For a cute weekend escape, NSW’s South Coast offers everything you need, from award-winning wineries, snug-as-hell accommodation, world-famous doughnuts and a lot of cute-as-hell stops along the way.
Where the beach-side towns can be packed come Summertime, the colder months are a little quieter. While we’d never call Sydney’s South Coast a secret, an Autumn/Winter weekend in this cluster of small towns, natural wonders and farm-to-table restaurants certainly can feel like it’s made just for you.
If you need to shake off the shivers (or need to get out of the your usual weekend routine), here’s our guide to a perfect 48 hours in Sydney’s South Coast — specifically, the region around Kiama.
It’s pretty easy to get to the South Coast, though we’d recommend having a car to get around.
While trains from Sydney leave to Kiama station roughly every hour (taking a little over 2 and a half hours, and just $6.20 on your Opal), you’ll be relying on public transport or taxis to get you anywhere else. Still, trains run from Kiama to Gerringong and Berry every hour or so.[related_articles]30220[/related_articles]
If you’re flying in, you could either head from Sydney Airport or fly to Merimbula — the south side of the South Coast — from Sydney or Melbourne.
It’s hard to beat driving down from Sydney though. Taking the Princes Highway takes around 2 hours with light traffic, but we’d strongly recommend making a slight detour at the Royal National Park for a snippet of the Grand Pacific Drive. Before connecting back along to the Highway at Wollongong, you’ll drive over the famous Sea Cliff Bridge; it’ll add half an hour to the trip, but when it’s this stunning, who cares?
As for accomodation, we recommend the Soul Of Gerringong. Once a barn, the recently opened boutique stay was made for large and luxe weekend stays, with either a 14-16 person option or the smaller three bedroom Cottage. Complete with fire-pits, private court-yards and large, on-trend spaces perfect for entertaining, you might end up staying in all weekend — but if you can make it outside, there’s a whole heap to do, see and eat.
Wake up early and head to Seven Mile Beach, which stretches from Nowra to Shoalhaven Heads. On the way, stop at Gerroa’s The Blue Swimmer for their Baghdad eggs with spiced lentils, stewed capsicum and a cumin yoghurt flatbread.
Pack snacks, and weave through the National Park on the 3 hour sand track, beginning at Beach Road. You’ll traverse the area’s unique and sadly endangered habitats, from blackbutt sand dunes to Coomonderry swampland and rainforest, before walking back along the shore.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal sunbathing on the rocks.
Berry’s filled with local artisan shops. Walking through the town and entering whatever boutique or vintage store catches your eye is a solid strategy, but you can spend hours in Moss Nest, a bric-or-brac packed with local homewares, fashion and textiles.
No South Coast trip is complete without a visit to The Famous Berry Doughnut Van. Made fresh to order, their cinnamon-sprinkled doughnut is strange magic. It shouldn’t be this good, but it is. Grab one to go while you wander.
NSW’s South Coast is known for its wineries, but Silos Estate, once a dairy farm, might be the prettiest of the pack. Plus, it’s just a few minutes from Berry. Arrive in the late afternoon (before 5pm), and walk through the luscious vineyard and taste some local cheeses alongside their ferment chardonnays and signature Squid Ink, a soft shiraz with notes of dark chocolate. Watch out for the alpacas, too.
Book ahead for a table at Silo Estate’s restaurant, a region heavy-weight since it opened in 1984. Located in the estate’s namesake, the restaurant’s run by husband-and-wife duo Andrew Hickie and Sarah Smith, who have settled in the South Coast after each building world-class CVs (and cooking for the likes of Oprah and Ellen).
The menu keep things simple. Stick to the set menu, and you’ll get a tour of the region’s best produce paired together, from fried zucchini flowers, ricotta, goats curd and truffle honey to a Wagyu strip with cavolo nero. Oh, and don’t forget the wine.
Today’s a big day, so you’ll want to grab a generous breakfast in Gerringong. Local favourite The Hill has you covered, a buzzy, dog-friendly all-day restaurant with beautiful coastal views.
We rate their hollandaise eggs, but if you sleep in after a boozy night, their ever-changing lunch menu uses the finest of local produce.
We probably don’t need to tell you to spend the afternoon on the Gerringong to Kiama walk, one of the South Coast’s most famous attractions. Ridiculously pretty, the walk hugs the cliff-sides and traverses rocky beaches, green farmland and two blowholes.
Staring at Gerringong’s Werri Beach, you’ll climb the hillside on a gentle, grassy slope, walking past grazing cows and a series of rocky bays and sandy beaches.
At 11ks, it’s admittedly no small feat. You’ll need around 3.5 hours to complete it, though driving up to a closer beach will quicken things.
Still, it’s hard to pick a spot to miss; on the full walk, you’ll pass picturesque cliffside cabins, rocky bays, and, if you’re there between September to November, you might even spot Right Whales as they migrate south. School of surfers paddle out year round, even in the dead of winter.
Of course, the main attraction is Kiama’s blowhole. You’ll pass the little blowhole on the walk, and it’s worth the stop. It’s less crowded and less dangerous, but be warned: it might be small, but it’s mighty, too. Expect spray.
Passing the apt-named Surf Beach, you’ll arrive at the Blowhole Point — head into the Visitors Centre to visit the Pilot’s Cottage museum if you want to learn about the town’s maritime history.
Derived from the Dharawal peoples’ word for the blowhole, Kiama means “where the sea makes a noise”. Be patient, and you’ll hear it whoosh just before it sprays, sometimes 25 metres into the air.
After that giant walk, you deserve a feast. Head to Penny Whistlers and grab a balcony table for a dreamy sunset dinner overlooking the beach. It’s hard to go past the local seafood on offer, especially the moqueca, a take on the rich, aromatic Brazilian coconut stew.
Afterwards, stroll back up to the blowhole. Floodlights stay on till 1am. I’t’s quite a sight to see at night, and a perfect way to end your trip.