“Wallabies, parrots, and roos—oh, my!”
Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man never made it to the other “Oz,” Australia, and the magical Murramarang National Park. If they had, Dorothy’s famous phrase would surely have featured those animals, who make this park an Australian Eden. (Speaking of magic, some people say they have actually seen kangaroos body surfing here.)
But perhaps the best thing about Murramarang is that this subtropical paradise, only about a 3-1/2 hour drive from Sydney, is not on the typical tourist’s radar. That’s surprising, since at Murramarang, you can pet wild kangaroos, view shy wallabies, and enjoy the technicolor flash of flocks of parrots, darting through the gum trees or landing on your cabin porch. To top it all off, the animal encounters take place among some of the most enchanting beach scenery anywhere.
Rent a cozy cabin at Depot Bay.
The best way to experience Murramarang is to rent a cabin at Depot Bay, right in the park. Staying there requires a little planning, because you must reserve in advance the basic, but comfortable, cabins there, and you’ll need a rental car.
The rustic cabins include bathrooms and come equipped with pots, pans, and eating utensils, though you will need to buy sleeping bags or bedding, which can be purchased on the way or at nearby Batemans Bay. (Target, which has several stores in Eastern Australia, often has bedding sales; thrift stores are another option, though they are not always easy to find.) Given that the cabins are reasonably priced, however, purchasing sheets and bedcovers is not a major expense. Afterwards, you can donate those items to a charity. Plus, how can you put a price on having kangaroos right outside your door, especially if you’re traveling with kids? To them, that can seem like a fairy tale.
If sleeping in nature appeals to you, Depot Bay includes a campground with hot showers. Or choose the resort close by, which offers a variety of accommodations and facilities. But at the Depot Bay cabins or campground, you’ll have fewer neighbors and be better able to enjoy the mob (as a group of kangaroos is called).
Visitors, who are mostly Australians, often return to the park from year to year. Because Aussies are typically a friendly bunch, you may be invited to share a campfire barbie (barbeque) or to accompany your new friends on a swim. The kangaroos also serve as ice-breakers, since small groups of kids and families often strike up conversations as they gather ’round the roos for petting or photographs. In a short time, you may recognize individual animals, like the one called Loppy, for his droopy ear. (But keep your garbage can lid closed. Loppy likes to help himself to an unscheduled snack—and that can be dangerous for kangaroos, who sicken on bread and other human food.)
Enjoy a wide range of recreational opportunities.
While at the park, you can swim, lie on the sandy beach, surf, fish, or hike the many forest or beach trails. From May to November, you can often catch sight of whales on their migration. Humpbacks, southern right whales, orcas, sperm whales, and other marine creatures have been spotted in the waters off the coast.
If you want to experience more Australian magic, check out the Kangaroo Valley, about two hours north of Sydney, and a pleasant detour on the way to the Blue Mountains. There, in the scenic hills, you’ll see both kangaroos and furry little wombats, who amble along like slow-motion dust m0ps. They’ll put you under a spell too.
Rachel S. Imper is the author of the Active Seniors Guide to Budget World Travel.