Hidden Gems, Part 1: Mystery Bay, NSW

The draw of Mystery Bay is its pristine natural beauty and complete isolation from the crowds

Have you heard of Mystery Bay? 

If not, you’re seriously missing out on one of the most epic camping spots along the New South Wales South Coast, in Australia. 

This tiny & charming town, tucked away almost halfway between Narooma and Bermagui, is the perfect place to ditch the city chaos and lose yourself in nature’s tranquility.

But that’s not all that makes Mystery Bay so intriguing. As the name suggests, this little coastal paradise has a crazy backstory that’ll have you hooked from the start. 

The Mysterious Disappearance That Gave the Town Its Name

The allure of uncovering some clue or remnant of the vanished is all part of the allure

How did Mystery Bay score such an enigmatic name? 

It all went down when a boat carrying five men—a geological surveyor named Lamont Young, his botanist friend Louis Schneider, and three boatmen—vanished without a trace while trying to reach the Montreal goldfield. 

The only clues left behind were a damaged boat with suspicious holes and some personal stuff abandoned at what is now known as Mystery Bay.

Despite intense searches, the men were never seen or heard from again, leaving their disappearance shrouded in mystery. 

To commemorate this puzzling event, a memorial now stands in Mystery Bay, serving as a constant reminder of the town’s enigmatic origins. The allure of uncovering some clue or remnant of the vanished is all part of the draw.

Camping at Mystery Bay

This hidden gem offers the complete package for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Trust us, you need to add this coastal paradise to your camping bucket list ASAP!

Tent it Up or Glamp it Out?

Whether you tent it up or glamp it out, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure

The big first decision: are we talking classic tent camping or a more glammed-up version? 

If you’re into a back-to-basic vibe, you can’t go wrong with a sturdy 3-season tent. Just make sure to throw in a rainfly as well and you’re good to go.

The glamp-it-out experience is sure to leave a lasting impression

But if you need a few more comforts, the Mystery Bay campground has all sorts of space to set up your camper van, caravan, or even park the old boat if you’re a keen fisher.

Camp with a View or Undercover?

Whichever option you choose, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by some of the most spectacular coastal scenery

Now it’s time to pick your spot:

  • If ocean views are your thing, race in early to snag one of the premium beachfront sites so you can wake up to the sound of crashing waves and a sunrise
  • But if you’re more of a shady tree person, there’s something so chill about camping amongst those spotted gum and acacia trees, with the banksias lining the way to the beach

If you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try beachside camping and score one of those sweet spots right on the sand? 

Just remember to set up above the high tide line unless you want a salty wake-up call in the middle of the night.

Camp Living Made Easy

All you need to do is simply arrive, unpack, and start soaking up the natural surroundings

Some of you aren’t down for full-on roughing it in the wild, and that’s totally fine. 

That’s where Mystery Bay really shines – you get all the fun of camping without having to sacrifice too much comforts. There are:

  • Cold showers
  • Taps
  • And even pit toilets with toilet paper on hand

As the sun starts to set, get those campfires roaring. 

For the full Mystery Bay experience, you’ve got to try cooking up a classic Australian camp oven meal. 

  • Thick slices of golden-baked damper bread 
  • Rich beef or chicken stew 
  • And maybe even a camp oven brownie for dessert

If you’d rather keep things simple, just pack some sausages to throw on the barbecue, along with supplies for campfire classics like s’mores and jalapeno poppers. And don’t forget plenty of drinking water, snacks, and cold brews to keep you hydrated in that coastal heat.


Dog owner, this one’s for you: your furry friends can join in on all the beachside fun before 9 am and after 5 pm only (or any time from May to September). 

Just remember that other areas of the national park are a dog-free zone.

Unplug and Reset

It’s a great chance to slow down, reset, and reconnect with the things that truly matter

As for connectivity, well, let’s just say Mystery Bay lives up to its name when it comes to phone reception. Expect it to be patchy at best.

Can you even remember the last time you properly disconnected from the online world? This is your chance to reset, reconnect with yourself, and soak up all that mind-blowingly beautiful scenery. 

As you pack up to head home, take a moment to breathe it all in one last time – that fresh, salty air and the calming soundtrack of the ocean.

Always remember that part of being a respectful camper is to leave those gorgeous sites at Mystery Bay as pristine as when you rolled in. 

Give your campsite a good sweep to remove any crumbs or rubbish so the local wildlife doesn’t come looking for a cheeky free feed.

