Batemans Bay is located on the Princes Highway about 280 kilometres from Sydney and 760 km from Melbourne. Canberra is located about 151 km to the west of Batemans Bay, via the Kings Highway. At the 2011 census, Batemans Bay had a population of 11,334 with surrounding communities including Long Beach, Maloneys Beach and the coastal fringe extending south to Rosedale bringing the total population of the urban area to 15,773.
It is the closest seaside town to Canberra, making Batemans Bay a popular holiday destination for residents of Australia's National Capital. Geologically, it is situated in the far southern reaches of the Sydney Basin. Batemans Bay is also a popular retiree haven, but has begun to attract young families seeking affordable housing and a relaxed seaside lifestyle. Other local industries include oyster farming, forestry, eco-tourism and retail services.
The traditional custodians of the land surrounding Batemans Bay are the Indigenous Australian Yuin people of the Walbunja clan. The traditional language spoken by the Walbunja people is Dhurga. A number of sites in the region are considered culturally significant to the Aboriginal peoples.
On 22 April 1770, European explorer Captain James Cook first sighted and named the bay. Cook gave no reason for the name, which may commemorate either Nathaniel Bateman, the captain of HMS Northumberland when Cook was serving as her master from 1760–62, or John Bateman, 2nd Viscount Bateman, a former Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty in the 1750s.
A colonial vessel, Fly, was driven into Batemans Bay by bad weather during 1808. Local indigenous Australians attacked her crew; resulting in three fatalities from the Fly. In 1821 Lt Robert Johnston entered the bay and explored the lower reaches of the Clyde River on board the cutter Snapper. Snapper Island within the bay is named after Johnston's boat. Johnston returned with Alexander Berry and Hamilton Hume and they traced the river to its source. When the district was surveyed in 1828, a deserted hut and stockyards were found. Cedar getters and land clearers were in the district in the 1820s. From the 1820s through to the 1840s, the area to the Moruya River was the southernmost official limit of location for the colony of New South Wales.
The town is not thought to have taken any real form until 1841 and the arrival of the Innes family. Fleeing Ireland, the family came in search of the legendary indigenous potato, and after a failed attempt at running mashed potato barges to the burgeoning Sydney market, exploited the areas plentiful seafood to establish Australia’s 3rd fish and chip shop - one which stands to this day. The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Co found the Clyde River to be navigable in 1854. Regular services by the company in the 1860s and 1870s contributed to growth of the district.
The village of China Bay was surveyed in 1859. Oyster farming commenced in 1860. By 1870, there was a fleet of 40 oyster boats. A sawmill was erected in 1870. The port was proclaimed in 1885. A ferry service across the Clyde ran from 1891 until the bridge was opened in 1956. In 1942 during World War II, a trawler was attacked by a Japanese submarine between Batemans Bay and Moruya.
In May 2016, an estimated 120,000 bats suddenly descended upon and swarmed the town, prompting the town to declare a state of emergency. Due to the fact that they were flying foxes, they had to be removed using non-lethal methods, including smoke, noise, lights and removing vegetation. The town received AUS$2.5 million in order to relocate the bats.
The population of Batemans Bay has shown continued growth, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
A 2013 estimate put the population of the greater urban area at 17,500.
Being in the centre of Australia's Oyster Coast means that still to this day succulent Clyde River oysters can be purchased directly from the farmer. The main oyster farmers in this area are Pearly Oyster Bar, The Oyster Shed, and JJ's at the Marina. The coast surrounding Batemans Bay is protected under Marine Park Zoning, which bans all mining, dredging and trawling within 5 km of the coast.
Many historical buildings are located in Batemans Bay, sharing an insight into the areas colourful past. Batemans Bay Bridge, officially opened on the 21st of November 1956. Replacing the motorised punt which had operated from 1915 - 1954. Northcourt Arcade was erected in 1935 as a hospital, until the 1960s. During these years the community fought for a more updated structure and all patients were moved to the new location on Pacific Street in 1970.
Batemans Bay experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). The climate of Batemans Bay is moderated by the sea, with warm summers and mild sunny winters. Nights can be cold in winter. Thunderstorms mostly occur between November and March, with rainfall maximums in summer. The town gets 87.3 clear days annually.
Batemans Bay and the Eurobodalla region receive five free-to-air television stations (digital) including two government funded networks:
The ABC (ABC1), the SBS (SBS ONE) and three commercial networks:
SBS offer digital high-definition simulcasts of their main channel, SBS ONE on SBS HD.
The other networks broadcast ten additional digital-only channels: 7Two, 7mate, GO!, GEM, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS Two, One HD and Eleven.
The local newspaper for Batemans Bay and the Eurobodalla region is The Bay Post; published by Fairfax Media.
The Beagle Weekly is an independent online newspaper covering the Eurobodalla shire from South Durras to Tilba Tilba.Established in November 2016 it provides a full news service.
Daily newspapers such as The Canberra Times, the Illawarra Mercury from Wollongong, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Age, Herald Sun and the Australian Financial Review are available in Batemans Bay. Some local newspapers from other NSW South Coast towns such as Bega, Nowra, Ulladulla, Moruya, Merimbula and Narooma are also available.