Not everyone enjoys a ‘stop and flop’ type of holiday. Here are the top ways to eat, play and stay on the NSW South Coast.
The NSW South Coast is within striking distance of both Sydney and Canberra. And those looking for a weekend away are waking up to the riches of the region. Here are our picks of where to eat, what to do and where to stay while on the NSW South Coast.
What to do on the NSW South Coast
Whether you’re a surfing fanatic, a yogi, enjoy mooching around a farmers market or keen to try out your hand at shucking oysters, here is a range of the best things to do while on the NSW South Coast to suit all interests.
1. Take your surfing to the next level with legend Pam Burridge, Mollymook
Keen surfers froth on the fact they can get a private lesson with Pam Burridge, a former ASP World Champion while holidaying on the NSW South Coast. While the former pro surfer and her team at Pam Burridge Surf School mainly help beginners learn how to catch waves, they are also available for private lessons to teach intermediates how to “break bad habits or get to the next level”.
Experienced surfers will love tapping into Burridge’s local knowledge of NSW South Coast breaks such as Dum Dums, Golfies, Bommie and Bawley Point. Burridge also hosts surf retreats aimed at like-minded mates who want to learn surf safety, paddling and board handling during a low-key weekend away.
2. Enjoy an oyster tour with Jim Wild’s Oysters at Greenwell Point
Those who adore oysters should head to the Shoalhaven, which signals the start of Australia’s Oyster Coast. Plug Jim Wild’s Oysters into the sat nav and take a drive out to Greenwell Point to chat with Wild who was named the world’s fastest oyster shucker in 1984. While Wild, now in his 60s, may no longer be able to open 30 oysters in two minutes, his shucking skills remain strong.
The farmer, who made a cameo on a MasterChef shucking challenge on the cooking show, urges visitors to his rustic oyster shack to order a dozen unshucked and learn a new life skill. Look out for the bloke wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and ask him to help you shuck a cheeky dozen of his award-winning Greenwell Point oysters.
3. Enjoy a yoga session with South Coast Soul Yoga, Huskisson
There’s nothing like getting your downward dog on barefoot on the grass and with a sea breeze to boot. BYO yoga mat to the ocean pool in Huskisson at 8.30am on a Saturday morning and salute the sun with like-minded yogis along the shores of Jervis Bay. Taking your practise outdoors with South Coast Soul Yoga ensures you see some of the stunning South Coast scenery at the same time.
The classes are set to a soundtrack of naturally crashing surf and screeching parrots. This is exactly the kind of holiday activity designed to make you chill and take some mental downtime.
4. SUP tour of Jervis Bay
The best way to see Jervis Bay is from the water. On any given day, you will find Mason Keane gently paddling along the mouth of Jervis Bay past the sandy shoreline that hugs the coast. Keane, who has been paddleboarding for about a decade, points to a pod of dolphins in the distance as he invites us to join him in this water-based activity designed to keep the body and mind balanced and healthy.
5. Mooch around a farmers’ market
Visiting a local farmers’ market is a must while on holiday on the NSW South Coast. Plan your South Coast sojourn based around the many market days, which are a year-round attraction and about much more than just filling your basket with goodies.
Shop like a South Coast local at Berry Farmer’s Market, at Berry Showground on Thursdays from 3 pm. Further south on the Eurobodalla stretch of the coast, visit the SAGE Farmers Market, where the Old Mill Road Bio Farm are regulars, as well as the Batemans Bay SundayMarket, Bermagui Growers Market and Moruya Country Markets to name a few.
The market, held at Surf Beach, features top-notch stallholders such as Buena Vista Farm, Cupitt’s Estate and Pecora Dairy. While in Kiama, a visit to the Blowhole is compulsory. Kiama has a strong focus on outdoor adventure sports such as cycling, surfing, bushwalking, and a range of tours designed to show off this section of the NSW South Coast.
Where to stay on the NSW South Coast
From winery stays in pods and villas and a glamping retreat to a Montana-inspired ranch, a beach house and a retro hotel, here are six of the best places to stay on the NSW South Coast.
1. The Pods at Cupitt’s Estate, Ulladulla
The Pods at Cupitt’s Estate are perched atop the rolling green hills of the estate, located just minutes from Mollymook and historic Milton.
There are two different types of Luxury Pods on offer: the King Pods and the Bath King Pod, which features a freestanding bathtub on the deck. Each and every one of the smart pods, which were craned onto the sprawling Cupitt’s Estate property, is suffused with the atmosphere of the surrounding countryside.
