A car is essential if you are intending to explore everything that the South Coast has to offer. It's a two-hour drive south from Sydney along the Princes Highway.
The South Coast is a scenic two-hour drive from Sydney Airport (www.sydneyairport.com.au), the busiest hub in Australia. Hire cars are available at the domestic and international terminals.
Though not a short journey, travelling by train on CityRail's South Coast line (www.cityrail.info) is certainly picturesque. Berry is the second last stop on the line and travellers need to change trains at either Dapto or Kiama. There are about a dozen services each weekday during normal hours, and the trip takes about three hours.
Country code for Australia: 61; South Coast (0)2.
Immerse yourself in a classic: DH Lawrence wrote Kangaroo in 1922 while staying in Thirroul, north of Wollongong. For those with a love of fishing, Zane Grey's An American Angler in Australia tells of his experiences, including catching a 460kg tiger shark using a rod and reel, when he stayed in Bermagui (on the far South Coast) in 1936. He also was the first person to land a yellowfin tuna on the South Coast, which essentially began the town's game fishing industry.
Do go / Don't Go
Much like Sydney, the South Coast is beautiful at any time of the year. In summer, temperatures can reach the mid-30s but there's often a cooling sea breeze. Winter is chilly, but you can still comfortably stroll along the beaches (the water might be too cold, unless you're particularly hardy). During local school holidays - early July and late September - things can get particularly busy, and a visit during the Easter and Christmas breaks isn't even worth thinking about.
Thisis one of those areas that has become a local food bowl. Fish (snapper, trevally and kingfish are just some of the varieties), prawns and oysters come straight from the ocean around here. Pick up the cook-yourself variety at local co-ops and fish shops, or find them on the menu of almost any of the restaurants in the area. In the lush surrounding countryside, there are producers of meat, vegetables and fruits. Particularly further south, around Tilba and Bega, there are lots of dairy farms and the area is famous for its cheeses. There are also a number of local wineries on the Shoalhaven wine trail, producing a range of varieties including chardonnay and shiraz.
Several companies service the South Coast region: Nowra Radio Taxis (+61 (0)2 4421 0333), Berry Taxi Service (+61 (0)2 4464 2227), Berry Shoalhaven Heads Taxi Service (+61(0)2 4464 1181) and Milton Ulladulla Taxi Service (+61 (0)2 4455 1862).
Although not mandatory, a 10 per cent tip for good service is always appreciated.
Australian dollars (AU$).
An underwater casing for your camera, so you can capture life below the surface. In case any of the local wine you buy in the area has a pesky cork, a corkscrew might come in handy.
Already considered one of Australia's greatest painters, later in his life Arthur Boyd settled on a beautiful property on the Shoalhaven River. Riversdale, along with the neighbouring Bundanon and Earie Park properties, was donated to the Australian people in 1993. Now, it runs as an artists' retreat and education centre, and is open to the public every Sunday. Guests can view the gardens, Boyd's studio, and art by him, his family and his contemporaries, including Sidney Nolan and Charles Blackman. The Bundanon Trust (www.bundanon.com.au) also hosts regular music events.
Surf beaches stretch up and down the coast here, so it's the perfect excuse to either get back on a board or learn how it's done once and for all. Two of the better spots are Werri Beach, near Gerringong, which has breaks at both ends, and Warrain Beach at Culburra with its consistent reef break. For those who could use some instruction, JB Surf School (www.jbsurfschool.com.au) has two-hour group lessons on weekends, although private lessons are available whenever you are.
Just north-east of Mollymook is the small but artistic village of Milton. This National Trust town has a string of galleries, cafes, boutiques and antique stores that could easily take quite a few hours to fully explore. At Revival (2a The Shed, The Settlement, Milton, +61 (0)2 4455 1200), owner Gino Gionta restores and sells pieces from the 17th century onwards, but his passion is mid-century design by the likes of Eames, Jacobsen and Featherston. Home Address (80 Princes Highway, Milton, +61 (0)2 4454 5155) showcases inspiring homewares, chic fashion, indulgent body products and artistic jewellery. Another beautiful lifestyle boutique is Home At Last (39 Wason Street, Milton, +61 (0)2 4454 5155) with its furniture, gifts and homewares. For those with an addiction to sugar a visit to Fernando's Fudge Cottage (Shop 5, Village Green, Milton, +61 (0)2 4455 1152) is a must. The Milton Village market operates on the first Saturday of each month.
Watch the sunrise over the Pacific as your feet sink into the world's whitest sand at Hyams Beach on the southern shores of Jervis Bay.
On Ulladulla's northern headland you'll find One Track for All, a two-kilometre cultural walking trail. Along its length are carvings and paintings that tell the history of the Shoalhaven area from an Aboriginal perspective. At various points there are also some spectacular vistas of the coastline and harbour.
April Ulladulla hosts the colourful Blessing of the Fleet Festival(www.blessingofthefleet.info) at Easter each year with its parade, blessing ceremony, the crowning of the Fleet Princess and fireworks. June Don fancy dress and celebrate the harvest at the Milton Scarecrow Festival (www.ulladulla.info/milton-scarecrow-festival). For the 16 days of the See Change Arts Festival in Jervis Bay the talented artists of the region showcase their wares and participate in workshops and performances. Taste the region's finest drops at the Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival, held over the June long weekend. July The South Coast Country Music Festival (www.sccma.asn.au/html/festival.html) at Dapto features a range of performances, a bush poet's breakfast, talent quest and gala concert. October For three days during the school holidays, Wollongong plays host to the South Coast Children's Festival (merrigong.com.au/whats-on/south-coast-childrens-festival.html) with activities, workshops, theatre, music and loads of fun.