Three hours’ drive south-east of Canberra lies the picturesque seaside village of Tathra, sleepy in winter, bustling in the warmer months.
Renowned for its family-friendly golden surf beach, rocky headland and sparkling blue waters, even on a grey wintry day, the Sapphire Coast township reveals unique beauty, as CW editor Julie Samaras discovered on the Mother’s Day weekend, 7-9 May*.
Tip: Break your roadtrip between Canberra and the Sapphire Coast either at Cooma or the picturesque villages of Nimmitabel or Bemboka, where you’ll find popular cafés, bakeries or pie shops, and well-appointed rest stops.
WHERE WE ATE
Even the most discerning Canberra foodie will be delighted with the quality of the produce, coffee and delicious fare available at the array of first-rate eateries waiting to be discovered on the Sapphire Coast – including these at Tathra and nearby Bermagui that generously hosted us on our getaway.
Note: Dietary requirements – vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free – were well catered for wherever we ate.
For a little taste of France on the Sapphire Coast, you can’t go past Blend Providore – a stylish café, bakery and deli, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Owned by the fabulous Bronwyn Pividore, who lived near Lyon, France for five years, and her partner Troy, Blend expresses their penchant for good food, good flavour and their ethos of ethically sourced, top-quality produce – whether local, national or international.
The menu changes regularly to reflect the seasonal produce available, sourdough and pastries (including their famous almond croissants) are baked on the premises, and coffee is roasted by Alfresco in Moruya. A veritable paradise for wine and cheese lovers (novice or experienced), Blend’s wall-sized matrix displays which wines from their carefully curated list pair best with the cheeses from their impressive selection. Genius!
We relished our entrees of bruschetta and garlic bread on the house baguette; my roasted cauliflower steak with cauliflower puree, pickled florets, spiced quinoa and semi-dried grapes topped with parnsip curls was perfectly balanced, and plus-one’s wild-caught snapper was paired with garlic and soy broccolini was light and delicious. For dessert, plus-one couldn’t go past what was a perfect Bailey’s crème brulée, and my dash of berry vegan dessert with sorbet was delectable. Bon appetit!
Open 7 days 7am-2.30pm, and for dinner Thursday to Saturday nights.
Later this year, the Blend team will be taking over the kiosk beside the surf club to dish up their culinary delights at this prime beachfront site, which is currently being refurbished.
Perched on the headland where it’s been for over 100 years, this stylishly restored historic hotel is popular with locals and visitors due to the stunning ocean views (especially from the spacious deck), welcoming ambiance, outstanding service, and generous and tasty pub fare. There’s an on-site brewery and accommodation, and the venue is family friendly with a great outdoor playground for the kids and no pokies or TAB (the relatively new owner, Cliff Wallis, refused to install them when he renovated the venue).
Choosing from the extensive bistro menu and blackboard specials, we were tempted by the soup of the day (roasted capsicum and tomato) with freshly baked bread roll hot from the oven, Mexican bean salad, and fried calamari with salad, followed by a luscious sticky date pudding with ice-cream and fruit. The menu changes seasonally depending on the local produce available, which reflects the hotel’s desire to support local producers and farmers and to reduce food miles. Lashings of good food, done well.
Tip: On a cold winter’s day, grab a cosy spot by the fireplace. During whale watching season, sit on the deck to view the mighty mammals as they migrate between the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica.
With a prime location on the historic wharf, around which the town of Tathra grew, this vibrant café gallery offers delicious meals, a tempting array of baked treats and deli goods, Canberra’s own Ona coffee and glorious sea views through the big cargo doors of this heritage building.
My nourishing house-made baked beans with avocado, spinach, roast tomatoes, a side of mushrooms and sourdough toast replenished me for the day and plus-one’s haloumi burger was served with refreshing watermelon slices. Tea drinkers will relish Emma’s chai with fresh ginger and orange.
Take time to peruse the gallery displaying and selling pieces by local artisans, including ceramics, earrings, lampshades and artworks.
