Unique waterfront dining in NSW
Why is it that food tastes even more delicious beside the water? Pull up a chair (or maybe a kayak) and discover some of the most interesting places to dine by the ocean, lake or river in NSW on any budget.
The Surf Deck – Northern Beaches, Sydney
Sandy feet are welcome – or even encouraged – at The Surf Deck, a slick little restaurant and bar on the edge of Collaroy Beach. There are more windows than walls, making for unmatched views of the surf while you sip on a pina colada or banana daquiri and snack on Sydney rock oysters, swordfish carpaccio and woodfired pizza.
Armory Wharf Café – Western Sydney
Once the Royal Australian Naval Armament, the heritage-listed Newington Armory is now sprawling parkland and an arts precinct. The Parramatta River runs alongside it and perched on the very edge is the Armory Wharf Cafe. Serving breakfast and lunch, it’s the perfect spot for families to refuel after walking or cycling through the park.
St George Sailing Club – South Sydney
After a $15 million renovation, the 125-year-old St George Sailing Club has been transformed into South Sydney’s most stylish spot. Set out over the water at San Souci, there’s a 300-person indoor/outdoor dining room; a raw bar serving fresh oysters, salmon sashimi and tuna tartare; and a huge wine and cocktail list.
Mereweather Surfhouse – Newcastle
Merewether Surfhouse is a place you could happily return to every day. Set alongside Newcastle’s best surf beach, there’s a cafe on the ground level for pre-surf coffees or breakfast, and an Italian restaurant and bar on the rooftop with sweeping views over the coastline – and the best woodfired pizzas in town.
Little Shack – Port Macquarie
Tucked into the breakwall of Port Macquarie’s harbour, Little Shack is casual beachside cool at its best. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables out the front for breakfast tacos in the morning, a lobster roll for lunch, and cocktails as the sun sets.
The Quarterdeck – Narooma
The Quarterdeck Narooma has been a local favourite for almost 20 years and in 2021 it became hospitality heavyweight Justin Hemmes’ first venue outside of Sydney (he now owns three other venues in town). Perched on stilts above the tidal waters of the Wagonga Inlet, it’s all about laidback seafood and Mexican-inspired snacks, plus fun cocktails with a Tiki twist.
Merimbula Aquarium Wharf & Restaurant – Merimbula
Just-caught fish and exceptional Broadwater Oysters (from nearby Pambula) are always on the menu at Merimbula Aquarium Wharf & Restaurant, where you’ll dine with a 180-degree view of the ocean. If it’s a special occasion, go for the seafood platter and stretch lunch into the afternoon.
The Oyster Shed on Wray Street – Batemans Bay
It’s with good reason that the NSW South Coast is known as Australia’s Oyster Coast. In Batemans Bay, head to the The Oyster Shed on Wray Street at the banks of the Clyde River. Don’t expect white tablecloths here – it’s just a shed, a few outdoor tables and the freshest oysters you can imagine.
Tuross Boatshed – Tuross Lake
Tuross Boatshed is a laidback absolute waterfront eatery where the shellfish are plucked straight from the water. If the kids don’t want to wait for your order, hire one of the boatshed’s kayaks and send them off for a paddle around the calm waters.
Blacksmith Provedore – Lake Mulwala
On the western bank of Lake Mulwala in the Murray region, Blacksmith Provedore is a Mid Century Modern-inspired masterpiece, all white tiles, bold arches and chic stonework. Sit back under a pink umbrella with a woodfired pizza and an Aperol spritz.
Tweed River House – Murwillumbah
A grand century-old family home on the edge of Murwillumbah has been transformed into Tweed River House, a hatted bistro and palm-fringed lawn bar with uninterrupted views over the river to the peak of Wollumbin (Mount Warning). With a former Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen and the best Northern Rivers produce on the table, it’s a true taste of the enviable Tweed lifestyle.
8 at Trinity – Trinity Point
For a thoroughly modern interpretation of the waterfront vibe, book an outdoor table or set of deck chairs at the new 8 at Trinity on the shores of Lake Macquarie. You’ll feel like you’re at a beach club in Bali or on the Greek Islands, dining on fresh seafood overlooking a lake that’s twice the size of Sydney Harbour.
The River Moruya – Moruya
At The River Moruya chefs meld classic French and modern Australian techniques to serve exceptional local seafood. Set in a restored cottage on the edge of the water, it feels like dining at the home of a fabulous foodie friend. The Rhubarb Sbagliato goes down a treat at sunset.
Dovecote – Gerringong
The striking pavilions at Dovecote, an ultra-luxury stay on the cliffs above Gerringong, are usually only open to overnight guests. But book into a dinner as part of the new Dine in Design series and chef Alex Prichard (head chef of Icebergs) will prepare a degustation menu of South Coast produce paired with local wines and jaw-dropping views.
Oysters don’t come much fresher than the ones you pull from the water yourself. Sydney Oyster Farm Tours will take you for a cruise over the leases at their Hawkesbury River oyster farm, before donning waders for a white tablecloth tasting in the water. On the Pambula River in the Sapphire Coast, take a Kayak and Shuck tour with Navigate Expeditions. Paddle through the waters of the pristine to reach Broadwater Oysters for a tasting of their award-winning Sydney rocks.
Region X’s Pizza Paddle Tour in Batemans Bay takes food delivery to a whole new level. Pizza from famed local restaurant Sam’s will be delivered right to your kayak for the ultimate dinner on the water, with just the moon, stars and sounds of the Clyde River for company.
If you’d prefer someone else to do the paddling, board a Wharf to Winery cruise on a classic Murray River paddlesteamer. Departing from Echuca-Moama, you’ll glide gently down the river to Morrisons Riverview Winery for a lazy lunch and wine tasting. Look out for kangaroos grazing by the river as you dine.
The best way to appreciate the grandeur of Sydney Harbour is to be immersed within it. Splash out with a boozy brunch or champagne long lunch aboard The Jackson, an ultra-luxe vessel that feels like a private superyacht. Departing from King Street Wharf you’ll cruise past the icons and beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the most elegant of afternoons.