I’ve made just a short two and a half hour trip North East from Canberra in the car, it’s a Saturday afternoon in early autumn and it’s a perfect 27°C. I’m sitting with my partner on the front deck at Shellharbour’s Ocean Beach Hotel (the local pub) under the sun and the clear blue sky, overlooking the green grass of Grey Park and then out over the harbour and on to the Tasman Sea.
A schooner is $4.80 here, not the cheapest, but the bar staff are friendly and the TAB, and the deck, are superb. They’ve got two pool tables, two good size televisions on which to watch the footy, and a prize winning Seafood restaurant, so Shellharbour’s local pub has got a lot going for it.
Prior to finding ourselves at the pub we’d spent most of the day on the beach. Shellharbour has three main beaches; North Beach, South Beach, and The Farm, but you won’t find a bad patch of sand anywhere along the coastline.
The North and South Beaches are always clean, always patrolled, and are just a few minutes’ walk from the village centre, but The Farm, situated inside Shellharbour’s picturesque Killalea State Park, although a bit further away (five minutes in the car), is definitely the pick of the bunch.
North Beach is home to Shellharbour’s champion surf club and has a clean shower block, a playground, and a path right down to the sand for easy access, as well as a big car park. South Beach doesn’t have the facilities, but it makes for a nice walk and is the only beach in Shellharbour that allows pets.
Killalea, though, is in a league of its own. A beautiful, secluded beach, away from the village, nestled in at the base of Bass Point. It’s a bit of a trek to get down there, but it’s well worth the effort.
Tomorrow it’ll be the breathtaking Bushrangers Bay for another swim and a snorkel in the morning, then on to Stockland Shellharbour for some retail therapy. In 2012 Stockland Shellharbour became the Illawarra region’s largest shopping centre following a massive redevelopment that added 100+ specialty stores and almost 1000 car spaces, so if Shopping is your thing, Shellharbour has got you covered.
In the evening we’ll have to make a call on where we eat dinner, and with Shellharbour’s main street (Addison Street) playing host to well over fifteen fantastic alfresco eateries, it won’t be an easy decision. Spanish Tapas, Traditional Mexican, Japanese Teppanyaki, Thai, Italian, and Mediterranean are just some of the types of cuisine on offer.
And finally, after dinner, we’ll catch a show at the Roo Theatre, a successful community based not-for-profit Theatre Company that put on an average of six shows each year, with recent productions including the likes of Grease, Les Miserable, and the Full Monty.
So, if you’re looking for a weekend getaway from the nation’s capital and don’t wont to fork out the big dollars, consider Shellharbour. Great beaches, great food, great shopping, and a great pub! What more could you ask for?