Travel guide to Shoalhaven, New South Wales: 10 things to see, do and eat

I WOULD LIKE A SURFING LESSON

There wouldn't be too many surfers around who know the region's breaks better than Shoalhaven Heads Surf School's Michael Chapple, who grew up surfing the waves of Seven Mile.

A former competitor on the world body boarding tour, Michael takes beginners, small groups and families to uncrowded local spots and provides wetsuits, boards and a whole lot of fun. He also offers paddleboard lessons on the Shoalhaven River. See academyofsurfing.com

I WANT A COCKTAIL WITH MY BLOW DRY

 

What's better than a blow dry that turns beach hair into a date-ready do? A blow dry that comes with a mojito of course. The new Blow Bar on Queen Street Berry is a first for the south coast as it has a licence to serve champagne, beer and cocktails. Not surprisingly you will need to book ahead for this marvellously grown up trip to the hairdresser that also has an actual bar. A professional make up service is available which makes this friendly and fun venue popular with local wedding parties. See

berry.org.au/celebrate/blow-bar-on-queen/

I WANT OYSTERS FRESH OFF THE FARM

If you want shuckloads of personality with your freshly-harvested Sydney Rocks, get thee to Greenwell Point with a bottle of wine and have a yarn with the Hawaiian shirt-loving, former world champion oyster shucker, Jim Wild. Jim's farm and oyster shack is tucked into a corner where the Crookhaven River meets the Shoalhaven, and you can watch him at work as he serves up Kilpatrick, Mornay and lemon and pepper molluscs by the dozen. Rustic waterside tables under the south coast sun seem to make his creamy local legends even tastier. Pass the Tabasco.

I WANT TO EAT IN A FRENCH BISTRO

If your French food-loving heart skips a beat at the sight of a menu offering coq au vin blanc, lobster Thermidor, chicken liver parfait and French fries with truffle mayonnaise, Berry's new Queens Street Eatery will be hard to resist.

This chic, petit bistro doubles as a wine bar and has custom-made furniture and a French frame of mind: choose from coastal classics with twist such as grilled king prawns with flambe sauce au Pernod, minute steak with café de Paris butter and tune tartare washed down with a mix of new and established Australian and French wines. See

queensteatery.com.au/

I LOVE TO SHOP, WHERE CAN I GO?

 

The pretty village of Berry deserves its reputation as the region's most upmarket shopping destination. A stroll around the town tempts visitors with everything from hand-made chocolates to high-end furniture, fashion and a dizzying array of fragrant candles, cushions and knick-knacks so cute I half expect to see TV stylist Shaynna Blaze in every shop.

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Head to Nowra for holiday supplies and big stores, and beachside Gerringong for surf shops and enough home emporiums to fill the future beach house you will start dreaming about when you drive around the real estate heaven that is this cliff top holiday hamlet.

I WANT TO PLAY GOLF

Shoalhaven Heads Golf Course, a pitching wedge away from the villas at Bangalay next door, offers 18 picturesque holes bordered by Coolangatta Mountain in the west and Pacific Ocean in the east. See theheadsgolf.com.au

I WANT TO DINE ON LOCAL FARE

Chef Brent Strong showcases native botanicals at Bangalay Dining creating a menu experience unique to the area. Multi-tasking as a post-beach kiosk with coffee and milkshakes, cocktail bar (Saltbush Margarita anyone?) and restaurant, diners enjoy a view of the hotel's pool, soaring gums and adjacent golf course. Highlight: a six-course tasting menu featuring kingfish in lime and dill with cucumber, watermelon with macadamia and native mint and wattle seed white chocolate. See bangalayvillas.com.au/restaurant/

I WANT FAMILY FRIENDLY FARM EXPERIENCES

 

Thirty minutes inland from the coast in the Kangaroo Valley, the seductively named Crystal Creek Meadows retreat and spa offers deep immersion in family-friendly country pursuits like fruit and flower picking, feeding chickens and collecting still-warm eggs, bike riding paths, picnics and wombat spotting. Tents for kids and wellington boots provided.

I WANT LUNCH WITH A VIEW

Up on Coolangatta Mountain, the sweeping view of the valley and surrounding peaks makes a great backdrop for a long lunch at Mountain Ridge Winery, perhaps starting with a seafood chowder followed by slow cooked Chermoula lamb.

With a cellar door, art gallery, ice cream nook and casual pizza restaurant also on the property, its very easy to while away a few hours on top of this lovely hill. See mountainridgewines.com.au

I WOULD LIKE TO RIDE A HORSE ON THE BEACH

Set on a property minutes from spectacular Seven Mile beach at Shoalhaven Heads, the Regal Riding School offers L-platers one of the most spectacular classrooms in Australia.

Follow your guide through the National Park before taking your steed onto the sand for a unique adventure along this famous beach. School holiday programs, trail rides and pony parties also await budding equestrians. See

facebook.com/Regal-Riding-School-423904054444755/

I WANT THE FACTS

POPULATION

99,650

LOCATION

The Shoalhaven Shire, 200 kilometres south of Sydney, stretches over 125 kilometres of coastline in south-east NSW. The region north of the Shoalhaven River takes in the popular holiday towns of Berry, Shoalhaven Heads, Gerringong and Gerroa.

CLIMATE

The Shoalhaven has a mild, warm temperate climate. Maximum temperatures range from around 30 degrees in summer to around 17 degrees in winter.

ACCOMMODATION

With golf course views on one side and seven miles of sand and sea on the other, the new luxury Bangalay Villas in the beachside hamlet of Shoalhaven Heads is the region's newest place to stay.

Inspired by the coastal landscape the villas have native gardens that mirror the adjacent dunes and interiors that bring the textures of the local environment into the one and two-bedroom suites. See bangalayvillas.com.au

TOUR

Driver-hosts will pick up small and large groups from your accommodation in the Berry area and organise an itinerary visiting cellar doors on the Shoalhaven Coast wine trail. You choose where you would like to go or let them select the stops on a full day out or an afternoon-dinner experience where you will chat with local wine makers and dine out at an eatery of your choice. See kennyescapes.com/tours/berry-wine-tours/

MORE

traveller.com.au/south-coast

visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast

shoalhaven.com

Angie Kelly visited as a guest of Destination NSW.

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