A boutique bungalow makes Mossy Point the ideal base for exploring.
On a blue-sky day beside the boat ramp at Mossy Point you can spend hours watching the local stingrays glide through the clear water around the jetty as they wait for an offcut from the fish-cleaning tables that isn't snapped up by a pelican.
Grab your cuppa of choice from The Boat Shed cafe - and a can't-have-just-one caramel slice that lives up to its billing as "The Best" - and anchor yourself here at the mouth of the Tomaga River to watch the rays silently wing their way across the tidal flats as you soak in the sun. Or maybe fuel up on The Boat Shed's sweet treats and hire one of their kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to explore this gentle, mangrove-lined, fish-filled estuary winding between the villages of Mossy Point and Tomakin.
As beachside beauty spots go, Mossy Point is all laid-back glamour and serenity. And yet there are choose-your-own-bliss options galore just like it along this particular stretch of the NSW South Coast.
From nearby Broulee Beach and the secluded cove of Shark Bay to the hidden majesty of Guerilla Bay and the rich history of the river township of Moruya, the drive, walk, picnic, shop, swim, surf and snorkelling adventures here feel endless.
And if Bannisters at Mollymook, between Milton and Ulladulla, with its Rick Stein-signature menu and clifftop vantage, has become the leading luxury stay-and-dine destination in the Shoalhaven region north of Batemans Bay, The Oaks Ranch and its inhouse Arlo restaurant make a strong claim to be the go-to prestige relax-and-indulge retreat in the Eurobodalla to the south.
One of the newest boutique hotel experiences on the NSW South Coast, this tranquil getaway tucked away off George Bass Drive at Mossy Point is the perfect base to explore the coast between Batemans Bay and Narooma. Roll down a tree-lined gravel driveway, past rescue donkeys Gloria and Monty sharing a paddock with a mob of reclining kangaroos, and you arrive at the Spanish Mission-style guesthouse. With its white stucco exterior, rust-red tiles, smooth archways and cactus-studded rock gardens, there's more than a hint of California desert resort chic about The Oaks Ranch.
Apparently, these gently undulating 120 hectares beside the Tomaga River once housed a dairy farm. In the 1970s it became a jackaroo kids camp with onsite archery and horse-riding lessons before evolving once again into a motel and conference venue with a golf course.
Purchased in 2004 by Lisa and Martin Cork, the property was renovated and re-opened in 2021 and the architecture that might have once seemed all-American cheesy now gleams with luxurious Palm Springs-style retro cool. There's still a nine-hole golf course, if sinking a putt as kangaroos watch on is your thing, but there are also sun lounges by the gloriously blue magnesium lap pool, cocktails to be sipped under the festoon-lit terrace and fire pits to snuggle by as the sun sets over the mountains of the Deua National Park.
The hotel's 14 stylish bungalows feature refined finishes and a lush aesthetic that whispers pure but relaxed indulgence. Your room is cocooned in elegant linen: from the curtains to the bedding and the bathrobes, the soft and inviting stonewashed Cultiver linen sets a decadent but earthy tone. The look and feel, like the woollen rugs under your feet, is soothing and cosy.
Each suite has its own dual shower, free-standing bathtub and heated floor and towel racks. The fragrant, all-natural, all-Australian lillypilly hand wash and lemon myrtle body lotion by Leif are a classy touch. So too is your room's complimentary mini-bar, including a selection of teas by Newcastle's premium purveyors of curated cuppas, The Tea Collective.
If you can drag yourself away from your private patio overlooking the manicured lawn (dotted with more of those grazing kangaroos), The Oaks Ranch's onsite restaurant, Arlo, offers a divine dinner menu a few steps from your bungalow.
Arlo - which looks out over the hotel's terrace and pool - serves a roster of satisfying dishes celebrating local produce. We try the pan-roasted blue-eye cod with romesco, salmoriglio and radicchio, and the slow-roasted lamb shoulder with smoked eggplant, tomato and black cardamom.
With sides of cauliflower gratin, parmesan and gruyere, and grilled broccolini with chilli and feta, there was (luckily!) just enough room left to share a pan-served dessert of chocolate and orange clafoutis with ganache and vanilla bean ice cream.
Every vantage point here in the restaurant, at the bar and around the ranch grounds offers an Instagram-worthy eyeful. From arched windows framed by a grand old frangipani tree to potted cacti greening the whitewashed terrace, it's a weddings-parties-anything setting cultivated to captivate the senses and bring nature closer.
The vibe at Arlo and The Oaks Ranch is distinctly chic but very easy-going under the hospitable stewardship of general manager Josh Tyler. Growing up in nearby Malua Bay, Tyler earned a coveted Good Food Guide chef's hat for his Tyler's Pantry in Mogo before COVID-19 brought his family home from the five-star Ungasan Clifftop Resort in Bali, where he was executive chef.
Naturally, we took his expert local advice and after breakfast at Arlo took the 15-minute drive to Moruya to stroll the banks of the Moruya River at the village's Saturday morning country markets. With a vibrant mix of local farm produce, homemade treats, arts and vintage treasures, this is a colourful showcase of rural-coastal community life in the Eurobodalla.
Read more on Explore:
Then back to Mossy Point, where The Boat Shed - a tiny kayak hire hut built in the 1960s and retro-fitted in the 2000s to double as a hip little cafe - bustles with coffee and cake orders as locals and holidaymakers perch on the edge of the Tomaga River spotting stingrays in the shallows. Across Candlagan Creek from Mossy Point, and an easy amble from Broulee Beach, is Broulee Brewhouse, where burgers and buffalo wings make a hearty lunch or dinner, and the menu of locally handcrafted beers each come with their own cheeky black cockatoo motif.
With Broulee Island Nature Reserve - joined to the mainland by a permanent sandbar and always accessible - offering a scenic hour walk for the nature-minded and the cute tourist village of Mogo and the gorillas and giraffes of Mogo Wildlife Park located less than 10 minutes drive away, the hardest part of a weekend decompression session at The Oaks Ranch turns out to be deciding exactly how you want to relax, indulge and rejuvenate.
Getting there: The Oaks Ranch is a four-hour drive from Sydney and two hours from Canberra.
Staying there: Rates start from $275 for one night in a premium bungalow.
Explore more: oaksranch.com.au; eurobodalla.com.au
The writer was a guest of The Oaks Ranch.