for fishing charters or to simply watch the fishing boats returning to the co-op with their catch.
You can take a picnic on the foreshore and there’s a cluster of eateries on the south side if you fancy a sit-down meal or fish & chips.
A market also takes place right on the wharf on the second Sunday of the month.
Naturally the harbour is also central to the Blessing of the Fleet Festival every Easter, a celebration brought over from Italy by Ulladulla’s Sicilian immigrant fishermen.
Every year there’s lots of live music and wacky activities, as well as a float parade and a pilgrimage to the harbour to conduct the Blessing Ceremony.
2. Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk
Something we haven’t mentioned about the harbour is that it is edged by natural rock platforms dating back hundreds of millions of years.
To understand this geology and see some remarkable specimens you can join the two-hour, guided Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk.
This is led by enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable guides, and takes place only at low tide when the rocks are exposed.
You can walk out (wear sensible shoes) to see the remains of prehistoric marine life preserved in amazing detail on the surface.
To complement this experience, the Geological Time Walk has been set up on the north side of the harbour, with boulders and interpretive boards taking you on a chronological journey through 500 million years.
3. Fish and Chips
It follows that a town with the largest fishing fleet on the South Coast should have a talent fish and chips.
The go-to is The Fish Shop at Burrill Lake, by common consent the best fish and chip shop in the whole region.
The flathead tails are fresh, the batter is light and crispy, the tartar is a perfect complement and sides like potato scallops, oysters and salt and pepper squid are great too.
You can carry your takeaway box down to Dolphin Point for a scenic meal, but may have pelicans for dining companions.
Honourable mention to Tigers Famous Fish & Chips and the Mollymook Beach Hut Cafe.
4. Warden Head Light
The peninsula sheltering Ulladulla Harbour from the south is a peaceful mosaic of homes and parkland.
There’s a walking trail around Warden Head for satisfying views of the coastline, and you can depart from the lighthouse car park at the tip.
Warden Head is the vantage point in Ulladulla for whale watching.
Humpbacks migrate north in July and August, and can then be seen in October and November returning from tropical waters with their newborn calves.
The lighthouse has stood at the present location since 1889 after being moved here from the Ulladulla Breakwater where it was first placed in 1873. The light has a range of 14 nautical miles, and the tower is notable for being one of only two in the state built from wrought iron plates.
5. Meroo National Park
In under 15 minutes you can be at the protected lakes, wetlands, forest and beaches of Meroo National Park.
These environments are as untouched as any in New South Wales.
Surviving in this coastal landscape are endangered habitats like bangalay-banksia dry forest and swamp oak floodplain forest, conserving vulnerable plants like leafless tongue orchid and tangled bedstraw.
The park also belongs to a regional Important Bird Area, as a home for the threatened swift parrot.
The popular Termeil Point Campground has road access and is free to use.
From here you can hike to see snakes, possums, monitors, kangaroos and kookaburras, and there’s a lovely ocean beach beside the campground where you can spot dolphins in the surf.
6. Rennies Beach
Past Warden Head there’s a 500-metre south facing beach at the foot of the dunes.
Rennies Beach can only be accessed on a steep stairway from the top of the dunes.
And because of this tricky approach it has a natural, undiscovered feel, despite being moments from the centre of Ulladulla.
The vistas up to Warden Head are gorgeous, especially early or late in the day, and you’ll often spot dolphins frolicking in the surf.
The sand is always immaculately clean, but isn’t patrolled by lifeguards.
In big seas Rennies Beach is one of a couple of highly rated surf beaches around Ulladulla, but the rip tides and rocks make it unsuitable for more than a wade in the shallows.
7. One Track for All
There’s also a couple of enlightening cultural trails that you can walk in Ulladulla.
The first of these is on the imposing headland enclosing Ulladulla Harbour from the north side.
This free track tells the story of Shoalhaven’s indigenous and non-indigenous history, all from an Aboriginal perspective.
The two-kilometre trail is enhanced by paintings and relief carvings by Aboriginal elder Noel Butler, whose aim is to interweave indigenous culture with European history.
The walk also takes in four lookouts, affording clear views of the harbour and coastline.
8. Burrill Lake
West and south of Ulladulla there’s a body of freshwater with a sinuous shoreline, emptying into the Pacific on Stony Creek.
