AN ISLAND OF LIFE
Enjoy wild encounters year-round on southern NSW’s natural treasure – Montague Island.
EXPECT TO BE greeted by life at its most exuberant when you step ashore at Montague Island. This tiny nature haven is a short 8km boat ride from the town of Narooma, on the New South Wales south coast. Yet it offers an extraordinary wildlife experience. If you’ve an eye for landscape photography, you’ll be immediately drawn to dramatic granite outcrops adorned in orange lichen and the ever-changing, wave-washed shoreline. And you’ll be keen to hike the island’s many enchanted pathways lined with coastal wattle and snappy-leaf mat rush. But it’s the resident wildlife that makes Montague such a spectacular location for thrilling nature encounters. It boasts more than 100 bird species, 19 of which breed here, including the threatened Gould’s petrel and sooty oystercatcher. It’s home to the largest breeding colony in NSW of little penguins. And Australian and New Zealand fur seals form permanent colonies – with as many as 1000 animals – along Montague’s rocky margin.
An historic lighthouse and keepers’ quarters represent 125 years of maritime heritage atop the island, at an elevation of 64m. The view from here takes in a rolling sea and uninterrupted horizon to the east, and the lavender outline of Mount Gulaga (see page 52) and the Great Dividing Range to the west.
Experience the island on a day trip that includes an NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) guided tour. Or enjoy an overnight or extended stay in the keepers’ quarters and watch the sun set over the ocean through the large sittingroom window, before falling asleep to the echo of humpback whales exhaling noisily through their blowholes.
The permanent Australian fur seal colony on the northern fringe of Montague Island peaks during the spring breeding season.