Forty years ago the town of Berry was just another quiet country town in South Coast New South Wales. The Princes Highway (the main coastal highway between Sydney and Melbourne) ran right through the middle of the town and this proved to be both a blessing and a curse.
The road was a blessing because it brought day-trippers south from Sydney. Since Berry is a couple of hours drive from the city it was the perfect pit-stop to have that all-important toilet break – great news for businesses and it wasn’t long before cafes and tourist-friendly boutiques started opening. It was a curse because, as the number of vehicles on Australian roads began to increase, so the volume of traffic began to clog the town and the heavy trucks, buses, coaches, motor-homes and cars soon made simply crossing the highway a nightmare. During the busy holiday weekends, Berry became infamous as the location for bottlenecks of traffic that backed up 10km in either direction.
So it was good news all round when the tax payers of New South Wales funded a bypass for the town. That bypass was completed in mid-2017 and it has had a dramatic effect on Berry. All the heavy traffic now skirts the town on a four-lane road to the west and, once the upgrade between Berry and Bomaderry is complete, it will be four lane highway all the way from Sydney to Jervis Bay. The bottom line is that Berry is now a far more pleasant place to visit and, if you’ve never stopped off here before, there’s never been a better time to pay the town a visit.
Like many country towns, Berry has evolved a cafe and boutique shop culture that makes it perfect for that Sunday drive. It’s a very chilled out place where you can indulge in a bit of retail therapy, have a nice lunch and then gaze longingly in the real estate window and work out what the cost of a tree-change would be. So let’s break it down.
Cafes and Restaurants
Best Cafes: The Burrows Cafe is located in a converted Blacksmiths shop and serves great modern food and awesome coffee. The Emporium has the best wraps and sandwiches in town and the coffee is great too. Figbird does an absolutely knock-out breakfast and has a quiet seating area outside. The Berry Tea Shop serves a refined brew from a bewilderingly large range and have great cakes too.
Best Restaurants: South on Albany is a hatted eatery serving high quality modern European influenced food created by chef John Evans. Leaf in Berry is a popular Thai restaurant located in a charming converted bank building. Savannah Cafe and Bar serve terrific South African style food including the best burgers in town.
Best Pit Stop: Berry Donut Van is actually the main reason most people visit town – serving sensational cinnamon donuts. The Berry Bakery is so old school they have no website or social media presence – but they don’t need it – because they have the best pies in town and serve a good coffee too. Il Locale Gelato is a great pitstop for coffee. The Berry Ice Creamery is about the only place in town that you can get a coffee past 5pm and is a great spot to sit and relax with a latte or a gelato.
Most of the shops in Berry stock what’s commonly referred to as ‘homewares’. You know the drill – lamps, table cloths, six packs of glass beakers, decorative objects. The fact that it all comes out of the same container from China doesn’t seem to bother most folks and the number of such homewares shops seems to grow on a monthly basis. There are some cool shops in town though and these are the ones that are the worth a visit.
Moss Nest is a great place to pick up a gift for someone – particularly if that someone is female. Goldfish Toy Shop eschew all things electrical in favour of old-fashioned toys that can spark a kid’s imagination. Nourish Kitchen and Lifestyle is the perfect place to pick up a kitchen gadget or utensil and they also stock awesome cups, mugs, plates, pots and pants. The Bead Bar is an extremely popular shop that started out in The Rocks in Sydney and tree-changed to Berry, they stock Swarovski and other high quality beads. The Berry Barn is a great boutique clothes shop, stocking loads of RM Williams and Doc Martins gear amongst other items. Berry Mountain Cycles stock top of the range Specialized bicycles for serious mountain bike or road bike enthusiasts. The Treat Factory sell gourmet food, jams, chutnies and, more importantly, Belgian chocolate! Precinct Gallery sell Australian sculptures, objects, functional, and contemporary art and is a great place to pick up a truly unique gift or something for your home.
If you like a drop of wine then you’re going to love Berry – it’s surrounded by some of the best wineries in the country. Closest to town is Silos Estate where the cellar door is open from 11am to 5pm and you can stay in luxury bed and breakfast accommodation. Just up the Coolangatta Road you can find Mountain Ridge which has great wine and also has an excellent restaurant. On the flanks of Mount Coolangatta is Coolangatta Estate – a multi-award winning winery which is also home to the Big Foot mountain experience! And last, but by no means least, is the extremely popular Two Figs winery which was awarded ‘Best Small Cellar Door 2018’ by Gourmet Traveller & Wine magazine.
Things to Do
Once you’ve shopped and eaten and had a cinnamon donut, there’s plenty of stuff to do in Berry and surrounds. If you’re feeling energetic than take a walk up to Drawing Room Rocks and enjoy one of the best views on the east cost of Australia. Take a winding drive up Berry Mountain to the Cambewarra Lookout to enjoy cooler temperatures and amazing views across the flood plain. Ride the amazing Big Foot up Coolangatta Mountain. Head up Beach Road and go for a walk on Berrys Beach. Check out the small but very informative Berry Museum. Head up Coolangatta Road to the Berry Collective and check out amazing homemade and artisan goods. And finally! Go to the Berry Markets – which you can discover in my video below.