Planning a getaway? It’s time to head to the South Coast.
We all suffer from city fatigue from time to time, luckily there is an escape just over an hour away – the South Coast. From the 140km Grand Pacific Drive and beyond, the South Coast is an ideal weekend escape. Whether you settle on one dwindling for the entirety of your trip or decide to hop between the collection of unique towns that line that coastline, including Wollongong, Kiama and Gerroa, there is something for everyone. Year round the South Coast offers locals and tourists a collection of beaches, brunches and bars that will tickle your sea change fancy. Eat, drink or play, here are our top picks for the South Coast.
Lee and Me, Wollongong
Owned by a husband and wife duo, Lee and Me reimagines the boutique space of a 1980s terrace house with the aromas of modern Aussie brunch. Located on Crown Street the menu consists of regular brunch offerings and inventive dishes like the Golden Potato Rosti ($18) with house cured salmon and the simple and stunning banana on toast with sweet ricotta ($9). Large eats include a selection of hearty burgers and more healthy salads.
87 Crown St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Open: Mon-Fri 7am-3pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
Phone: (02) 4244 0695
Babyface Kitchen, Wollongong
Modern Australian dining meets Japanese influence at Babyface Kitchen. Situated in the heart of Wollongong, the share-style food menu introduces diners to produce rich, seasonally selected dishes. If choosing share dishes is too hard, the tasting menu ($80pp) will give you an eclectic assortment of Babyface’s offerings. However, it’s hard to go past the sashimi selection paired with a drinks menu consisting of craft and organic brews.
1/179 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Open: Wed-Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-late
Phone: (02) 4295 0903
Penny Whistlers, Kiama
Hugging the coast in Kiama, this gorgeously lit coastal cafe is great for anytime time of day. Set inside a 180 degree glass casing, Penny Whistlers lets you take in the fresh sea breeze, be it armed with a cup of coffee or classic cocktail. Both the day and dinner menu options are sure to provide you with the nourishment needed to start or finish your day.
5/31 Shoalhaven St, Kiama NSW 2533
Open: Mon-Wed 7am-4pm, Thurs-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-7pm
Phone: (02) 4233 2770
Honest Don’s, Thirroul
CDs and vinyls line the wall at this sunny little seaside cafe. Honest Don’s friendly staff complement the wholesomeness of all-day menu. Focussed on serving “honest” food, the menu is overflowing with large, affordable servings. The Daily Taco (2 for $12) is the spicy highlight of the menu. You won’t regret snagging a gluten free slice of cake or a house made muesli bar from the vintage treats cabinet.
2C McCauley St, Thirroul NSW 2515
Open: Mon-Fri 6.30am-2pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-5pm
Phone: (02) 4268 1881
The Scarborough Hotel, Scarborough
A gateway to the South Coast, the Scarborough Hotel is located moments from the atmospheric Bald Hill Lookout. Although you can dine in the Horizon Balcony, we would recommend a leisurely lunch and drink in the Seacliff Gardens with a fantastic view of the coastline. Open until 4.30pm every day, this family and pet friendly hotel is an ideal place to snag some classic pub grub and an unexpected tan. Match the seaside ambience with a Cold Seafood platter ($27 p.p.) and a cold one.
383 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Scarborough NSW 2515
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5.30pm
Phone: (02) 4267 5444
Little Blowhole Art Bar, Kiama
Hidden on a hilly backstreet in Kiama this bar and share-food eatery is the lovechild of two ex-Darlinghurst, and now happily engaged locals, Jamie and Bruce. The intimate venue plays host to a changing collection of Sydney-esque contemporary art exhibitions and live music Sunday sessions. The tapas menu includes a weekly share-style paella. The drinks list is a cool collection of local and internationally sourced wines and craft beers. Like the charming city itself, The Little Blowie ($14) house cocktail is refreshing, with a hit of vodka and lychee liqueur.
4 Tingira Cres, Kiama NSW 2533
Open: Wed-Thurs 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-6pm
Phone: (02) 4232 4990
Humber Kitchen and Bar, Wollongong
An icon of the Wollongong scene, Humber is plotted on the corner of Crown Street and Crown Lane (the centre of the city). With over three levels, including a rooftop garden, Humber’s exposed brick pops to life with vibrant retro furniture and decor. Open almost all day, from breakfast until late, Humber is pumping city hangout. The drinks menu treats drinkers to the usual suspects of cocktails and jugs, with a mix of local buzz.
226 Crown St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Open: Mon 7am-3pm, Tues 7am-10pm, Wed-Sat 8am-late, Sun 8am-9pm
Phone: (02) 4263 0355
Go for a stroll
With all that eating and drinking you may feel the need for a spot of exercise. Fortunately, you are in the right place. No stretch of the South Coast coastline is the same. Whether you are on the hunt for a coffee down the populated Wollongong headland, or venturing along the 22km Kiama Coastal Walk in search of the Blowhole, taking a walk is a great way to learn more about the South Coast.
Cellar Door Experience
If you head inland, you will stumble upon a winery or two. Many wineries in the area either house a restaurant or cafe, or (if you’re lucky) a wine tasting room. For our adventure we experienced the hospitality of Mountain Ridge Wines. Refurbishing it’s cellar door in late 2017, this hillside hideaway serves breakfast, lunch and wine. After tasting an assortment, including the inventive Macadamia Liqueur, we paired a cheese platter with a glass of 2017 Verdelho.
Mountain Ridge Wines
11 Coolangatta Rd, Coolangatta NSW 2535
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5pm
Phone: (02) 4448 5825
Throughout the year, the South Coast hosts a diverse collection of festivals to suit every season and age. We were lucky enough to enjoy the mayhem of the MTV Beats and Eats Festival in Wollongong. MTV paired the foodie likes of Nudefish Poké and Chur Burger with music bangers from Rudimental and Tkay Maidza. The Beer, Food and Wine Festival in Wollongong, Jazz and Blues Festival and Thirroul’s Seaside and Arts Showcase; all year round the South Coast serves up something for everyone.
Find out more about South Coast Festivals HERE
Foragers Market, Bulli
Return home to the city with bags of goodies from the Foragers Market, open every Sunday on the outskirts of Wollongong in Bulli. Set in the Showground shed, the market boasts a wonderful collection of farmers stalls and artisan products. Munch on fruit and nuts, sip on a fresh lemon and ginger juice or fill your stomach with a cheesy arancini ball.
Bulli Showground, Grevillea Park Rd, Bulli NSW 2516
Open: Sun 9am-2pm
Phone: 0497 325 860
There are a number of great Airbnb options littered along the South Coast. Why not make the most of the sea air and find a hideaway tucked away by the seafront? For families and couples, cabins and leisure resorts are a popular accommodation option. Located just steps from the infamous Kiama Blowhole, the Kiama Harbour Cabins offer a range of cosy, self-contained one, two and three bedroom cabins overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Cabins are ideal for a relaxed seaside holiday where you are keen for the occasional BBQ or inexpensive breakfast in bed.
Special thanks to Visit NSW for helping us arrange this itinerary.