A review of Clark Bay Cottages – Narooma

This post appeared in a different version in the magazine Out & About With Kids – highly recommended. Visit www.outandaboutwithkids.com.au.

The advertising flyer for Clark Bay Cottages says ‘another day in paradise’ and that parallels my memory of Narooma; the town where I grew up, but then spent 20 years away. Those memories were long before having kids, long before our son, Daniel, was diagnosed with Autism, and long before I used a wheelchair. I was fascinated to see how it would work now.

Clark Bay Cottages

Clark Bay Cottages

Family holidays can be a challenge for us, especially finding suitable accommodation. As well as needing wheelchair access, we need to satisfy Daniel’s sensory needs. He loves water, so we need a pool. He loves being in the bush, so we look for a bush setting. Above all, he needs space – to run, jump, yell … and just to be free and safe. Clark Bay Cottages are ideal. The pool is gorgeous, looking as it does over Wagonga Inlet; one of the prettiest stretches of water you’ll find. There’s also a mechanical hoist into the pool and spa. The entire place is ramped, allowing a wheelchair user to explore any part of the facilities, including the games room and tennis courts.

Clark Bay Pool

Clark Bay Pool

Clark Bay is set on 20 acres of partially-cleared temperate rainforest, so there are many places to bushwalk, explore and just be close to nature. It is incredibly quiet. Often, the only sound is bellbirds calling. We noticed how calm and relaxed Daniel was there and wondered how much the stress and noise of the city affects his behavior.

Narooma also claims to have the mildest climate in the country, and it’s a claim I believe.

The four cabins have been built on ‘universal design’ principles, which means they are completely wheelchair-friendly, including rails in the bathroom, wheel-under kitchen benches and one cabin has a hoist from bedroom to shower. There are many other thoughtful touches, including electromagnetic cooktops, fully adjustable kitchen benches, 1/4 turn batwing taps and electronically adjustable beds. Despite these excellent facilities, nothing about Clark Bay Cottages is unsuitable for families without special needs. For most families, it’s just a great place for a holiday.

The town of Narooma is also a surprise. It’s a hilly place, but the local council and businesses have done a great job of making nearly everything accessible including shops, cafes (including some very good coffee) and services. Every park we visited (there are several excellent playgrounds and picnic spots right by the water) had accessible toilets. A special treat is the boardwalk that has been built from the centre of town, north to Bar Beach; a distance of six kilometres. It’s all accessible and hugs the water the whole way. While undertaking this walk, our kids were fascinated to watch a huge Stingray feeding in the shallows.  

Narooma is a little far from Sydney (5 hours drive) to receive weekend visitors. And that’s part of the beauty of the place. Life moves at a different pace there. Once you’ve arrived, reward yourself and stay a week.

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