Burrill Lake has ideal conditions for paddlesports like kayaking and SUP, as well as motorised water activities from jetskiing to waterskiing.
Anglers have flocked to the lake for generations to fish for blue swimmer crabs, whiting, blackfish, flathead and bream.
Watched by the unmistakeable Pigeon House Mountain to the west, the shore is mostly quiet forest, broken up by holiday homes and a Big4 Bungalow on the south side, open to non-guests for mini golf and pedal boat hire.
There’s also a park on the lake’s foreshore, maintained by the local Lions Club and set up with a picnic area and barbecues.
9. Feeding Wild Rainbow Lorikeets
Another activity at the Big4 Bungalow Park open to all-comers is bird-feeding.
In a ritual that goes back years, a flock of very vocal rainbow lorikeets descends on the park in the afternoon.
Feeding time is at 15:00 every day, but the first birds will show up at least half an hour before.
What will strike you is just how tame the lorikeets are, and they’ll perch on your head, arms and shoulders to get a beak full of feed.
10. Dolphin Point
Where Stony Creek reaches the Pacific, Dolphin Point is a secluded and beautiful place with a wide choice of things for you to do.
There’s not much development on this part of the South Coast, save for unobtrusive holiday communities on the shore of Burrill Lake.
If you know your way around a board, the rocky Dolphin Point Beach on the ocean side has the most consistent surf in the area, but is strictly for surfers with lots of experience.
You can also drop a line from the rocks for tailor, whiting and Australian salmon.
The inlet side of Dolphin Point is obviously much calmer, and depending on the tide you can wander around to find little sandy beaches to cool off or launch a kayak.
11. Cupitt’s Estate
By Stony Creek in the west of Ulladulla, Cupitt’s Estate is a multifaceted food and drink experience with vistas over Burrill Lake to Pigeon House Mountain.
The property comprises a farm, restaurant, bar, boutique winery, fromagerie and craft brewery in one place.
The restaurant’s menu is enriched with ingredients like seasonal vegetables sourced from the kitchen garden, and high-quality black angus beef raised on the farm.
The bar meanwhile has an elevated deck affording gorgeous rural views and an ever-changing choice of craft brews made right here on tap.
The winery’s cellar door is open Wednesday to Saturday for walk-ins, while you can book special wine and cheese-tasting experiences in advance.
12. Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail
This walk blends scenic beauty with enthralling Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail winds through a coastal landscape of low heathland at Warden Head, constantly at the mercy of the Pacific breezes.
The trail’s destination is the beach, and passes along the final bends in the path of the Rainbow Serpent, a creator god in many Aboriginal Dreamtime stories.
For context and interesting insights about the terrain you can contact the Aboriginal community for a guided walk on the trail.
13. Bogey Hole Mollymook
There’s a place where you can bathe in the ocean in perfect safety, just next to Mollymook Golf Course.
Curiously, the name “Bogey Hole” has nothing to do with golf, and comes from the local Aboriginal term for “bathing”. This large tidal pool was probably used by Aboriginal people for centuries or even millennia to trap fish.
The pool is protected by tall rocks, and has an inner area for a relaxing swim, and an outer area for snorkelling.
If you’re a grownup looking for a proper swim the Bogey Hole is best at high tide, but families with smaller bathers will be pleased with the pool at any time.
14. Funland Ulladulla
The Funland amusement centre chain has five locations around New South Wales, one of which is right by the harbour in Ulladulla on the Princes Highway.
This “mega centre” is the largest amusement arcade on the South Coast, giving you not just three floors of new and old-school video games, but also pinball, air hockey, pool, interactive rides, ticket games, multilevel laser tag and dodgems.
Check out the specials during school holidays, like unlimited games for a set fee.
15. Ulladulla Wildflower Reserve
This peaceful and well-maintained patch of forest isn’t exactly on the tourist map, so you may have the trails to yourself when you come.
Right on the western edge of town, close to the Ulladulla Leisure Centre you can choose between Short, Long and Leafy loops, none taking more than an hour.
You’ll be led through dense temperate forest, with a lower layer of ferns and a profusion of wildflowers in spring and summer.
The reserve is managed by a local trust, which has provided laminated information sheets to help you tell your “love creepers” from your blue flax lilies.