Gulaga and Montague Island are the two major landmarks around Narooma. Both National Parks hold cultural and historic significance. Both are major tourist attractions for their abundance of flora and fauna. Not to mention the breathtaking scenery.
The history of Gulaga and Montague Island
Gulaga is an ancient volcano. European settlers named it Mt Dromedary due to its similarity to a camel’s hump. Volcanic eruptions formed both Montague Island and Little Dromedary.
In 2006, Gulaga was officially handed back to the local Yuin people. “Mother Gulaga” is of particular significance to local aboriginal women.
According to legend Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) had two sons who left her to travel east. When they reached the sea, she called to the younger one, “come back, you are too young.” Baranguba (Montague Island) went out into the sea, lay down and fell asleep. The younger son Najanuga (Little Dromedary) lay down and stayed at his mother’s feet.
Montague Island is also of cultural significance to the local Wagonga people They would paddle out to the island each spring to picnic and collect seabird eggs. For several days they would gather on the foreshore to build bark canoes for the voyage.
Montague Island and Mt Gulaga
Gulaga National Park was established in 2001, covering an area of over 4,500 hectares.
It is possible to take an 11 kilometre, five hour return walk to the summit. Starting from Pam’s Store in Tilba Tilba, the steep walk takes you along an old miners path, through natural vegetation, old mine workings and lush rainforest near the summit. This is also the natural habitat for a variety of bird species and wildlife.
Montague Island today
Montague Island National Park is a local landmark, sitting 9 kilometres off Narooma. The Island once served as a lonely lighthouse post. The lighthouse was built in 1881 and replaced with an automated system in 1986.
The island is also ecologically significant. It is home to a colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals, one of the largest little penguin breeding grounds in Australia and is a nesting ground for an abundance of seabirds.
Guided day and overnight trips to the island can be organised through tour operators registered with National Parks and Wildlife service. This includes an overnight stay in the old lighthouse keepers quarters. Landing on the island without a licensed operator is prohibited.
It is also possible to become involved in a number of volunteer conservation and wildlife projects. The more adventurous tourists can enjoy snorkelling with the seals.
Fishing and whale watching
Montague Island is a fisherman’s paradise. Fishing charter operators and private vessels head to the Island each day for a day’s fishing.
Pods of whales chase krill around the Island from September to November on their annual migration.
Large pods of humpback whales will often come right up to the boats to check out the tourists and often put on quite a show. A number of local charter operators offer whale watching tours.