Woollongong about 1.5 hours or 82 km (51 miles) from Sydney CBD has a reputation for it’s heavy industry and port activity, but did you know it has beautiful beaches? The drive along the escarpment from Sydney once you head inland towards the sea, is rainforest and the cliff line is stunning along the almost non stop chain of beaches. It’s an inspiring drive at any time of the year. Do I hear you asking if there will be food at the end of the trip..? well yes, there is.
There s a lot happening in the Gong these days, and its all quite exciting. Bars, cafes and restaurants are popping up. Experienced operators pulling up stumps in Sydney and heading for the South Coast Beach life. At 300,000 people it is our 3rd biggest city in NSW and in fact the 9th biggest in Australia. I was very excited about driving through Stanwell Tops where hang gliders risk life and limb to float on air currents above the tree lined cliffs. I have never been on the Seacliff Bridge, and wanted to drive across it and stop to take a picture. On this beautiful day I got to do just that. I ran out into the middle of the windy expanse of bridge and looked over the edge at the deep blue sea stretching all the way out to boats passing on the horizon. Next stop along the coast Austinmer Beach where my Grandmother spent some of her holidays as a young woman. She arrived in Australia from Hull, in England in 1901. Families once took the long 2 day journey to Austinmer to spend the summer holidays in a seaside boarding house. Today there are beautiful modern beach houses, shops and cafes near the beach to stop at before getting to North Beach Woollongong and “Diggies” cafe.
Diggies is right on the water. Summer or winter the beach is the view that makes me happy and it is clearly the same for others because this place is always full. Bright, busy and open for breakfast and lunch & brunch everyday from 7am, its the place to see locals running along the beach, walking dogs, digging in the sand and sipping coffee. This cafe seems to have grown out of it’s simple original building and has expanded to include an outdoor seating area that is rightfully quite popular. The original building has bi- fold windows but the terrance/deck is open with fold down opeque sides. All tables are full when we arrive and after a short wait we sit at a table on the deck. They don’t take bookings so plan to arrive reasonably early to shorten waiting times. Breakfasts include a sense of humour and things like: “boston panackalty. $16.5 pumpkin, potato & bacon has with house baked beans and poached eggs. ” OR serena van salmon.$ 16 smoked salmon, crushed peas & feta with mustard creme fraiche on toasted rye” During the last rays of sunshine before the winter rain began I stopped by for lunch. A Roasted Vegetable Salad. 19. included farro, toasted sunflower seeds, feta and thyme oil. It was all deliciously fresh but a little short on dressing, dry farro is not happy farro.
A marinated Lamb backstrap with quinoa, harissa, yoghurt and crisp tortillas $28 was a nice combination of flavours and crunch.
But my favourite dish was the fish cakes. They came with a crunchy apple peanut salad with an Asian style dressing
Hand cut chips with Aioli can never go astray…$8
Leaf tea is always welcome.
Fresh juices are one thing ( and a good one) but a thoughtfully pulled together wine list is another thing that is just the ticket on a sunny day.