We took a trip to these neighbouring towns in the Shoalhaven region to discover award-winning restaurants, charming wineries, unspoiled beaches, and luxurious stays.
Regardless of the season, the Shoalhaven region beckons as the ideal weekend escape. During summer, the allure lies in its immaculate coastline where you can bask on pristine beaches. In contrast, winter invites you to indulge in the warmth and charm of wineries and luxurious accommodations, which would you believe are aplenty in the region.
Recently, we embarked on an adventure to the neighbouring coastal towns of Milton and Ulladulla, which is around a 3-hour drive from Sydney CBD. Although the journey may seem long, the rewards are immeasurable as you uncover the captivating beauty and culinary mastery within these towns. This is where the art of gastronomy intertwines with unspoiled beaches, crafting an exquisite recipe for an unforgettable weekend getaway.
First stop, Milton! Visitors to the town are lured by the charming main street lined with boutique shops, galleries, and cosy cafes. Surrounded by rolling green hills and lush countryside, Milton exudes a tranquil ambiance that invites exploration and a true appreciation for its natural beauty.
Setting the tone for your culinary adventure is Milkhaus which is a hidden gem on the outskirts of historic Milton. The offering is built around a farm-to-plate philosophy and the menu showcases the best local produce foraged from their own garden. The food is delicious and wholesome, enjoyed in the rusting setting with a fireplace. Breakfast brings dishes like Ribboned French Crapes with chai poached pears, and Harissa Eggs with fresh rye bread, harissa labneh and snow pea tendrils. For lunch, indulge in delights like Burrata with house-made fennel jam and sourdough, and Ricotta Gundi with roasted thyme portobello mushroom and rosemary thyme burnt butter. Before you leave, pick up a takeaway Allpress coffee and wander the garden to gain an appreciation for the team’s sustainability and the food you’ve just consumed.
Should you be after a quick takeaway meal, head straight into the main town and pick up a vegetarian delight from Pilgrims. The cafe is celebrated for its diversity and creativity when it comes to meat-free eating and has captured the hearts of even the biggest meat-eaters. In particular, the Bliss Burger has achieved fame status featuring a mixed grain pattie, fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouli, sprouts, special sauce, and peanut sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll.
Would you believe Milton is home to Hatted restaurants? The Milton Hotel is certainly one of our favourites! The hotel had an extensive modern refurbishment and menu transformation, bidding farewell to ordinary pub fare and welcoming refined interpretations of beloved classics. Indulge in their delectable offerings, such as wood-fired flatbreads, chicken liver parfait, and fresh sashimi sourced from local catches. With a woodfire oven on site, expect perfectly cooked flatbreads and succulent wood-roasted meats accompanied by bold sauces. And don’t miss the opportunity to explore the exceptional range of craft beers from the in-house Dangerous Ales brewery (special mention to the Backyard Pale Ale).
Another Hatted option is the humble bistro, Small Town Food + Wine. Helmed by Alex Delly and Jo Thomas, formerly of St Isidore, the talented team, including Head Chef Sean McCarthy, offers up meticulously crafted dishes showcasing the finest regional produce. They’ve become famous for their Lobster Roll with mayo, fennel pollen, and dill, but we were recently delighted by the BBQ Octopus with white bean and smoked chill oil, as well as the Caramelised Pain Perdu for dessert. Complementing the offering is Small Town Provisions, a neighboring retail space where visitors can purchase a curated selection of wines, fresh oysters, finish-at-home meals, and gourmet picnic packs featuring local cheeses and cured meats, ready to take home.
Tucked away amidst the verdant gardens of The Old Church in Milton, Altar Wine Bar is perfect for a leisurely afternoon drink. They offer an enticing selection of local and international wines, well-made cocktails, and beers from the tap. With its charming garden ambiance, bathed in sunlight, and the added pleasure of live music on weekends, Altar Wine Bar provides the perfect setting to unwind while indulging in delectable cheese and charcuterie platters.
Next stop, Ulladulla! Again the coastal town offers no shortage of stunning beaches to explore as well as relaxing dining experiences.
The Treehouse Cafe is a delightful eatery offering honest and wholesome fare throughout breakfast and lunch. This charming cafe exudes a cozy and rustic ambiance, where you can indulge in nutritious big breakfasts, thoughtfully crafted lunch bowls, delectable seasonal salads and soups, and scrumptious made-to-order burgers, all prepared with a generous serving of love. Complementing the delicious offerings, you’ll find a satisfying selection of pastries and exceptional coffee.