There are also Dine & Stay packages that include a three-course dining experience with paired Cupitt’s Estate Wines. All 10 of the prefabbed paddock pods, produced by Australian company, Prefabulous, are absolutely luxurious and reflect the involvement of the local community in everything from the artworks to bespoke pieces of furniture.
2. Bangalay Luxury Villas, Shoalhaven Heads
The fact you can wander 10 metres down the timber boardwalk after eating at Bangalay Dining to your luxury accommodation where the glass sliding doors let a soft breeze in off the adjacent golf course is everything. Sit outside under the stars or around the communal fire pit in the courtyard to enjoy a glass of silky Cupitt’s Estate shiraz before turning in for the night.
The accommodation at Bangalay Luxury Villas is wrapped in textured shades of white, cream and chocolate, is decked out in earthy wood and charcoal tones and has a sunny outdoor seating area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee the next morning. Complete your stay with an early-morning stroll along the beach, which is about 100 away down a gum-lined bush track, followed by a seasonal breakfast in the courtyard overlooking the pool.
3. Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay
Located along the banks of Currambene Creek, just outside Huskisson, is Paperbark Camp, Australia’s first glamping retreat. The famous camp recently had a refresh, emerging late 2021 with a fresh new look as five original tents were upgraded into Deluxe Plus safari tents. What this means is that all 13 tents at the famous camp now have bush-view tubs and day beds.
This well-established institution is located amid a grove of spotted gums and paperbark trees on a quiet bend of Currambene Creek and suits wildlife enthusiasts as the riverside setting is also home to kangaroos, possums and birds. Book yourself a swish Deluxe Plus safari tent, which sleeps four, and you won’t want to go far: the fancy tents are elevated on Australian hardwood timber platforms to capture sea breezes and provide a luxurious spot to just sit and be amid the sublime surroundings.
While the 63 sq. m Deluxe Plus safari tents, which include a king bed and two day beds, do serve as a romantic retreat for couples, the unique location – amid the Aussie bush near a creek and the white-sand beaches of Jervis Bay – makes it popular with families, who can enjoy everything from fishing to surfing, whale watching and dolphin spotting nearby. There’s even a 102 sq. m Deluxe Tent to accommodate up to six people replete with an indulgent, sunken circular tub.
The connection to the landscape is what is so distinctive about Paperbark Camp and the Deluxe Plus safari tents are designed for guests to savour everything from the sounds of the creaking trees and chorus of birdsong to the luxury of their own private wooden stargazing deck. Those who want to be at one with nature without forgoing their morning latte or sundowner will love the fact the tents are dotted around the camp’s gorgeous Gunyah restaurant (more on that below) so they can stay put for the night.
4. Jackson’s Ranch, Bawley Point
Saddle up for a stay at Jackson’s Ranch in Bawley Point. Brought to you by the team behind Bannisters in Mollymook and Port Stephens, the ranch is more Montana than Montana, which is the vibe the designers were going for. The stunning new property on the NSW South Coast wraps around Lake Willinga and includes four renovated cabins, the largest of which is the four-bedroom, three-bathroom designer digs, The Homestead, which features a fireplace and sunny deck as well as a private dam and pontoon.
5. Driftwood Beach House, Kiama
If you’re staying on the coast, in Kiama, check into the Driftwood Beach House, a dreamy weatherboard cottage build in the 1850s that is full of character and charm. You will hear the waves crashing on the shore from the holiday house, which is just 90 minutes from Sydney and one of the best places to stay in Kiama.
Constructed around a central garden-like atrium, the cottage is built for indoor and outdoor dining but with the ambience of home, with one of the best beaches on the NSW South Coast on its doorstep. Sleeps eight.
6. The Berry View Hotel, Berry
If you want to swap the coastline for the country, you should arrange a sleepover at the Berry View Motel, where the clever owners have taken away the motel’s rough edges and breathed new life into this once-worn accommodation offering built in the 1950s.
The renovated motel, which has pops of colour from its burnt-orange doors, now stands as a beacon, part of the next-gen wave of road-trip worthy retro motels that are worth checking out on your next coastal getaway.
Where to eat on the NSW South Coast
From fine dining and farm-to-table experiences to freshly-shucked oysters, vegetarian cafes and the best burgers in the region, there are plenty of places to grab a meal to suit all budgets and occasions on the NSW South Coast.
1. Cupitt’s Kitchen, Cupitt’s Estate
A visit to Cupitt’s Estate is a bonafide farm-to-table experience. It’s where the Cupitt family and team make the artisan wine, beer and cheese on site and grow much of the fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs that feature on the menu at Cupitt’s Kitchen. It’s a choose your own adventure kind of place.
