I recently discovered what my road trips have been missing. And that thing is a car with a roof that’s optional.
Last month we borrowed one of Mazda’s new MX-5 Roadsters to explore the Jervis Bay area of NSW and it was a totally different experience. With the top popped we were able to see the sheer magnitude of the rocky cliff faces as we drove along the iconic Seacliff Bridge, and admire the canopy of trees above our heads as we skirted the Royal National Park. We could smell the eucalyptus and fresh rainforest air as we listened to bangers on the 9-speaker Bose sound system, occasionally interrupted by my partner exclaiming how much fun it was to shift gears and drive a manual sports car around that winding road.
Since Covid hit, the Aussie road trip has become the holiday de jour. And there are no signs of it slowing down. If you’re looking for your next destination, we had a delightful time exploring this neck of the woods, which is a little over three hour’s drive south of Sydney.
These are the gems that we found. Be warned that most of these involve food, because that’s the way we roll.
Stock up on baked goods at the Huskisson Bakery
Gosh it’s good here. The pies are perfection and the sweet treats give you a shot of delicious nostalgia after a day frolicking in the waves. Think classic finger buns, almond and custard croissants, and huge cream-filled bee sting cakes. Thrillingly, the prices at Huskisson Bakery seem to have been stuck in the 1990s and the value for money is jaw-dropping. If you have a family in tow, it’s a great cheap lunch option.
Marvel at those picture-perfect beaches
While Hyams Beach is the most famous in the region (thanks to its sugar-white sand), it can become overrun in the warmer months. We suggest you opt for nearby Blenheim Beach or Greenfield Beach, which are just as stunning in our opinion. The turquoise water is crystal clear and you won’t have to hustle as much for a spot on the sand.
Settle in for a session at the local
The Huskisson Hotel is a classic seaside pub with plenty of outdoor space for cold beers in the sun. On the terrace you’ll find a custom-built smoker, pumping out brisket that melts in your mouth.
If you want to be a bit fancy, opt for a table in The Pavilion section where you can admire the water views while you sup on oysters from nearby Greenwell Point, a softshell crab burger or hot wings from the smoker.
Head to Albert N Miso for breakfast
Tucked away in the Vincentia Shopping Centre is a favorite café of the locals, Albert N Miso – a spot where the coffee is excellent, the staff are friendly, the smoothies are next level and the chorizo burrito is a banging breakfast option. Grab a table outside if the weather is fine and pat the (often excellent) collection of dogs parked out the front.
Explore the breweries
Jervis Bay is blessed with two seriously good breweries, just a stone’s throw from each other in the Huskisson Industrial Estate. There’s lots of fun to be had at both. Settle in for a tasting paddle at Flamin Galah Brewing co, and snack on food from The Nest food van, which is permanently situated out the front. The beer-battered flathead tail tacos are our pick. Then, once you’ve worked your way through their beer range, toddle over to Jervis Bay Brewing Co for good tunes, another tasting paddle (be sure to sample the chocolate milk stout) and if you’re still peckish, grab something from the food truck.
Say hi to our dolphin overlords with the Jervis Bay Boom Netting and Dolphin Cruise
Not only does this cruise give you a new perspective on the South Coast’s spectacular coastline, you might also have the chance to get up close to some frolicking dolphins. If the weather is fine strip off into your togs and splash around in the boom net – which is basically like a sieve for human beings at the back of the boat. Fun for all ages.
On your way home, hit up some wineries
Ending a holiday can often be tinged with sadness, so keep the party going on the journey home. The area around Berry has some excellent wineries with cozy cellar doors in the cooler months (and sprawling grass for the summer months). Before cruising home with the top down we stopped in at Mountain Ridge and Two Figs, which both have gorgeous views of the surrounding valleys.
Simone Mitchell travelled to Jervis Bay with assistance from Mazda and Visit Shoalhaven. This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com