Two hours south of Sydney is Berry, a popular pit stop for holidaymakers making the journey to the New South Wales southern hinterlands.
With a population of close to 2000, Berry is the archetype quaint small town. Other than the locals, there are two types of travellers you will meet there – the passersby who take a speedy respite, bite to eat and toilet break prior to hitting the road again, and the others who linger over the multitude of cafes and shops and at the same time savour the quietude of Berry's verdant surroundings. I am the kind to linger.
The first time I visited Berry was on the way to Bateman's Bay and there are very few places so picturesque that its very quaintness can entice you to start a new life there. A few years ago, a friend gave up life in the big smoke and moved to Berry after first bite.
Where to eat after an exhaustive drive has to be prioritised. Tucked behind the main street Princes Highway, on Prince Alfred Street is the Berry Sourdough Cafe. The coffee is smooth and potent enough to enliven any weary traveller. Even better are the offerings on the brunch menu. The house toasted muesli with organic yoghurt, passionfruit and rhubarb was perhaps the best toasted muesli I've had. This is a big call. But this is coming from a toasted muesli aficionado.
An array of freshly baked bread and sweet and savoury pastries produced at Sourdough's sister store the Milkwood Bakery, a few minutes on foot on Queen Street are also available at the cafe. Don't leave without bagging a fig and walnut loaf or a macadamia nut tart because the next pit stop will surely not be as pretty as Berry and no other cafe would have been lauded one of the finest regional cafes in New South Wales or the country.
The parade of artisan and homewares stores will make your pit stop at Berry longer than originally planned. Cabana Jo's and Haven & Space offer quality kitchenware and homeware at reasonable prices. The rustic and French provincial theme runs right across the stores with many of the furniture pieces unique to Berry. I left Haven & Space with an oversized wall clock that just fit in the boot of the car but had to hold back from taking a dining set home. Luckily they deliver once a week to Sydney.
The Bead Bar sells a range of unique beads and quirky trinkets and directly across is Candleberries, a store filled with redolent candles. Berry's scent emanates from this store. I was greeted with a warm welcome from the owner and not have I met anyone as passionate about candles as he was.
Two hours of sauntering took over and it was time to go, but not before a taste test of Pompadour's Chocolate House also on Queen Street. Another cup of coffee didn't seem so gratuitous when faced with a lengthy drive ahead and a piece of their homemade caramel slice wouldn't hurt either. The slice was not overbearingly sweet and neither was the lemon yoghurt cake, which had the right punch of yoghurt and lemon.
Pompadours sells delicious chocolates and serves coffee.
If you are the type who wants to linger in Berry, keep in mind that a lot of shopkeepers will close as early 4.30pm on weekends. And if you are planning to travel the South Coast during holiday periods, expect an additional hour to an hour and half delay of road traffic. But a quick break in Berry will dissolve any road blues away.