Shoalhaven Heads, NSW
Author: Kirstie Bedford
Pics: Anna Pastukhova & Jack Murphy
From my vantage point at Two Figs Winery, at the top of the Mount Coolangatta foothill, Shoalhaven Heads is like something out of a children’s fairytale.
Green rolling hills, vast golden fields dotted with cows and horses, rows of vines, and a river winding through the middle of it.
It was this spectacular scenery which drew Shayne Bricker to the region 15 years ago, when he decided to leave his corporate job in the US to purchase 140 acres, converting part of it to a winery.
The conversion paid off, and fifteen years later, Two Figs Winery now consistently wins national awards; and the wine not only tastes great, but you can drink guilt-free knowing they follow organic practices. The only problem is, you’ll have to visit the region to taste it because it’s only sold locally, but it’s worth the trip, and on a sunny day you can stand in front of this picture perfect view and see all the way from Shoalhaven Heads to Nowra.
The Shoalhaven Heads region has 10 wineries which form part of the Shoalhaven Coast Wine Region, dotted from Kangaroo Valley to Bawley Point. Most are concentrated around Shoalhaven Heads, so there’s no shortage of places to stop, wine, and dine, and if you visit in June, you can partake in free wine tasting all weekend at the annual Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival.
For those who want a guided experience, Bigfoot Adventures at Coolangatta Estate winery, just down the road from Two Figs, operates a one-hour scenic trip in a 4WD open sided tractor-bus to the summit of Mount Coolangatta, where you’ll also hear about the history of Coolangatta Estate.
The beauty of small towns is often visiting the local village – and Shoalhaven Heads is no exception.
Ten minutes from the Shoalhaven Heads Holiday Park, where we were staying, along a winding road between farms dotted with cows (and the odd horse) is a quaint township called Berry.
Before you enter the township proper, you come across the historic Berry creamery building, described in 1895 as “the largest and most complete butter factory in the colony”.
Down the aptly named Creamery Lane, it’s now home to The Treat Factory, a 60-year-old business, which produces more than 200 lines of bottled products including hand-made sauces, pickles and relishes.
Peer through the front glass cabinet at rows of hand-made chocolate and fudge, and be sure to have a tasting. I guarantee you won’t be able to resist the passionfruit or ginger varieties.
“To share?” the shopkeeper asks when I point at a few thick slabs of the creamy treat I plan on purchasing.
“We’ll see if it lasts the trip back to the holiday park,” I reply.
Further down the road is the pretty township, with its historic buildings and art and craft stores. Step behind the main shopping strip to find mini-laneways with cafes and homewares. Parking is plentiful, and when I was in town a Jayco pulled up, and parked, right outside the pub.
Some fudge did make it back, but not after I’d made a significant dent in it myself, and I only spared some because I wanted to leave room for dinner at Hedy’s Cafe at The Heads Hotel – named after European actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr.
The pub is everything you want from a local and more, with oversized couches in front of a large fireplace and quality pub grub – think Japanese panko crumbed calamari and slow-cooked Moroccan lamb shank.
Wander (or stagger) the short distance back to the holiday park where you can jump in your RV parked in one of its powered, or unpowered, riverfront sites (there are 16 ensuite sites and 132 powered sites). Additional family members can stay in one of the 27 two-bedroom cabins, which are more like cottages, with your choice of bedroom configuration (some with bunks), bathroom and a separate living area and kitchen.
There’s plenty to keep the kids, or grandkids, entertained from a solar-heated swimming pool, playground and jumping castle to mini-golf, and games room, all in a gated community with access to both Seven Mile Beach and the Shoalhaven River.
Events in this region are aplenty, so it doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, there’s bound to be a festival or event of some type. And, if not, you’ll just have to kick back on the beach or river and watch the world go by.