by Sally Hammond
Think of Berry, if you like, as a sort of coastal Mudgee. City refugees have flocked here in the past ten or so years, lured by the ocean just five minutes away, an emerging winery scene, the magnificent hinterland of rolling farmland, some of it with distant views of the sea - and the town itself, small enough to be personal, yet with a variety of shops and boutique businesses only dreamed of in suburbia.
Just on two hours south of the centre of Sydney, it's no wonder people have 'emigrated' here. Those who don't move in permanently, take up residence at weekends and in holiday periods, sunning themselves at the footpath tables of the thirty or so eateries in the town.
That's way too many for the official resident population of around 1600. But numbers swell enormously in tourist season as people stroll Queen Street, the one main street, past the evocatively named , or the Great Southern Hotel - beloved of bikies, with the road sign to everywhere in the driveway.
To some it's all a little too precious. They feel that the meticulously lettered signs and quaint names have made a folk-art curiosity out of the town. Yet those who stop short, fifteen minutes' away at Australia's Tidiest Town, Kiama, with its blowhole, or zip on to Nowra, the shopping town for the region, miss a lot if they bypass Berry.
You could come to Berry and have a coffee, pick up some needlepoint and a teddy bear and move on south, but locals are keen for you to stay. So keen that new places are opening, and the town 'centre' is stretching south along the main road. Make sure you factor in a visit to South Coast Provedores and stock up on jams and chutneys and much more.
At the other end of the main street, around the corner from Bunyip Inn you'll find the Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery and cafe, worth yet another stop.
Just two of many excuses to return to Berry. Very soon.
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