The historic town of Milton has made a name for itself in recent years, located less than three hours drive from Sydney, and just under two from Canberra. However, the beautiful drive down the winding coastal roads into the lush, green countryside instantly transports you a decade away from the bustle of the city, making this quiet country village the perfect choice for those seeking respite from the city’s daily rush.
Aside from the idyllic pace of life Milton sets, the village holds another secret lure: its food. A rare destination where farm-to-table really means farm-to-table, stroll between the country pubs for a drink and hearty lunch before stopping in at the local winery, and finishing your day at one of Milton’s abundant restaurants, each one serving up fresh, delicious produce from the local land and sea.
Getting around Milton and its surroundings can be a bit tricky if you don’t have a car, but car share services, like Popcar, make it easy to get where you want to go. With vehicles in both Sydney and Canberra, Popcar allows for a quick and stress-free trip to the South Coast, opening up opportunities to explore everything it has to offer.
South Coast Experiences (SCx) is perfect for exploring and mapping out the journey ahead of your trip, with curated experiences for you to explore, stay and discover. Here’s how we would spend a weekend in Milton:
FROM SYDNEY TO MILTON
1. Pick up a Popcar from your nearest hub and head out early from Sydney on the Princes Highway. Before you reach Gerringong, you’ll zip past the lovely Woolshed Kitchen – a great breakfast spot with delicious treats, including warm-baked croissants, eggs Benedict and chargrilled sourdough. The restaurant is right off the highway, with chic, contemporary interiors that signal you’re well on your way to the South Coast.
2. Continue down the highway until you get to the Gerringong turnoff. From here, it’s the scenic route all the way to Milton. Turn off towards Gerringong and continue on towards Gerroa, then all the way down past Shoalhaven Heads and into Nowra. This is a very pretty coastal drive – the ocean twinkling to your left and coastal bush land to your right.
TIP: Factor in time for photo stops.
3. As you continue into Nowra, you’ll cross over the Shoalhaven River. Stop and pick up some local supplies in town and stretch your legs. The Nowra fresh fish and meat market has lots of local treats, including meats, cheese, vegetables, fruits and snacks, but there are also major supermarkets and other large retailers for all the essentials. From here, it’s about 45 minutes to Milton.
Tip:A Popcar SUV will ensure you have plenty of space for those snacks!
ARRIVING IN MILTON
Get Your Bearings
Milton is more of a village than a town. Full of country charm, it boasts beautiful 19th-century heritage streets and picturesque pastoral landscapes in every direction. Exuding creativity from local artisans, producers and craftsmen, all who call Milton home, it is a great place to window shop, with arts and crafts shops scattered across the village. But the best thing to do is eat, whether from the local farm shop or at one of the chic, cool restaurants in town. South Coast Experiences is perfect for exploring your options before you arrive, giving you direct access to book with the local providers as well as curating your own bespoke experiences whilst visiting.
TIME FOR LUNCH
Where To Eat
1. Get lunch at Milk Haus Milton
Located in a converted cheese factory just outside Milton, Milk Haus is a wholefoods café specialising in honest, simple food using local produce. While the key message here may be simplicity, the menu is exciting and showcases some of the South Coast’s best suppliers. The founders farm as nature intended. What they can’t grow enough of in the garden, they source locally using a network of farmers, growers and fishermen. They aim to minimise wastage, feeding both the compost and the chooks in the process.
2. Pack a picnic from the local farm shop
Milton Farm Shop is a lovely little shop in the heart of town, selling in-season, organically grown, and locally sourced produce from within a 100km radius of Milton. SCx especially recommend you pick up some delicious Milton Mushrooms, which have all kinds of medicinal health benefits. Both Mick Ryan Park and Milton Memorial Park are small but pretty places to find a bench or patch of grass to eat your picnic.
What To Do
1. Explore the local beaches
After a long and lazy lunch, there’s nothing better than a walk on the beach. Jump in your Popcar and head south – exploring the inlets and shores that most tourists will never see, including Pebbly Beach (home to a local population of kangaroos) and the golden Merry Beach, just past Kioloa. If you’d prefer to stay closer to town, Mollymook and Narrawallee beaches are both great for surfing, while swimming the tidal rock pool at Bogey Hole is a safe option for families.
Tip 1: For surf lessons or wetsuit and board hire, check out Mollymook Beach Surf School. Group lessons start from $50 per person, while boards are $20 for two hours or $50 for the day.
TIP 2: South Coast Experiences can organise a lesson to suit your needs and experience.
2. Get crafty
Take part in beautiful floristry workshops at Gypsy Carmen, mastering the art of flower arrangement or creating a luxe boho feature for your home. Clare is the passionate owner and creative director, who creates floral arrangements for all kinds of events. She’s an excellent teacher and will have you walking away with beautiful, memorable creations that represent your time on the South Coast.
