A charming and historical coastal town on the New South Wales south coast, Shellharbour is renowned for its beaches, national park, marine reserve and forest as well as swimming, surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving. There's also a great range of shopping and dining to be had in this popular leisure playground where you can do as much or as little as you like.
The Macquarie Pass National Park covers 1,064 hectares and offers spectacular rainforest and scenery on the Illawarra escarpment. Offering natural at its best, the national park is home to wombats, wallabies, lyre birds and bowerbirds as well as cliffs, gullies, sandstone ridges, open forest, woodland and even heathland. As well as cascading waterfalls, there are plenty of bushwalks and picnic areas making for a great day out.
Just south of Shellharbour, Bass Point Reserve is another stunning natural attraction that offers 72 hectares of the region's rare littoral rainforest. Registered on the Australian Heritage Commission, the reserve is one of the New South Wales coast's more significant archeological sites. Dating as far back as 17,000 years prior to the Egyptian pyramids, this traditional Aboriginal camping site has been preserved, allowing it to be enjoyed today via a self-guided walk highlighting indigenous information. The site is also known for the 1943 sinking of an American merchant ship. These days however, the area is more popular for its fishing, drives, boat ramp and convenient public amenities.
Towards the easterly end of Bass Point Reserve, Bushrangers Bay is a popular snorkelling and diving location offering a sheltered aquatic reserve. Covering 3 hectares, the reserve offers a diverse range of marine species and plants including soft corals and the amphitheater, a cliff that measures 6m high and extends 10m into the water home to lots of little cavities that house tropical fish and sea urchins.
Nearby Blackbutt Forest is another natural attraction and offers 250 hectares of the region's last viable coastal plain forest. The reserve is dominated by its namesake Blackbutt trees but also features coast white box, grey box, red gum and stringy bark and offers a number of circuits and trails that boast wonderful views of Macquarie Pass, Saddleback Mountain, Lake Illawarra and Illawarra Escarpement. Blackbutt Forest also offers an excellent range of visitor facilities including a playground, amenities, picnic tables and electric BBQs making it a popular place to visit on day trips.