Whether visitors are after wine time or want to have a whale of a time, Shoalhaven is the ultimate playground for curious travellers. Just a two-hour drive from Sydney, here they can visit cellar doors, swim with marine life and feast on some of Australia’s most sought-after seafood.
With sweeping ocean on one side and soaring mountains on the other, the Shoalhaven wine region offers scenic road tripping at its best. Head out from Sydney along the Grand Pacific Drive — one of Australia’s prettiest road-trip routes — to discover 18 wineries, 100 extraordinary beaches and incredible national parks in one of the most pristine parts of the New South Wales South Coast.
The Shoalhaven is New South Wales’ only coastal wine region, making a truly idyllic setting to hop from vineyard to vineyard. Start the vino journey in Gerringong at Crooked River Wines, nestled in a valley with both mountain and ocean views, before heading to Berry to visit the cellar door at Silos Estate and taste the cool sea breezes of the Shoalhaven region right in the glass. At Shoalhaven Heads, visit the historic Coolangatta Estate Winery, built in 1822 by convicts on the foothills of Mount Coolangatta, and Two Figs Winery which boasts panoramic views of the Shoalhaven River. In Ulladulla, drop by the award-winning Cupitt’s Estate, complete with cellar door, brewery and fromagerie onsite, to sip cool climate wines on the grassy hilltop.
Shoalhaven is part of Australia’s Oyster Coast, which means some of the best oysters in the world can be sampled here, plucked straight out of crystal-clear waters. In Shoalhaven Heads, book the premium Oyster Experience at Bangalay Dining to sample Sydney Rock oysters paired with local wine and spirits, or visit Jim Wild’s oyster farm to join a tour and sample the bivalves freshly shucked from the sea. Visitors will find more spectacular seafood in Mollymook at Rick Stein at Bannisters — think fragrant Sri Lankan salmon curry or rich bouillabaisse alongside clifftop ocean views. For fine dining by the vines, Cupitt’s Estate Restaurant offers produce-driven menus, wine and cheese experiences, along with wood-fired pizzas on sunlit lawns. Inland, visit the heritage streets of Milton for upscale lunch at Small Town; thoughtful, vegetarian fare at Pilgrims; and paddock-to-plate dining at Milk Haus in Woodstock. Closer to Sydney, Berry has a range of modern eats — try French bistro classics with a coastal twist at Queen St Eatery and organic sourdough breads and pastries at Milkwood Bakery.
Shoalhaven boasts more than 100 stunning beaches so there’s ample coast to swim, surf, paddleboard, plus kayak in the region’s quieter inlets and estuaries. Jervis Bay is famed not only for its whitest sands in the world, but also for the friendly marine life that live in the fringing azure waters. Cruise the coast with Jervis Bay Wild to spot dolphins and whales, or head underwater with Dive Jervis Bay. Shoalhaven’s national parks provide a deep connection to the land; hike to rock pools, spot native animals in Booderee National Park; or see native flora and fauna at Booderee Botanic Gardens, the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia. Explore the cliffs, headlands and sun-soaked beaches of Murramarang National Park, where bird watchers can spot peregrine falcons and sea eagles, and visitors can fish from the beach.
The Shoalhaven has every kind of stylish stay from bushland glamping to boutique hotels. Cuddle up in the deluxe glamping tents at Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay; find a beachside haven at Bangalay Luxury Villas at Shoalhaven Heads; or take in clifftop views at Bannisters by the Sea in Mollymook. Visitors can also camp or book a cabin in one of the national parks and wake with the kangaroos surrounded by nature.