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).
Cork 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.
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.
Il 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
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.
The 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.
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.
Deep 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.
Vietnamese Pancake @ LEAF.
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/
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.
Drawing Rooms – 2013
Drawing Rooms – 2014
Be mindful, you’re in the Australian Bush, there are snakes and spiders – Whistle Dixie.
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.
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.
The 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.
Seven-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!
Re-Enacting FAME on the Main Street of the Tiny Town.