Relax in the convivial dining room overlooking the vineyard and Burrill Lake on dishes such as blue-eye cod with roast garlic and cultured butter sauce with capers, samphire and seaweed or relax on the alfresco area over gourmet pizzas with garden produce. You can also enjoy a craft beer flight from the Cupitt’s Estate Brewery or indulge in a tutored wine tasting before taking in the beautiful vistas.
The kitchen at Cupitt’s Estate is led by chefs Jonathan Pryor and Rob Harrison, who work together, changing the menu according to the seasons and what’s growing in the sprawling garden just 100m from the dining room.
After visiting the onsite winery, brewery and fromagerie, and enjoying the chefs’ interpretation of regional flavours, you can now stay in luxury overnight (more on that below under stays), which is an extension of the dining experience.
2. Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads
Down a dozen rock oysters as your entrée when you sit down to lunch or dinner at Bangalay Dining.
Here, the rock oysters are served with a mignonette dressing freckled with fingerlimes, one of many native ingredients on the menu designed by executive chef team Simon Evans and Thomas Chiumento (ex-Caveau, a hatted restaurant in Wollongong). Ask your waiter about the seablite, which comes with a dainty dish of cured trout with creme fraiche, fennel and pear.
Stick with the seafood theme and enjoy Murray cod with cauliflower and macadamia or go for the grass-fed rib eye with native thyme hollandaise and red elk. Expect exceptional plates on the set tasting menu, available on Saturday nights, which gives gourmands another reason to eat, stay and play on the Shoalhaven stretch of the NSW South Coast.
The deceptively simple menu demonstrates plenty of depth and technique and a commitment to sustainability that goes beyond the buzzword. There’s emu tartar with egg jam and karkalla. Kangaroo rolled in wattleseed with hazelnuts, pickled muntries and saltbush. And a beautifully composed plate of Murray cod with cauliflower and macadamia. The dark choc mousse, which arrives with a white choc tuille and fresh-from-the-tropics Davidson plum, is worth the detour to Bangalay Dining alone.
3. Pilgrim’s Vegetarian Cafe, Huskisson
If you opt for the South Coast Soul Yoga session in Huskisson follow it up with a refuel session nearby at Pilgrim’s Vegetarian Cafe. Invite your yoga class – consisting of barefoot dudes with beards and patchouli-scented women – to meet you at the Huskisson cafe for a ‘Bliss’ burger. The burger, comprises a mixed grain patty, fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouli and sprouts on a squidgy bun layered with avocado, sprouts, beetroot and fried onion. It’s a burger as big as your head and it knocks it out of the Husky Park every time.
3. The Gunyah at Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay
The sustainable ethos that underpins Paperbark Camp is reflected on the menu at Gunyah. You will see that philosophy of using seasonal and regional ingredients in dishes such as market fish with Jervis bay mussels, celeriac puree and dashi, which work well with a drinks list designed around craft beer, wine and spirits produced on the NSW South Coast.
The restaurant is decked out with custom-made furniture and bush bouquets and filled with people having a good time. A meal here is an experience and one to be treasured. Paperbark Camp is the whole package. It’s a place of pilgrimage and one of many reasons to plan a trip to the NSW South Coast and stay a little longer.
4. The Milk Haus, Woodstock
The Milk Haus is located in Woodstock, a 45-minute drive from Jervis Bay and well worth the trip. The wholefoods cafe, located in the old Cheese Factory at Woodstock, will keep you on the straight and narrow with fresh honest simple fare prepared using local, seasonal ingredients. The menu reads like a love letter to the land: order fresh zucchini and peach salad with mixed herbs or the popular Ploughman’s plate.
5. The Hungry Monkey, Kiama
The fact The Hungry Monkey in Kiama serves White Horse Coffee is a fairly good indicator it cares about its customers. Break your New Year’s Resolution in style by diving headfirst into a carb coma with the Jerk It Out burger with red cabbage, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapenos and monkey hot sauce. Seal the deal with a long black over ice and resolve to get back on your health kick with a super salad next time you’re in the ‘hood.
Take a small detour inland to The Hungry Monkey’s second venue, located in the old Berry Sourdough bakery, where the friendly staff are only too happy to accommodate all your dietary requirements. Il Locale is another low-key alternative: it’s informal and relaxed and families come here for a taste of home cooking, with ingredients sourced from the surrounding hills and valleys.
6. South On Albany, Berry
Sydneysiders will also want to know about South On Albany, where chef John Evans (ex-Bistro CBD and 3 Weeds) and wife Sonia have given Berry a restaurant its denizens deserve. Do try the fish of the day with Jervis Bay mussels when in season. Travelling with kids? Kiama has a range of family-friendly places to eat, too.