We made the move down to ‘Austi’ in October 2016, but we were still yo-yo between our apartment in Bondi, which we were Airbnb-ing out and the in-laws’. We have been really settled here for about one year now. My partner was offered a job down in Bowral so we drew a line between there and the Arent & Pyke studio on the coastal train line and we ended up in here!
We really haven’t looked back! Until maternity leave, I had been commuting up to Sydney three to four days a week and then working from home where possible. It’s an easy hour on the train – perfect time to devour a great book. Living in Sydney, we had really busy lives and it does feel like we have turned the volume down since moving here. The pace is so very relaxed and there is a lovely sense of community where neighbours chat over the fence and kids ride bikes until twilight.
I grew up in the Sutherland Shire, so the Coal Coast was always somewhere I went as a kid, as well as in my late teens when we all wanted to take our crappy first cars for a spin along the coastal road!
The beauty of this area for me is still the drama of the landscape. The little towns snake their way down, bound on one side by the vast ocean and on the other by the incredible scale of the Illawarra Escarpment ledge, It makes you feel so small beside it.
As the weather cools down the mist tends to sit over the steep slope. It is considerably colder and windy down here in the winter so it’s a great time to cuddle up and keep warm beside the moody grey of the ocean or the misty green plateau.
On the other hand, summer down here is pretty special too. There is almost always a coastal breeze and the temperatures remain lower than Sydney even on the hottest of days. The beaches are sparkling, the iced lattes are flowing, and it feels like you are on holidays every day.
Where the mountains meet the sea, as seen from Sublime Point. Photo – Nikki To.
It’s a challenging hike tells Dom! Photo – Nikki To.
The 45-minute trek leads you through through thick bushland and dense Cabbage Tree palms. Photo – Nikki To.
The view from the top out over Austinmer. Photo – Nikki To.
Moore Street General in Austinmer. Photo – Nikki To.
The general is Dom’s pick for a wholesome, homey brunch. Photo – Nikki To.
Everything is served on locally-made bread! Photo – Nikki To.
‘This cafe is a gorgeous space,’ tells Dom. Photo – Nikki To.
The interior designer often goes for their daily muffin! Photo – Nikki To.
Our tour guide Dominique “Dom” Brammah. Photo – Nikki To.
Moore street features old miners cottages and beautiful old shop buildings. Photo – Nikki To.
Finbox is a Thirroul institution. Photo – Nikki To.
The boardstore also sells art. Pictured here: works by Nick Santoro. Photo – Nikki To.
And has awesome coffee, in case you’re in need of another (after the drive and that Point hike!) Photo – Nikki To.
Brunch round two for Dom (and yet-to-be-born Freddie). Photo – Nikki To.
Boards and surfwear in store. Photo – Nikki To.
‘They really do make the best coffee!’ tells Dom. Photo – Nikki To.
Finbox mural. Photo – Nikki To.
The Coal Coast look – on rack and in-situ. Photo – Nikki To.
Thirroul Beach Motel, just waiting to be Instagramed! Photo – Nikki To.
‘The beauty of this area for me is still the drama of the landscape,’ says Dom. Photo – Nikki To.
The ‘retro-tastic’ motel is located within walking distance to the train and buses, plus the village and beach! Photo – Nikki To.
A pretty little space, serving fancy seafood: South Sailor. Photo – Nikki To.
It occupies the site of Jim’s Fish Café, which dated back to 1946. Photo – Nikki To.
South Sailor Pale Ale is on tap. Photo – Nikki To.
Inside the fish bar and garden. Photo – Nikki To.
The menu offers seafood share-plates cooked to order and classic chip-shop fare. Photo – Nikki To.
You’ll also find some exotic flavours at the in-house Sushi & Poke bar. Photo – Nikki To.