Seven Mile Beach – Gerroa to Shoalhaven Heads
When traveling to the Shoalhaven from Sydney it’s easy to miss one of the nicest vistas on the south coast. Unless you come off the Princes Highway at Gerringong and then travel south through Gerroa, you’ll miss out on an awesome view as the road crests at the top of the hill and Seven Mile Beach stretches off into the distance. Whenever I’ve been away, I always head home the ‘back’ way so I get to see that view. Seven Mile is a special stretch of sand.
There are several council areas in the south coast – Kiama, Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla are what I consider the core of the south coast. And Seven Mile Beach straddles two of those local council areas – Kiama for the northern half of the beach and Shoalhaven for the southern part. From Gerroa to Berrys Beach is the City of Kiama and from Berrys Beach to Shoalhaven Heads is the City of Shoalhaven. Political boundaries aside, visitors to the beach often mistakenly believe it stretches all the way from Gerroa to the breakwall at Crookhaven Heads, but that is not correct, all the beach to the south of Shoalhaven Heads is Comerong Island.
The most popular part of Seven Mile Beach is Gerroa. This is a little tourist village where all the property attracts million dollar price-tags – and you only have to look at the view to understand why! The vast majority of properties here are holiday homes, either weekenders or rentals, so there isn’t much of a community feel in the village. This isn’t helped by the fact that there is just a single cafe and a post office (or maybe it’s because of it), so if you stay here you’ll need to drive to nearby Gerringong to get your supplies. It’s easy to see why Gerroa is such a favoured location with families, it’s really the perfect all-round Australian destination. There’s something for everyone in the family – a tame little river for kids to splash around in, excellent fishing on the beach or at Black Head, surf for all skill-levels from novice to expert, great walking along the beach or the bushtracks, playgrounds, rock shelfs for exploring – it’s a very adaptable place.
The only real problem with Gerroa is its popularity – particularly in the summer – when it is absolutely heaving. If it is being hugged to death, then try driving five minutes out of the village to the Gerroa Picnic Area reserve, or head to the mid-point of the beach to Mid-Seven Mile Beach or as it’s known locally – Berry’s Beach. The beach here is wide and open and wild. The surf and swimming conditions can get a bit full-on when the swell’s up so only go in here if you’re a confident ocean swimmer or surfer.
The southern boundary of Seven Mile Beach is at Shoalhaven Heads where the old Shoalhaven River used to empty into the ocean. The Shoalhaven’s flow was affected by the construction of the canal and breakwall at Crookhaven Heads and is normally closed – meaning you can walk from Shoalhaven Heads to Comerong Island. The old river mouth re-opens during times of flood and there’s always local talk about getting it re-opened permanently, but it seems unlikely that will ever happen.
The town of Shoalhaven Heads is a classic Aussie coastal holiday village. It has three big holiday parks with villas and pitches for caravans and tents. The beach here is patrolled by the local surf club during the surf season (September to April) and is the only spot on the beach where you can swim between the flags (though Gerroa gets a council lifeguard for the summer holidays). The best time to visit Seven Mile Beach in Shoalhaven Heads is always in the morning, because the north-easterly wind always starts picking up by about midday and when that happens the beach is only really of use to kite-surfers.
If you’re feeling energetic then there all sorts of activities you can try on Seven Mile Beach. The walk from Gerroa to Shoalhaven Heads is a good one which will take you about three hours. If you decide to walk all the way to the breakwall, then you’re looking at a 17Km (10.5mile) walk. At low tide the beach is great for a mountain bike – particularly fatbikes – there’s also a bushtrack right through the middle of Seven Mile Beach National Park which has the advantage of being nice and shady. Two surf schools operate on the beach – LandsEdge and Surfcamp. You can also go horseriding on the beach with Regal Horse Riding.