We have to admit, as transplanted Kiwis in Sydney we were a little late to the party when it came to celebrating the many delights of NSW’s South Coast.
In New Zealand, most of the holiday marketing, outside of the main centre event packages, is focused on the Gold Coast and Uluru.
Who knew there were so many hidden gems just a few hours down the coast? We’ve spent the last seven years here making up for lost time, let me tell you.
With the help of Destination NSW, we’ve compiled a hit list of what’s hot on the South Coast this year to get you started on your own journey of discovery.
EAT & DRINK
Silica in Kiama has breathtaking views of the beach and an ex-Aria and Bentley chef on the burners. The menu is built around seasonal local ingredients, many of which are grown on the owner’s plot at the nearby Dapto Community Farm.
Also in Kiama, bakehouse Parfait Patisserie brings a touch of Paris to the South Coast. The line up to buy their delicate sweet treats is often snaking down the street. Local favourites are the smooth Love The Rush coffee blend and their classic flaky croissants.
Health-conscious travellers in search of meat-free menus are travelling the new plant-based foodie trail from Berry to Ulladulla. Discover raw vegan nachos at Back 2 Earth in Berry; a classic bliss burger from South Coast institution, Pilgrims; then head deeper south to Ulladulla for delightful raw vegan sweet treats at the Treehouse Café or Craft Surf Store.
Get breakfast, lunch and dinner – or cocktails any time in between – at the Hill Bar and Kitchen in Gerringong. It opened in late 2018 and the sleek modern building has sweeping views over the town and out to the beach.
After an 18-month closure and renovation, The Tathra Hotel has reopened. The pub now has its own on-site microbrewery, Humpback, creating beers that change with the seasons from refreshing lagers and flavourful IPA’s to golden ales, dark ales and more. Spend the night in one of the refurbished heritage rooms or the adjoining motel.
The new Hampden Deli in Kangaroo Valley is an all-round foodie experience. Buy fresh local produce from the store, book a spot for one of the ever-changing weekly dinners with guest chefs or join a cooking class to enhance your own skills in the kitchen.
Opened in 2018, Stoic Brewery in Gerringong is run by a local father and son team. It’s open for tastings and tours from Wednesday to Sunday, and most weekends there are special events with food trucks and live music.
In Thirroul, The Old South is a new tapas and cocktail bar tucked in amongst the cafes of the town’s main strip. The owners installed a Mibrasa charcoal oven to create Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-style dishes, and there’s live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
For those who like living on the edge, Outdoor Raw Cliffnics is a unique experience offering a picnic whilst suspended over the Shoalhaven clifftops, with a view of rivers, mountains and beaches. The unforgettable outdoor dining adventure includes locally-produced wine and beer and a delicious picnic basket brimming with fresh food.
Hikers should plan a trip to the South Coast this year with the completion of a $3.9 million upgrade to the Great Southern Nature Walk in the Royal National Park. Work is also continuing on the Royal Coast Track, which is set to be finished in 2020.
Art lovers can follow eight new trails through the Shoalhaven region, linking the area’s best galleries, workshops, markets, street art and heritage buildings. There are themed trails suited for kids or tailored around annual events, and even a few that include refreshment stops at local breweries or cocktail bars.
In the Buderoo National Park, the Minnamurra Upper Falls walking track and viewing platforms have recently reopened after extensive upgrades. The walk takes you through untouched rainforest and past stunning waterfalls. Work is continuing on the Rainforest Loop Walk and, once complete, the two will form a single track winding through the park.
Popular beachside holiday destination Batemans Bay will welcome a new $26 million Ramada Hotel in late 2019. The 84-room hotel will be across from the popular Corrigans Beach Reserve and many rooms will have great views of the ocean. It will have a luxurious pool, restaurant and bar, and conference facilities.
For something a bit different, check into the Bel-Air Berry, a mid-century house transformed into a boutique hotel. Consisting of a main house and two garden apartments, the property has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, all furnished in mid-century style, and can sleep 14 adults. Bel-Air is a stroll to the shops and restaurants of Berry, and a short drive to the beautiful beaches of Gerroa and Shoalhaven Heads.
For eco-friendly accommodation on the South Coast, the new Tilba Lake pods are part of the beautiful Tilba Lake Camp. The ‘tiny homes’ on 11 acres of coastal countryside cosily accommodate two adults in country-luxe style and have a toasty wood fire.
Pambula Beach – Discovery Park has brand-new cabins from an affordable $99 per night boasting two bedrooms, a galley-style kitchen and deck. An ideal winter getaway, there is rugged coastline to explore, endless bushwalking tracks and world-class oyster farms to discover.
Bangalay Villas are 16 new luxury villas near Seven Mile Beach. With a pared-back, beachy style, the one- or two-bedroom villas have sweeping views down the Shoalhaven Heads golf course to the mountain range. Take a dip in the pool then dine on site at Bangalay Dining, with chef Brent Strong executing a bold menu showcasing local produce of oysters, flathead, local beef and native herbs and florals such as banksia and eucalyptus.
The Cove is a collection of self-contained cottages in Jervis Bay with a cool, coastal aesthetic and loads of free, fun things to do. Dotted amongst beachfront bushland surrounded by Booderee National Park, choose from Surf Shacks, Fun Shacks, The Love Shack and more, then enjoy tranquil days swimming, surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding. For lovebirds, the entire property can be booked out for an exclusive destination wedding, accommodating 100 guests.
Nestled in rolling green farmland overlooking Werri Beach are two extraordinary new holiday houses. Dovecote is the ultimate luxury escape for the discerning traveller with two private, luxuriously appointed dwellings: The Headland and The Range. The Headland is designed for large groups and boasts four bedrooms as well as a central courtyard with pool, lawn, seating and fire pit. The Range is ideal for a couple or small gathering, with two bedrooms overlooking an oceanside deck and plunge pool.