your guide to the

NSW South Coast

The South Coast is the ultimate weekend getaway, within easy reach from both Sydney and Canberra. Blessed with immense natural beauty including beautiful beaches and national parks you’ll find plenty to see and do on the South Coast with a range of coastal walks and water sports suitable for all levels of fitness.

 

Savour freshly shucked oysters on Australia’s Oyster Coast and enjoy a fine drop from the regions best wineries in Shoalhaven. Discover more local wines, ciders, cheese, olives and chocolates on the South Coast Foodie Trail or dine in one of the regions finest restaurants; the South Coast is a foodies delight.

 

Here’s our guide to a perfect little weekend away on the NSW South Coast.

How to Get There

Getting to the South Coast is easy. Self-drive is one of the best ways to explore the NSW South Coast with the Grand Pacific Drive considered one of Australia’s most spectacular driving routes, making it the perfect road trip from Sydney. You can also travel by train, with regular services from Sydney’s Central Station to the South Coast. If you are travelling from Melbourne or Brisbane you can fly into Shellharbour, Moruya and Merimbula.

 

This scenic rail route offers the opportunity to stop at seaside towns including Kiama, Bombo, Bomaderry, Austinmer, Thirroul and more. The South Coast is accessible from Canberra too, with the drive to Mollymook and Kiama only just over 2.5 hours. The South Coast’s beautiful coastline makes for the perfect day trip, weekend or week long getaway at any time of year.

Things to Do on the South Coast

Cycling & Walk Tracks

Explore a range of cycling trails, walking tracks and more on the South Coast of NSW. The Kiama Coast Walk takes in spectacular vistas, beautiful beaches and historical sites along the 22km walk from Minnamurra River in the Illawarra to Werri Beach in Gerringong and can be separated into three sections and best completed over two to three days to make the most of the spectacular scenery. Hiking in Macquarie Pass National Park and cycling Lake Illawarra should also be on your to do list while on the South Coast.

Parks & Reserves

Blessed with natural beauty the South Coast boasts a number of national parks and reserves to explore. Jervis Bay National Park includes the White Sands walk, that finishes at Hyams Beach, whale watching and fishing opportunities. There’s also the beautiful Minamurra Rainforest to explore, full of walking trails, waterfalls and birdlife; and for coastal walks you can’t go past Killalea Reserve. Meanwhile Ben Boyd National Park on the Sapphire Coast is where you can enjoy the Light to Light walk or stay in heritage lighthouse accommodation.

Kayaking & Cruising

The South Coast of NSW is the perfect spot for kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and water sports. Book a tour or hire your own craft and explore the coastline, sanctuaries and waterways of the South Coast. Jervis Bay Wild offers a range of equipment for hire as well as dolphin and whale watching cruises. Kangaroo Valley Safaris Kayaks and Canoes also offer self-guided day trips from two hours to all day from Hampden Bridge to Bendeela with a return shuttle included.

Beaches

The NSW South Coast has some of the most incredible beaches in the country. If you’re up for it, you can even take part in the Shoalhaven 100 Beach Challenge. With all beaches in the list located just two hours from Sydney and Canberra, this line-up is a bucket list of sorts, and travellers are encouraged to visit as many as possible, tick them off as they go and share their experiences on social media. The 100 hot spots are spread from Seven Mile Beach to Depot Beach in the South and are presented like a game, and are even categorised by groups such as ‘family’, ‘pets’ and ‘adventure’.

 

If you’re on the hunt for a good surfing beach, you’ll want to head to the National Surfing Reserve in Killalea and check out their two surf beaches, Killalea Beach (known to locals as The Farm) and Minnamurra Beach ‘Mystics’.

 

Where to Visit on the South Coast

Shellharbour

Stretching from Killalea Reserve to Illawarra and up into Macquarie Pass, you’ll find some of the best natural attractions on the south coast. Surf the best breaks at The Farm, also known as Killalea Beach National Surfing Reserve. Head to Macquarie Pass National Park and take the Cascades Walk or Clover Hill Trail through lush rainforest and towering eucalypts, and Bass Point Reserve is the best spot for snorkelling and diving in the region. Don’t just leave your visit to the warmer months, there are also plenty of reasons to explore the South Coast during winter. For three of the best accommodation options in the area, check out Starfish Beach House in the centre of town, go camping at Reflections Killalea Reserve, or take in the views of Calderwood Valley from Escape 778.

Kiama

South of Wollongong you’ll find the charming town of Kiama with its world-famous Kiama Blowhole and Little Blowhole. The main street is filled with cafes and shops to browse and weekly farmers markets line the foreshore for locals and visitors to source the best local produce and artisan products. There are also an abundance of wellness experiences to add to your list while you’re there. If you’re staying in Kiama there are plenty of great places to visit within driving distance, including Gerringong, Gerroa and Jamberoo. Stop in for lunch at footballer great Michael Cronin’s Gerringong pub, Cronin Hotel, or if you’re there for breakfast you can’t go past The Deli & Cafe on the main street. If you’re travelling with kids, a day out at Jamberoo Action Park is always a hit. Alternatively you can lap up the sun at Gerroa’s Seven Mile Beach.

Shoalhaven

Follow the coastline south to the Shoalhaven region including sublime coastal towns and hinterland villages. Enjoy magnificent beach destinations such as Mollymook, Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach or base yourself in popular country towns such as Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Milton. Beachside haven Mollymook is a popular coastal resort town within easy reach of Canberra and Sydney. You’ll also find a covetable food and wine scene all along the coast, starting with the famous Berry Donut Van, then a tasting at Mountain Ridge Wines, before dining at Milton’s hatted restaurant St Isidore. If that’s not enough here are seven more ways to discover Shoalhaven.

