Things grow well on the NSW South Coast, whether rainforest in the coastal hinterland, oysters in the sea or fresh produce on the rolling plains in between. This bounty equates to a hard-to-beat, diverse culinary scene – gather just-laid eggs, wade into the ocean to shuck oysters, pick up uber-fresh produce from farmers markets, sit down to fine-dining meals prepared by some of the world’s top chefs, and savour local wines or craft beers.
The South Coast is Australia’s Oyster Coast and it’s fair to say molluscs are a pretty big deal down here. In the heart of the action is Eurobodalla, where you can slurp oysters freshly shucked from Jim Wild’s Oysters at Greenwell Point and tours are also available. Get active and try them just-plucked on a Clyde River Oyster Kayaking Tour or "on the water" with Captain Sponge; relax and enjoy them at Wheelers in Pambula (which hosts a daily alfresco oyster bar); or savour them from farm gate to your plate at Pearly Oyster Bar and Farm in Batemans Bay.
Pick up yet more oysters, plus a smorgasbord of other seafood, from Eden Smokehouse (the Atlantic salmon is a hit). Or go on a seafood crawl between fishermen’s co-ops, sampling literally straight-from-the-ocean prawns, tuna, kingfish and more.
Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant, Merimbula
Farms & fresh produce
If you like to pick your own in-season peaches, plums, chestnuts and vegetables, or collect just-laid eggs from free-range chickens, the South Coast is ideal. Farmgate experiences offer a from-the-source taste of the region, as do the various farmers’ markets. Try SAGE Farmers Market at Moruya, Tilba Market, Berry Farmers’ Market or Kiama Farmers’ Market, all of which deliver an incredible selection of locally grown produce.
Healthy, contented cows graze over the South Coast’s fertile fields, in turn producing some of the state’s tastiest dairy products. Drop in to award-winning fromagerie Bodalla Dairy Shed for freshly churned ice-cream, plus cheeses infused with native wattleseed and saltbush; stop past ABC Cheese Factory in Central Tilba for vintage smoked cheddar or mountain ash camembert; and don’t forget the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre, where you can take away signature Strong and Bitey, or linger over a cheese-fuelled lunch in the cafe.
The Shoalhaven Coast is known for producing a diverse range of varietals – from chardonnay to shiraz – and features more than a dozen cellar doors. Between Ulladulla and Milton you’ll find Cupitt's Winery, which not only bottles standout wines but also hosts an on-site craft brewery, restaurant and cheesemaking operation.
Occupying historic buildings once comprising a dairy farm, Silos Estate in Berry is as in-demand for its wines as for its wide-eyed alpacas and guest cottages. Nearby is Two Figs Winery, with views over the beaches of Shoalhaven Heads, and just east lies Coolangatta Estate, which also features a restaurant and cottages for overnight stays.
British celebrity chef Rick Stein opened his now-iconic restaurant at the clifftop hotel Bannisters Mollymook back in 2009, and the food and views are as spectacular as ever. Meanwhile, local produce meets innovative modern Australian at Bangalay Dining in Shoalhaven. Think emu tartare, kangaroo rolled in wattleseed, or Murray cod with cauliflower and macadamia.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.