AT‘s Wheelie Traveller samples the sights, delights and accessibility of Gunyah Restaurant at Paperbark Camp; a bush retreat near Jervis Bay, NSW.
When we were invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday at the Gunyah Restaurant near Huskisson we eagerly accepted, not only because he is such a great friend, but because it has been on our restaurant ‘to try’ list for years.
The Gunyah (aboriginal for meeting place, or place of shelter) is part of Paperbark Camp, a bush retreat in the Jervis Bay area, between two and three hours drive from Sydney. I was hoping to arrive a little early for dinner to check out one of the twelve luxurious bush ‘tents’ at the camp but was told when making the booking that unfortunately there were no accessible options for staying overnight. I was assured that there was a ramp to the restaurant and an accessible toilet though so dinner would be fine.
Even though our friends had been before, we almost missed the turn into the Camp, nestled as it is in 100 acres of bushland. The narrow, unsealed drive leads to a small parking area and guests continue for a short way on foot. Fortunately there is a turn-around closer to the restaurant itself where my husband could unload me and my trusty travel scooter ‘Little Red’. I was temporarily concerned when the only apparent entrance was via a tall staircase, but my husband quickly confirmed the existence of the ramp hidden around the corner.
The tunnel-like entrance to the ramp quickly opens out to reveal the bush all around. The restaurant itself is like a giant tree house; it is airy and open with tea lights, candles and fairy lights all helping to lend it a touch of magic. Add to that some beautiful classical Christmas music playing in the background and I would have been happy to hang out there all night, even without anything to eat.
Before we arrived at the Gunyah, our friend Michael confided that he had so far had a wonderful birthday and that the only thing he needed to make it perfect would be for an Irish person to wish him ‘Happy Thirty-third!’ (we all share a love of everything Irish, most especially that gorgeous accent). What a further delight when our Irish waiter arrived to take our order! He even obliged the birthday boy, despite hailing from Northern Ireland where the accent doesn’t produce the same comic effect on the ‘th’ sound. His wonderful sense of humour, impeccable waiting skills and tolerance in the face of our tipsy jollity were a credit to the Gunyah and Ireland both.
While the ambience alone could have sustained me, it was matched equally by the glorious food. Pate tasters were followed by bread rolls baked on the premises and entrees for the three males (we three ladies elected to save ourselves for the delectable desserts). Between the six of us, four ordered the blue-eyed trevally and the other two went for lamb. I had mentioned my special dietary requirements when I booked, but I decided to take a diet detour for the night and was so glad that I did. The fish was truly delicious and the sorbet and meringue dessert was heavenly, even though my companions assured me that the chocolate mousse couldn’t possibly be beaten. I think the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter what you order at the Gunyah because everything is exceptional, based as it is on fresh and seasonal local produce.
The Gunyah seats only 40, so bookings are essential, particularly during weekends and holiday season. Children are welcome, however, the peace and quiet favoured by diners could test the boredom tolerance of even the most well-behaved kids; our group opted for a baby sitter and a sleep-over for our little ones this time and we are already planning a return visit, perhaps for a lunch during school term! Now all I need is for Paperbark Camp to realise the value of an accessible tent; after all, wheelies love glamping too!
For more information contact:
Ph: (02) 4441 7299