The south coast of NSW is packed full of surprises and gorgeous postcard locations that will simply blow your mind. It seems that no matter what detour you take off the Princes Hwy 1, you’re almost always destined to find a magical natural wonder. Sometimes, quite unexpectedly – you might also stumble upon a lovely cafe/diner (yes – the one just around that next corner, hidden behind those trees), that offers very good food and a stunning location/view to match, just like we did at Cudmirrah Cafe, Cudmirrah – a pretty seaside/lakeside village, just south of Jervis Bay. 2
We love our weekend country drives/escapes, and nothing gives us greater joy than to discover jaw-dropping locations/views (which usually include water) of the great Australian landscape – whether it be a coastline/beach, river or lake. 3 Jervis Bay is located about 2 and a half hours (187 kms) south from Sydney. 4 It’s an incredible expanse of water, lined with a magnificent coastline and tranquil beachtowns. It’s a popular holiday destination for beach-loving visitors from far and wide. The bay is surrounded by meandering rivers and creeks, and sleeping basins, lagoons and lakes – all beautiful in their own right and playing their part in the whole Jervis Bay charm.
Having a strong appreciation for lakes, we were drawn to Swan Lake on the map. With such a pretty name and positioned so close to the coastline, we decided that we simply had to visit and experience this magical lake for ourselves. Visuals of the romantic ballet and elegant black swans gliding across the lake in pairs filled our minds with wonder and anticipation.
We arrived at the lake just after noon (on a weekday in early May), and the weather was perfect with Matisse blue skies randomly brushed with broad strokes of grey-white clouds. The lake was serene, clear and equally blue, reflecting the heavens like a massive mirror. The lake was more beautiful than we had expected, and even though the aerial/bird’s eye view of the lake looks more like a slug (or perhaps a chubby abstract swan), I easily imagined how this could be the magical lake that fairytales are based on. The lake itself was a solace of calm and beauty. 5
After enjoying and photographing Swan Lake, we drove further up the road and reached Cudmirrah 6 – a peaceful and idyllic beachside/lakeside town lodged between Swan Lake and the Tasman Sea. We drove past the Cudmirrah Cafe/Store and noticed the tables out the front. We realised that it was lunch time and decided to park the car to inspect this cafe a little further. To our happiness, we remembered that we had a bottle of white wine in the car that we had purchased earlier. We entered the cafe and were welcomed by the friendly owners, who offered us any table outside to choose from, and soon after brought out a wine bottle cooler and two wine glasses for our wine.
The waitstaff/owners were friendly and helpful, and we quickly started a conversation. We noticed that the business is not only a cafe, but also a general/convenience store, as well as a service station with two operating petrol pumps. This is extremely convenient if you should end up here with a nearing empty tank. I was also happy to see some beautiful framed carved cuttlebone artworks by a local artist hanging on the wall inside. We learnt that the business is under new management (since Easter), with the current/new owners planning to transform the place with the addition of a pizza-oven, new seating arrangements/design, a bottle shop, and a new menu that will include gourmet pizza. 7
The menu was not extensive, but there were enough there to satiate our lunch time appetite. There were also cakes and slices on display inside. After being informed that the hamburgers have been refined with a new beef patty recipe, I knew that this was what I wanted to try. Besides the hamburger, we also ordered the fish burger, the salmon rissole and salad, waffles, a milkshake and a coffee. The food came out fast, and tasted fresh and delicious. I’m not normally a huge burger fan, but the hamburger that I had ordered was very tasty and a joy to eat, albeit a challenge due to its size. The beef patty was cooked just right, soft/tender and full of flavours, as promised. It was served on a bed of fresh lettuce/salad mix, beetroot and tomato, and topped with sweet fried onions and bbq sauce, sandwiched between two charred sesame seed buns.
The fish burger was also well presented and delicious. Generous pieces of grilled snapper fillets piled on a bed of lettuce/salad, tomato and sliced red onion, topped with lime mayo and wedged between two hot buns. The fish was lightly seasoned, flaky, juicy and moreish and the lime mayo was a great enhancer. The salmon rissole was a large mildly flavoured salmon mince/meat and vegetable disc, served with a sharp balsamic vinegar dressed salad of julienne carrot, lettuce mix, red onion and tomato. The salad was refreshing and complemented the rissole very well.
The plate of waffles was a tower of tanned crispy, crunchy waffle squares served with layers of vanilla ice cream and hot/warm caramel sauce. An irresistible and decadent dish that looked and tasted divine – sweet, creamy and crunchy goodness on the one plate, enhanced with the natural sweetness of mini banana slices (provided by the owner’s grandmother on the day). We ended our meal with a bubbly/foamy and smooth well-balanced banana milkshake and a good cappuccino. The milkshake was perfect to sip and slurp, served with whole peeled mini bananas, and the coffee was a satisfying caffeine hit, perfect for our drive back home.
We had a lovely afternoon and lunch at the Cudmirrah Cafe. The cafe is new and modern with outdoor seating – perfect to enjoy the coastal air and weather. We were provided with friendly and fast service and delicious food. The owners are in the process of changing/improving the business with the addition of a pizza oven, new outdoor seating and a new menu, so I can only see this place being better. The food was tasty, fresh, generous and affordable. Cudmirrah Cafe is a great place to visit if you’re staying/camping in the area (Cudmirrah or Berrara), or if you’re driving through. Besides being a commendable cafe, it’s also a convenience/general store to pick up some supplies, including bait, as well as being a service station for refueling. Definitely worth a stop/visit.
- Affordable, delicious food – sandwiches, burgers, fish & chips, waffles, crepes, deserts, snacks, etc.
- Cafe, store and service station in one.
- Beautiful Swan Lake and reserve (with bbqs) just across the street.
Address: 14 Goonawarra Drive, Cudmirrah, NSW, 2540
Phone: (02) 4441 3006
- Part of Australia’s Highway 1. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_1_(Australia)). ↩
- Dear readers – by all means, please play it safe when driving or travelling to new places/territories (even if it’s just a short trip to close-by). Make sure you have a working gps/mobile reception handy, ample petrol in the tank, and roadside assistance in case you get stuck/lost/break down or encounter a unfortunate roo or something. Disclaimer: I take no responsibility should you experience any mishaps. ↩
- By the way, have you seen anything so magical as Australia’s pink Lake Hallier? ↩
- Reference: https://maps.google.com.au/. ↩
- We later discovered from a plaque that the lake isn’t named after the famous ballet but rather from the fact that the lake is home to large numbers of black swans when conditions are favourable. “Black swans are native to Australia. They are usually found on lakes where there is plenty of seagrass and algae that they can reach with their long necks. They pair for life and build nests of aquatic plants in the shallows or floating amongst water plants.” While we were there, we did see a couple of black swans swimming and squawking in the distance, but they were too far away for me to take a good photo of them, but believe me they were definitely black swans, and not a floating branch or a loch ness/bunyip relative or something. ↩
- The name Cudmirrah is Aboriginal in origin, with the meaning of “home of the swans”. Reference: http://www.oktravel.com.au/au/nsw/shoalhaven/cudmirrah/. ↩
- The owners will still retain some of the classics on the existing menu, including the burgers. ↩