Coastal Cuts: The Bites Worth Dreaming about in NSW's Shoalhaven Region

Shoalhaven, a nature lover's paradise complete with great surf beaches, amazing bushwalks, local culture, and many annual food, wine, and arts festivals and events, should be a definite go-to for anyone searching for seaside bliss. But for foodies wanting to taste the local culinary talent and incredible range of fresh produce that this region offers, you can’t go past the Shoalhaven Autumn Celebration of Food. This event brings together all of Shoalhaven’s finest chefs, cheesemakers, baristas, pâtissiers, brewers, winemakers, distillers, bakers, growers, and artisan producers to offer a diverse and sumptuous six weeks from May 1st, 2024, to June 10th, 2024.

Put together by the Shoalhaven Food Network – a not-for-profit organisation that champions the diverse range of cafes, eateries, clubs, pubs, vineyards, breweries, and local producers in the area – and presided over by Di Laver, its president and founder, the annual festival is one for the calendar.

All up, Shoalhaven has 109 magnificent beaches to choose from and 50 towns and villages, but we’ve put together a few local standouts here, where you can eat, stay, and discover the unique artisanal products, arts, and crafts that exceptionally showcase the creativity and talent of local artisans, as well as a few select towns and localities on the map that this gorgeous region has to offer.

Bangalay Luxury Villas

Shoalhaven Heads
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South Coast New South Wales

Surrounded by natural beauty and steps away from the Shoalhaven Heads Golf Course and Seven Mile Beach National Park, these 16 beautifully designed and self-contained beachside villas offer stunning views within a stylish, modern setting – perfect for those wanting laid-back luxury amid lush greenery.

Guests can choose between one or two bedroom villas, and an outlook towards the vast scenic golf course or garden views, with intimate indoor and outdoor areas designed for comfort and relaxation, and perks such a cosy fireplace and sun-filled decks, encouraging rest, relaxation, and renewal amongst nature. 

With Bangalay Luxury Villas as your base, you’ll enjoy both comfort and luxury – they supply everything from picnic hampers for those who want to venture out for a delightful outdoor meal, to in-villa massages and, of course, gourmet dining at its multi award-winning regional onsite restaurant. Each unit has a terrace, a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, a fireplace, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, a washing machine, and a private bathroom with walk-in shower and bathrobes. For early risers – an à la carte breakfast is also available every morning at the villas – so you can sip your coffee in peace before setting off for the sands of Shoalhaven’s beautiful beaches.

Barranca Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley
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South Coast New South Wales

Set on 1,000 acres of pristine and secluded native Australian bushland, this rural paradise is an exclusive retreat which offers a rustic modern accommodation concept and eco-luxe.

Overlooking one of the most picturesque valleys of the Shoalhaven region, guests can choose between four luxury villas, or simply make the entire retreat their own – depending on whether you’re after a romantic getaway or the perfect private spot to celebrate a special occasion for a few more – Barranca Kangaroo Valley caters from two to 24 guests. This gem of accommodation comprises six king bedrooms, with three kitchens and four bathrooms split over three architecturally designed residences, and they can be booked together, or separately.

While this property is just a stone’s throw away from the charming Kangaroo Valley township and the perfect base for exploring surrounding Shoalhaven region, this serene environment still feels like you’re in your own little paradise – but with all the amenities you might need at your fingertips. Complete with 24-hour reception, a range of activities, barbecue facilities, secure parking, and a state-of-the-art function space, Barranca caters to the needs of every guest.

Worrowing Estate Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay
|
Shoalhaven Region

The name says it all. Just steps from the renowned white sandy beaches and glistening crystal blue waters of Jervis Bay, this historic 250-acre coastal farm property offers self-contained holiday accommodation catering to couples, families, and groups seeking a beautifully rustic coastal getaway. There’s something for everyone here – with options including spacious open-plan farmhouses to intimate and secluded cottages, cosy eco-cabins, and charming boatshed studios – guests can choose from five unique styles of accommodation with each abode designed to provide the ultimate in comfort and relaxation.

Each of the various cottages and houses offer all the amenities one might need and want, featuring self-contained, open-plan living arrangements, outdoor bathtubs, fire pits, well appointed kitchens and bedrooms, Webber BBQs, as well as complimentary parking. Scenic views are an added plus, with the vista from each private stay enhancing the surrounding landscape of stunning beaches and national park bushland – and the attractions of Jervis Bay just a few minutes drive away.