Paradise Found: Beaches, Bushwalks, and Awesome Wildlife

Pristine Beaches and Rugged Coastlines

1080 Beach’s secluded stretch of sand and surf is an absolute paradise for those seeking an untouched natural escape

While the name’s origin is steeped in mystery, the breathtaking natural scenery of Mystery Bay is no secret. 

Imagine stretches of golden sand fringed by the most insane shades of turquoise water you’ve ever seen, with rugged cliffs that look like they’re defying gravity. It’s literally a beach paradise!

One spot you can’t miss is the epic 1080 Beach – and before you ask: no, it has nothing to do with video game resolutions. 

This place is a popular hangout for surfers, swimmers, and fishermen because it’s just that incredibly beautiful. Like, seriously, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled onto the set of a beach screensaver.

Love snorkeling? Well, the rocks and sheltered rock pools around Mystery Bay are prime diving territory. 

Bushwalking and Wildlife Spotting

But Mystery Bay isn’t just about lazing on heavenly beaches. The surrounding Eurobodalla National Park is a bushwalker’s paradise, with tons of trails winding through the lush coastal forests and giving you a front-row seat to the region’s incredible flora and fauna.

Keep your eyes peeled for those cute wallabies poking their noses out from the bushes, or try to spot the majestic white-bellied sea eagles soaring overhead. And the iconic Australian pelicans gliding effortlessly across the sky? It’s a sight that never gets old, legends.

Nearby Attractions That Add to the Adventure

The Charming Village of Tilba Tilba

One of the true joys of Tilba Tilba is its ability to slow down the pace of life and transport you to a simpler time

Your Mystery Bay adventure wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the nearby village of Tilba Tilba.

This place is like taking a step back in time, with its gorgeous heritage buildings and quaint shops that make you feel like you’re on the set of a period drama.

Have a delicious brekky at Ellen’s Pantry and Fine Foods, then wander the streets, marveling at the picturesque cottages and soaking up all the old-world vibes. And you can’t leave without visiting the ABC Cheese Factory to see cheese being made the old-fashioned way and stock up on some tasty local varieties.

Need a cold one? Head to the Dromedary Hotel and snag a spot in the legendary “Bullshit Corner” – it’s an actual designated area where locals spin tall tales and laugh freely. We’re not even joking!  

Narooma and Its Movie Heritage

Just a short drive from Mystery Bay is the town of Narooma, home to the iconic Australia Rock. No, it’s not the birthplace of Aussie rock music. It’s a natural rock formation that, you guessed it, looks uncannily like the shape of Australia. Snap some pics and get ready for all the Insta likes. 

But Narooma is more than just a giant rock. It’s also a cinematic gem. The heritage-listed Narooma Kinema, one of Australia’s oldest continuously operating cinemas, has been screening movies since 1928.

Bermagui’s Coastal Wonders

Horsehead Rock isn’t just a pretty face – it’s also a fascinating example of the region’s rich geological history

Continuing down the coast, you’ll hit the lovely town of Bermagui, which has even more natural wonders in store. There’s a Horsehead Rock, aptly named because it looks exactly like…you got it, a horse’s head. It’s a photographer’s dream, especially at sunrise when the golden rays make it glow like something out of a fantasy film.

Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit because Bermagui is also home to the incredible Blue Pool. This picture-perfect swimming hole is pretty much what it says on the tin – a brilliant, azure-colored pool that’s the absolute goal for an Insta pic.

After your dip, treat yourself to some mind-blowingly delicious gelato at the Bermagui Gelati Clinic. They use locally sourced ingredients like mulberries and lemon myrtle leaves to create unique and drool-worthy flavors.

Getting to Mystery Bay

It’s a bit of a road trip from Sydney or Melbourne, but trust us, it’s bloody worth it.

If you’re coming from Sydney, you’re looking at around 5 hours behind the wheel. For the Melburnians, it’s a solid 8-hour journey. But here’s the good news – there are tons of sick spots to stop and stretch those legs along the way.

For the Sydney crew, take the coastal route and soak in the epic views at Sublime Point Lookout in Bulli Tops or the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge. Need a lunch break? Head to Jervis Bay and treat yourself to something delish while admiring the world-famous Hyams Beach and its crazy white sand.

If you’re driving from Melbourne, definitely make a pit stop in the charming town of Bowral or the picturesque Kangaroo Valley. And don’t you dare miss the Famous Berry Donut Van in Berry – those cinnamon donuts are the stuff of legends. A true Aussie delicacy, mate!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, by now, you’re utterly convinced that this little slice of heaven deserves a spot at the top of your travel bucket list. Get those bags packed, and those road trip playlist-queued adventures in the marvelously mysterious Mystery Bay await.

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