Soaring high above the tree canopy in the Shoalhaven region is an adventure for the entire family. Bernadette Chua discovers Trees Adventure on NSW's beautiful South Coast.
The tranquil regional city of Nowra is known for its idyllic surrounds amid lush bushland on the banks of the glorious Shoalhaven River. It's the largest town in the Shoalhaven region, and just a stone's throw away from the lovely beaches of the NSW South Coast.
Nowra is home to grown-up food experiences, intimate bed and breakfasts and a bevy of wineries and breweries. But it's also an exhilarating place for a family weekend getaway filled with adrenaline-pumping activities to keep the kids entertained. Flying high above the tree canopy in this lush and fertile region, visitors can bring out their inner Tarzan at Trees Adventure, a special eco-experience at Shoalhaven Zoo.
The park features exciting and challenging courses where you will be swinging, leaping, climbing and flying through the forest. The course winds its way through the zoo, so you belay over the native and exotic animals, and zip above the banks of the beautiful Shoalhaven River and spectacular natural rock formations.
Adventurers zip between the trees on flying foxes at exhilarating speeds, while cargo nets, rope bridges and wooden obstacles offer physical challenges. There's even an airborne skateboard.
There are over 80 aerial challenges, including 15 flying foxes. The seven colour-coded courses become increasingly difficult as you climb higher into the canopy, starting at two metres off the ground and working up to 35 metres high for the most challenging obstacles.
The experience is unique as it's a self-guided adventure. The crew fit a harness and supply training and then you head out to climb as many of the courses as possible.
The idea came from Marc Flaster who saw the rise in popularity of treetop adventure parks in Europe in the early 1990s and wanted to bring the idea to Australia. He teamed up with Nic Dansin, who is an avid rock climber and former acrobat performer, and they now have seven Trees Adventure parks across the country.
"We felt there were not as many activities out there that catered to the whole family, where mums and dads would just tag along but would be there predominately for the kids," said Mr Flaster.
"Trees Adventure has a variety of courses that range in height and difficulty, so that all family members can give themselves a challenge and a fun day out. The Shoalhaven region welcomed the opportunity for Australia's first cliff-edge and tree ropes experience, and the region itself is loved by locals and travellers, making it an ideal location for an adventure park."
While you're at Shoalhaven Zoo, lead the kids around its winding paths to see the exotic animals, including crocodiles, several monkey species and even lions. There are also special experiences where you can hand feed the cheeky meerkats and marmoset monkeys.
For more adrenaline-pumping activities, Nowra is also a prime spot for rock-climbing. The area's intricate rock formations attract advanced as well as beginner rock climbers.
During the summer, there is also an array of water sports such as kayaking, fishing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and boat tours. Plus, there are plenty of bushwalking trails to explore.
The Shoalhaven is renowned for its seafood and you'll find some lovely restaurants serving local produce. In Nowra, taste regional produce at The Deli on Kinghorn and, just out of town, stop by The Growers Shoalhaven, a new indoor-outdoor eatery serving produce grown on site and regional specialties, including local oysters and Shoalhaven cheeses.
Just a 20-minute drive from Nowra is the seaside town of Culburra Beach. Here, you'll find The Little Snapper, a charming local eatery that has a small but delicious menu. Your choices are simple - burgers or fish and chips - but it's a fun place for the entire family. If you drive further inland, you'll find some lovely confectionary shops as well as Kangaroo Valley Bakehouse pies and pastries.
The Shoalhaven has lovely holiday retreats, including stylish homes like Seabank At Currarong Beach, which sleeps up to six people and is right on the water. There are also a number of campgrounds, including the North Nowra Riverfront Caravan Park which is great for canoeing, water-skiing and wakeboarding.
If you're looking for a family getaway filled with fun and adventure, the South Coast is not just for rest and relaxation - visitors will find plenty of action.
Take me there
Getting there: Nowra is a nearly three-hour drive from Canberra on the Federal Highway or take the slower Kings Highway via Bungendore. From Newcastle, it's about a four-hour drive with the final stretch through picturesque Kangaroo Valley.
Where to stay: If you're looking to camp or bring the caravan, the North Nowra Riverfront Caravan Park (skipark.com.au) is priced from $25 per night. But if you're looking for something a bit more luxurious and on the beach, holiday rental Seabank at Currarong (currarongbeach.com) is from $350 per night and is a 30-minute drive southeast of Nowra.
What to do: Trees Adventure Nowra Shoalhaven Park is priced from $25 for a 2.5-hour session. Courses are available for anyone over the age of four. Adult supervision is required for children aged 8-12 years.
Explore more: treesadventure.com.au
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