For those wanting to celebrate their special day in a panoramic and private venue, Worrowing Estate is also available for weddings and special events. With three picturesque locations to choose from – The Shed, the Paddocks, and the Homestead Gardens – guests can create unforgettable memories in a setting that seamlessly blends rustic charm with refined elegance whilst providing accommodation arrangements for out-of-town friends and family.

Motel Molly

Mollymook
|
Shoalhaven Region

Just three hours away from Sydney, and mere metres from Mollymook’s famous beaches you’ll find the vintage inspired Motel Molly, which – fresh from a recent renovation – stands in a calibre all of its own on the spectacular South Coast.

The epitome of laid-back luxury, the first thing you’ll notice as you arrive is its soul soothing pastel pink colour palette, complemented by a curved pool lined with stylish sage and white umbrellas, evoking a stunning ambiance reminiscent of Palm Springs. Here, guests can indulge relaxed seaside luxury, laze by the pool reading while soaking the sun, or cook freshly caught fish on the BBQ, and dine under the outdoor cabana, before taking a stroll through the olive trees in the property’s manicured gardens.

There are plenty of room types to choose from, with one, two and three bedroom abodes available – or spacious suites such as the Oceanside Garden, Oceanside Balcony, Spa or Molly on offer – each with their own unique perks for guests to enjoy, such as Moroccan-style sunken baths and decor, beautiful Mediterranean tiling, handmade imported ceramics, and balconies overlooking bougainvillaea-filled gardens or vistas to the azure sea.

Each room at this boutique jewel features accommodation with access to the outdoor swimming pool, as well as free private parking and free Wi-Fi – plus, this place is also located just around 2.9 km from Ulladulla Harbour Beach, and 300 metres away from Mollymook Golf Club for extra enjoyment.

The Berry View Hotel

Shoalhaven Region
|
Berry

Expertly merging serene opulence and pure escapism with expertly styled interiors inspired by Palm Springs, and with unique written all over it, is The Berry View Hotel. A meticulously restored Mid-Century Modern gem, this boutique beauty offers a choice between 13 distinctively adorned rooms, each an homage to the original 1950s architecture.

Set with lush greenery all around, this is the perfect place to explore the inspirational open meadows of scenic Berry, and breathe in the crisp fresh air of Shoalhaven. Petite, and perfectly located – you’ll be instantly attracted to its white façade and eye-catching tangerine doors, and it’s just an easy 600 metre stroll into the charming streets of Berry village.

The property is situated 38 km from Fitzroy Falls, 49 km from Belmore Falls and 23 km from Kiama Blowhole, and within close proximity to mountain vistas, world-class beaches, rivers, National Parks – so relaxing coastline walks and refreshing swims, surf breaks, bushwalking, luscious parks, and family fun – are all at the hotel’s doorstep.

Each of its rooms feature Queen size beds with crisp linen, ensuites with full-size O&M bathing products (no plastic wastage here!), air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and TVs. The usual amenities are also on hand – such as kettle and coffee machine, tea, coffee and milk, as well as irons and hairdryers. All of this, amongst the warmth with ochre tones and luxe finishes – a true cosy getaway for anyone from couples seeking a romantic escape, to families off on an adventure.

Breakfast

The 5 Little Pigs

After a restful night, check out of your chosen abode and grab breakfast at one of the local spots. The 5 Little Pigs is your go-to choice, if the queue isn’t around the sty.

A small family-run coastal cafe and restaurant, focusing on fresh food and serving Swell Coffee brewed on the South Coast of New South Wales, it’s located on the main street of Huskisson, so you can pop in and easily fuel up on brekkie before getting back on the road to explore.

From Huskie, point the car to Milton. Milton, with its charming streets and boutique shops, is reminiscent of Leura – a village where cashed-up Sydneysiders come to escape the city while pretending they haven’t.

