On a visit to Berry, tucked away on the NSW South Coast, Georgia Rickard (words) and Grace Cassio (photographs) join forces to create this special photo essay. If ever there were ever a competition held for ‘towns that belong in story books’, Berry would be one serious contender. She has, after all, all the necessary requirements to be fairy-tale charming: lushly green foliage, picturesque valleys, a backdrop of densely forested mountains, sweet, creamy little goats; daintily rustic fences; winding rural laneways flanked by neat, grassed paddocks…
Aside from all that, there’s the wonderful aptness of naming such a deliciously quaint town ‘Berry’: her incredible food culture. Take a walk down Berry’s main street, and you’ll be spoilt for choice in the tiny four-block length: gourmet cafes sit alongside award-winning restaurants (including The Hungry Duck, owned by Tetsuya-trained chef David Campbell), the two town bakeries and a gorgeous delicatessen are smattered between galleries and boutiques; while Good Food Guide Hats proudly dot several window fronts.
With a population of less than 2000, that’s quite a feat in itself – surely, Berry can’t be so tasty to look at and to eat? – but when the AT team first arrive in town, hungry and in need of a stretch (it’s a two-hour drive south of Sydney to Berry – a scenic experience in itself), we can’t fault the place. Despite the small size, its village-y feel, the many flower-filled window boxes; there’s a cosmopolitan vibe here. Perhaps it’s all the light-filled shops? The many Sydney-siders who’ve chosen to relocate here, in search of a more laid-back lifestyle?
Whatever the case, there’s no need to concern yourself too much – not when there’s so much to experience at your fingertips. Boutiques filled with homewares, furnishings and designer Australian labels will keep you distracted for hours. (And in fact did, for the AT team one morning!) Sweet B&Bs, tiny boutique hotels and the local pub’s fireplace are all crying out to be cosied up in. And don’t forget to chat to the locals – the people are as warm and relaxed here, as they are busy and rushed two hours’ north.
In fact, despite the amazing food, the rustic setting and the endless delightful discoveries to be made, the people may be Berry’s greatest asset of all. When we spotted a small, rusty tractor just crying out to be photographed in the backyard of a hobby farm (see pg 79), a knock on the front door led not only to permission to access the property “whenever you need to – just come by!”, but a warm invitation to come inside, where the entire AT team – model, photographer, editor, art director and sub editor – were plyed with freshly brewed tea, fresh cherries, sticky orange toffees and chocolate honey macadamias. All handmade in town, of course.
All seem a little too good to be true? Yeah, we thought so too. It’s the kind of place you normally only read about…
There are plenty of eating delights to be discovered – like The Emporium Food Co (02 4464 1570), which somehow manages to be a delicatessan, fromagerie and eatery all at once. Their homemade tarts, sandwiches and salads have won them accolades in the Good Food Guide, and we understand why. You’ll fall in love with the classic Parisian boulangerie facade, in black with gold trim, too.
Just across the road is Berry Hotel – a quaint, homely spot that manages to walk the fine line between ‘rustic country pub’ and ‘spacious, modern watering hole’ without somehow clashing. People-watch with a beer in the airy front room, snuggle by the fire for a glass of red or just head on upstairs for a night in their comfy, old-school and (very) affordable lodgings.
We’re still not sure how Berry Sourdough Cafe (berrysourdoughcafe.com.au) manages to draw such crowds for breakfast, even on weekdays – although their sublime bowls of coffee and lush food might have something to do with it! It’s a gorgeous store, but don’t let that distract you from buying some freshly baked bread to take with you – it’s divine. No wonder they’re in this year’s Good Food Guide… for the fourth year in a row.
You can walk off a full stomach with a stroll to The Treat Factory (treatfactory.com.au) – it’s hidden one kilometre down a picturesque side street, which opens out into paddocks after a couple of blocks (follow the signs). Be warned – you’ll almost always find something being freshly made in this treat-filled haven. Go for their salted caramel chocolate slice; leave with arms filled with every kind of handmade treat you can imagine!
Alternatively, head to The Berry Tea Shop – one of the sweetest little stores you ever may see. Multi-coloured bunting and an assortment of dainty teapots greet you alongside a selection of scrumptious biscuits, cakes and – of course – several varieties of tea. Shop their adorable homewares, or sit and order a cuppa – preferably served with freshly baked scones and jam. Mmmm.
While you’re kicking back, you might want to book ahead for dinner at modern-Asian The Hungry Duck – chef David Campbell, who has worked under the likes of Neil Perry, Kylie Kwong and Tetsuya Wakuda – draws in the crowds every night. A great spot to take your other half out on a romantic weekend away.
Next up, head to The Famous Berry Donut Van (0423 319 413) – they’ve been serving up doughnuts for over 60 years, and trust us – they’ve gotten pretty good at it. Every doughnut is made to order, and made by hand. Drool….
Finally, head to Silos Winery Restaurant for a spesh occasion – perched on top of rolling hills that look over gently grazing alpacas and acres of vineyards, it feels like a million miles from anywhere. Especially after your first glass of shiraz….
Berry is around two hours drive south of Sydney. Take the trip during the day, if you can – it’s a lovely coastal scenery drive.
You can also travel by train to Berry Train Station; see countrylink.info for more.
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodation options available in Berry – mostly B&Bs and farmhouses. AT stayed at The Silos Estate (thesilos.com), a gorgeous winery which offers suites, self-contained cabins and a fully-restored farmhouse amidst the vineyards. Similarly, Drawing Rooms of Berry (drawingrooms.com.au), set on a large, gorgeous estate, offers several different kinds of rooms. Prefer to stay closer to the action? Broughton Mill Farm Guesthouse (broughtonmillfarm.com.au) is a gorgeous, picturesque option, set amongst sweet little gardens.
Head to berry.org.au for other options.
Things to do
If all the eating doesn’t keep you entertained (or leaves you feeling a little guilty), get cycling with a bike-hire from Berry Mountain Cycles.
There’s also plenty of shopping to be done in town – we particularly loved Roots & Wings Design (rootsandwings.com.au) for its gorgeous mix of jewellery, clothing and homewares, but there are also antique stores, galleries and, on the first Sunday of every month, a country fair.