Around a three-hour drive from the Sydney CBD in the picturesque Shoalhaven region lie the small towns of Milton and Mollymook. Like many regional areas in New South Wales, over the past few years the emphasis on fresh locally grown produce has strengthened, with fine dining eateries attracting both discerning locals and city siders looking for a food lover’s luxury weekend.
Rise early, have a quick breakfast at home and set off down the coast.
Segway Tour, Coolangatta Estate
1335 Bolong Rd, Coolangatta, NSW 2535
What better way to stop, revive and survive on the coastal drive than a segway tour among the vines of Coolangatta Estate, the site of the first European settlement on the south coast of New South Wales. As well as touring the vineyard and tasting some of the semillon, verdehlo and chardonnay grapes, guests explore the estate’s historic convict-era buildings before ascending the sloping grounds to take in the panoramic views from Coolangatta mountain – the inspiration behind the region’s name, which means splendid view in the local Aboriginal language. The Segway Tour costs A$150, bookings are essential.
Wine tasting, Coolangatta Estate
1335 Bolong Rd, Coolangatta, NSW 2535
After spending the morning touring the vineyard, stop by the cellar door to taste some of the award winning wines you will later recognise on the menus of local eateries. The sweet and light Rose Frizzante and the nutty 2008 aged Semillon are both memorable drops.
Lunch at Wharf Road, Nowra
10 Wharf Rd, Nowra, NSW 2541
Perched precipitously on the bank of the Shoalhaven River, the waterfront dining room at Wharf Road is stylishly outfitted with feature floor to ceiling windows that flood the room with natural light and provide diners with spectacular views over the water throughout lunch. The menu showcases organic South Coast produce including three types of local oysters and the famous Kangaroo Valley olives. If you have a few hours to spare, the A$60 tasting menu is the best option; serving diners a range of seafood entrees, the chance to try unusual mains like seaweed pasta, and creamy panacotta and cannoli for dessert. If you’re ordering a la carte, don’t miss the theatrically presented Southern fried fish wings with white barbecue sauce and the roast pumpkin with almonds, goat’s curd and preserved lemon gremolata.
Check in to Bannisters by the Sea
191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook, NSW 2539
Previously a classic beach motel, Bannisters by the Sea has been given a new lease on life as a chic 34-room boutique hotel. Our accommodation pick for a weekend getaway is one of the two Collette Dinnigan designed penthouses, with oak floorboards, hand-printed textiles, custom marble bathrooms and classic Australian surf photographs on display.
Dinner at Tallwood, Mollymook
2/85 Tallwood Ave, Mollymook Beach, NSW 2539
Just around the corner from Bannisters Pavilion (sister property to Bannister’s by the Sea), Tallwood restaurant is an eclectic eatery dishing up contemporary share plates from an open kitchen that spans the length of the dining room. The warm interiors are outfitted with souvenirs from the owners’ extensive travels around Europe and Asia and feature intricate wall hangings and abstract artworks from local artists, which are available for purchase. The menu offers a balanced mix of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, none of which will disappoint. A must-try is the local raw fish daily special, while the roast potatoes served with black garlic (that has been fermented for three weeks) is also a standout.
Tour and Taste Experience Cupitt’s Winery, Milton
58 Washburton Rd, Ulladulla NSW 2539
Boutique winery, microbrewery and French cheese fromagerie all in one, a trip to the South Coast is not complete without a visit to Cupitt’s. Book in for a Tour and Taste Experience and sample handcrafted wines, craft beers and goat’s milk cheese. The one-hour tour costs A$20 per person; bookings are essential.
Lunch at Bannister’s Pavilion, Mollymook
87 Tallwood Avenue, Mollymook Beach, NSW 2539
Bannister’s Pavilion, which opened in 2015, is just minutes from Mollymook Beach. The slickest hotel on the South Coast, the property’s interiors are cool and contemporary with charcoal tones, soft-hued timbers, Scandinavian-inspired furnishings and contemporary artwork. Cool down in the cantilevered rooftop pool, which hangs over the entrance, before heading to the balcony bar and grill for a cocktail and a classic burger or fish and chips.
Dinner at St Isidore, Milton
89 Croobyar Road, Milton, NSW, 2538
Awarded one hat by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide in 2015, 2016 and 2017, this homely restaurant sources much of the produce used in the dishes served from its abundant kitchen garden. If the sun is still shining when you arrive, take a seat outside in the garden for a pre-dinner drink before heading into the softly lit restaurant for dinner. While the meat dishes are the feature, make sure you try the toasted fregola with broad beans and black truffle, an entrée that is also available as a main on the dedicated vegetarian menu, which is available on request.
If you’re treating yourself to a long weekend down the coast, set aside a day for this memorable cooking class in Kangaroo Valley. It’s a bit of a drive from Mollymook (about 90 kilometres) but aspiring home chefs will find that it’s well worth the journey.
Flavours of the Valley
407D Bendeela Road, Kangaroo Valley, NSW 2577
From an elaborate marquee pitched in the backyard of her home at WILDWOOD Estate in Kangaroo Valley, Toni Moran hosts small group cooking classes with an emphasis on flavour, freshly foraged ingredients and family recipes. The morning begins with fresh lemonade and tea before a short introduction by Toni where she speaks of her Italian heritage and how cooking with her nonna as a child inspired her to leave her full time teaching job to pursue Flavours of the Valley cooking school.
Over the course of the day students are shown a short demonstration on how to make fresh ricotta (surprisingly simple), forage in Toni’s lush vegetable garden for ingredients to use throughout the day, are served a delicious morning tea of freshly baked muffins and fruit, and are split into teams to prepare a five-course menu in the back half of the marquee which Toni has outfitted as a professional kitchen. The highlight of the day is the pasta making session, which is done on a long purpose-built wooden bench. Toni’s top tip for rolling the best fresh pasta sheets, “It’s all about the heart and the hands. A little bit of love goes a long way.”
At the close of the day everyone is seated at a long communal table and each pair serves up their own course to the rest of the group. The wild mushroom and three cheese ravioli and the berry sorbetto with water tuilles are the standout dishes, with produce for the menu sourced from a range of local Kangaroo Valley producers. The Garden to Table experience is A$245 per person and runs for approximately six hours. Bookings are essential.