Before the weather gets too cold, Sydneysiders should consider escaping down the south coast for some serious holidaying.
Nowra is about 120km south of Sydney and is the largest town between Wollongong and the state border. Laden within the township are various tourism hotspots – from natural wonders to man-made delights – but it’s what surrounds this mini-city that makes the trip worthwhile. From stunning beaches to splashing blowholes – and even one of Australia’s lesser-known territories, Jervis Bay Territory – Nowra and its surrounding areas are well worth a weekend getaway.
Southern Stones Bar and Grill
Southern Stones Bar and Grill share an interactive dining experience, with an open kitchen and floating waitstaff. Steaks are cooked on specialised plates featuring volcanic rock that sears in all the juices and keeps your steak hot til the last bite. If steak is not on your stomach’s agenda, Southern Stones also serves up other mains, including salmon and vegetarian lasagne.
Corner of Kinghorne and Douglas Streets – Southern Stones Bar and Grill
Tuscany Wood Fired Restaurant
When you’re terribly hungry, the best people to rely on are the Greeks and Italians. Don’t settle for $60 mains that can fit in the palm of your hand, head to Tuscany Wood Fired Restaurant and get properly fed for a reasonable price. Whether your itching for a pasta or pizza or even a schnitty, you cannot go wrong here. They also do takeaway so you can gorge yourself to exhaustion in the comfort of your hotel room.
223 Kinghorne Street – Tuscany Wood Fired Restaurant
Silver Spoon Thai
Thanks to Australia’s migration history, our sunny shores have been blessed with some of the world’s greatest cuisines – and one of our favourites is Taiwanese. At Silver Spoon Thai, you’ll get some delectable renditions of popular dishes from Thailand and some interesting curveballs to boot. A popular safe option at nearly any Thai restaurant is Panang Curry, spicy and laced with peanuts – and these guys do it well.
55 Junction Street – Silver Spoon Thai
Dog and Monocle
If you were to look up “old school hipster” in a photographic dictionary, you’ll very likely come across a picture of Dog and Monocle. The bar itself houses a heavily curated concoction of craft beers and spirits while many of the revellers appear to don attire that is reminiscent of the 1800s. And as you come for the drinks, make sure to try their gastronomical collection.
82-84 Junction Street – Dog and Monocle
Welcome to the locals’ hangout. By day, the Postman’s Tavern is crawling with all ages and types, from gorgeous grandmas to rugged dads and all the way down to the mischievous young’uns that are well known in country towns. But when the weekend comes, those young’uns take over the upstairs bar with the help of local and national DJs and nifty bartenders. If you want the local experience, this is it.
Corner Berry and Junction Streets – Postman’s Tavern
Bottlerocket Bar and Cafe
Well, we have seen “old school hipster”, so it’s only fair to share “modern-day hipster” as well. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Bottlerocket Bar and Cafe, whose retro vibe could easily fit into Marrickville’s up-and-coming party scene. As with any of the bars on this list (and any other list you see, for that matter), be sure to follow their page for weekly events that are going off when you visit – which not only includes regular trivia but even regular live entertainment.
90 Kinghorne Street – Bottlerocket Bar and Cafe
Zoos are majestic places, perfect for family outings and lovey-dovey couples in need of one-on-one time. Spend a good two hours trawling through the various native and exotic animals housed at Shoalhaven Zoo. As you wander the park, be sure to check out the animals you can feed, and we recommend planning your day around the various shows. Be sure to keep an eye out for the enormous crocodile exhibit where zookeepers get up close and personal, or, if you’re up for a more intimate experience, opt for a cuddle with a koala.
23 Rock Hill Road, North Nowra – Shoalhaven Zoo
Seven Mile Beach
If you don’t count the break between Shoalhaven Heads and Comerong Island, Seven Mile Beach should actually be ten miles. But however you see it, it is still a bloody long beach. The sprawling sandy oasis is great for swimming for all ages, especially on the northern end where the waves aren’t roaring. At the southern end is the township of Shoalhaven Heads, featuring a few lovely cafes and a variety of locals. Seven Mile Beach is also a great spot for a morning jog – if you’re into that sort of thing.
Hyams Beach may not have the whitest sand in Australia, but it’s definitely worth visiting all the same. Also, it’s closer to visit for Sydneysiders, since Australia’s officially whitest beach is in Western Australia. White sand also means pristine water, which is exactly what Hyams Beach offers. Pull out the rug and catch some rays, throw on some togs and have a dip, or simply snap pics for your Instagram account. To fill up the belly or to wake up the mind, head over to the local store and cafe.
Hanging Rock Lookout
Along the north west of Nowra, before you hit the Shoalhaven River, is a popular local attraction called Hanging Rock Lookout. The 46.25-metre-high rock formation has become a feature on many Instagram accounts, but there’s more to this place than the rock. We recommend spending an hour or more trekking Ben’s Walk which features stunning views along Nowra Creek and a suspension bridge. Simply throw on some headphones, play some favourites tunes and enjoy the scenery.
Jervis Bay Territory
No, you don’t need a passport to enter this territory. Jervis Bay Territory was simply formed so that Canberra can have access to the sea, meaning the 6569-hectare peninsula follows the state laws of ACT – as well as federal laws. But the speciality of this spot is the scenery and history, which is perfect for avid trekkers and photographers. Along the northern end are two popular beaches: Iluka Beach and Murray Beach. Between them is a beach without a name, but with a trending reputation of being secluded. Along the east coast are Cape St George Lighthouse and plenty of picturesque spots. Along the south end are more beaches and landmarks, as well as Wreck Bay Village which is largely an Aboriginal community village.
On your way down to Nowra (or on your way home), visit Kiama Blowhole for a spectacular natural wonder. Make sure to aim for high swell on a windy day for gigantic gushes and not at low tide on calm days when you’ll get a weak splash. While your there, grab some snaps of the adjacent lighthouse and keep an eye out for the ice cream van during the summer.
If you’re only seeking a one-nighter, this is your best bet. Some lodgings around town have a minimum stay requirement, but these guys are happy to let you stay for one. Each fully-furnished room comes with everything you need for an easygoing stay, including complimentary wifi and a TV. The hotel also includes an in-house gym, a BBQ area and an on-site restaurant.
130 Kinghorne Street – Quest
Pleasant Way River Lodge
For something a little more “away from it all”, Pleasant Way River Lodge offers seclusive luxury. This lodge is perched on the northern edge of the town, before the Shoalhaven River, and offers more than a nice room to sleep in (with complimentary wifi and TV). Guests will also have access to a 70s-style BBQ area, a tin-shed tea and coffee bar, an indoor heated pool, and full laundry with washing machine, dryer, iron and ironing board. They will also help put together a personal itinerary for your stay.
9 Pleasant Way – Pleasant Way River Lodge
This is peak luxury for Nowra, while still harnessing the laid-back attitude that the locals exude. Springs Resorts in Shoalhaven shares a glistening solar heated swimming pool, a bar and lounge, in-room dining, with 46 ‘Deluxe Spa’, ‘Executive Spa’, and ‘Executive Rooms’. There’s also a nearby 18-hole golf course and lawn bowls. You may want to book for at least two days here, so you can truly bask in the beauty of it all.
131 Greenwell Point Road, Worrigee – Springs Resorts