Stop for pie & a slice of history on the way to Merimbula
The Nimmitabel Bakery is located in the Snowy Mountains town of Nimmitabel, 1 hour and 45 minutes south of Canberra. It is situated on the Snowy Mountains Highway which connects Canberra to Merimbula, a popular holiday destination on the NSW South Coast. It is a handy rest stop on the journey, positioned over halfway from Canberra and just over an hour's drive to the coast. The town of Nimmitabel itself, as well as the Bakery, is an interesting place to explore. It was established in 1840 with a few grazing properties on the ranges, before becoming a popular stopover for prospectors making their way from the coast to the goldfields at Kiandra, in the Snowy Mountains. Over the years, a sawmill has opened and closed in the town and years of drought has hit local farmers hard. It is largely the tourist trade that keeps this small alpine town going, with the Nimmitabel Bakery a highlight of the area, drawing in the crowds who are travelling over the alpine highway and beyond.
If you are travelling on the Snowy Mountains Highway to Merimbula in the cooler months, the intensity of the cold is a shock when you open up the car door at Nimmitabel, 1070 metres above sea level. When you walk into the bakery however, the baking smell and general "cosy-ness" of the warm interior is welcoming and inviting. During the winter months there is a fireplace to warm up by and in the summer months, there is air conditioning, making it a comfortable place to stop at all year around. There are also toilet facilities and plenty of tables to sit back and enjoy the ambience of the friendly, unique town.
Inside the bakery, there is a wide range of choices in the display cabinet with sweet treats, paninis and savoury items to choose from. For most people, it is the freshly baked bread, flaky pies and large sausage rolls which has travellers walking out the door with arms piled high with brown paper bags. Their coffee, made with Black Mountain coffee beans, is also particularly delicious to keep drivers alert on the winding highway down off the ranges.
On our familys recent to Merimbula we stopped at Nimmitabel Bakery before Easter, so we also bought some chocolatey hot cross buns to devour in the car on the way down to the coast. We loved them so much, that we made a point of stopping on way back to Canberra to pick up some more!
Diners can choose to sit inside and look out onto the busy street, or sit outside and chat to other travellers or locals who walk by. There is a real community feel about the Nimmitabel main street, or Snowy Mountains Highway, with friendly locals happy to share their historical and quaint town. On our last visit, the shopkeeper in the store next door to the Bakery came out for a chat and pointed out some of the features of the surrounding shopfronts, with most still having their original counter tops and restored framework from the late 1800's. The passion the locals have for their town is evident - and it is easy to see why.
On the other side of the bakery, there is a full size elephant statue that you just can't miss. According to the locals, the owner of Nimmitabel Bakery found it on a Balinese holiday and had it transported to the town, which wouldn't have been an easy task. It is now a main feature of the town and an unusual talking point. Just behind the elephant is a small, aged playground for the kids to wear off some energy, before they hop back in the car.
Stopping at Nimmitabel is an experience in itself and makes the alpine drive to the coast an eventful one. Where else can you find a town from the 1800's, on the Snowy Mountains range, with an Asian elephant in the main street? Only in Nimmitabel. Ensure you stop at the Bakery on your next visit to the Bega Valley, Merimbula or the Sapphire Coast - it wouldn't be a trip to the coast without it.