So more people arrived to the beach house during our game of Ticket to Ride (see previous post if you don’t know what I’m talking about…), where we were getting especially raucous over a game expansion called “Alvin and Dexter.” This awesome addition to the game brought an amusing level of spite and distraction by introducing the nuisance characters, Alvin the alien spaceship, and Dexter the rampaging Godzilla-esque dinosaur thing, both of which served to create blockades that tripped everyone up in the game. I did say I enjoyed a challenge after all and it was fun seeing everyone try to make use of the (mostly annoying) characters. I ended up so distracted I didn’t realise I hadn’t connected a whole series of tracks and lost by a long, long country mile… 😆
After the game, we all got ready for a delicious dinner at Cupitts Vineyard, but that really deserves its own post so I’ll tell you all about that in a seperate destination entry later. It was a wonderful night out and the meal was really delicious, but I was again just happy to be amongst friends. Even after we got back to the house, we chatted late into the wee hours of the evening and while it was a long day, I felt refreshed and grateful to be able to share and enjoy good company.
Day three and it was time to check out of our lovely AirBnB and make our way home. It was a little sad to be heading back, but after such a rainy weekend, the sun was finally shining and so it didn’t seem so bad. We all resolved to have breakfast together before we said any proper goodbyes and all headed over to Tallwood, a restaurant in Mollymook.
Tallwood turned out to be tucked in just behind (or possibly part of) the Bannisters Pavillion hotel. It was light and airy and very busy. Layout was mostly in tables of 2-4 and it would be a long wait to try and get a large table together, so we decided to split our group and nab the smaller tables that were available. Orders were taken fairly quickly, but (sadly) that was probably the only efficient part of the breakfast. Something that we noticed the day before on the hunt for brunch in Ulladulla was that it took a while to get our meals. Now we thought it might have just been a quirk with the place that we found, but after this visit to Tallwood, we’re thinking that perhaps weekend brunch service in the area is just really relaxed, just like its surroundings. There aren’t actually that many cafes in the area too, which I found a little surprising, but perhaps the tourism is too seasonal.
The beverages did arrive within 10 minutes, but this was not the case for all the three tables that we had spread ourselves over. One group got theirs about 20 minutes after ordering and this was possibly only because they followed up with the waitress. It ended up taking about 45 minutes for food to arrive and by this point we had long finished our drinks. Fortunately, we were mostly not in a rush, but it did end up eating into our somewhat limited beachtime planned for afterwards, and some of our group ended up having to leave early and miss the beach entirely, so that was disappointing.
In hindsight, I think perhaps we were maybe too polite not to complain or say something, but at the same time we could tell that we must have hit a very busy point in the morning and we weren’t the only tables waiting. I can only hope that for such a well reviewed place, perhaps this was just an off morning where they were unexpectedly busy (I’d heard there were a few weddings on in the area that weekend, but still). We ended up equating it to something like “bula time!” in Fiji, where the locals were just so laidback and you learned not to complain about slow service because in Fiji, there’s no time but “island time” :P. Perhaps the locals here were just too chill to deliver the meals out faster? I mean, it’s not a tropical island resort, but it was the luxe end of the south coast… Hm. We had two servers at our table and both apologised and acknowledged the wait when our food finally arrived, though I think a nicer touch would have been to acknowledge this earlier and offer an additional round of drinks while we waited. This, to me, would have been a good way to emphasise that good food sometimes just takes time.
And thankfully, the food was indeed pretty good. The Man got a delicious looking omelette with a tomato chutney (that he was hoping to take home but then we forgot lol). I got a fish “croquette” though it was more like a rissole or fritter (and looking at the menu available on their website I note that it now says “fish hash”) but it was quite tasty all the same. Our friend had mushrooms stuffed with pumpkin and feta, and because we were especially indulgent, she and I also shared the house granola which was actually our highlight. Super fresh and just the right amount of crunch and soft fruity bits. The fruits and yogurt also added the perfect tartness! Good meal all in all, and worth the visit, but if you come, I’d highly recommend coming before 11am or maybe just not on a weekend – when both tourists and locals are more likely to compete for a table :).
