Where I hear you ask. We Victorians are somewhat ignorant of the southern NSW coastline – the Sapphire Coast as it has been dubbed by the tourism marketers. But, it is truly beautiful, and still wonderfully daggy in spots, as we are to discover on our road trip up to Mollymook, which sits perched between Batemans Bay and Wollongong.
Our purpose was to cheer the daughter on in the IRB Lifesaving Championships being held in Mollymook – that’s Inflatable Rescue Boats for the uninitiated; essentially lifesaving for petrol heads.
Our first stop was Rosedale, for the quintessential take away hamburger, with the lot, for him, and a toasted cheese & tomato sandwich for her (on white bread of course). The hamburger was deemed pretty darn good by him; so much so that it earned a repeat visit on the return journey. Then it was onwards to Metung for the night.
Finding accommodation when you are travelling with not 1 but 2 dogs is not always easy, particularly as you sometimes find when you arrive that the dogs are not allowed inside – which sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?! But, I have discovered a website called http://holidayingwithdogs.com.au which came to our rescue, and is how we find ourselves staying at the Akora Flats in Metung. Warm, well equipped and comfortable – for both dogs and humans (no fenced area though) – and all for $80 a night, off season. And run in the old fashioned way – the owner didn’t require a deposit, and when we arrived we found the flat unopened (key was finally found in the fuse box) and I was to leave the key and the money in the microwave when we left.
Metung, like so many coastal towns (or in this case, lakeside) in Winter, is pretty quiet. Our choice for dinner was the pub……. or, the pub. But, first we had a wander around the largely deserted township and were rewarded with a glorious sunset, which we enjoyed together with the Pelicans and swans that reside in the area.
The fish & chips at the Metung Hotel turn out to be not too bad, washed down by a glass of more than acceptable local Chardonnay. And, you couldn’t fault the view as the pub looks out onto one of the lakes – the garden area lakeside must be a lovely place to while away the time in summer.
Next morning we hit the road after a good coffee at Bancroft Bites cafe (http://bancroftbites.com.au), which was a very pleasant surprise. The view as you drive down the hill into Lakes Entrance is always spectacular, and then it is into the forests that line the highway as you pass through Orbost and Cabbage Tree Creek. Cann River was our lunch spot, where we discovered the wonderful little Wild Rye’s bakery (http://www.wildryes.com.au) – an outpost from the Pambula mothership. They make terrific pies, bread and cakes, and a pretty good coffee as well. Happy chappies were we.
Our destination for night 2 is Pambula Beach. I have found a unit that is dog friendly, and overlooks the dog friendly beach – fittingly called Beachside Units. How good is that. And, another old school place – old but clean, compact, one sitting area plus small bedroom, with bathroom come laundry behind. Verandah overlooking beach, through the tea trees. And, the beach and inlet into Pambula River are just beautiful, with striking red rocks contrasted against the blue waters. The dogs had a ball – but you have to be very wary of ticks, as they are rife along this coast.
Dinner that night was at Wheelers Seafood Restaurant (http://www.wheelersoysters.com.au) – fresh seafood, well cooked. Can’t ask for more than that.
We were woken by the beautiful sunrise outside the front window:
so headed out for another walk before climbing back into the car for the last push onto Mollymook. But, first we had to gather supplies for our evening meal, so went back to Wheelers to buy two dozen Pambula oysters:
We stuck to the coast road, passing through Merimbula, Toura Beach, Tathra and into Bermagui. We just made it in time to grab a coffee at Mr Jones, which is obviously THE place to hang out in Bermagui. There are only a few stools outside, but the place was pumping – and the coffee very good (http://misterjones.com.au). We only just made it in time, as the owner turns from barista to artist at midday and closes shop to concentrate on his art (and probably surfing I suspect). A really lovely vibe.
We return to the Princes Highway, and then take a short detour into the historic town of Central Tilba. Here of course is the famous Tilba Cheese factory, so we buy their 3 year old Tasty and a very ripe Camembert to enjoy post oysters, with any left over baguette.
Our lunch stop is Gundary Store, in the town of Moruya. I gather there is a fancy restaurant in town, called The River Moruya, helmed by an ex Circa chef, but not really practical for travellers with dogs.
There is water everywhere – the coast, lakes and inlets. We cross over several opening bridges. We pass enticing signs to towns that ring bells from my youth, growing up as I did in Canberra. Batemans Bay, Durass, Pebbly Beach, Pretty Beach before rolling into the township of Ulladulla (don’t you love it), where we pick up the key to our rental house at Mollymook Beach. Before heading out we visit the Ulladulla Oyster Bar, hidden within a shopping plaza, where the laid back owner sells us a kilo of local prawns to go. Our evening meal sorted we drive into Mollymook, which merges into and beyond Ulladulla.
Our house sits opposite the beautiful sweep of Mollymook beach:
which unfortunately proves to be very dog UNfriendly, much to the frustration of Asher & Daisy. Obviously there are no dog lovers on the local Council. But, we are all lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves.
Our next three days are consumed by cheering on the Williamstown IRB team, and when they aren’t competing, any other Victorian team. An IRB carnival looks, to the casual observer, like barely organised chaos. Boats zoom back & forth, people in wet suits fling themselves into and out of boats, crowds cheer, and ooh and ahh as the boats hit the waves. There are a huge number of events, with heats, quarter finals, semi finals and finally the finals spread over 3 days, by which time anticipation has reached fever pitch. The camaraderie amongst the Victorian teams is wonderful to behold, and I have to admit to becoming teary when the daughter and her team won Gold in their event for the 3rd year in a row.
To reward ourselves for being good parents we seek out the dining spots of Mollymook Beach. Funnily enough, for us, these don’t include the Golf Club or the Lifesaving Club. Instead we dine the first night at the terrific Tallwood (http://www.tallwoodeat.com.au) – excellent service, and really good food, in a comfortable, casual environment. Turns out one of the owners is ex Melbourne, and even used to work at The Lounge, round the corner from us in Elwood! And, we discover that they serve good coffee from 7.30 to midday each morning – life savers indeed.
The next night we self cater thanks to the Woodburn Deli (Shop 3, 80 Tallwood Ave), which is bursting at the seams with home cooked meals, toasties, sandwiches, quiches, salads and mouthwatering cakes.
Our return to Melbourne is not quite as leisurely as we have only one overnight stop, in the hidden gem of Mallacoota. For years we would spend two weeks in Mallacoota over the first two weeks of the year. And the town then is heaving with holidaymakers. Winter however is a different kettle of fish, with the camping grounds, holiday flats and township pretty much empty except for locals and a few grey Nomads.
We pop in to check out the still standing Karbeethong Lodge, where many a glass of wine has been sunk on the gracious verandah, looking over that magnificent view.
As in Metung, the choice for dinner is the pub, or the pub. I am sorely disappointed as had discovered that since our day, a wonderful Chinese noodle shop, called Lucy’s Homemade Noodles, has set itself up. But alas, Lucy is away. We must go back, as her noodle dishes have become legendary I hear.
So, we head to the pub. I’m always anxious when a pub menu reads well. Their intentions are good but the execution often leaves something to be desired, as turns out to be the case here. And they need to learn that a huge plate of food is actually a turn off in this day and age. Less is more when it’s well executed, and even more so when it isn’t.
Early next morning we visit the lookout over Bastion Point and drink in the view, before climbing into the car for the six hour journey home.