Tag Archives: country

Fairgrounds Festival….. like a local.

Festivals have come and gone over the last 10 years, for a multitude of reasons I am not here to get into …. (maybe you could pay your artists?) ….. and what have we learnt from the rises and the falls? The highs, and the very low, un-financial, lows? That bigger is not necessarily better.

CUE: Fairgrounds Festival!

Set to take place on December 2 & 3, in the picturesque town of Berry,  affectionately known as Bezza by local surfers from Shoaly Heads, or the Town of Trees by wannabe local tree/sea changers. Well known for some godforsaken reason for its Donut Van (I don’t get it, never have never will), knick-knack shops, and pies (completely understand this one).

13781941_10153642793262377_2547925058716535161_n.jpgCork marking the footy lines at the Showground – Fairgrounds Location Shot. 

The festival begins, as per the website http://www.fairgrounds.com.au, on Friday night where musical acts will commence performing at 5pm. Fairgrounds will reload and back up for a full Saturdays worth of festive madness from 12pm.

So with those hours of the weekend taken care of by pure musical genius, I’m here and happy to tell you just how to take on the rest of your Fairgrounds weekend – like a local.

1. Coffee

We mere humans are like sheep when it comes to lines and crowds. I don’t know what side of the brain is responsible for it, but we see a line and we join it? We see a crowd and think ‘Well, it must be good!’ – WRONG.

There is one place, and only one place, to refuel in Berry. And there wont be a line – because they have their shit together and move fast!

Il Locale Gelato

Not your average ice cream shop. Owned by mates Damo and Josie, with baristas Lily and Laura, they smash out coffees like nobodies business. This isn’t the place for a ¾ soy latte with 1.25 shots of coffee. This is for people that need coffee as their elixir of life – quick fast and straight to the point.

15139578_10153946052207377_419307447_n.jpgIl Locale Gelato

A no fuss, all delicious breakfast menu is also available, as well as pies, sandwiches, an array of sweets; Mr Kombucha and locally cold pressed Juices. Not to mention it is a gelato shop and they are Berry’s own Messin – what, if not better! Minus the lines, fake French accents and house music.

And for all the foodies out there, the situation with the milk – low homogenised locally produced milk from The Pines in Kiama is used in all their coffee, gelato etc. Creamy AF

Il Locale: https://www.facebook.com/illocalegelato/?fref=ts

2. Booze

There are two pubs in Berry. The Great Southern Hotel (The TOP), and The Berry Hotel (The Bottom), and before all you tourists start up there is a slight incline between the two to justify the local naming.

The Top has a great deck and swing chair, it’s a great place to sit and drink in the sun and people watch. The Bottom has the old country rustic charm that a pub 2 hours from Sydney should have. I’ll leave it for you to decide.


But my biased favourite is ‘The Bottom’.

At the Coach House Restaurant at The Bottom, I pick the Greek Chicken Burger as the lunch option, and the Beef or Salmon Fillet for dinner.

But the real and unknown deal here is the Sunday breakfast. It’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s delicious, and again, usually without a line up of 100 hungry punters.

13413605_10153556880577377_3723412020107557330_n.jpgThe Beef Fillet

As tourists, I expect you to visit both pubs and decide for yourselves. I’m biased, I used to work at The Bottom, and my friends own it.

Like each of the establishments Facebook pages to stay up to date with the goings on over the Fairgrounds weekend.

TOP: https://www.facebook.com/TheBerryHotel/?fref=ts

BOTTOM: https://www.facebook.com/Great-Southern-Hotel-Berry-741549265953198/?fref=ts

3. Food

We take our Asian takeaway pretty seriously in the town of trees, but there are only two options that I can stress to you: the need to indulge in over the Fairgrounds Weekend.

The Bowlo Chinese, I believe, is the favourite local haunt. The food is fast and fresh, and cheap. Service is always fast and fresh, and meals can be accompanied with Bowlo priced beverages, and a meat raffle. Sign me up – well you may have to, or at least sign in as a visitor, but don’t let that put you off.

