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The South Coast of NSW is a beautiful stretch of coastline. While many holidaymakers are attracted by its white sandy beaches and many lakes, the coast is also a terrific destination for foodies, home to fabulous cheese, seafood, wine and more. Stretching for just 500km between Sydney and Eden, it’s feasible to drive the length in a single day, but allow around a week for this ultimate South Coast NSW road trip.
The Best Time of Year for a South Coast NSW Road Trip
If you’re heading to the South Coast for its beaches, the best time to visit is during the summer months. Not surprisingly, its many towns and holiday parks are bustling during the summer holidays and over the Easter long weekend.
However, if you’re heading there for a food and wine road trip, it’s perfect to visit anytime of year. Even during winter, there’s still the chance you’ll experience warm, sunny days, although the nights may be cool. Accommodation is cheaper and easier to book.
First Stop: Berry
An easy 2 hours drive south of Sydney, Berry is the ideal first stop on a South Coast food and wine road trip. On the weekend this country town bustles with day-trippers, attracted for both its excellent boutiques and great food.
One of the must-visit stops is the Berry Donut Van. A fixture in the town for the last 50 years, join the queue to order at least a half-dozen piping hot cinnamon donuts.
Another great takeaway spot is the Milkwood Bakery, the younger sibling of the famous but recently closed Berry Sourdough Cafe. There’s a tempting array of baked goods on display, including delicious lamb and pine nut sausage rolls. Nearby is the Berry Chocolatier and the Berry Tea Shop.
In the green countryside surrounding Berry, there’s a surprising number of boutique vineyards, making up the small Shoalhaven Coast wine region. One of the most awarded is Crooked River Wines, on the hills behind Gerringong. The winery is also home to a restaurant.
If the seas are high, don’t also miss stopping off the Kiama Blowhole, just before you arrive in Berry. During rough seas, the boom and spray of water is astounding.
Seafood and Wine in Ulladulla
From Berry, it’s just over an hour down the Princes Highway to Ulladulla. However, don’t miss detouring via Jervis Bay and its beautiful white beaches. Hyams Beach is renowned as having some of the whitest sand in the world, but the beaches in Vincentia and Huskisson are almost as white and easier for parking.
Ulladulla is home to the largest commercial fishing fleet on the South Coast and famous for its annual Blessing of the Fleet. Head to the Fishermans Wharf Seafood to pick up some of the local catch.
However, the best foodie destination in Ulladulla is Cupitt’s Estate, on the western edge of town. As well as the winery, there’s also a microbrewery, fromagerie, fine dining restaurant and alfresco bar overlooking the grape vines. Book in for a tasting, with their extensive range of wines produced onsite from their Sauvignon Blanc plantings plus other grapes from around NSW.
For a luxurious stay in Ulladulla, head to Bannisters in Mollymook. The hotel is also home to the famed Rick Stein seafood restaurant.
Taste the Cheese at Bodalla and Tilba
It’s a 90-minute drive further down the South Coast to the small village of Bodalla, the next stop on our South Coast road trip.
Along the way you’ll pass through the larger towns of Batemans Bay and Moruya. Consider stopping off at Murramarang National Park to spot wild kangaroos on the beach at Pebbly Beach or enjoy a swim at the many beautiful beaches in Batemans Bay. Mogo Zoo with its collection of exotic animals is also worth a visit.
At Bodalla, pull up at the Bodalla Dairy Shed and taste their range of cheese. Make sure you try their Outback Saltbush cheddar from the Bush Tucker range. The dairy also produces their own ice creams, available by the cone or in takeaway tubs.
Central Tilba is located 30 minutes south on the other side of Narooma. This delightful late 19th-century village has been wonderfully preserved and is listed by the National Trust. The village is also famous for the ABC Cheese Factory. Take a peek through the windows to see the cheese makers at work, then select from their extensive range in the shop. Their halloumi cheese is extremely tasty.
In Narooma, it’s a must to get a selfie at Australia Rock, a “window” in the rocks that looks like a map of Australia. Also consider heading to Apex Park on the northern side of the inlet. Spot the local stingrays while walking along the Mill Bay Boardwalk or at the boat ramp. There’s also a resident seal and plenty of pelicans.
Oysters and Beers on the Far South Coast
The South Coast is also well known for its oysters, with many oyster farms dotted up and down the coast. My pick of the oysters are at Merimbula Lake, about a 90-minute drive south of Narooma.
Stop by Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, which also offers oyster farm tours. (Double check if they’re running, due to the current restrictions.) Alternatively, McKay’s Oysters just down the road has bargain-priced take-away oysters, just supply your own lemon wedge.
Oysters are also on the menu at Longstocking Brewery, located in the Oaklands Complex on the other side of Pambula. As well as a range of beers and an oyster bar, they also produce their own ciders. Make sure you order a tasting paddle or stop in to pick up some takeaway bottles.
It’s best to take the coastal drive south to Merimbula and Pambula, passing through Bermagui and Tathra. Along the way stop off at Camel Rock Brewery, situated near the famous Camel Rock formation on the beach. Enjoy a beer onsite at the large outdoor dining area, while enjoying some of their Americana-inspired food.
Don’t also miss stopping at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf, in particular at the Blue Wave Seafood Shop. There’s nothing better than sitting on the benches at the wharf, feasting on locally caught fish or calamari, while enjoying the relaxed pace of a South Coast road trip.
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Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. She grew up on the South Coast of NSW and now lives in Sydney, along with her husband and Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, when they’re not travelling around Australia and the world.