Tathra is without a doubt, one of the most picturesque seaside towns that we’ve visited. I don’t say that lightly because we’ve been to some beautiful seaside towns, and Australia is blessed with a breathtaking endless coastline scattered with charming towns. Nestled on the edge of the Sapphire Coast (south eastern nook of NSW), Tathra has it all – a long pristine beach as its centerpiece, a meandering river that crosses the beach and joins the ocean, surrounding national parks (Mimosa Rocks National Park to the north, and Bournda National Park to the south), and captivating ocean views that include awe-inspiring sunrise horizons. Sighs.
With a population of 1,526 (2011), 1 Tathra is a small tranquil town – mostly undisturbed and unchanged, especially when compared to the big smokes. If you live in Tathra or closeby, you’re very lucky, but if you’re a non-local like us and looking for a magical place to escape to and unwind, Tathra is a perfect choice that will not disappoint you with its many gems. 2
Every time we visit Tathra, we seem to always discover something new and this time was no different. We had spent the night in town and this morning, we woke up in the wee hours and drove to the lookout at the end of Bega Street (please view map below). The air was cool, clean, crisp and fresh, and the sun was just starting to show its face in the horizon. I’d suggested we drive down a side street (Wharf Road), where we serendipitously discovered at the dead end road, both another beautiful perspective of the sunrise/horizon and a large old orange building – aka the historic Old Tathra Wharf – aka The Wharf Locavore. 3
It was still too early for most places to be opened, and after closer inspection of the board on the building, we learnt that the business opens at 8:00 am which was only 15 mins away – awesome! We decided to wait/stay to check it out and have breakfast/coffee. We continued to wonder around – enjoying the morning air and views, snapping away like tourists do. We had a chat with a lone but happy fisherman (who was also an out of towner), who had just pulled up a baby ocean trout/salmon, after fishing for only 10 mins – wow, what a spot! He too had fallen in love with the allure of Tathra. The doors finally opened, the signs put outside and tables/seats/displays, etc put into place, and vroom we entered the building as first customers.
From the moment we stepped in, I was immediately surprised/impressed with the place – its beautiful open plan, large open doors/windows, old wooden timbers/beams, and the sound/smell of fresh coffee being made were all more than I had expected. Everywhere we looked, there was something wonderful – from the colourful display of delicious foods to the cool art/objects placed all around the room. I soon realised that this coffee bar was also an art gallery/store (even though it said so on the front board – but you can understand what my early morning brain can be like?) and was so excited/pleased that we had decided to come in. I continued to snap away at almost everything – trying to not look too odd/conspicuous. I felt obliged to tell the waitstaff that I have a food blog to justify my overzealous photo snapping.
We talked and ordered over the food display cabinets, and as you can see in the photos, they have an impressive selection of pre-made rolls, cakes/sweets and other delicious goodies (check out how good that keylime pie looks – hola!). For a moment, it felt like we were in some hip/cool Melbourne cafe, 4 and not in sleepy Tathra (not saying that Tathra isn’t cool – it’s just that we’ve not seen this arty side of Tathra before), and it sealed our love for Tathra. As our sleepy brains were sparking up, we stumbly ordered a croissant with ham and cheese, and a Turkish bread with tomato and brie, oh and two coffees – a cappuccino and a chocolate affogato.
After placing our orders and deciding where to sit (at the table by one of the opened wharf doors), we continued to walk/wonder around and I was in complete/total awe of all the beautiful things on display, including an indoor custom made succulent garden table, a mini carved canoe, various beautiful objects by local artists, including tin box clocks, shibori clothing, ceramics (some by one of the owners – Poppy Benton), soft and hard sculptures, and local produce too, including honey, fruits, etc, etc. I was in artland/locavore/gourmet heaven! Everything about the place – the people and the products were so cool. I was amazed, inspired and rapt.
After taking copious photos, we finally decided to sit down at our table (and continued to snap away – lol). Before too long, our beautifully presented food and coffees arrived. We continued to chat with Poppy – who is one half of the owners (the other half being her sister – Em). Em soon arrived and joined us in a lovely conversation about Tathra, the business, etc. They explained that the arts, crafts and produce that they supply/stock are locally made/grown – hence their name, 5 and that upstairs is a separate museum. Apart from running the cafe (and possibly other things), Poppy is a ceramics artist and Em works with the local council.
The food was fab! The affogato was a good wake up call – sweet, strong with tasty chocolate and coffee flavours – yum. Likewise, the cappuccino that NL had ordered was a hit with no complaints. The croissant with ham and cheese was what I had hoped for – warm/melting/tasty/nourishing and beautifully presented with a mini salad of lettuce, tiny cherry tomato, orange slices, parsley etc – so pretty. Even their food look like artworks. The Turkish bread with tomato and brie was also delicious – tasty melting brie with chunky slices of tomato – freshly made and just what the dr ordered to wake us up and get us ready for the day – to drive back home. I particularly liked their casual/practical way of serving their drinks and food in takeaway cups and boxes, which is perfectly suitable for takeaway and/or if you want to enjoy your orders outside under the sun/while fishing – pretty awesome, huh?
Meanwhile, as we sat at our table – munching our breakfast by the opened door, enjoying the amazing views – a number of fisherpeople had arrived at the wharf. One fisherman walks towards us/the building and drops a fish on the ground, outside, just before us. I looked out at the fish and knew it was another photo opportunity. I asked him what it was and if my memory serves me correctly, I think he said it was an ocean trout/salmon? Was this the same fish that the first fisherman that we talked to early had caught and left behind? Perhaps – it did look very similar. After our meal, we rested for a moment – just soaking up the atmosphere before we had to leave. As we paid, we thanked the ladies for such a delicious breakfast and great time/experience. We said we’d return soon, and that I’m pretty certain of.
The Wharf Locavore in Tathra is one of the most beautiful coffee bar/gallery that we’ve been to. Excellent coffee and food, and incredible location and views. Fast, efficient, and friendly service, and amazing local artworks and produce to also enjoy/consider. Next time you’re in Tathra, make sure you check them out – it’s a hidden unexpected gem and I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you made the effort.
- Location – without a doubt
- Too cool for school interior and decor/furniture
- Great coffee and food, friendly service
- Local produce and artworks
- Beautifully/practically presented food (for takeaway/outdoor eating)
- A good drive from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, etc. (but well worth it)
The Wharf Locavore (Coffee Bar & Gallery)
Address: Wharf Road, Tathra, NSW, 2550
Phone: 0427 941 747
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed Wednesday)
Note: Stitch & Bitch – 2:00 pm Sundays
- Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathra,_New_South_Wales. ↩
- Tathra is said to mean “beautiful country” or “place of wild cats” in a local aboriginal dialect. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathra,_New_South_Wales. ↩
- Tathra Wharf was constructed between 1860-1862, and in use between 1862 and 1952. It was restored by the National Trust, Department of Planning and local residents. It is a favourite fishing spot for locals and tourists because of the deep waters and incredible views. It is the only remaining coastal steamer wharf in NSW. Reference: http://www.visit.heritage.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5045461. ↩
- Why does Melbourne always to come to mind first when I think of cool cafes – I don’t even live in Melbourne and Sydney has its fair share? ↩
- “A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One often cited, but not universal, definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles [160.9 kms] of its point of purchase or consumption”. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locavore. ↩