Highly recommend the: Spring Rolls, Lemon Chicken, Small Special Fried Rice, Deep Fried Ice Cream with Chocolate Topping and a James Squire 150 Lashes.

10675716_10153114295042377_4085090325730547837_n.jpgDeep Fried Ice Cream at The Bowlo!

LEAF – Love Eating Asian Food – not even kidding.

This place is to die for. Service with a smile was actually born here, I’m sure of it. Have a seat in their courtyard and prepare for an absolute feast.

Words cannot describe the flavours you are about to experience. Thai, Vietnamese, you name it South East Asian, LEAF delivers it – incredibly and artistically. Their wine list also features a number of local drops!

A favourite amongst locals and tourists, you may have to book ahead.

15087010_10153946055462377_1418672026_n.jpgVietnamese Pancake @ LEAF.

Highly Recommend:

Spring Rolls, Mummy Prawns, Pang Na Moo, BBQ Pork Bun, Penang Curry with Chicken or Duck, Vietnamese Pancake – my god delicious, Choo Chee King Prawns, Cashew Nut Chilli Jam, and Signature Fried Rice.

Washed down with a Sunday Afternoon from Two Figs Winery – CHEERS.

In preparation, like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/leafinberry/

 4. Adventure

When you arrive in Berry, and along the way, provided it’s daylight, you’ll notice just how scenic the place is. Berry’s next door neighbour is Gerringong ‘Where the Mountains meet the Sea’, and so, the seaside at Seven Mile Beach is only a short 8min drive east from the centre of Berry. To the west of town you stare directly at Mountains. It makes the place humid in summer, the days short in winter and above all, picture – bloody – esque.

Where there are mountains, there is adventure. Challenge yourselves to the LK hike up to the Drawing Room Rocks, aka Tables and Chairs. The hike takes 2.5 hours return and is 4.5km round trip. And, I’m not giving you any more information than that.

You’ll need a car to get to the track. Search #drawingrooms through Instagram and use Google Maps to get there. You’re on an adventure, I’m not spoon-feeding you directions and laying petals on the path so you can find your way back. The view from the top is unbelievable.

10151776_10151999791857377_3141993616124873392_n.jpgDrawing Rooms – 2013


Drawing Rooms – 2014

Be mindful, you’re in the Australian Bush, there are snakes and spiders – Whistle Dixie.

5. Chill

As stated above, Mountains to the West, Beach to the East – say are you in Berry?

There are waterholes….and I’m not directing you to them as they are local secrets. You want them – you find them. For the non-adventurous punters I present to you – 7 miles of beach.

5432_10153322893012377_2853133783364168059_n.jpgSecret Waterhole.

Within 8 driving minutes from Berry, aptly named ‘7 Mile Beach’, it stretches from Gerroa at the north end, to Shoalhaven Heads in the south.

Generally speaking, if you like your beach days calm, head to Gerroa, and if you’re looking for waves, Shoalhaven Heads.

There is a Berry Beach and I’d advise you not to swim there. You can walk to either of the other two beaches from Berry Beach but it is a completely unmanned and isolated beach. Perfect for walks, sunbaking and wading up to the knees, and that’s about it.

1480496_10151729818617377_908901362_n.jpgThe Entrance to Berry Beach.

Gerroa, to the North end of 7 mile, is my personal favourite. It’s perfect for a swim, a sunbake, and has some of the brightest little creatures calling its rock pools home. A small café and a small takeaway are located within walking distance of Gerroa beach, whereas Shoaly Heads and Berry Beach – you’re on your catering own. Always thinking about food. The waves are generally flat and bay like at Gerroa, the water – almost always clear. And 9 times out of 10 you’re protected from any southerly busters wishing to spoil your sunny summer days.

15085585_10153943525152377_3422462923497926869_n.jpgSeven-Mile Beach from Gerroa.

On a parting note:

  • Bring some food in case of munchies – there is no Maccas, 7Eleven or Kebab Shop, don’t argue there aren’t any.
  • Taxi’s may as well be non-existent. So plan ahead. Have a designated driver, wear appropriate shoes to walk home in, or stay close by. Berry is relatively flat, so a 6km walk when tanked after a great effort at the festival, should be manageable.
  • Treat others the way you like to be treated. Don’t be a dick to hospo staff, don’t litter and have some respect for the place and the people, and they’ll show you the same back.
  • If the suns out, pick up an Akubra from The Berry Barn ;).

