THE OYSTER TRAIL: SAPPHIRE COAST
This Summer, rediscover an Australia from a bygone era, bypassing tourist hotspots like Byron Bay for hidden beaches and world-renowned oysters on The Sapphire Coast.
Yep, it’s December in Australia and it’s a great time to be alive. We’re ready to finish the year and drive along the coast with the cricket on the radio, while basking in the sweet smell of surf wax and sunscreen. This Summer, instead of going north from Sydney to the tourist hotspots like Palm Beach and Byron Bay, we think it’s time to rediscover a romantic Australian holiday of old along the Sapphire Coast.
Beginning just a few hours south of Sydney in Mollymook, the Sapphire Coast has everything that an iconic Australian road trip needs, without the over crowded beaches. We call it The Oyster Trail: a pilgrimage down the south coast of New South Wales to the border of Victoria, where hidden beaches, barefoot bowls, and freshly shucked Sydney Rock Oysters abide.
Here’s our guide on where to eat, where to stay, and what to pack for the Sapphire Coast:
It’s Summer remember, and in Summer we have one golden rule: If you leave a shirt hanging on the handrail on the balcony for the night, it’s clean by morning.
Jokes aside, pack light in Summer. When you’re out in the evenings, take your classic Summer staples – shirts that you can dress up with chinos and boots when out to dinner, or dress down with a pair of tailored shorts.
Simple, block colours do the trick, along with short sleeved shirts. Loosen up a little, too. Roll up the sleeves, unbutton an extra button and pair your shirts with casual shoes. Always choose lighter, breathable materials, like linens and cottons.
When you want to make more of a statement, try stripes and floral patterns.
Stay: Mollymook & Milton
Just a few hours drive south of Sydney, Molly and Milly (as they’re affectionately known) are the hotspots for south coast food and wine. Milton came to prominence in the 1800s because of it’s thriving timber industry. Today, it’s a high quality rural escape, with some of the best places to eat and drink anywhere in Australia. Mollymook lies just a few kilometers east on the coast. It’s become a powerhouse of the area since international chef, Rick Stein, opened his luxury seafood restaurant at Bannisters by the Sea.
Eat: Rick Stein’s at Bannisters
It’s pretty incredible, really, that one of the world’s most famous chefs would come to a little outpost on the south coast and fall in love with it. But that’s exactly what he did in Mollymook, pairing up with both his wife and luxury hotel Bannisters to start his very own seafood restaurant. Bannisters is on the water in Mollymook, so make sure you try the local sea fare.
A family owned farm, winery and restaurant from local couple, Rosie and Griff Cupitt. It started with a 193 acre property out the back of Mollymook in Ulladulla, but soon became something much more. Today, they not only grow their own Black Angus Beef on the property, but the whole family is involved, making their own award-winning wine, cheese, growing their own vegetables, and even having cottage accommodation.
Do: Oyster Tours
Head to the Clyde River for some of the most unique and delicious oysters anywhere in the world.
Jim Doyle’s oyster farm on the Clyde River is one of the most celebrated in the world. This year, he was awarded Aquaculture Product of the Year and Champion Sydney Rock Oysters at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. It’s not just national acclaim, either, with oyster experts from around the world declaring the region as perhaps the best in the world.
People like Jim are in a unique ecosystem that features eight estuaries including the Shoalhaven, Clyde, and Crookhaven rivers. The water in the estuaries is incredibly pure and clean, with bird life to boot.
We recommend a day trip to sample some of the best oysters – go on the whimsically named Captain Sponge’s Magical Oyster Tours.
Do: Summer Nights at Dulcies in Merimbula
Merimbula is the biggest town and the beating heart of the Sapphire Coast. Along with having a selection of good honest Australian pubs and a great outdoor lawn bowling experience at the bowls club, Club Sapphire, there’s a great new Summer nightspot with Dulcies.
The food is done by Dan Pepperell, who was the former head chef at acclaimed restaurant, 10 William Street, in Sydney. It’s a romantic affair for dinner, set up like a Summer beach shack with old photos on the walls, an airstream caravan outside, live music, and great cocktails.
Dulcies, Merimbula. Image: Broadsheet
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