Heard of New South Wales’ South Coast before? Nah, me either. But I’ve somehow found myself on an epic road trip down the east coast of Australia and hell, I’m happy I’m here.
There’s just something about a roadie that gets me excited. The leisurely pace (well, when you’re out of the hell that is Sydney’s traffic). The freedom. The adventure. Pair that with a place you’ve never been to before, a stunning itinerary and the promise of some great food, I’m there.
I’m not sure why the South Coast isn’t more of a big deal – we’re talking uncrowded surf beaches, national parks, incredible marine life and stunning little towns well worth a visit. Here’s what not to miss:
The Retro Motel Tour
It might seem weird to start with where you’ll be sleeping, but this one is different because the South Coast is an absolute mecca of renovated, retro 70’s motels that bear little resemblance to their former lives. The Berry View Hotel in Berry and The Isla in Batehaven have been given new lives as very Instagrammable, luxury boutique accommodation options that’ll have you feeling just a little special.
The Berry View Hotel, nestled in the gorgeous little town of Berry, is a homage of 1950s architecture and a nod to Palm Springs. As a plus for millennials, you don’t even need to talk to anyone when checking in – just use the digital door code that’s been emailed to you prior to arrival.
The Berry View
It’s the same deal at The Isla with its kind-of-retro-but-still-very-modern asthetic that encourages you to relax and chill just by staring at the décor. But The Isla goes one step further – instead of room service you have ‘The Cantina’ – two customised vending machines containing heaps snacks, wine, beer and even the ultimate road trip dinner, Two Minute Noodles.
The Quaint Town
There are a few towns that make up New South Wales’ South Coast, but the most charming has to absolutely be Berry. This tiny historic town, which is about a two-hour drive from Sydney, somehow blends the charm of the past with the vibe of the future, with a lot of the town’s locals having returned during the pandemic and set up thriving, chic businesses.
Berry is a haven if you’re into home décor shopping – my partner had to physically drag me out of three stores – as well as tea, chocolate and sweet shops. But the highlight had to be Queen St Eatery, a sophisticated-yet-laid-back French bistro that has incredible food and mind-blowing wine (their tagline is ‘A Bit Fancy, A Bit French, A Bit Fun’ which is absolutely the vibe). Book in for a three-course lunch, settle in and enjoy chats and very generous hospitality with owner Bec.
Queen St Eatery
You also have to pay a visit to the famous doughnut van – people literally come from far and wide just to go to Berry Donut Van and you don’t want to miss out, trust me.
The Actual Road Trip
Coastal roads are the best for road trips and the Grand Pacific Drive has to be up there with the best. Stretching out 140kms between Sydney and Wollongong, you’ll pass through cute coastal towns such as Shellhabour and Kiama, and over the famed Sea Cliff Bridge (where there are epic photo opportunities!)
You can stop along the way for food, wine or activities (see below) or just slowly meander down the coast and stop when you see fit.
Once you get to the official end at Shoalhaven, keep heading south until you reach Bateman’s Bay, or keep going until you hit Victoria.
Stuff To Do
Even if it’s not the point of our trips, my partner and I always seem to turn holidays into food and drink experience purely by our personalities, so it makes sense that when it came to an activity, we wanted to blend something active with something yummy (why would you NOT want to do that!?).
So off we toddled to an oyster tasting kayak tour, where we paddled around Bateman’s Bay while also sampling some of the regions famed oysters on the Clyde River. As well as scoffing a dozen oysters between us, we spotted some Aussie wildlife (the non-killy kind) and made our guide laugh when we expressed our amazement at a Pelican, before we explained we don’t have them in New Zealand and really, they are the most ridiculous looking birds.
And to actually do something good for us, we also enjoyed a coastal walk (walks and hikes for me have to adhere to the ‘must be scenic, must be flat’ rules and I’m happy to say there are many options for the similarly inclined). Try the Broulee Island Nature Reserve Walk – lots of sea and sand that, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were in Fiji.
The writer was hosted by Tourism Australia – all opinions are her own