A couple of weeks ago I was invited to visit the Shoalhaven Coast located about two hours south of Sydney by car. When I first got the invitation, I have to honest, I googled 'Shoalhaven' because I'd never heard of it! And most people I mentioned it to also didn't know what I talking about. I started to have my doubts, 'if no-one has heard of it, it mustn't be very good' etc. but I couldn't work it out because all the images showing in Google for the Shoalhaven looked phenomenal!
Anyway we went ahead and landed in Sydney then hopped into a hire car and started driving towards the coast. The drive in itself was gorgeous! So picturesque. A short two hours later we saw a 'Welcome to Shoalhaven' sign and knew it was going to be spectacular. We first headed on for another hour to Cupitt's Winery in Milton which was beautifully rustic. The food was amazing too. I had a very fancy scotch egg for entree and the barramundi which had the most sensational dried spiced chickpeas on it that burst into a puff when you bit them. I also had the viognier which I severely mis-pronounced when ordering! We also tried their beer which was made from the leftover whey from the winery's cheesemaking - insane right?!
We headed back up the coast to Berry where we were staying at the sweetest little cottage in the heart of town in walking distance to everything. We stayed there thanks to Berry Getaways who organise accommodation all around the Shoalhaven Coast. We relaxed at the cottage for a little while then took a walk through Berry for a coffee. It reminds me of a 'Daylesford-by-the-sea'. Pretty doesn't begin to describe the town. It's so quaint and full of character with lots of historical landmarks and old buildings. Plus lots of tree-lined streets and the sun was always shining the entire three days we were there.
We visited Silos Estate for dinner which was actually located in an old concrete silo! We walked in to see lots of mood lighting, wooden beams, native flower arrangements, and a burning log fire at the end of the dining room. It was a lovely quiet spot for dinner. I had the vegetarian main of jerusalem artichoke with pickled pine mushrooms, tuscan kale and chestnut cream. It was such an unusual combination of ingredients that worked so well together. It was 'cosy' in a mouthful. I'd suggest having that between two people next time because the serve was large and I couldn't finish it even though I really tried!
The next day we visited some of the glorious beaches in the area. White sand, and I mean actually white, with crystal clear water and barely another person around. I think that's one of the best parts about the Shoalhaven, is that it's just so quiet, calm and pristine. Perfect for a relaxing weekend away. We also strolled along Ben's Walk and met some really friendly local puppies!
Lunch was actually my top pick of the weekend I think (big call!) which was at Wharf Rd in Nowra. The reason for it being my favourite was not only the really laid back vibe of the place, but the spectacular view out over the river. We sat in the sun in their enclosed outdoor area (being from Melbourne, sun is a luxury and a winning card!) and sampled a couple of the locally brewed beers which was just perfect for the day. We also selected a handful of small plate dishes to share and pick at, rather than ordered a la carte, which the restaurant also offers. The Claire De Lune oysters were phenomenal and the hand cut chips with LOBSTER GRAVY was next level. Everything was just so tasty.
We visited a few more beaches to stroll along in the afternoon because they seriously are beautiful. We went to Vincentia, Jervis Bay, and Huskisson.
Our last night of the weekend was spent at South on Albany in Berry. We walked there from our cottage and were welcomed with open arms by Sonia, who is the owner along with her husband and head chef John. She made lots of recommendations and we followed her lead. Anchovies with house made chilli jam on toast was so simple yet incredibly satisfying and left us wanting more. Our favourite dish of the evening was the *prettiest* house made chicken terrine wrapped in prosciutto which was dotted with tender baby carrots and served with smoked pear. Yep, insane. The warmth and welcoming vibe that oozed from this small restaurant is the reason that every single person we spoke to about it, claimed it was just the most fabulous place for dinner in the Shoalhaven. A must-visit.
Our last activity before heading home to Melbourne was at the Coolangatta Estate which was established in 1882. It was the third European settlement in Australia and used to be a convict camp where convicts came to harvest timbers from the surrounding bushland. The original buildings are still standing atop a sunny hill with gorgeous manicured gardens around it. We visited the grounds by way of Segway thanks to Segway Tours South Coast. I'd never been on a Segway before and felt certain I was going to break a bone but under the careful guidance and training session with our instructor and tour guide, it would have been impossible to fall off let alone break anything! A really fun way to scoot around all matters of terrain and take in the views of the coast.
Our weekend was simply stunning. We left knowing that we were going to be returning so soon. In fact, we have decided that we will most likely be heading there for a mini-moon after we get married in March. The Shoalhaven Coast in a few words is relaxing, pristine and has something for everyone. You can check out more about the area here and I hope you guys get the chance to visit even for a weekend because words and photos don't do it justice!
The weekend was provided to us here at Naturally Nutritious with compliments by the kind folks at Shoalhaven Tourism.