3. Embrace your wellbeing
Although you’re only a few hours from Sydney, spending even just a weekend in the rolling countryside of New South Wales does wonders for your mental wellbeing. For the full ‘wellness’ experience, grab some time with Tracey Gunn, who runs healing food workshops and yoga classes in Milton. She can assist with one-on-one health sessions, private yoga classes, and cooking classes in fermentation and raw food. Tracey is also the founder of Delicious Vibrant Beauty, a natural organic skincare company that makes products perfect for refreshing the skin after a little too long at the beach.
4. Stop for a drink
The drinks are as good as the food here. Head for a tasting at local estate Cupitt’s Winery, offering one of the best cellar doors in the Shoalhaven region. The wine is delicious, only matched by their hearty cheeseboards, which feature cheese made on site. You could also head to the newly refurbished Milton Hotel, a great place for a cold afternoon beer sat on the outside deck. Check out the seasonal beers from their microbrewery before tucking into some locally cured meats on their charcuterie platter. Or, for something a little stronger, try the cocktails at Harvest Bar Milton.
Tip: Enjoy a Dark & Stormy overlooking the dark (and sometimes stormy) countryside of the South Coast – a great way to end a day in Milton.
TIME FOR DINNER
Where To Eat
In Milton and the surrounding towns, there is an abundance of restaurants for dinner. From the super casual (a mobile wood-fired pizza café in town called Italian Guild) to the super fancy (Rick Stein at Bannisters; the eponymous seafood master’s first restaurant outside of the UK, which helped put Mollymook on the map) you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options. Here are a couple of South Coast Experiences favourites…
1. Small Town in Milton
Small Town is a pared-back, neighbourhood bistro from the owners of the much-heralded (and sadly missed, if you ask many of Milton’s inhabitants) St Isidore – a coastal restaurant that closed in 2019. The owners wanted to switch their focus to delicious wine and simple food, although their menu is no less adventurous – you’ll find dishes like grilled octopus, ‘nduja and lemon, and roast half chook, eggplant, bois boudran and flatbread. There’s also a fantastic list of aperitifs to start the meal, and a great wine list.
2. The Ruse in Ulladulla
If you want to head out of town, we recommend The Ruse in the coastal town of Ulladulla, a 15-minute drive away. This casual bar and restaurant overlooks the twinkling Ulladulla Harbour, with a menu inspired by Central America. They’re always busy, so it’s best to book ahead if possible, though they do try and save space for walk-ins. Ordering a few of their creative cocktails is a great way to end an evening on the South Coast.
3. … Or bring the restaurant to you
Milton is not just great for eating out – eating in is just as fun. Citrus Catering can organise dinner party menus at your accommodation, with a delicious four-course meal prepared, cooked and served to you by their professional team – ideal for gatherings of up to 20 guests. For something a little more casual, Dinner Pal is a takeaway service serving the Milton area, delivering cold-packed meal kits for you to prepare in your accommodation’s kitchen. They can also organise beautiful weekend hampers that can be waiting for you on arrival.
TIME FOR BED
Where To Stay
If you’re staying in Milton, it’s only right you choose accommodation that matches the town – something rustic and charming, surrounded by beautiful countryside and fresh coastal air. South Coast Experiences has a wonderful selection of accommodation to explore on the platform. Here are a few of our favourites:
1. The Old Schoolhouse
The Old Schoolhouse is set on 2.5 acres of tranquil lawn and orchard, just outside Milton. It offers sweeping with views in all directions – perfect to soak up the region’s country charm. While the schoolhouse itself is long gone, the historic schoolmaster’s residence remains. The main homestead is the heart of this rambling property, with two separate accommodation choices beyond the house. It has all the trappings of a rural property, with a productive vegetable garden and orchard, and chooks that wander throughout the grounds. It even has a full-sized cricket pitch. While the property retains the charm of a colonial homestead, the interiors have been updated to incorporate the best of modern style.
Tip: Guests are free to wander the gardens and orchard, picking fruit straight from the tree and collecting fresh-laid eggs for their breakfast.
Danesbank is a romantic 1860s stone cottage, nestled on 70 acres of original farm country. This dairy cottage sits perched on a hilltop vista, upon acres of prime dairy farming land. The cottage is crafted from hand-cut local stone and timbers, enveloped by a homey garden that blooms in spring and summer. The veranda plays host as the perfect spot from your morning coffee, surrounded by the laughter of kookaburras, the twitter of lorikeets and the raspy chatter of magpies.
South Coast Experiences can help you plan your next getaway
At South Coast Experiences, they’re here to help you plan the perfect trip to the NSW South Coast – free of charge – so reach out if there’s anything they can do to make your planning easier. See SCx’s full range of Milton Experiences here.
SCx also help organise accommodation for groups of any size, so talk to them about what you need. See their South Coast accommodation here.
Popcar is a car-sharing service that is changing the convention of owning a car with a focus on making car sharing better than owning a car by providing Australians with access to premium cars when they need them to provide a more sustainable way to get around. Popcar is on a mission to get more Australians to make the switch to sustainable transport. For further information about Popcar and find out how to sign up, access the share cars and pricing, please visit www.popcar.com.au.
Main image: Narrawallee Beach, NSW. Photo by Thomas Yohei on Unsplash