Wollongong

Cruise the Grand Pacific Drive to Wollongong and discover a coastal city ideal for day trips and weekend escapes from Sydney. NSW’s third largest city previously known more for its industry and port offers visitors plenty of things to see and do including bushwalking trails, beaches, markets and more. Here’s our guide to the 11 best things to do in Wollongong.

Bateman’s Bay

Bateman’s Bay is a charming coastal town in the Eurobodalla region on the NSW South Coast. Bateman’s Bay is at the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast. The town unfolds along the banks of the Clyde River, where you can taste succulent Clyde River oysters from the farm gates and fresh local seafood at a selection of restaurants. Relax by the beach or enjoy water sports including swimming, surfing, kayaking and fishing in Bateman’s Bay.

Planning your stay on the South Coast

The South Coast is picturesque in any season. Summer holidays and school holidays is peak period for beachside destinations such as Kiama, Gerringong and Jervis Bay. Villages such as Kangaroo Valley and Berry are popular on weekends and the cooler months for romantic getaways. Plan well ahead to secure South Coast accommodation during the summer school holidays.

Luxury Accommodation

South Coast luxury accommodation ranges from boutique B&B’s, luxury guesthouses and boutique hotels. In Kiama, discover hidden gem Terragong 1858 a remarkable and unique three room B&B for those with an eye for style. There are plenty of luxury holiday houses along the South Coast ideal for group getaways and retreats including Soul of Gerringong. If it’s five star hotels you’re looking for, book in at Bannisters by the Sea or its sister hotel Bannisters Pavilion and indulge in dinner at Rick Stein at Bannisters.

Hotels

South Coast hotels are mostly a collection of unique and independently owned hotels including The Berry Inn offering contemporary country accommodation right in the heart of historic Berry. However, if you’re loyal to Accor you’ll find Sebel Harbourside Kiama and Mercure Gerringong Resort the perfect choice.

Caravans & Camping

Caravans and camping on the South Coast NSW is an affordable and fun option for families. There are plenty of beachside options along the South Coast including Surf Beach Holiday Park overlooking Kiama’s main beach with a choice of powered tent, caravan sites and luxury cabins available or Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park featuring unique safari tents and surf shacks.

Where to eat on the South Coast

Shellharbour

Staying at Shellharbour means you get all the delicious benefits of being in a produce-rich area; including the freshest produce and meat and seafood of the highest quality. There are an abundance of restaurants to choose from in the area, but we’ll share a few of our favourites to get you started. First up is Nardi’s Italian for a carb-heaven mix of pasta, meats and bread. Take in the ocean views at Relish on Addison and dine on modern Australian fare or stop in for a cracking Sunday brunch. For fine dining that features Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, you’ll want to reserve a table at Branches Restaurant and order the three-course chef’s selection for a real treat.

Kiama

You won’t be disappointed with the variety of restaurants, cafes and wine bars available in Kiama. For a fine dining experience to remember you need to eat at Silica. Take in the ocean views while you’re there. Dine in or takeaway gourmet pizzas from Olive and Vine. If you’re hankering for a burger you’ll want to order a Southern Fry from Hungry Monkey, or hit them up for brunch for an equally impressive menu of dishes to choose from. The Brooding Italian makes the best coffee in town and if you’re still hungry after all that there is also the Little Blowhole Art Bar, Milk & Honey, Penny Whistlers, Flour Water Salt and Bouqiniste to check out.

 

Spend the day nearby at Gerringong’s vineyard, Crooked River Wines for a tasting at the cellar door or lunch at their restaurant or brewery. Wrap up the afternoon with a gelato at Fern St Espresso and Gelato and then (if you can manage it) dine on fresh seafood at Blue Swimmer in Gerroa for dinner.

Berry

This quaint, lovely country town is famous for many things but the Berry Donut Van is known far and wide for their fresh cinnamon donuts. The sweet treat options don’t stop there. The Berry Sourdough Cafe has plenty more for you choose from – but get in early as this place is always busy. The Garden is a superb breakfast location. The Hungry Duck serves up the best Asian cuisine in town, while South on Albany, Queen Street Eatery, Silos cellar door and restaurant and Bussola offer a variety of cuisines to choose from.

Shoalhaven Heads

If you’re staying further south in Shoalhaven heads we can’t recommend the restaurant at Bangalay Villas enough. They embrace the paddock to plate approach to cooking, source local produce and make use of native ingredients in their dishes. Coolangatta Estate is another standout in the region, with an appetising modern Australian menu alongside a cellar door.

Mollymook

If you’re heading towards Mollymook for a beach escape and wanting to treat yourself, or are celebrating something special, you can’t go past Rick Stein’s at Bannisters. Known for the incredible seafood on offer – with an Asian twist. The views are also stunning, so ensure you enjoy a long lunch on a beautiful day.

For amazing fish and chips or a big brekkie to satisfy a few too many vinos the night before, Mollymook Beach Hut Cafe is a winner.

Bateman’s Bay

If you’re in Bateman’s Bay for the weekend, there are a few spots you’d do well to try. For a great breakfast, head to Deli on Perry for some of the best bacon and eggs you’ll find on the South Coast. For dinner, you can’t go past Heat Woodfired Pizza Bar in Batehaven. Go for the Supremo! It’s also BYO, so bring a great bottle of red! Another must-visit is the Bateman’s Bay Ice Creamery. You can get amazing smoothies, all the ice cream and gelato you could want – plus frozen yoghurt with all the toppings.

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