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Montague Island Nature Reserve

“Watching hundreds of seals frolic on the rocks of the island was magical, they’re so adorable. We want to come back and spend another night.”

Montague Island Nature Reserve, just off the South Coast near Narooma, offers the chance to experience a spectacular wildlife wonderland. Choose a day trip or indulge your inner mariner and stay in historic lighthouse accommodation. There’s always the option to really get amongst it and become a conservation volunteer. Any way you experience it, the incredible heritage, wildlife and breathtaking island views could keep you coming back.

If you're after an unforgettable experience, why not stay overnight in either of the two lovingly-restored lighthouse keeper’s cottages? Indulge in a weekend escape with a difference in unique heritage quarters amid spectacular surroundings.

For a more hands on experience, why not participate in the penguin survey program? Volunteers help monitor and protect nesting boxes on the island provided for the little penguin colony. You'll not only help conserve this natural environment for future generations but stay overnight in the lighthouse keeper's cottages.

Visit from late winter to early December to see hundreds of seals lazing on the rocks, or bring your binoculars for a spot of birdwatching. More than 90 bird species have been seen on the island and 15 of them nest over summer. Our knowledgeable tour guides will be on hand to answer all your questions.

You can also go whale watching during the annual whale migration from June to November. Find the perfect vantage point to enjoy the migration and plan your next coastal adventure at the Wild About Whales website.

Highlights
 

Why you should visit

There are so many reasons to visit Montague Island Nature Reserve, these are some of our favourites:

A sacred place
The Yuin people have had a long connection with Montague Island; travelling to the island for traditional ceremonies and food, and using it as a men’s teaching place. It would have been a dangerous trip - 9km each way by bark canoe. There are many Aboriginal artefacts and middens on the island. Montague Island is known as Barunguba, and is the eldest son of Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) and a brother to Najunuka (Little Dromedary). The older brother, Barunguba was allowed out to sea while Najunuka, the younger brother, had to stay close to his mother.

See the marine wildlife
The protected waters of Montague Island are a playground for hundreds of seals who make the island their home, all year round.

Between September and November humpback and southern right whales pass the island on their annual migration south. Watch for blowholes and spectacular displays from the island or on a combined whale watching and island tour.

A birdwatchers paradise
With more than 90 bird species seen on the island, and 15 species breeding there, you’ll be reaching for your binoculars – and camera – at every turn. Up to 8,000 penguins live on the island at any one time. Between September and March they are joined by three species of shearwaters, which can produce more than 12,000 chicks per year, and their colonies seem to be growing!

Australian heritage
Get in touch with Australia’s colonial history – Captain James Cook spotted Montague Island from his tall ship in 1770, and the island was visited by shipwrecked sailors. Book an overnight stay at the lighthouse keeper’s cottage for the opportunity to relive the life of a lighthouse keeper on the remote South Coast.

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Getting there

Please note that Montague Island is only accessible via one of NSW National Parks & Wildlife contracted commercial vessel tour operators

All participants need to be able to climb the island’s jetty ladder and the steep hill that follows.

Montague Island water transport charters include:

 Car

Access to the island is from Narooma, on the Far South Coast of NSW, about 4 hours south of Sydney and 2.5 hours from Canberra 

 Opening times

Montague Island Nature Reserve is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Please note that Montague Island is only accessible via one of NSW National Parks & Wildlife contracted commercial vessel tour operators (go to www.eurobodalla.com.au for details).

 Close to

Montague Island Nature Reserve is close to:

  • Narooma (9km)
  • Bermagui (40km)
  • Canberra (219km)

 Public transport

For information about public transport options, visit the NSW country transport info website.

 Bike

Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

 

Weather and climate

 Visiting through the seasons

There are lots of great things waiting for you on Montague Island Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights:

Spring (Sept, Oct, Nov)

  • New Zealand and Australian fur seals are at their peak on the island during spring, making this the perfect time for some seal-spotting. To tempt you even more, humpback whales can often be spotted along the coastline, and pods of dolphins come to play among the boats too – book a guided tour that includes whale watching for the best chance to spot this special sea mammal in its own environment
  • From October huge numbers of shearwaters begin to arrive and nest on the island through the summer

Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb)

  • Soak up the summer sun on a guided tour of Montague Island and provides some of the best weather for photographs.

Winter (Jun, Jul, Aug)

  • From late winter the seal colony on the island starts to grow, and you can watch penguins land at the viewing area on the evening tour of the island. It can get quite chilly in winter so pack warm clothes

 Temperature

Summer

  • The average temperature ranges between 15°C and  25°C
  • The area’s highest recorded temperature in summer is 38.7°C

Winter ­

  • The average temperature ranges between 4°C and 16°C
  • The area’s lowest recorded temperature in winter is 2.1°C

Rainfall

  • The wettest month on average is March, the driest month on average is July
  • The area’s highest recorded rainfall is 182mm in one day

Safety

Life jackets must be worn on the boat. The tour can be quite challenging, as you need to climb a 2 m ladder and walk up a steep 400 m track from the jetty to the lighthouse area.

Contacts

Narooma

Phone: (02) 4476 0800
Street address: Cnr Graham & Burrawang Sts, Narooma NSW
Opening hours: 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday

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Rocky shore, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: Stuart Cohen