Check the website for opening hours which vary between peak and off seasons.
Tip: Request a table by the window for stunning ocean views and to people watch.
On the quaint main street of Bermagui, around 40 minutes’ north of Tathra, you’ll find Boneless Vegetarian Café, where the blackboard menu changes regularly to reflect the seasonal produce available. Even menu staples, such as the brekky roll, are frequently given a twist to offer the many regular customers new, but familiar, options.
Co-owner, Tenzin, explained the café has a philosophy of sustainable, ethically sourced food, produced locally as much as possible. Coffee is from Canberra’s Redbrick, which reflects the same ethics of sustainability and traceability. And if the in-house hemp smoothie bar seems familiar, it’s because Tenzin and Emily used to run the smoothie bar in Tilba, but relocated it when they opened Boneless in Bermagui. I highly recommend choosing a delicious and nutritious smoothie from the menu.
My vegan tacos were fresh, delicious and satisfying, while plus-one was very happy with the mushie toast laden with garlic infused mushrooms with a poached free-range egg. I had the peanut buttercup smoothie – a decadent yet healthy ‘dessert experience’ – and plus-one chose the hemp smoothie, fruity and refreshing.
Even at 1.30pm on a rainy Friday, this delightful café was busy with locals keen to fill their bellies with some Boneless goodness.
Tip: While in Bermagui, browse the interesting stores along the main street, visit the beach, the marina and the famous Blue Pool at the headland.
Thanks to Merimbula foodie, Chantal of XO Foods, for the generous sample bag of delicious, gluten-free, healthy ‘moozlies’ waiting for us at our accommodation. The XO Foods turmeric-infused Golden Moozly is especially delish and might just turn me into a cereal offender. 😊
WHAT WE DID
On Saturday, the lovely Deb and Blake from INU Retreats gave us a short taster of one of their relaxing and rejuvenating retreats, designed to bring your body, mind and soul back into balance withINU.
First up was a delightful walk to Moon Bay, where an invigorating swim is usually on the agenda when water conditions are favourable. Then it was off to nearby Kianinny Bush Cottages, set in serene bushland, for a warming chai and bliss ball before a restorative meditation and sound healing session led by Blake’s calming, mellifluous voice. This was followed by a nourishing Ayurvedic lunch of delicious dahl on the deck overlooking the small lake.
The two women operate separate alternative wellness businesses on the Sapphire Coast and, between them, their expertise covers the gamut of holistic Ayurvedic healing and cooking, yoga, meditation, naturopathy, massage, hypnotherapy and more. INU’s upcoming winter retreat will be held at Kianinny Bush Cottages over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, 11-14 June. They also plan to hold retreats in the Snowy Mountains later this year. Bliss …
Located on the top level of the historic Tathra Wharf, the museum helps tell the story of this historic building and how the town grew around it, its numerous restorations and the community’s fight to save it. $2 entry; $5 for families. Great value.
Enjoy a relaxing walk along the surf beach or take in stunning 180-degree coastal views along the accessible Tathra Headland walk. On the recommendation of Deb and Blake from INU Retreats, we headed to Kianinny Bay to walk a short part of the Kangarutha Track to the pristine pebble beach at Boulder Bay. After the 160-plus steps at the start, it’s relatively easy going from there. There’s plenty of parking, picnic and toilet facilities at Kianinny Bay and we’re told the boat ramp is frequented by stingrays at certain times of day.
Kianinny Boat Ramp and picnic grounds, Kianinny Street, Tathra
WHERE WE STAYED
Just across the road from the surf beach, close to shops and eateries, we spent two nights in a spacious two-bedroom sea-view apartment at Tathra Beach House Apartments, a comfortable and convenient base from which to explore the Sapphire Coast. Great for families or couples, our digs included a well-appointed kitchen, dining area, lounge with big-screen TV, laundry, bathroom and a two-person spa on the deck with ocean views. The complex includes two swimming pools and a heated spa pool.
* Julie Samaras was a guest of Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing on the weekend of 7-9 May; sapphirecoast.com.au