February 18, 2020 / By Penelope Barker
What's a weekend away without some good food and a spot (or lot) of retail therapy? If you're planning a trip to the South Coast be assured there is plenty of both to be had. I've spent many years travelling the South Coast gathering stories for South Coast Style magazine and here are some of my personal faves.
When my partner and I go to Wollongong we head straight to the Illawarra Brewery next door to the WIN Entertainment Centre for lunch and a craft beer on the deck overlooking the ocean. On weekdays the deck is not crowded and the lunch specials are always fresh and delicious.
For coffee in the heart of town, try Lee & Me. Located in an old heritage 1890s terrace house, it's charming, welcoming and warm in winter (with an open fireplace), and cool in summer (there's a lovely outdoor terrace). In addition to serving great coffee, there's a healthy, fresh and fun breakfast and lunch menu, plus it's licensed.
There are plenty of wonderful high-end restaurants in the Gong, but for dinner we generally head to Keira St, off Crown St in the CBD, for delicious (and cheap) Asian eats. The street is lined wall to wall on either side with Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Balinese and Japanese restaurants - so just stroll along and take your pick! Don't feel like Asian food? There's a couple of Italian choices too.
Hit the beach in style after a visit to Natural Necessity Surf Shop. Located in the beautiful seaside town of Gerringong, Natural Necessity is Australia's largest independent surf shop and has been family owned for over 40 years. There are two huge floors dedicated to fashion and surf hardware, not to mention the Perfect Break in-house cafe. The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating, fresh and wholesome food, all-day brekkie and organic coffee sourced from South Coast roaster Pip de Pulford of HyperHyper – seriously the best coffee ever.
The town of Berry has a vast choice of boutique shopping and dining experiences. A must visit is the Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery Cafe for breakfast, lunch or dinner or to pick up some wonderful woodfired sourdough loaves and heavenly pastries. The owners also have an excellent gourmet takeaway, called Milkwood Bakery, on Queen St, the main street of town. For to-die-for freshly baked scones with raspberry jam and thick, dollopy cream head for the Berry Tea Shop.
Berry’s neighbourhood restaurant, SOUTH on Albany has a menu with strong modern European influences. The wine list includes local and NSW wines, many available by the glass. With an emphasis on sourcing the freshest seasonal and local produce, hosts John Evans and Sonia Greig have created a friendly and unique venue for their guests to enjoy the best the South Coast has to offer.
For lovers of modern Asian cuisine a meal at Hungry Duck is a must. The chic space provides the perfect backdrop for chef/owner David Campbell's dynamic take on Asian cuisine, while the kitchen garden provides many of the organic herbs and vegetables that are showcased on the plate.
For shopping, I could (and do) spend hours in Moss Nest and Shady Fig, both utterly gorgeous spaces to browse for floristry, homewares and fashion. For more fabulous homewares head for The Picnic Shed, Haven & Space and Few and Far. Juniper Hearth is yet another beautiful shop filled with fashion, accessories, homewares and gifts inspired by the owner's travels.
Heading south, David Campbell's second restaurant, Wharf Rd Restaurant and Bar, is located in a historic Harbour Master's residence on the Shoalhaven River, right beside the bridge. With lovely rustic modern interiors, tranquil river views and delicious food it's a laidback place for a meal or just a drink. Located a few minutes out of town in lush dairy country is the The Butterfactory restaurant at Pyree. This charming establishment is best visited for lunch so you can enjoy the gorgeous rural views and herds of grazing cows.
Remember I mentioned how good the coffee was at Perfect Break cafe in Gerringong? Well roaster Pip de Pulford has his own funky little coffee bar in Nowra called HyperHyper. Pip specialises in authentic 1950s flavoursome mid/northern Italian style espresso, having trained under Barry Constable whose knowledge of authentic espresso roasting originated in the 1950s Florence cafe scene. Perch on a stool at the window of this friendly and bustling little coffee bar for a coffee that will take your breath away and buy a freshly roasted bag of beans to take with you to your holiday rental on the coast.
For browsing, my fave rave in Nowra is Mickey and Mallory in Junction St. The airy, light-filled upstairs space is a feast for lovers of vintage and recycled clothing and quirky collectables. I could practically live here. If oysters are your thing, head out of Nowra to Greenwell Point to stock up on freshly shucked oysters bought direct from the growers. There's also a classic fish and chips place right on the water at Greenwell Point where the seagulls will pester you for leftovers.
Huskisson boasts a row of cafes and shops overlooking glorious views of Jervis Bay. There's a branch of the famous Pilgrims vegetarian cafe here that also sells fashion and homewares. Indigo Love is a homewares heaven with loads of beautiful goodies sourced from India, while Babylon Boutique will have your holiday wardrobe ever so stylishly sorted.
For dining out, Wild Ginger is a smartly kitted out space serving inventive South East Asian dishes. At Paperbark Camp, a luxury glamping tented camp near Huskisson at Woollamia, you can book ahead for a romantic candlelit dinner at The Gunyah restaurant, a unique space built high off the ground to enjoy the sea breeze and a wonderful position amongst the tree tops.
Like Berry, Milton is a shopping and dining mecca par excellence. Head to Spaces2538 for gorgeous clothing and homewares, Jipsi Cartel for its own Boho fashion label and Miss Moss for ethical clothing and accessories. Home at Last is a homewares shop crammed with mostly beachy inspired furnishings and accessories, while Nikki B's is heaven for vintage lovers.
A Milton institution,Pilgrim's Vegetarian Cafe offers hearty, healthy vegetarian food even the most avid carnivore would enjoy. Out of town in lovely rural settings Milk Haus and the vineyard kitchen at Cupitt's Winery offer great dining with glorious views. On the coast at nearby Mollymook is UK celebrity chef Rick Stein's eponymous Rick Stein's at Bannisters restaurant specialising in seafood fresh from the fishing boats at nearby Ulladulla Harbour. How splendid!
We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.