Since starting my new job this month, I’ve found myself with much more spare time, thanks to the removal of the 90 minute each way train commute to the city every day. In fact, my hours at my new job are so flexible, that I’m able to give myself a long weekend pretty much whenever I like. So, when my boyfriend Scott was asked to be the photographer at a friend’s wedding in Berry, NSW, I jumped at the opportunity to travel down the coast and spend the weekend exploring the small South Coast town.
While Berry is just over an hour from my home city of Wollongong, I’ve never really spent much time there, apart from driving through it during trips up and down the coast. It is a place full of character, and what it lacks in size it makes up for in energy; the streets are always buzzing with locals and tourists alike.
BELLAWONGARAH AT BERRY
Our home for the weekend was an enchanting B&B about ten minutes up the steep, windy roads of Berry Mountain. Surrounded by cool, temperate rainforest, Bellawongarah at Berry is located between Berry and Kangaroo Valley, and offers a luxury, tranquil escape for two individual couples. One couple occupies the heritage listed 1868 Wesleyan church, converted into a secluded cottage set amongst an incredibly well-kept garden, while the other couple stays in the Loft Suite on the top floor of the beautiful main house.
Scott and I stayed in the amazing Loft Suite for the weekend, and we were blown away by the level of comfort offered to us by the owner of Bellawongarah at Berry, Deb. After greeting us upon arrival, Deb introduced us to Bub – the 9-year old Chow who was equal parts floof and spoilt. He looked like a mixture between bear, lion and dog, and his little squishy face put an instant smile on mine. Deb then proceeded to show us around the entire grounds, from the incredible gardens, to the quaint church that was transformed into a cottage, to our own room in the Loft Suite, before giving us space to settle in. Her warm, welcoming nature was unrivalled, and we were excited for the remainder of our stay.
AT ONE WITH NATURE
From the moment we arrived, we felt as though we’d fully submerged ourselves with nature. All of our senses were heightened; from the sound of the birds singing and chirping at regular intervals, to the smell of the fresh, country air and the blooming roses, to the sight of the stunning garden surrounding the beautiful country home. We were only an hour from home, but it felt as though we were a million miles away.
The Loft Suite was cosy, but still spacious and comfortable. The bathroom, however, was the highlight of the suite. From the moment I saw it, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in there; a huge spa bath occupied the corner, and a large window offered a divine view of the rainforest. Perfect.
BERRY BY NIGHT
After spending some time settling into our weekend home, Scott & I decided it was time for dinner. We asked Deb where we should eat, and being the true local that she is, she rattled off a number of great suggestions off the top of her head. Overwhelmed with choice, we decided to head to Leaf in Berry, a Thai restaurant that had been recommended to me by my good friend Bella on numerous occasions.
We sat at a small table outside, and the warm air still lingered as the sun was setting after the hot day. The food at Leaf was incredible, and the service was exceptionally fast considering the quality of our meals. We ate, enjoyed a cold beer and then decided to head back up the mountain to enjoy the rest of our evening.
We got back to Bellawongarah at Berry, and immediately went to explore the garden. It was twilight, and the smell of the rainforest was intoxicating. We sat outside in the little thatched Balinese-style hut at the back of the garden and listened to the sounds of nature; birds singing their goodnight song, swarms of insects buzzing, chirping and clicking, and a tubby wombat shuffling through the marshland, stopping to observe us from below.
Once the darkness fell, we returned to our loft, and I enjoyed a delightful spa bath; complete with bath salts, soaking in the crystal clear water in full relaxation mode while I sipped on a glass of red wine. It was pure bliss.
We then put on a DVD (very retro), and then continued to drink wine and eat cheese and crackers in our cosy bathrobes. It was the perfect Friday night.
GOOD MORNING, BERRY
We woke up to a quiet mountain, hearing only the sounds of birds and insects as our eyes fluttered open. There was mist surrounding the top of Berry Mountain; a view we enjoyed from bed, watching through the skylight in the sloped roof. There wasn’t much time to spend lazing around, though it was something we could have enjoyed all morning. It was time for breakfast.
We walked downstairs, and our noses were immediately hit with the smell of a true country breakfast wafting through the open door of the kitchen. Deb, in full host mode, was preparing the amazing spread we would come to enjoy each morning of our stay at Bellawongarah at Berry. She’d told us prior to our arrival that they do ‘serious breakfast here’, and she wasn’t kidding!
Scott & I sat down at the table, ready to enjoy our first course of fresh fruit, yoghurt, muesli and cereal. It was hard not to fill ourselves up on the sweet mango or the farm fresh strawberries, but we knew that there was more to come. The next course was the hot country breakfast, complete with smoked salmon, poached eggs, thick cut toast, mushrooms and tomatoes. It was absolutely divine, and definitely something I could have gotten used to. I was already looking forward to the next day’s feast before I’d even finished.
