These communities have been impacted by bushfire, drought and lockdown restrictions. Please check the places you plan to visit before setting off.
Take a trip down memory lane with a jaunt along the unspoilt NSW South Coast.
With a few well chosen pit stops, you can drink in views of the rolling green hills from a winery, potter along the main street of a quaint country town, buy bags of old fashioned sweets to munch on the drive and slurp oysters from the shell while enjoying extraordinary ocean views. Get ready to shuck your shoes to squeak along dazzling sand that’s considered among the whitest in the world and bring your cossie to splash in water that is every shade of blue. Finally, don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing the beach with some very relaxed roos.
Hero image credit: Destination NSW
Celebrate the fact you’ve escaped the clutches of the big city and you’re surrounded by emerald green countryside at Crooked River Wines. The cellar door is open daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm, the winery often hosts live music on Sunday afternoons and the onsite Oak Room Eleven restaurant is cleverly angled away from the Princes Highway towards a bucolic view over grapevines and rolling hills. The restaurant serves fancy fare such as Black Angus with truffle mash and chocolate whiskey soufflé with caramel honey ice cream but for Wednesday to Friday lunches, a simpler blackboard menu is on offer. It features pizzas, toasties, meat, chips and salads. If travelling during the cooler months, head to Gerringong’s whale watching platform near the cemetery to see if there’s any action on the “Humpback Highway”.
Potter along Berry’s main street to stretch the legs. Browse antique stores such as Broughton Antiques, check out the homewares and quirky furniture at This Old House Studio or pick up piping hot, cinnamon dusted donuts and a coffee from The Famous Berry Donut Van. Venture a little off the main drag to stock up on old fashioned sweets (such as musk sticks, slate pencils, sherbet lollypops and humbugs) from The Treat Factory.
Jervis Bay Wild, based in Huskisson on Jervis Bay, runs a variety of cruises – think dolphin and whale watching, along with summertime boom net rides – but one of the more intriguing outings is the South Coast Passage tour that starts with a bus ride to the blink and you’ll miss it village of Currarong. Board a rigid inflatable boat to skirt around Beecroft Peninsula and back into Jervis Bay. Along the way, the boat noses into dim sea caves and cruises past basking fur seals. There’s also some insight into the extreme antics of local rock fishermen, who have inserted ladders into the sheer cliffs and dangled knotted ropes so they can access the lower platforms and fish to their heart’s content. On the way back to the Huskisson base, you might be accompanied by dolphins cruising alongside the boat.
Shuck your shoes and don your shades to squeak over some of the world’s whitest sands in bare feet. The White Sands Walk starts at the Greenfield Beach picnic area in Vincentia and leads walkers to Chinamans Beach, Seamans Beach (sometimes called Sailors Beach) and Hyams Beach. Keep an eye out for the resident bottlenose dolphins that cruise the bay’s placid waters. Enjoy a burger, fish and chips, juice or a milkshake at Hyams Beach Store & Cafe before returning to the picnic area via the forested Scribbly Gum walking track.
Mollymook might seem like an off the radar location for a world famous chef from Britain to start a seafood restaurant but Rick Stein’s eponymous eatery is putting Mollymook on the radar for foodies. The menu makes much of the South Coast’s aquatic bounty, with dishes such as ceviche of Ulladulla mahi mahi, oysters from Narooma, eastern rock lobster thermidor and battered Ulladulla snapper deep fried in dripping and served with mushy peas, thick cut chips and tartare sauce. Take a seat inside or outdoors to enjoy the fruits of the sea with views that stretch all the way to the horizon.
Call in at Cupitt’s Winery towards the end of the day and you could be rewarded with a technicolour sunset on top of views of Pigeon House Mountain and Burrill Lake. The multi faceted operation isn’t only a boutique winery – it’s also a micro brewery, fromagerie and restaurant. Winemaker Wally Cupitt was always a keen home brewer and, after a stint of work experience with Manly’s 4 Pines brewery, he and Tom Cupitt started brewing single batch beers at the vineyard in 2014. Pick up a few bottles or a takeaway growler, or sample the tasting paddle. The fromagerie makes a cows’ milk brie and four varieties of goats’ milk cheeses.
In cooler months, detour into Meroo National Park to check out the action on the “Humpback Highway” – the route favoured by whales shuttling between their feeding and breeding grounds. Pack a pair of binoculars or simply cast an eye out to sea from the wind sculpted Meroo Head lookout or Nuggan Point. It’s also possible to whale watch at Murramarang National Park, which boasts 44km of rugged cliffs and headlands. One of the highlights of Murramarang, though, is visiting the park’s grass fringed Pretty and Pebbly beaches to see the rare sight of kangaroos enjoying a day out (and a snack) at the beach. Bring a camera or your phone to snap the unusual beach going ’roos.
Stay: Villas at the NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort are just metres from the sand and boast views of Beagle Bay. There’s also a campground for vans and tents.