In Travel

Head South For Summer: Where To Eat, Stay And Play On NSW’s South Coast

As the oceans begin to warm up and we find ourselves digging out the beach towels, summer weekend sojourns become front of mind. And among the many convenient options offered to Sydneysiders, New South Wales’ South Coast is one of the most special.

The stunning region is home to some of Australia’s most exquisite restaurants, luxurious stays and, of course, pristine beaches. It was put on the world map, after all, by its Hyams Beach, said to have some of the whitest sand on the planet.

Whether you’re looking to explore new parts of Australia or simply wanting to tantalise your palate, this stretch of coastline boasts some of the best in class. Less than three hours drive from both Sydney and Canberra, it’s time to head south for a restorative weekend away.

Where to go

While you can’t really go wrong once you’ve jumped in the car and set your course south, the Grand Pacific Drive will quite literally take your breath away. Winding through stretches of verdant rainforest and along expansive coastline, it’s one of Australia’s most spectacular drives.

The ocean air will prime you for maximum relaxation, and the seaside towns dotted along it are in abundance. Travellers are spoilt for choice with local markets, cafes and bakeries in townships from Gerroa to Gerringong.

The Kiama Farmers Markets is an excellent stop for locally-made treats and beach picnic provisions. With a focus on seasonal produce, make sure to try freshly shucked oysters from the Shoalhaven region, farm-fresh cheeses and meats, and an array of wines, ciders and even honey mead from regional brewers.

There’s a focus on protecting local growers and producers in this region, and it’s worth making time to visit Buena Vista Farm. The family-owned farm hosts workshops where you can learn how coffee ends up in your cup and even roast your own beans. Making your own cheeses, breads and pickles from scratch is also on offer.

For an indulgent option, the farm also hosts private lunches. Because there’s nothing more satisfying than eating a meal on the very land it was grown.

South Coast

If you’re more of a sommelier than a River Cottage-fiend, pay a visit to the Two Figs Winery. Set in the foothills of Mount Coolangatta, this award-winning boutique winery was voted one of the best wine producers on the South Coast. With incredible 360 degree views over the Shoalhaven River, it’s the perfect spot to learn a little more about the region’s wine-making.

Wine tasting sessions in smaller groups can be booked in advance, and guests are also welcome to pick a selection of gourmet produce to enjoy al fresco.

Where to dine 

For riviera vibes without the long-haul flight, make a reservation at South on Albany. Tucked down the quieter end of Queen Street in Berry, this gorgeous spot takes inspiration from modern European cuisine and emphasises the freshest seasonal and local produce on their ever-evolving menu.

The interior is intimate with warm lighting and rich wood tones, and romantic enough for those special occasion dinners. If the burrata salad and citrus cured trout are available on your visit, they’re a must-order.

As well as local favorites, the South Coast has also attracted some heavy-weight food talent from around the world. Very much an institution is Rick Stein at Bannisters in Mollymook. Nestled high on a sweep of the South Coast headland, the ocean views and chic setting is the epitome of relaxed luxury.

Expect the freshest of seafood, simply prepared but masterfully done. The Hervey Bay scallops grilled on the shell crowned with hazelnut and coriander butter are recommended, but you really can’t go wrong.

Where to stay

No matter where you choose to stay on the South Coast, you won’t be far from beautiful beaches and natural oases. That said, if you’re looking for total immersion without sacrificing luxury, head to Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay.

Their spacious tents nestled amongst the gum trees bring a whole new meaning to glamping. Think wrap-around decks, polished hardwood floors and private en-suites with open-air showers.

The deluxe tent is tastefully styled, with North African-inspired design blending seamlessly with the Australian bush setting. Even if you don’t stay, treat yourself to dinner at Paperbark’s restaurant The Gunyah, named after the Aboriginal word for meeting place. Its four-course set menu takes cues from the seasons. Sunday is paella night.

For those travelling with friends or other couples, Soul of Gerringong is another wonderful option. The boutique hotel is actually a lovingly restored 1800s farmhouse and cottage, the project of interior designer and stylist Simone Mathews and her builder husband Ben. The light airy spaces are grounded by dark wood flooring, and many of the farmhouse’s original features like the stone fireplace have been preserved.

All of the guest rooms are equipped with en suites and tea and coffee facilities, but we bet you’ll be spending most of your time in the beautiful open plan living area – or by the pool.

(All images: Destination New South Wales / supplied) 

Published 01 November, 2019