I’m one of those people who are basically half introvert and half extrovert. I thrive in the company of others, especially when surrounded by those I know well, but I also need time alone. Usually, my alone time is spent at home, either working or watching Netflix. This weekend, however, my alone time was utilised in much more fulfilling ways.
It was time for Scott to head back into the town of Berry to start photographing the wedding, so after a coffee together, we both set off to start our days. I decided that despite the muggy, overcast weather, I wanted to stay outside and do some hiking. I knew that there was an incredible lookout called Red Rocks, which offered spectacular views over Kangaroo Valley. With Google Maps at my side, I set off to find it.
Red Rocks Lookout is located down a dirt road about 6km off Cambewarra Mountain, and boy was it a drive to remember. Luckily I was driving our Nissan X-Trail, because the bumpy, windy road definitely tested my 4WD skills! I drove for about fifteen minutes, passing plenty of wildlife on my way; small wallabies hopping across the road ahead, various birds flying around the bush, and so many little butterflies with white, orange and brown wings, fluttering around in huge numbers. It was absolutely magical.
Once I got to the end of the road, I realised that I had driven too far. There were a few open spaces where I could have parked and walked the rest of the way, but I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going so I didn’t stop. So, once I arrived at the end, it was less than a ten-minute walk to the lookout – so much for my hiking adventure! Despite the lack of exercise (it was super muggy and hot, so I didn’t mind too much), the view from Red Rocks was incredible.
I sat for a while, enjoying the view and my own company. Sure, it would’ve been great to share the moment with Scott, but I was content. The sounds of nature were just as apparent atop Red Rocks as they were on Berry Mountain, and it was so lovely to sit and relax for a while.
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
I’ve never really enjoyed driving; I’ve always much preferred to be the passenger of a car than the one responsible for controlling it. However, this weekend I truly loved the windy mountain roads, flanked by the lush, green rainforest. After my ‘hike’, I decided to return to Bellawongarah at Berry for a rest and a cup of tea to recharge before heading back into Berry to continue exploring.
An hour passed, and I was ready to keep going. I drove back down Berry Mountain, and spent some time wandering through the quirky shops that decorated Berry’s main street. From knick-knacks and souvenirs, to candles and clothes, Queen Street in Berry has something for everyone. You could honestly spend hours strolling around the tiny village, and there would always be something to do, see or eat.
I then decided to head to the beach. I’m basically part-mermaid and had already spent over 24 hours without seeing the ocean, so I was definitely in need of a salty fix. I jumped back in the car and drove the ten minutes to Seven Mile Beach in Gerroa. The wind was chilly, but the water was warm, and I spent about an hour lying in the sand, lost in my own thoughts.
I daydreamed about the adventures I wanted to have in 2017; the places I wanted to visit and the people I wanted to visit them with. I watched children play in the water, fearless of the crashing waves and cool breeze. I dipped my toes in the water, before letting the waves creep halfway up my legs. Then, I realised I was hungry.
SATURDAY NIGHT IN
As I drove back to Berry, I knew that there was only one thing I wanted for dinner. Scott was still at the wedding, and planned to stay for a couple of drinks and a meal, so I went straight to Mezzadellas – the yummiest pizza restaurant in the village. I grabbed a pizza, and could barely contain myself as I drove back up Berry Mountain, the smell of my large Margarita driving me crazy with anticipation as I crawled up the windy road. I enjoyed my delicious pizza with a glass of red wine, followed by another spa bath, of course.
When Scott arrived home after his big day of photography, we chucked on another movie and kept drinking red wine until we could no longer keep our eyes open. We went to bed with smiles on our faces; smiles stemming from our respective great days, and the thought of the breakfast that awaited us in the morning.
BYE BYE, BERRY
Again, we woke to the view of the misty mountain, and the smell of breakfast wafting up the stairs to our loft. We wandered down, hungry, and were again treated to an amazing meal. Deb’s friendly nature combined with her obvious love for her job made us feel completely at home, as though we were visiting a long-lost relative rather than just staying at her accommodation. We enjoyed our breakfast alongside another couple staying at the B&B, who had loved their weekend escape just as much as we did.
As we got ready to say goodbye to our little country home, the sun came out again, feeling warm against our skin. We said goodbye to Deb and Bub the Chow, and sadly left the beautiful B&B. If you are interested in visiting Berry, I would absolutely recommend a stay at Bellawongarah at Berry. Tell Deb that I sent ya!
After a visit to Berry’s famous donut van for some hot, fresh cinnamon donuts and a coffee, we were back on the road heading home. Sometimes you don’t have to go too far to feel like you’ve gotten away, and Berry is the perfect place to escape for a weekend. Where’s your favourite weekend escape?