Above: Currarong Beach Cottage – South Coast Escapes
This blog post was written by author and AWC presenter, Allison Tait
Summer might be over, and the bushfires and floods behind us, but for some communities, the rebuilding is just beginning – and is going to take some time.
How can we, as writers, help get those communities back on their feet? Well, we can do exactly what we love to do – write. And travel. And eat.
I live on the south coast of NSW, in the Shoalhaven, to be precise. Yes, THAT Shoalhaven, where 80 per cent of the land area was burnt or impacted in some way by the 2020 bushfires.
To say it’s been a difficult few months around these parts is an understatement.
In good news, though, most of our small towns and villages, our 100+ beaches, our mighty river and our gorgeous coastal scenery remains intact – and we’re still only two to three hours from Sydney, depending on which village you choose to visit.
Yes, when you visit you’ll witness the devastation – and really, you should, the burnt out landscapes are a strangely beautiful and stark reminder of just how careful we need to be with our environment going forward – but you’ll also find inspiration, peace, quiet, friendly locals and a thriving creative community.
In fact, if you’re looking for a place to create your own DIY Writer’s Retreat this year, I can’t think of anywhere better. So, whether you want coast, country or closer to town, I’ve put together some great places to stay to get you started.
With a range of stylish self-contained houses on offer, Catherine from South Coast Escapes understands creative types – she’s a blow-in from the Big Smoke, with a long successful career in magazine design and styling behind her. From Audrey and Ivy in the heart of Nowra – walking distance to the river, great coffee at Hyper Hyper, and all local amenities – to the world’s cutest beach cottages at Currarong, South Coast Escapes has the right ‘room’ for your writing to blossom.
Located in Huskisson, minutes from the white sands and stunning views of Jervis Bay, Husky B&B (as it’s affectionately known) is just right for you if you’re planning a weekend or week-long retreat on your own. With their creative backgrounds, Kate and Steve understand you need space and time to think and write – and offer genuine hospitality and sparkling conversation when all that solitude gets too much. Let them know you’re coming to write!
If it’s clean, crisp air and long walks in the country you’re after, check in to the Old Schoolhouse at Milton. It’s cute as a button and just the right size for one.
With four pole homes, two of which are just right for a single/couple, Bundle Hill Cottages boast simply sensational views of the beaches at Bawley Point. Set yourself up on the wide, timber deck and breathe in the serenity while pouring out your words.
The perfect spot for writers’ groups looking to set up their own autumn or winter writing retreat! With three self-contained cottages smack-bang in the middle of a picturesque working beef farm, Minimbah Farm is not far from Kangaroo Valley village (for coffee and gourmet pie runs).
And while you’re here, consider some excursions…
When Richard Flanagan wrote this opinion piece for the NY Times about the Australian bushfires on Jan 3, 2020, he mentioned the new sign outside the ‘bookstore in the fire-ravaged village of Cobargo, New South Wales’: “Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs.”
The fire has gone now, but in excellent news, Well Thumbed Books was untouched and is still in business – and they need your business. So stop by.
No writer’s retreat is complete without excellent bread and a range of cakes, and the fabulous Flour Water Salt bakery has both in spades. Featuring bread by Joost Hilkemeijer, the baking magician behind Berry Organic Sourdough, as well as a range of cakes and ready meals, Flour Water Salt has bakery cafes in Milton, Bowral and Kiama, so be sure to stock up on your way through.
If you’re with a writing group and you need a creative date, hop in the car and get thee to the Nerriga Hotel, for a proper country Aussie pub experience. Driving out there, you’ll get a true picture of the damage wrought by the Currowan bushfire, then grab a drink and a meal. Ideas for stories are everywhere, and the landscape around Nerriga is doing a lot of talking at the moment.