The South Coast of New South Wales may not win the column inches that the North Coast does, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less appealing. In fact, the sense that it’s a little more untouched is only part of its charm. The vibe is laid-back and welcoming, and the landscape is wild and rugged—spanning national parks, mountains, white sand beaches with crystal clear water and small fishing villages.
It’s a place that’s inherently varied—on the coast, it’s all about surf and seafood but venture slightly inland, and you’ll find mountains, rainforests, wine tasting and adventure. In partnership with MINI, HEY GENTS jumped into a MINI Countryman to explore the best places to eat, drink and stay in the region, just a couple of hours drive from Sydney.
Eat & Drink
Finbox Supply Co
269 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Thirroul
For a light breakfast of coffee and pastry or a toastie, kick off your day at Finbox Supply Co in Thirroul—a friendly and relaxed space with a pared-back interior. Take a seat on one of the benches outside to watch the town go by as you sip on your cold brew. Once you’re done, you can even pick up some new beach gear in the adjoining shop before heading down to the water.
Opus Coffee Brewers
118-120 Keira St, Wollongong
In Wollongong, drop into Opus Coffee Brewers, a calm, plant-filled café where they’re always experimenting with new flavours and ingredients. Their fresh, homemade bagels are especially good—opt for a classic cream cheese and salmon or try one of the more inventive specials. As for coffee, it comes from some of Australia’s best—Single O is its mainstay, while it rotates a few other roasters too—so you’re always guaranteed to be able to enjoy an excellent cup.
1/137 Princes Hwy, Ulladulla
In the coastal town of Ulladulla, you’ll find Craft Surf. With its concrete and timber design, this cafe and shop stands out in the area for all the right reasons. Enjoy a cup of Allpress coffee and a fresh muffin or raw vegan cupcake on the large wooden deck outside before heading inside for a browse. The store is renowned in the area for its curated collection of local clothing brands and unique homewares, and is well worth a visit.
1/179 Keira St, Wollongong
When it comes to dining, the South Coast champions locally sourced produce and modern interpretations of classic dishes, often served in a relaxed atmosphere. Take Wollongong’s Babyface Kitchen, which is all about using local and sustainably sourced ingredients to create modern Australian dishes with a twist. Pull up a stool at the bar to sample one of their many minimal-intervention wines, before trying a bit of everything on the seven-course tasting menu in this intimate Scandinavian-inspired space.
258 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Thirroul
Pará is Thirroul’s recently opened restaurant where South Coast produce meets Mediterranean flavours. Expect a contemporary take on moreish loukamades, lamb ribs glazed with ouzo and chargrilled baby octopus, alongside a varied and impressive wine list. It’s a unique menu, and with dark walls, parquet flooring and bare bulb pendant lights hanging from the high ceiling, this interior is just as sumptuous as the food.
Queen St Eatery
1/65 Queen St, Berry
In the quaint town of Berry is Queen St Eatery—a European-style wine bar and restaurant where you can enjoy beautiful French and Australian wines. The fresh white interior is a nice contrast to the dark wood that makes up the façade, epitomising this Australian-meets-Parisian spot. Queen St is the town’s only wine bar—and they serve lunch Friday to Sunday, as well as dinner Thursday to Saturday. Opt for the vibrant Seasonal Vegetable Crudité or channel your inner Francophile and go with steak frites or prawns au pernod.
The Hill Bar & Kitchen
98 Fern St, Gerringong
Over in Gerringong, new opening The Hill Bar & Kitchen has secured what’s potentially the best location in the area, with uninterrupted views out over Werri Beach. This modern fit-out consisting of a long concrete bar and large windows lining the walls makes this so much more than your average pub, but still retains a laid-back, casual atmosphere. Make a beeline for the balcony for one of the best sundowners on the coast before enjoying a few classic dishes that are made using fresh, local fare.
6/45 Rowlins Rd, Gerringong
Family-owned Stoic Brewing is a must for beer buffs. The recently opened craft brewery has already gained a solid reputation for its unique beer and cider brewed on site—grab a stool in the no-fuss, industrial interior, right amongst the tanks and kegs, and supplement your beer with a bite from their casual bar menu. Head there on Sundays for food trucks and live music, alongside their usual offering of tasting paddles, tours and beers on tap.
27 Princes Hwy, Gerringong
Arriving at Dovecote is nothing short of breathtaking. On 150 acres of farmland overlooking Werri Beach, a pair of private properties have been meticulously crafted to create two completely individual dwellings. The Range, with its two bedrooms, is the more intimate of the two; a build inspired by the humble farm shed, with large windows and two decks (one with plunge pool) that look out either to the mountains or the ocean. Adjust the large copper panels covering the western façade at dusk, and you’ll experience a sunset like no other. The Headland is larger with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and a central courtyard that comes complete with a swimming pool, lawn and fire pit. The cantilevered black building is perched on a hill, cutting a striking figure—and the interior more than matches up to it. Furnishings are sleek designer pieces, and every point of the house offers a different outlook across the farm, lagoon or ocean. Come morning, utilise the organic produce delivered to your door to rustle up an enviable breakfast before sitting on the deck and soaking up the one-of-a-kind view.
Bangalay Luxury Villas
30 Staples St, Shoalhaven Heads
Backing right onto Seven Mile Beach in Shoalhaven, Bangalay Luxury Villas is comprised of a secluded collection of 16 private abodes. Blending in with the natural surroundings, the self-contained villas are a refreshing interpretation of holiday living. The interiors, with neutral tones, have a contemporary-coastal feel, with floor-to-ceiling windows and private outdoor spaces that allow you to truly enjoy this unique spot. There’s also a large pool with accompanying sun loungers, and onsite restaurant Bangalay Dining—a relaxed eatery with a paddock-to-plate menu inspired by the surrounding area.
87 Tallwood Ave, Mollymook Beach
Surrounded by lush green palm trees and just 80 metres from Mollymook beach, Bannisters Pavilion is the ideal place to enjoy a seaside break. Look up at the entrance of the modernist building and you’ll be greeted with a rooftop pool hanging gracefully over the doorway. Inside, the light-filled space is enriched with earthy colours and natural fibres, fitting of the location. Take advantage of the courtesy vehicle that offers guests a lift to sister venue Bannisters by the Sea and book a table to enjoy some of Australia’s most renowned seafood in the hotel’s restaurant, Rick Stein at Bannisters.
SOUL of Gerringong
143 Belinda St, Gerringong
For a holiday pad that feels as comfortable as your own home, mixed with an island resort aesthetic, SOUL of Gerringong is your best option. Designed for groups, this boutique hotel-meets-private villa consists of two properties—a large seven-bed farmhouse with barn and cabana, and a smaller three-bed cottage. With high ceilings, white walls, rattan chairs and sprawling sofas, both SOUL properties epitomise laid-back coastal living with homely touches. In the farmhouse, large doors open out onto an outdoor living area with tropical garden, generously sized pool and deck with a big family-style table made for long evenings of alfresco dining.
This guide was produced by HEY GENTS in partnership with MINI Australia.
Words by Angharad Jones. Photographs by Nick Vodicka.