Bendalong is the quintessential south coast seaside holiday village. Located between Jervis Bay to the north and Lake Conjola to the south, it’s situated 14km down a side-road off the Princes Highway. It has one cafe and one petrol station/store and that’s it in the way of amenities.
At the eastern side of town on the headland between Bendalong Beach and Boat Harbour is a large tourist park and all around town are holiday-lets and the homes of retirees. Out of season it’s a sleepy place and in summer its population more than doubles like many coastal resort towns.
What makes Bendalong such as a special place is the awesome beaches that can be found here. But while many little coastal villages can boast a beach or maybe two, Bendalong has seven of them. And they’re all awesome. So let’s have a look at each beach in turn, starting from the most southerly (Bendalong Beach itself) and then heading north.
The town beach is what connects Bendalong with the village of Manyana a couple of kilometres to its south. It is also the main surf beach and while I’m no surfer, I have been told that there can be a bit of ‘local’ attitude out in the waves, because it’s one of the better surf beaches on this stretch of coast. You can access it at the Bendalong end from a track near the entrance to the tourist park or at the southern end via a car park in Manyana. The beach faces south like that other popular surf beach The Farm and you can find some protection from the waves for a swim at the northern end of the beach.
One Tree Beach
This is a small beach just to the north of Bendalong Beach that’s a good option for a swim thanks to the protection from the swell by a rocky reef. I have no idea why it’s called One Tree because there are hundreds of trees in the bush backing onto the beach. In any case, it’s a great beach to relax on, much more compact than Bendalong and nearly always a hell of a lot quieter.
The focus for a lot of the action that takes place in the summer months and at weekends, Boat Harbour Beach is where you’ll find Bendalong’s boat ramp. There’s plenty of parking here, both on the beach and up the small hill to the top car park. There are also toilet facilities and a kid’s play area. Boat Harbour tends to be a pretty sheltered beach meaning it’s a good place to put your stand-up paddle board or kayak in the water. It’s also the place to visit if you fancy feeding the friendly local neighbourhood stingrays. Just waggle a bit of bait in the water near the boat ramp and these friendly fish will find you.
I’ve got no idea why it’s called Washerwoman’s and Google didn’t through up anything more than other people asking the same question. So while I couldn’t tell you how it got its name, I can tell you that this is a perfect family beach – sheltered in pretty much all conditions – sandy and backed by shady trees perfect for sitting beneath in the warmer months. It’s the longest of the Bendalong Beaches at nearly 1km and has its own small car park, barbecue area, undercover eating area and toilet block at a small reserve in the middle of the beach.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Dee is one of my favourite beaches on the whole south coast – right up there with Murrays and Lobster Jacks. It’s an idylic little beach, about 300m long, but very wide and flat. The only way down to it is via four flights of wooden steps, but despite its small size there’s always plenty of room for everyone. The ocean here is fairly rippy meaning this isn’t the best swimming/family beach, but if you’re confident in the water or just looking for somewhere fantastic to chill out, it’s a worthy choice.
Flat Rock Beach
Taking its name from the large slab of rock at the southern end of the beach, Flat Rock is often the quietest of the Bendalong Beaches due its location right up at the sparsely populated northern end of town. There’s not much to this beach, but it’s usually fairly well protected from the swell making it a decent choice for a bit of snorkelling.
Named after the monument to the wreck of the Walter Hood (a clipper which ran aground here in storms to the loss of 11 lives), Monument is a relatively benign beach backed by the dense bushland of the Conjola National Park. It continues about 1km north to another small coastal town – Berrara and Bangaly Beach. Due to its position it’s usually pretty quiet and a soothing spot to spend some time.
So that’s the beaches of Bendalong and, if I’ve whet your appetite for this awesome little coastal village, check out my Armchair Adventurer video below: