On my first date with Mark, he said the most fantastic thing.
We had been getting to know each other and the topic of conversation had turned to South Coast road trips as I filled him in on my childhood weekend ritual of driving down on Friday nights to Callala Bay where my family had a holiday house.
Mark was telling me how he’d only been to the South Coast a couple of times but he had remembered driving through this gorgeous little town and being really disappointed when his friends didn’t want to stop to check it out. I asked him where it was and he said the magical words:
“I think it was called Berry. I really want to go back”.
And it was in that moment that I knew he was a keeper.
Berry is now a special place for us and one of our favourite refuges when we need to get out of the city. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Sydney so perfect for a day trip. The drive is also pretty spectacular, especially when you pass through spots like this:
Berry has all the country charm of historic buildings and leafy surrounds but as an added bonus, comes complete with gourmet food spots and beautiful little stores which sell unique, one-off pieces. It’s our favourite weekend escape. This time, we took our mums with us as we knew they would love exploring Berry and enjoying a picnic with us. Plus, generally speaking, mums are just the best and every now and then you need to remind them of that.
Here’s our itinerary:
ITINERARY & MAP
Food & Coffee: Milkwood Bakery
Picnic: Apex Park
Afternoon Tea: The Berry Tea Shop
MILKWOOD BAKERY109 Queen Street, Berry
You’ll be able to find Milkwood Bakery fairly easily – just follow the wafty scent of freshly baked bread to the line of people out the door.
Milkwood Bakery was established in 2012 and is the more casual offshoot of the Berry Sourdough Cafe (which you can find in a rustic, lovingly restored heritage-listed barn house just around the corner at 23 Prince Alfred Street).
It has a gorgeous range of artisan organic sourdough breads baked fresh in wood fire ovens – from the classic Berry sourdough to the pane pugliese, thyme and olive flat bread, the levain blanc (a classic french style loaf) and the fig & walnut loaf.
The display is also beautifully set up with a delicious range of flaky croissants, savoury muffins, cakes, pastries, scrolls, mini-pizzas and tarts.
We ordered the lamb and pine nut sausage roll (incredible) and a range of the meat pies – the Beef Bourguignon, the Steak & Caramelised Onion and the Chicken, Leek, Bacon & Mushroom (all impossibly good) – plus a mushroom and gruyere cheese tart with golden pastry (I could have eaten 7!). Oh, and the sweet pastries? Yeah, we got a few of those too: a raspberry danish, a nut tart and a Portuguese tart.
You can pick up a very good coffee to go made from a retro inspired duck-egg blue espresso machine. There’s also a range of house-made muesli, jams, and dips to bring home for your loved ones – which is handy, because I doubt the lamingtons will survive the car ride home.
Check out the website for more details.
APEX PARKCnr Queen St (Princes Highway) & Prince Alfred Street, Berry
As soon as you glimpse the the little footbridge and gorgeous rotunda set amongst trees in beautiful Apex Park, you know this is a special place and the perfect spot for a Berry picnic.
It was so lovely to have a full day out with our busy mums. It’s the special yet simple things that are a bit ‘out of the ordinary’ – like a road trip and picnic in Berry – that will be remembered and talked about in years to come.
→ Toilets: Public toilets are adjacent to Apex Park.
→ Parking: There is street parking nearby or you can find parking down a side street. The main road has parking limits of 1 hour, but this is enough time for a Milkwood picnic. You may need to move the car however if you plan on shopping or enjoying afternoon tea later.
→ Bicycles: You can’t really cycle in the park, sorry – it ain’t big enough for that. But definitely take the bike around the gorgeous country lane ways in Berry and the surrounds.
→ Dogs: I didn’t see any signs, so I assume dogs are permitted on a lead. Maybe just check this when you are there.
→ Weddings: And yes, you can book Apex Park for weddings! Click here for details. How dreamy!