By this point, one of our tables had well finished their meals and decided to go for a wander and catch up with us after. The other two tables (including ours) finally finished around the same time and we wandered out into the hot sunshine, said our goodbyes and hugs, and parted. It was short and sweet for some, but there was a long drive ahead and people hoped to still also stop in on some old highlights I’d recommended such as the Heritage Bakery in Milton, the Berry Donut Van, and possibly even backtrack to Tigers (which they’d missed out on the day before). The Man and I, and the remaining few, joined us for a quick dip at Mollymook Beach, which was actually a really nice quiet location compared to the crowded hoards of Bondi! Located just by the surf lifesaving club, the waves weren’t too rough and you could head out to explore some rockpools. It’s probably about this point that we got sunburnt (but we didn’t feel it until much later haha) because we thought we’d only be out for less than an hour… but yes, in Australia, never forget to slip, slop, slap!
Finally it was time to get on the road and head back to Sydney. The Man and I resolved to take our time and meander our way back via the coastal route through the Royal National Park. Sun shining and nice and cozy in the car, I dozed off and woke up around an hour later just as we were about to approach Shellharbour. The beach earlier had me craving fish and chips and since we were still on the coast, I did a quick Google (thank you Telstra for 4G everywhere) and found a place that looked worth pulling off the highway for.
Salvatore’s Fish and Chips is located towards the bottom of Addison Road in Shellharbour not too far from Little Park. Set in amongst a row of fish and chip cafes and seaside shops, it looked like your standard mom’n’pop takeaway that had been around since the late 80s and that you just don’t really see anymore. It was pretty great. We put in our order for a seafood basket to share (the filling brunch was just two hours or so earlier…) and the Man mumbled something about getting some potato scallops cos you can’t get them all the time… so we got those too :P. Order ticket in hand, we waited on a cafe bench in the sun, and in the time it took us to really discover our sunburns, we soon got our order — wrapped up in butchers paper, just like it should be. We took our late lunch down to Little Park, a… well little park at the end of Addison Road, looking out over a rocky beach and boat anchorage. Much to my happiness, everything in our package was crumbed except for the potatoes, just how I like it :). The fish was flaky and juicy (is that weird?) and the calamari was tasty though perhaps not as tender as at Tigers. Overall, very satisfying and really nice to take a break and watch birds and people pass by on this little bit of seaside.
Having gobbled down our fish and chips and taken in the all there was to see in this pocket of the coast (we mulled over the breakwater vs anchorage vs inlet thing for a while), we decided we had time to try and get just one more thing in on this sunny Sunday afternoon before we really headed home. Some of the people travelling ahead of us had made their own meandering ways, stopping in at Berry for cute wares and more food, or checking out the Sea Cliff Bridge in Stanwell Park. We at first thought to try and go for a short walk on a forest walking trail nearby (I’ll have to look up what it was called again…) but couldn’t quite figure out how to get to it… So then we decided to head to the Sublime Point lookout but then we somehow missed a turnoff and by sheer luck we followed some signs and ended up at the Southern Gateway Centre.
Located at Bulli Tops, roughly 10 minutes drive before the Sublime Point lookout (heading north), the Southern Gateway Centre is essentially a tourist information centre and venue rolled into one. You can get information about the region from the Destination Wollongong Visitor Information Centre, but there’s also a restaurant/cafe (Cafe Altitude 1148) as well as, a little randomly, the Gelato Emporium, which offers fresh gelato made on-site! It’s all very new and perhaps targeting big tour busses, with clean amenities, and of course amazing views out over Wollongong. It was a hot day I think I mentioned, so we saw no reason not to enjoy some gelato… and the 180 views of the coast!
And with a last glimpse of the ocean, and whif of that seasalt breeze, our little getaway was pretty much complete. Another hour or so later sitting through traffic, we were back home just as the clouds started roll in over Sydney again… a little sun addled and mostly relaxed but happy to be home. I’ve decided that I really like these short trips – they’re a good way to force the racing mind to take a pause and rejuvenate the spirit too. I hope to maybe getaway a few more times this year and indeed, have already lined up a short trip (booked it pretty much as soon as I got back to work hah!). We’re not really in a position to go on a big holiday at the moment, but it’s nice to still have a short break to look forward to and a long weekend getaway is a nice way to break up the months, and a little more affordable too! Hopefully these posts so far have been fun and interesting… and you’ll maybe look forward to my next travel report 😎. Until then!
2/85 Tallwood Ave, Mollymook Beach NSW
Salvatore’s Fish and Chips
7 Addison St, Shellharbour NSW
Southern Discovery Centre
Princes Motorway, Bulli Tops NSW