The heritage villages of Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba sit in the shadow of Mount Gulaga, a sacred mountain for Yuin Aboriginal people. This is granite country and the first thing you will see are the granite tors that cover the landscape. Though these appear quite appealing these massive granite outcrops have a darker side of attracting lightning.
There have been a number of prehistoric volcanic eruptions from Gulaga, the first occurring about 94 million years ago during the mid- Cretaceous period when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
The ancient volcano complex covers about 40 sq km and has had a significant impact on the surrounding environment, with both Little Dromedary (Najanuka) to the east and Montague Island (Baranguba) formed through the volcano's activity. Gulaga, which is now 797m above sea level, would have originally been close to two thousand metres higher, and its foothills would have extended to Tuross Head. The mountain that you see today is basically the inner core of the original volcano. The volcano has been dormant since the Cretaceous period - which ended 65 million years ago.
The Dreaming story of Mount Gulaga.
Gulaga gave birth to two sons, Baranguba and Najanuga. When Baranguba was old enough he asked his mother if he could live in the ocean. Gulaga agreed so Baranguba swam out and turned into Montague Island. Her youngest son Najanuga, who wanted to do the same but couldn't swim, was told to stay close at her feet and he became the smaller mountain known as Little Dromedary. It is claimed that Baranguba (Montague Island) is still joined to Gulaga by an umbilical cord which runs under the sea. Geologists agree that there are most likely ancient underground lava tubes.
The Tilba villages are also wonderfully old. Central Tilba is a National Trust-classified town and has become a must see on the South Coast for its delightful shops and galleries where can enjoy the true feeling of yesteryear as you explore the genuine streetscape. On Saturdays there is a local produce market in the community owned School of Arts buildings.
If you get a chance take a wander up the laneway by the Dromedary Hotel and follow the path to the top of the hill and water tower accessed via the paddock at the back of the fire shed. There is a lovely view of the town and valleys beyond. Be sure to say hello to the horse who lives in the paddock.
The ABC Cheese Factory is located in Central Tilba at the end of the main street. It was established in 1891 and was the first cheese co-operative in New South Wales.
Tilba Club Cheese is still waxed at the ABC Cheese Factory and is sold exclusively through their shop. Tastings of their cheeses are available at any time. You are also welcome to taste the largest range of honey on the south coast. They feature local produce including their own jams and preserves, souvenirs, gifts, coffee, ice cream and snacks.
South Coast Cheese is also located within the ABC Cheese Factory. It specialises in producing a local product of the highest quality and sources as many local ingredients as possible.
Tilba Real Dairy features cheese making and milk bottling which can be viewed through large glass windows. Along with cheese tastings, honey tastings, ice creams, quality condiments and conserves you can also try the freshest milkshake made from the jersey herd in the Tilba Valley, just milked and available.
Tilba Real Dairy specialises in producing a local product of the highest quality sourcing as many local ingredients as possible and giving back to the local community.
They produce many speciality cheeses including infused and traditional cheddars, soft and hard cheeses, such as Cream Blue, Camembert. Havarti and Romano. Their chilli based 'Firecracker’ is not for wary.
Central Tilba celebrates Easter Saturday every year with The Tilba Festival of music, food and all the key things that make a community thrive.
Later on in June it hosts the South East Regional Timber workers with their June long weekend display and sale.
Central Tilba also hosts the annual South Coast Knife Show over the October long weekend each year showcasing the skills of makers both local and interstate. A chance to meet the makers themselves and buy some truly unique, beautiful and practical pieces.
While Central Tilba is well known for its craft stores and the famous ABC Cheese factory nearby Tilba Tilba is equally famous for being the starting point for the Gulaga Walk.
There is a gravel road that connects Narooma to Tilba. The road is often referred to as The Ridge Road which leads out of Tilba in a northerly direction and continues, sealed and unsealed, through farms and bush country. Follow this road (from Tilba) to the Old Highway and turn right. Further along this road is Tilba Valley Winery which offers tasting of their great selection, lunch and cellar door sales.
Tilba Valley Wines is situated on the shores of Lake Corunna. You can taste their selection of wines made on site which include semillon, traminer, riesling, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon as well as their Australian-style port and muscat. From here you can return to Narooma via the Princes Highway.