Berry: getaway from the city and back to nature
The South Coast of New South Wales is one of my favourite places in Australia with its national parks, an abundance of native plants and animals, chilled out vibes and sprawling white sand beaches. More specifically, I have a particular love of the town Berry, which is one of my choice getaway locations when city life starts to feel a little bit claustrophobic. I actually dream of moving down there one day and hope to own a little tin roof cottage house (all sustainable of course) with a veggie patch, bees and lots of chickens.
A country town, Berry is only a 2 and a bit hour drive from Sydney and 3 hours from Canberra. It is the perfect place to go for a weekend getaway and is known for its historic buildings, beautiful bush walks, nearby beaches, and not to mention fresh local produce which adds to the delicious food that can be found in the area.
Where to Stay:
Hands down, the best place to stay in Berry is at the luxury retreat known as ‘Mt Hay’. Perched perfectly on top of a Mount Hay (hence its name), the drive up to the accommodation alone is an experience, greeted along the road by cows and a number of other animals that have made a home including wombats and the occasional kangaroo. When you eventually reach the top, guests are warmly welcomed by the owners Anthony and Louise who could not be more accommodating as they proudly show you around their property, which includes a 33 meter indoor heated pool and spa, a dam, and 5 private suites. The suites are the epitome of luxury with a spacious living area complete with kitchenette, television and lounge, a king sized bed (with crispy linen) overlooking the view and, my favourite bit, the private deck with an outdoor bath.
Sustainability is also an important focus for the owners who are committed to protecting the beautiful natural environment surrounding their property. This is demonstrated through their ongoing work to manage the area and the local wildlife, actively replanting native species that are water efficient and encourage birds and insects, harvesting rainwater and hand removing invasive weeds. The designs of the buildings are also environmentally sensitive, with the surrounding gardens providing a cooling effect in summer and insulating them during winter as well as being equipped with energy efficient lighting and solar panels that also are used to heat the pool. The owners also hope to inspire more sustainable practices to be adopted by the wider community, encouraging guests to recycle when possible and even establishing relationships with a local café to compost their green waste, which instead of being sent to landfill is now being used to feed the garden as well as the chickens and the pigs.
Where to eat:
The Berry Sourdough Café
For breakfast or lunch or both, you can’t go past the Berry Sourdough Café located just off the main road in Berry. Set in a rustic barn, the café is warm with the waft of freshly baked breads, pastries, cakes and savoury treats filling the air. The menu is simple and wholesome, utilising seasonal and local produce to deliver fresh and delicious food. Whilst the menu regularly changes around what is in season, my favourite breaky item is the house made toasted muesli with local honey.
The Hungry Duck
When it comes to dinner, I encourage making a booking at the Hungry Duck. Showcasing modern Asian cuisine, the restaurant provides the perfect setting for the food with its super chic and clean interiors. Just like the Berry Sourdough Café, the Hungry Duck is also committed to seasonal and local produce as well as preferring that which is organically grown, sourced both from nearby farmers and their own restaurant garden. Some of my favourite dishes include the spiced edamame, stir fry hokkien noodles with Asian greens and to finish off the perfect meal the warm and gooey chocolate fondant with miso ice-cream and rhubarb. YUM.
If your after something a bit more casual that still features that warm charm of the country, Mezzadellas Italian restaurant is a local favourite and is perfect for a tasty wood fired pizza or pasta.
What to Do:
Aside from eat and relax, there are some great bush walks to do in Berry. One of these walks includes the Bomaderry Creek Walk, which is about 5.5 kilometres long and features amazing bushland, boulders, a running creek and picnic facilities.
Also nearby is the town of Jervis Bay, which you can drive to from Berry taking around 40-50 minutes. I would highly recommend seeing the Bay, not just because it also has great walks but also for the beaches, said to possess the whitest sand in the world. The walk I always do in Jarvis Bay is the White Sands and Scribbly Gum Track, which is about a 2.5km loop starting from the Greenfield Beach Picnic Area where there is also parking. If you have worked up an appetite on the walk, when you start driving back to Berry a good stop for food or a refreshing juice or smoothie is Pilgrims Vegetarian Café in Huskisson.
If you are lucky enough to be in Berry on the first Sunday of the month, a country fair is also held at the Berry Showground. The markets feature approximately 200 stalls selling arts and crafts, clothing and local produce including fruit, vegetables and honey.