lastminute lovely Nicole ticks a NSW South Coast hot spot off her list (and vows to come back again sooner rather than later!)
The NSW South Coast is a gorgeous part of the world. After more than 20 years living in Sydney though, I have never ventured to Wollongong. Crazy, I know! That all changed recently with a two-night stay that has me promising to return again soon.
For a holiday, to truly be a holiday, I need to feel like I’m FAR away from the CBD. The good news is that Wollongong is less than a 90 minute drive from Sydney, yet the hustle and bustle of the big city is a distant memory as soon as you see the ocean. Win!
First things first
On arrival in Wollongong, we congratulated ourselves on leaving the clouds back in Sydney and soaked up the sunshine. It was mid-afternoon and we were starving but luckily stumbled across Levendi Wollongong Harbour Cafe.
When a take-away joint still has a massive line out the door at this time of day it’s a pretty good sign that the food is worth waiting for. And it totally was. I can highly recommend the fish and chips (with chicken salt, of course). With the sea breeze, green comfy grass and seagulls ready to pounce on any remains (not likely!), it was the ideal way to slip into holiday mode.
We checked out the beach (gorgeous), the salt water pool (seriously impressive facilities and free entry) and the lighthouse (spectacular views from the top of the hill) and gave Wollongong a big tick of approval.
Our accommodation for our stay was at the Chifley Wollongong, one of the newest properties in the region. Apart from the obvious pro of being shiny and modern, the Chifley is in a great location; walking distance to the town centre, harbour, look-outs and the beaches but just far enough away to ensure plenty of peace and quiet.
We were lucky enough to have a beach and golf course view. The staff were super friendly and the beds, super comfy.
Aside from Levendi , make sure you tick these babies off your list:
Lee and Me – What a find! This hot spot wouldn’t look out of place in a trendy suburb of Sydney or Melbourne. And the locals obviously agree because on each of our visits (yes, we squeezed in a few!), the line was out the door. Part boutique clothing store, part cafe, it’s set in an old heritage terrace building and is absolutely charming.
|Food favs – For brekky, the corn fritters with fetta and relish were an absolute winner. For lunch, the lamb salad was to die for. Definitely try their coffee and smoothies too.|
|Top tip– Try and score a table on the terrace upstairs. The vibe is perfection. Think of it as a (trendy) home away from home.|
Diggies – Down by the water at North Wollongong beach, Diggies is a great example of a beachside dining done simply but incredibly well.
|Food faves – The ocean trout with green beans, chat potatoes, toasted almond salad and salsa verde was perfection.|
|Top tip – Settle in for the afternoon or the evening on the balcony with a jug of Sangria and if you’re feeling peckish, the dips (mmm, beetroot relish and eggplant chickpea) and bread.|
North Kiosk – Located right next door to Diggies is a super cute beachside kiosk but not as you might remember from your childhood. This is quality all the way.
|Food Favs – The fresh juice and granola with fruit salad was a great quick brekky option (ideal fuel after a refreshing swim). Next time Iíll be giving one of the burgers a whirl.
Top tip – Nab a spot on the grass to eat your Kiosk items and soak up the stunning beachside views. Bliss.
Bombora – What better way to enjoy a seafood feast than right beside the harbour. Bombora’s fresh, local seafood is mouth-wateringly good. Casual seafood dining without the city price tag – what’s not to love?
|Food favs – The seafood platter (tempura fish pieces, oysters, crumbed prawns, salt and chilli squid, chips and salad) was exceptionally good value and delicious too.
Top tip – Head there early evening so you get a taste of the ocean views as the sun sets.
All good things must come to an end
As hard as it always is to wave goodbye to a new holiday favourite, you can soften the blow by taking the scenic route home. The Grand Pacific Drive features plenty of beachside glimpses. It’s well worth stopping at Bald Hill, a popular spot for hang gliders. With the deep blue ocean as the backdrop, it really is quite spectacular.
My suggestion? Put Wollongong on your hit list for a getaway in 2012, you won’t