TUROSS HEAD. Along the beach, washed-up driftwood records the tidemarks in scraggly arcs. Some is regulation sun-bleached grey, but much is blackened – a remnant of the catastrophic bushfires that hit the NSW south coast in early 2020. The sea might have no memory, but the shoreline remembersall. The scene is hopeful though, in an odd way. While nature discards its charred memories on the cove’s crusted sands, locals have made little huts out of the unburnt driftwood, as if to signify a rebuilding process. The sun also brings a sense of warmth and renewal.

On the first morning of our trip we happen upon an echidna foraging in the flower beds behind our cabin. The kids watch on with delight as it digs up an ants’ nest and shoves its entire face in the hole, its long sticky tongue extracting subterranean sustenance. “We’ll have to come back here one day” is up there with “I’m going to finish restoring this old car” for statements liable to raise doubt, but my wife and I beat the odds. We’ve returned to Tuross Head after an eight-year interval. Situated about 40 minutes south of  Batemans Bay, it huddles amongst some of the best natural wonders the NSW south coast has to offer.

Our previous visit was a brief stop as we recreated the road trip described in John O’Grady’s classic Aussie novel Gone Fishin’ (1962). This time we plan to experience the town properly. Standing on the shores of Coila Lake, I once again admire its breeze-rippled waters deepening from tea-coloured shallows to indigo depths. A squadron of pelicans off to the left discusses the day’s catch. In the foreground, ancient volcanic rocks protrude from the earth, while front and centre rests a large piece of weathered driftwood. Mountain ranges in the distance cut a jagged purple horizon across the cloudless sky.

No matter where you venture around Tuross Head, there seems to be similar visual richness. It’s a landscape painter’s paradise. If you only have an hour or two to spare, start at Coila Bar Beach and follow Tuross Boulevarde on its course around the head. It passes several points of interest, including a war memorial, the aptly named One Tree Point (which also offers fine views across the southern end of town) and a whale burial site. The unfortunate mammal washed up in 1980 and, rather than blow it up, the local council buried it in nearby McWilliam Park where it now forms a grassy mound beside the water. The site can be somewhat tricky to spot while driving but you’ll find it opposite 25 Tuross Boulevarde. 22221