THE BERRY TEA SHOP1/66 Albert Street, Berry
Many moons ago, I had to do a uni assessment which involved inventing a business to learn how to set up a company step-by-step. It was a law subject so naturally, a lot of people were setting up their own pretend law firms. Me? Well, I figured if it was all pretend and we could pick absolutely anything we wanted, I would go with my all-time favourite fantasy business…
A tea shop.
I spent a lot of time imagining how beautiful my tea shop would look, what it would be called (“Tranquilitea”, for the record) and the huge range of tea I would have. Much more time than necessary given I wasn’t actually getting graded on how awesome my invented shop was.
So, for someone who has imagined the perfect tea shop, I was blown away when I first visited The Berry Tea Shop. The shop doesn’t only just sell amazing tea but they have all kinds of beautiful tea accessories, like tea pots, cups, strainers, canisters, cake stands, teaspoons, paper goods, decorations, tea cosies and books. And, what’s more, you can sit inside and take it all in while drinking delicious tea and eating a freshly baked scone with Cuttaway Creek raspberry conserve and double cream. Yeah, amazing right?
It’s like all my tea shop fantasies brought to life and my equivalent of a ‘kid in a candy store’ experience.
Check it out:
In my mind, tea drinking is all about the experience and the ritual. It’s about fine china and teapots with cosies and, most importantly, taking time to enjoy and savour the moment. I’m therefore a firm believer that tea shouldn’t ever be in a takeaway cup or rushed or drunk on the run. Hence, I have a ‘no tea on picnics’ rule… unless it comes in Royal Albert, Royal Doulton or Wedgwood, then I might make an exception. Anything less would be disrespectful, really.
Luckily for us, at The Berry Tea Store, we got to enjoy a warming cup of tea with a slice of the gluten-free orange and almond syrup cake (a favourite of mine) and the hummingbird cake as a final treat to round out our picnic / Berry adventure.
I challenge anyone who goes to The Berry Tea Shop not to fantasise about giving it all up and moving to an adorable country town to open up an adorable little tea shop. If you need some inspiration, this is what husband and wife owners Cliff and Paulina did with a life-swap from stressful Sydney to country calm – and to great success.
I’m sure it’s not always tea and biscuits but if you get the chance to meet the bubbly Paulina, you get the idea that this probably comes close to “living the dream”. I was able to draw the simple conclusion that beautiful tea shops make people happy. The proof’s in the sign:
Tea really is like a hug in a cup. And if you take two mums out for tea, you get a bonus round of double hugs. I highly recommend it.
Check out the website for more details and to shop online – but make sure you go to the store as well!
There’s plenty to see and do in Berry that we didn’t get to showcase in this post, so take your time when you’re down there to explore. Some of our other suggestions are as follows:
♦ There’s Il Locale Gelato on Queen Street which sells delicious locally made ice-cream and has the cutest wall mural ever:
♦ If you fancy donuts, you cannot go past The Famous Berry Donut Van. Yes, famous for being awesome. Mmm… donuts.
♦ For gourmet food supplies, check out The Emporium Food Co at 127B Queen Street. You can also pick up a great picnic lunch here too as they have a wonderful range of deli products.
♦ For gifts, my pick is Huckleberry Home which has French and Hamptons inspired homewares and furniture. Find them at Shop 2, 94 – 96 Queen Street.
♦ For more gifts, homewares and some textiles as well, go to Juniper Hearth in a beautiful old building on the corner of Alexandra and Princess Street.
♦ And if that wasn’t enough and you want even more gifts, homewares etc, head to Moss Nest at 69 Queen Street.
♦ For art and design, check out Flying Pig Precinct at 12 – 14 Alexander Street, for a range of ceramics and handcrafted pieces.
♦ For the fashion I’d buy if I wasn’t on a budget, go to Roots & Wings Design at 83 Queen Street.
♦ For gorgeous hand cremes and toiletries, stop in at Scullys & Co at 108 Queen Street.
Next week on The Picnic Press: We make good on our promise to show you where to find the best pork belly in Sydney and a bonus ice-cream stop.
P.S If you love Mark’s photos, check out his other work at Mark Jay Photography and on Facebook.