Local’s guide: Ulladulla

Cupitts Winery Landscape Ulladulla my nrma locals guide
Cupitts Winery Landscape Ulladulla my nrma locals guide

Nestled between a pretty harbour on NSW’s south coast and small ranges in the Shoalhaven, Ulladulla can be as adventurous or relaxing as you want it to be.

  • Gelato Emporium Bulli Tops
  • Heritage Bakery
  • Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail
  • Mollymook Beach
  • Fishing at Ulladulla Harbour

Locals live here because they love its natural beauty: sometimes raw and rugged in the surrounding National Parks and surf beaches like Mollymook, sometimes serene and soft like the vineyards in Milton and waters of Burrill Lake. Wander down to the beach or lake and you’ll notice people are well into playing or chilling out – their tans are real and they’ve no interest in the posing and posturing of beach-goers up north. It’s a leisure lifestyle choice, not about what you’re wearing or your postcode.

Like the locals, you’ll love the region’s produce: oysters, fish, beef, lamb, spatchcock, vegetables and the full dairy larder are all available fresh from local growers at the popular waterside markets, of course, but also in most delis and food merchants around town. And while most of the popular activities are (naturally) outside in nature, you’ll find plenty of interesting pockets of art, culture and fine dining, too.

Where to eat

For coffee, if going through the Southern Highlands try Raw & Wild in Bowral, Highlands Merchant in Moss Vale or The Shaggy Cow in Mittagong. Along the coast, you’ll find a great coffee at Gelato Emporium Bulli Tops, Pasticceria Massimo Papa in Fairy Meadow or Bean Roasted in Shellharbour.

For lunch on the way try The Blue Swimmer for seafood and sticky lamb ribs in Gerroa, Flour Water Salt for organic sandwiches, cakes and pastries in Kiama or Oak Room Eleven at Crooked River Wines for fine dining including seafood, fresh local produce and wine in Gerringong. The Berry Sourdough Cafe for sandwiches and pastries, South on Albany for European cuisine. For dinner, try the Ulladulla Oyster Bar offers a casual wine bar-like atmosphere with oysters and a cocktails. Oysters get a lot of their flavour from the water they grow in, so try a variety of them sourced from different parts of the coast. Southside Restaurant at the ex servos club serves classic seafood and meat dishes, including prawns, steaks and schnitzels. The bowling club often hosts live music on weekends and daily raffles. After dinner, stroll along the boardwalk. Rick Stein at Bannisters in Mollymook is worth the drive alone for fine dining in an incredible setting. Stein’s menu includes locally sourced seafood with Indian, Indonesian and French flavours including a classic lobster thermidor. Book ahead.

For great breakfasts, Native and The Treehouse Cafe in Ulladulla are both well regarded for their coffee, cakes and raw food using fresh local produce. Milkhaus is a stylish wholefoods café in an old cheese factory just out of Milton, and in town, locals love Brown Sugar for modern twists on breakfast favourites (not open Sunday). For mouthwatering pies, pastries and other sweet treats, it's hard to pass the Heritage Bakery.

Once you’re in the Ulladulla region, for lunch head to Cupitt in Milton. It’s a winery, microbrewery and restaurant with views of Burrill Lake and the Budawang Ranges. Its menu offers local produce prepared using slow food methods with French and English flavours. Each dish is matched with a Cupitt wine. Book ahead. If you are into your fish and chips, the humbly named, The Fish Shop a few minutes away in Burrill Lake will definitely impress. 

Where to play

Go fishing at Ulladulla Harbour. It hosts a fleet of working fishing boats, and dinghy hire is available at several local wharves in Burrill Lake. The MV Tingara can carry 10 anglers who are keen for ocean fishing – ask at Ulladulla Fishing Charters.

Stretching for 2kms, Mollymook Beach is a great walk, from Bannisters Point in the north to the Mollymook Golf Club at the southern headland. Both ends of the beach are patrolled during the warmer months. If you prefer calmer water, away from the waves, Narrawallee Inlet is only a few minutes drive from Mollymook. Kids can swim in shallow waters, where you can also try your hand a paddle boarding too. 

For those rainy days, Funland Ulladulla is perfect for the kids, and children at heart too. With over 3 levels of gaming, rides and tests of skill - there's something for everyone. Nearby, you can also enjoy the latest movies and eat fresh popcorn at the nearby Arcadia Twin Cinema

Pigeon House Mountain Didthul walking track is a 5km round trip that requires sturdy shoes and food and water for the 2.5-3.5 hour trek. It will take you into the beautiful forest on the mountain – named “Didthul” by the Yuin people as it looks a lot like the curve of a woman’s breast. To get there, drive into Milton and take the left at Croobyar Road for “Pigeon House”. One Track For All is a 2km walk from the northern headland of Ulladulla that takes in four lookouts over the ocean and harbour, and features relief carvings and paintings by local Aboriginal artist Noel Butler.

Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail will take you on an easy walk from Deering Street to the ocean along a winding path decorated with Garawanda Daran (Dreaming Poles) that share Aboriginal names and stories of local flora and fauna. Murramarang Aboriginal Area in the National Park contains ancient middens built up by the Aboriginal people who lived here for thousands of years. The 2.2km walking track is easy and finishes with a rewarding swim near Bull Pup Point.

What to learn

If you love wandering around art galleries, Giriwa Garuwanga Art Gallery is managed by the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Land Council and presents a beautiful mix of traditional and modern Aboriginal art. Learn about aboriginal art and leave with souvenirs such as surfboards, guitar straps and boomerangs.

The Millhouse Art Gallery is home to a collective of local artists that grew from the art classes run by local painter Jean Hill at Nowra Tech in Milton during the early 1970s and now run classes of their own, as well as exhibitions.

Where to stay

If you’ve got the kids with you, head south towards Bateman’s Bay for the beautiful and very family friendly Murramarang Beachfront Resort down by the water. Accommodation is in villas and camping sites, and there are loads of onsite activities including a water park and pool, bikes and go-karts for hire, and the Umbarra (little black duck) Kids’ Club. Easy access to fishing boat hire nearby. Mollymook Surfbeach Motel & Apartments is great for families that want to be close to the beach at Mollymook in affordable comfort. Accommodation includes motel rooms, spa rooms and self-contained apartments, and the site includes heated outdoor pool, spa and BBQ.

For a five-star luxury experience, Ulladulla Guest House is a good bet. The accommodation includes high-end suites with spas or self-contained units decorated with custom-designed furniture and original artwork. The health club includes a hydrotherapy spa, cedar sauna, gym and several masseurs, plus there’s a solar heated outdoor salt water pool in a tropical garden. Bannisters operates two sites less than a kilometre apart: Bannisters by the Sea on Mitchell Parade overlooks Bannisters Point and houses Rick Stein’s restaurant, while Bannisters Pavilion on Tallwood Avenue overlooks the beach. Both offer contemporary décor with a choice of king rooms, spa rooms, luxury suites and penthouses. The Beach House and Blackberry Cottage are also available for rent.

Image credit: Destination NSW

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