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Apr 3, 2011 06:31 PM

NSW regional recommendations?

Hi there,
We are planning a road trip to explore the coast and hinterland from Brisbane to the Hunter Valley over Easter for 11 days. We will probably head south along the coast and then head a little way inland on our return from the Hunter.
Still researching, and aren't planning on pre-booking accommodation so can be diverted with the promise of good food!
I'm keen to get recommendations for the smaller towns & locations we'll be passing through, for dining, farmers markets with good local produce, and must-try foods in different regions along the way.
I know we'll be spoilt for choice around the Hunter, but can anyone recommend some other places in the regions we will be visiting?

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  1. Heading South down the coast...

    Tumbulgum Hotel, Tumbulgum. Great location overlooking the Tweed River with good pub food.

    Utopia Cafe, Bangalow. Really excellent food from a varied and eclectic menu. Good wine selection. Breakfast & lunch daily, dinner Friday and Saturday. We always eat here if we are passing through.
    Fishheads, Bangalow. Good seafood.
    Ate/Satiate, Bangalow is also reputed to be very good, haven't tried it yet.
    The Bethany B&B in Binna Burra nearby is very pleasant.

    The Pacific Highway between Bangalow and Coffs is a morass of construction.
    Much better to head out through Lismore to Casino then down the Summerland Way to Grafton. Very little traffic south of Casino. You can take a side road from the Summerland Way to Lawrence and catch the ferry across to rejopin the Pacific at Brushgrove, a bit north of Ulmarra if you like.

    Brushgrove Hotel, Brushgrove (near Grafton). Decent pub meals

    Commercial Hotel, Ulmarra (near Grafton). Great pub with beer garden right on the Clarence River. Nice pub lunches, and dinner Friday & Saturday.
    Rooftops B&B across the road is good.

    If you want to avoid the Pacific between Grafton and Coffs, take the Orara Way from Grafton. This will bring you out at the south end of Coffs Harbour.

    There are several restaurants in Sawtell, but we haven't eaten at any of them for a few years now so can't give an opinion other than to say they used to be good. There's a very nice B&B there also, right at the end of the street with all the restaurants.

    Heritage Hotel, Gladstone (near Kempsey) and Riverview Hotel, Smithtown across the river.
    Both have great locations and good pub lunches. And going this way means you bypass Kempsey.

    Cafe Red at Ricardoes Tomatoes, Blackmans Point (near Port Macquarie). Great little cafe in a tomato & strawberry growing farm. Lots of produce and condiments for sale also.

    Heading back North further inland...

    Canter Restaurant, Scone. Excellent modern Oz cuisine. Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Wednesday to Friday, Breakfast/Lunch Sunday. You should probably reserve ahead for dinner.
    Asser House, Scone. Nice little cafe at the South end of town.
    Larda, Scone. Nice Cafe & provisions store.

    Playhouse Hotel, Barraba. Nicely restored hotel now a B&B, also serves dinner. Quite good food. Make sure they are serving dinner if you plan to stop there, pickings in that area are lean otherwise. Nice place to stay if all meals are available.

    Enjoy your trip.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cap

      Thankyou so much for the recommendations. Definitely some options to look into, and will check out the route suggestions as well.
      If anyone has any ideas for the areas further South, I'm still interested in finding some nice food options - perhaps around Nelson Bay, Newcastle, the Hunter (as I know there will be plenty of options, so would appreciate some places to start!) and up in the mountains inland from the coast (although not sure on the towns in that area or if they will be limited to takeaways and pubs?). Thanks in advance again.

      1. re: The_pushka

        A couple more...

        In Tea Gardens, the Boatshed Restaurant ( is worth a visit, excellent food and right on (over) the water. This is on the North side of Port Stephens.

        The Jacaranda Cottage B&B in Tamworth has very nice accommodation (Loft) and provides an excellent breakfast.