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Bermagui: A Scenic Backdrop to Year-Round Events
There are two faces to the tiny fishing village of Bermagui. Which one reveals itself depends on the timing of your visit. You might experience a quiet, sleepy Sapphire Coast town surrounded where the most action takes place when fishing charters return in the evening. You could just as well discover a vibrant festival hub teeming with activities for the whole family, from sandcastle contests to carnivals and concerts by internationally-known bands. No matter which side of Bermagui you witness, you’ll have access to golden beaches, rugged rock formations and views of extinct volcanos across the bay. Choose from a wide range of holiday homes in Bermagui, from quaint oceanfront cottages to mansions affording prime bay views.
Perhaps the most iconic of Bermagui’s beaches is Camel Rock Surf Beach. As you stroll along the golden sand, you can’t miss the rocks shaped like a camel’s head and hump right off shore. Not only is Camel Rock Surf Beach a popular spot for photo sessions and scenic walks, the rougher waters make it a popular choice for local surfers to ride the waves. If you’re visiting Bermagui with the kids and would like a quieter beach for safe swimming, head to the sheltered Horseshoe Bay Beach. This beach is patrolled throughout the summer. Then, there’s the Blue Pool, one of the top attractions on the Sapphire Coast. At the base of a cliff shooting into the water, you’ll find a natural rock pool filled with clear ocean water, ideal for snorkelling as well as swimming. A smaller pool has been added next to it for the children.
Fishing and Other Water Sports
Bermagui is, first and foremost, a fishing village. The waters off the coast, home to a wide range of fish species, are thought to offer some of the best catches in Australia. In fact, the continental shelf is just a few kilometres off the coast, which means that warm northern currents bring all kinds of fish close to shore. Hire a charter for the day and head out to the open water for some deep sea fishing, where you can try your hand at reeling in yellow fin tuna or marlin. Alternately, focus on inland waterways, with lakes and rivers offering all sorts of fishing opportunities. Outlets throughout town, such as the general store, sell all types of fishing supplies, if you haven’t brought your own. If you don’t wish to go fishing, you can still take advantage of Bermagui’s fresh seafood by purchasing oysters, prawns and more for the charters when they come back at the end of the day.
Bermagui Walks & Walking Tours
From Bermagui’s town centre, you can walk the 9km to Wallaga Lake. You’ll follow a flat trail along the waterfront before veering slightly inland through Long Swamp, a favourite spot for birdwatchers, then across the Bermagui River and onto Wallaga Lake Bridge. If you’d prefer to leave the ocean behind for a bit, you can visit Mt Gulaga, affectionately called Mt Dromedary due to its distinctive camel shape. Mt Gulaga, a long-extinct volcano and now a national park, features a steep path up to the summit, following the remains of a horse track dating back to Bermagui’s mining days. If you’d like to learn more about Bermagui’s past as a mining hub, head to the Montreal Goldfield, a few kilometres from town. In the late 1800s, gold was discovered on the coast, attracting hundreds to the small fishing settlement. You can learn all about the gold rush as part of a guided walking tour to what remains of the mining site.
Festivals in Bermagui
Bermagui’s picturesque location is the setting of many local festivals throughout the year. Every March, over 10,000 visitors flock to the fishing village for the Bermagui Seaside Fair, a family-friendly affair featuring a carnival, a market with hundreds of stalls, an art show, competitions such as sandcastle contests and bands playing on two stages. The award-winning fair culminates in fireworks over the bay. At Easter time, Bermagui hosts the Four Winds Festival, which showcases Australian musical talent, with international bands and singers as special guests. Then, in the spring, there’s ReBoot, a festival promoting a healthy lifestyle with a series of active events, including a race, yoga and Zumba classes, paddle-boarding lessons and a health clinic on the waterfront where you can all kinds of treatments and therapies, including massages. ReBoot offers activities for people of all age groups, from children to adults.
Getting to Bermagui
The closest airport to Bermagui is in Merimbula, approximately 90km from town, with daily direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne. If you don’t want to fly, you can drive the 400 km from Sydney or 600 km from Melbourne. Alternately, a bus links the Sapphire Coast towns with major Australian cities.