I think that sums it up. Berry is a great place, and Fairgrounds Festival is looking set to match its greatness.

See you at Fairgrounds. Or the pub, most likely the pub the night before. Cheers!

11230216_10153056930847377_7892448531325466318_n.jpgRe-Enacting FAME on the Main Street of the Tiny Town.



The Sea & Tree Change.

I moved to the ‘country’ when I was 21. I was / am in love with a bright young (in the past tense) real estate agent that sold my parents a cute little house nestled into the (not immediate) side of a mountain. They were already moving down for work. I originally had planned to move into the city. Once in the ‘country’ I hated it. As a then 21 year old I struggled with the lack of retail and fast food on offer, the seemingly (at the time) non-existent nightlife, the narrow mindedness of (what I have since learnt was only) some, and the isolation from the city, and therefore theatre, music and art. The three things I may as well live for. I yearned for the city.

I learnt to love the ‘country’ once I started working at the local pub. I met and befriended the locals, granted most of them are (or were) over 65 years old. I learnt from them, I listened to their stories of the town in the old days, and I gained a new respect for it and its region. With the rise in popularity of Instagram and online shopping, the lack of retail outlets no longer bothered me. Clean eating became increasingly popular, and new people moved into town opening up places like Il Locale and LEAF Thai / Vietnamese Restaurant, so the fast food problem was somewhat overcome. The narrow minded were becoming more tolerant, or I was started to realise that they were actually just a loud minority. I worked out when the express trains left the South Coast for Sydney and vice versa. And then, the finale, I started to enjoy Football, I know right. So there I was (am – work permitting) perched up in the freezing cold at the local footy games, beer/wine in hand of course, watching the boys rumble around in the mud and occasionally have beef. I started to get to know more people my own age, the top pub (there are two in the ‘country’, one locally referred to as ‘the bottom’ and the other ‘the top’ – with no significant incline between them) got a makeover with craft beer included – Nightlife became considered adapted to and loved for its ease and simplicity. I fell in love with the music of Chuparosa who played a show at the close by Tomerong Hall, I learned about the evolving Theatre/Music/Arts scene in Wollongong, And now for the absolute Encore, Tim Freedman played a concert a Bundanon. Consider all needs for music, theatre, and the arts met.


Back to Life, Back to Reality (for some)

As life would have it, I landed the job of most (self included) New-Graduate Registered Nurses dreams, in the St Vincent’s Emergency Department in Sydney. I love my work and more than that I love my patients. I moved to a new neighbourhood, Darlinghurst. I love its coffee culture, its bright lights and sleepless nights. I’ve researched into it’s history, and spent countless hours roaming the area becoming familiar with the place. I’m now surrounded by retail outlets and have some new 25 year old mindset of needing nothing. I have an array of fast food outlets available at the click of a finger – most of which require an Ondansetron wafer post consumption. The local nightlife in in abundance, and I can no longer tolerate, nor really want to feel, the effects of alcohol. Oh and I don’t have the bandage dress to go with most of it, nor do I want it. The people are open minded, and sometimes too open minded – I mean even in the country we vaccinate our children? And so far, I think I’m averaging a performance a week, since moving here full-time, which really makes it worthwhile.

I’m sitting here, in Darlo, half watching the news, and I miss home. Home being the ‘country’. I miss the non-inclined but referred to pubs, each pubs tables of knowledge, and their MIA dress code. I miss the Footy on a Saturday afternoon, wine in hand and mud a plenty. I miss the people and their wisdom – like who in the city can grow their grocery basket contents? At the end of the year I’ll reassess but right now I’m thinking I’ll return to the ‘country’ once the year is up, permanently. Thankfully, I’ll return wiser and more appreciative.

But for now I’ll have to chow down on some Missy K, and have the Zofran handy. I know the dumplings look good, but honestly it’s no LEAF, or Johns Thai Berry.