Afternoon Tea

Tea Journeys at Farmgate Restaurant

After dizzily navigating the roundabouts from Huskisson to Nowra, reward yourself and relax via Afternoon Tea with Tea Journeys at Farmgate. Their speciality, Devonshire Tea, is a delight, with all the beautiful blends provided courtesy of local tea company Tea Journeys, part of the Shoalhaven Food Network, run by a cadre of kindly souls supporting local restaurants and the hospitality sector. Spearheading this network is the spirited septuagenarian, Di Laver, a national treasure praised as a “powerhouse for TAFE and the training world, making the region punch above its weight in the hospitality scene” by those who know her well, such as ABC’s Simon Marnie. Psst! As an extra bonus, they also do killer baked dinners every Sunday. 

Gin Tasting 

Tara Distillery

Next, make a pit stop at Tara Distillery. Located within the scenic outskirts, this gem of a distillery offers tours and tastings that will leave you questioning why you ever drank anything other than gin. Sample their exquisite hooch, crafted with local botanicals and a touch of the Blarney Stone. Ben Stevenson and his Irish wife lived and worked in Ireland for yonks, and their stories about Berry Moonshine are more entertaining than the usual boiling point of mash at 105 degrees. Try Ben’s Irish moonshine, known as Poitín (pronounced roughly as poteen or pocheen in English), which makes your eyes roll like a poker machine jackpot. Just make sure you have a designated driver, or you might find yourself involuntarily extending your stay in the Shoalhaven.

Lunch

Altar Bar

Lunch at Milton’s Altar Bar is almost a religious experience, sandstone church notwithstanding. Here, Tommy, who was the head chef at Flying Fish before leaving the shoal to return to the Shoal cooks up sublime dishes for you to taste, and it’s here that you truly see where art transcends food. 

Dinner

Ponte Bar and Dining

Settle in for a delicious dinner at Ponte Bar and Dining, where you can experience a Pasta Buoy collaboration dinner with Ponte’s Head Chef, Sam Smith, who’s rated among the top four chefs in Australia. Ponte Bar and Dining is a stunning riparian location with views that make you forget about the onslaught of carbs, and the combination of exquisite pasta and picturesque surroundings ticks all the boxes. Dessert is a donut-inspired dish, so look out for that one. 

Dessert

Prickly Pear

Follow up a sumptuous lunch with dessert at Prickly Pear, where the sweets are as delightful as the name. Devour their Limoncello Tiramisu – the perfect blend of tart and sweet, a fitting end to your gastronomic Milton sojourn.

A charming restaurant in the heart of beautiful Milton, this culinary gem is proudly family-owned and run and embodies sustainable, local, and homegrown principles, using fresh local ingredients and seasonal produce sourced through their partnerships with local farmers.

Drinks

Dangerous Ales Distillery at the Historic Milton Hotel

Wash down dessert with a selection of ales from Dangerous Ales Distillery at the historic Milton Hotel, with its sweeping views and hipster aesthetic. Here, sample beers from one of the top boutique breweries in Australia, run by hatted chef Damian Martin. The combination of history, beer, and a chef named “Damo” is sooo Oz. But while driving, we just tasted a thimble or two.

Art and Culture 

Bundanon

Just an hour away is Bundanon, surrounded by the serene landscape of Illaroo, and the artistic legacy of the Boyd family. Whether you’re an artist seeking inspiration or a visitor looking to unwind, the accommodation at Bundanon provides a peaceful retreat, infused with creativity and history. 

Gifted to the Australian people by renowned artist Arthur Boyd in 1993, Bundanon serves as a living, breathing art centre and museum. The Boyd family, a dynasty of painters, sculptors, and musicians, has imbued this place with their creative spirit. The sprawling property features Boyd’s studio, art galleries, and extensive bushland, offering a sanctuary for artists and nature enthusiasts alike. 

Walking through Bundanon, you can almost hear the echoes of the Boyd family’s conversations about art and life, making it a truly inspirational visit.

Your digs at Bundanon are a perfect blend of comfort and rustic charm. These well-appointed rooms reflect the artistic heritage of the Boyd family. Windows offer charming views of the surrounding bushland, providing a tranquil backdrop for relaxation and reflection. Each room is equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay while still feeling connected to nature.

Shoalhaven has it all: good food, good people, beautiful views, and events that allow you to really appreciate the foodie tradition of this coastal haven and its community. The Shoalhaven Autumn Celebration of Food is just one of those perfect opportunities for those who want to sample all the amazing produce on offer here and experience a culinary extravaganza like no other.

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Contributor:
Dorian Mode
Currently:
Sydney

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