The Good Food team share their favourite places to eat and drink in their second homes.
This is a post-COVID love story. My first out-of-town review after lockdown took me to this special part of the world. Now I go back for the bush walks, the beaches and the great places to eat – and because I can. An hour-and-a-half on the road and I'm sitting down somewhere beautiful with a beer and a plate of local seafood.
Turn off the M1 motorway and wind down through the bush towards the coast, and the world's your oyster. Literally your oyster, and your crisp-fried local whitebait, if you're lunching at Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf. The waterside fish shop, takeaway and restaurant has been in the same family for 50 years – that's Sam on the floor, Jenni in the kitchen, and Merv in the shop, so say g'day.
If you're in need of a hike, then park at the Arboretum at Pearl Beach and walk the three-kilometre fire trail through Brisbane Water National Park to Patonga for lunch in the sun at the Boathouse Hotel – only problem being that with a tummy full of beer and prawns, you'll also have to walk back.
For cocktails and spicy Asian food, look no further than Lucky Bee at Hardys Bay; and for a big night out, book a table at the newly buzzy Bells at Killcare overlooking the grand old garden. Have a negroni at Bar Toto in Ettalong, or a smoky, sexy dinner from the wood-fired grill at Osteria Il Coccia. Drink Six String Pale Ale from Erina, and Moore's Gin from Erina's pioneering Distillery Botanica.
In Woy Woy, head for Tropicana Pizza Pizza for seafood pizza with extra toppings of fun. Seacoast Fishing at Copacabana is your go-to for local lobster, caught off MacMaster's Beach, and Nicola Coccia's crusty wood-fired bread from Osteria Il Coccia in Ettalong is the best thing you can sandwich it in.
Insider's tip: "Do the 90-minute round trip on the ferry from Woy Woy to Saratoga, Davistown and Empire Bay and back to Woy Woy; it's really beautiful," says Sam Clayton of Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf. "Take the kids and you can lunch on the enormous waterfront lawn at the Davistown RSL." centralcoastferries.com.au
Bar Toto, shop 83, 189 Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach, bartoto.com.au
Bells at Killcare, 53 The Esplanade, Killcare, bellsatkillcare.com.au
The Boathouse Hotel Patonga Beach, shop 6, 8 Patonga Drive, Patonga theboathousehotelpatonga.com.au
The Lucky Bee, 60 Araluen Drive, Hardy's Bay, theluckybee.com.au
Osteria Il Coccia, shop 40, 189 Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach, osteriailcoccia.com.au
Tropicana Pizza Pizza, 61 Trafalgar Avenue, Woy Woy, tropicanapizzapizza.com
Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf, The Boulevarde, Woy Woy, woywoyfishermenswharf.com.au