Situated near Ulladulla Harbour, The Social is a charming craft bar. Focusing on locally sourced wine, beer, and cocktails crafted with Australian spirits, this unique establishment has become a beloved gathering spot for locals seeking a relaxed and adult-only atmosphere. Offering skillfully prepared cocktails, live music, and an overall inviting ambiance, The Social is a one-of-a-kind destination in Ulladulla where good vibes and delightful libations intertwine.
A visit to Ulladulla is incomplete without a stop at the renowned Cupitt’s Estate. Be captivated by the awe-inspiring vistas while indulging in the winery’s exceptional handcrafted wines and beers (special mentions go to Rosie’s Rosé and the Dusty Dog Shiraz). The restaurant at Cupitt’s Estate offers an unforgettable modern Australian dining experience, where local produce takes center stage in a refined and elegant setting. For a more laid-back ambiance, revel in the relaxed atmosphere of the lush lawn and savour casual plates such as wood-fired pizzas, delectable charcuterie, and salt and pepper squid. Elevate your experience by booking one of the luxurious new villas with bespoke furnishings and deep bathtubs that overlook the mountains.
No doubt you’re going to need to stretch your legs and walk off all the food! The Pigeon House Mountain walk is a thrilling adventure that rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Located in the Morton National Park, this iconic hike takes you on a challenging ascent to the summit of Pigeon House Mountain. The trail offers a mix of rocky terrain, steep sections, and scenic lookouts, culminating in an awe-inspiring panoramic vista from the top.
Now Mollymook is a short 5-minute drive from Ulladulla and has some incredible foodie and stay options that we couldn’t pass up sharing.
Discover the hidden gem of Gwylo, an unpretentious Hatted restaurant in Mollymook. With its modern Asian fusion concept, Gwylo offers a menu bursting with imaginative and delectable dishes inspired by the vibrant culinary traditions of Asia. From irresistible dumplings and bao buns to sizzling stir-fries and curries, Gwylo promises to delight all the senses. They’ve also got a great reputation for shaking the best cocktails in the area, all in a chic and welcoming atmosphere.
If you haven’t yet experienced Rick Stein’s food beyond the television screen, we highlight recommend a visit to his restaurant at Bannisters. The menu is inspired by his passion for seafood and you can find an impressive selection of local catches, all cooked to perfection. The standout dish is the famous Rick Stein’s Fish Pie, a delectable creation that combines a medley of succulent fish and shellfish in a creamy sauce, topped with a golden, flaky pastry crust.
Check out our review from our last stay at Bannister’s Mollymook!
Perched atop Bannisters by the Sea, Bannisters Rooftop Bar & Grill exudes a chic ambiance perfect for date night. The menu features a delicious selection of antipasti including pita bread, whipped ricotta, burrata, cured meats, and Olasagasti anchovies (it’s giving Tottis vibes). Moving through to mains you’ll find crowd favourites like King Prawn Linguine, the Pavillion Cheeseburger, Rangers Valley Scotch Fillet with cafe de Paris and frites, as well as Chicken Schnitzel. While here you must keep refreshed with the spicy Cucumber & Jalapeno Margarita – thank us later!
For your Shoalhaven adventure, Motel Molly is the perfect base camp. Situated just a stone’s throw away from all the exciting activities, this boutique lodging combines classic South Coast charm with curated luxury. Each room is meticulously decorated, featuring exquisite touches like Le Labo scented candles and handcrafted Moroccan ceramics. Unwind by the pristine swimming pool and spa, or take a leisurely walk to Mollymook Beach for a sun-soaked day of relaxation.
This coastal village is worth noting for its pristine beaches and rugged headlands. Surfers flock to the area to catch the perfect wave, while nature lovers can explore the nearby national parks and reserves, which offer scenic bushwalks and stunning coastal views. Here’s what we like to do in the area:
Willinga Park is Australia’s newest equine facility set on 2000 acres in beautiful Bawley Point. It’s a haven for diverse activities and experiences, allowing you to watch world-class equestrian events, take a leisurely stroll or bike ride through the park’s landscapes, and even interact with the friendly horses on-site.
Bawley Point even has a winery! Bawley Vale Estate is a family-owned winery that boasts a stunning vineyard and cellar door. With a focus on sustainability and organic practices, the friendly team offers a unique wine-tasting experience, where you can savour the premium cool climate wines while enjoying the country’s surroundings.