There’s something special about having a Devonshire Tea in a cafe nestled within a department store. It reminds me of the old days when department stores were decadent, long before the advent of online shopping. Although small compared to Sydney’s David Jones store, the smaller Wollongong store has The Cafe at David Jones which is situated on the overhead pedestrian walkway linking the department store to a shopping mall across the Crown Street Mall. The cafe is in a prime position, affording a pleasant view down the Mall towards the Tasman Sea that looks awfully inviting this day. The scones have potential, if they were fresh, and are the perfect size for a snack. The fresh cream is way too light (aerosol rather than whipped) and the jam, well, are in sachets.
Tea: A basic choice of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.
Overall: Relaxing spot with a view.
Location: David Jones Wollongong, 169 Crown Street Mall, Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph: 02 4252 5555
Reviewed in November, 2014
The name Parkview implies sweeping and uninterrupted park views. In actual fact the view of the park from Cafe Parkview is between parked cars and through passing traffic. But that’s okay, because the pretty south coast town of Kiama with its famed blowhole, lovely beaches and picture postcard coastline is calm and collected, so a few cars between scones and the view of the park is irrelevant. The cafe interior hints of beachside holidays and diners can sit on the footpath and vie for that park view. Both plain and date scones are available, and I try the date, which isn’t sickly sweet like many date scones I have tasted. Crispy on the outside, the scone is fluffy on the inside with small pieces rather than large chunks of dates. The chilled cream is thickly whipped and the jam is good enough, but it won’t win any awards. The blowhole is an easy meander from the cafe.
Tea: A basic range of loose-leaf Temple Tea served in a pot.
Overall: A relaxed cafe, while not on the park, has views of the park opposite.
‘King’s Patisserie & Cafe’
Families know Jamberoo for its action park, nature lovers pass through on their way to Minnamurra Rainforest or to walk the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk, and the historical Jamberoo Pub is a popular lunch stop particularly for visitors on two wheels. Jamberoo village is pretty small and only has a small selection of shops. A few doors down from the pub is Kings Patisserie, which has a cake cabinet filled with tempting goodies to rival any French Patisserie. I’m lucky to bag the last of the sultana scones, so I take a seat inside by the window. I choose the Wellbeing specialty tea by Tea Tonic, which ends up being slightly more expensive than other teas available as tea bags. I love the proper tea-cup and saucer I am given, tea tastes so much better in a tea rather than a coffee cup! There is no Devonshire Tea on the menu, as each item is purchased separately so depending on how hungry you are, you can order as many as you like. My single scone is fresh, tasty, and served slightly warm, and I decline the serving of butter that is also served alongside it. The jam is standard and although the cream leans more towards the light side, it has a nice texture, and tastes more like mock cream or the cream that is used on commercial cakes.
Tea: Some specialty loose-leaf teas by Tea Tonic and teabags in a good-sized pot.
Overall: Simple cafe that’ll have you drooling over the tempting cakes.
Location: 1/18 Allowrie St, Jamberoo NSW 2533 Ph: 02 4236 0088
Reviewed in December, 2012
‘My Chocolate Shoppe & Coffee Lounge’
On the eve of the Kiama Folk Festival I poke my head into My Chocolate Shoppe & Coffee Lounge on Kiama’s main drag just before closing. The owner says she’s making a cheesecake so there’s no rush. The first thing I notice is that there’s a lot more than just handmade Belgian chocolates here. Actually the two-page menu is chock-a-block full of sweet delights as well as some light savoury treats. On Friday and Saturday nights, the cafe transforms into a wine, coffee and dessert lounge, serving wines from the Illawarra/South Coast paired with Belgian chocolates. On the day menu, choose from date, plain and gluten-free scones. My plain scone arrives steaming, basically nuked to death, but despite this it tastes rather good, and you can tell it has been made with good quality ingredients. Imagine how it would taste fresh, and straight out of the oven! The sensational homemade raspberry jam is delightful, oozing with fruit, and jars of the stuff are available for purchase. Unfortunately the cream is super light, dissolving before my very eyes, and it’s a challenge just to get it from dish to scone. If you dare, take home some decadent chocolates and that jam!
Tea: A range of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas served in a pot, with a heavy slant on herbal teas.
Overall: A comfy cafe filled with delectable sweet sensations.
Location: 13/106 Terralong St, Kiama NSW 2533 Ph: 02 4232 4225 mychocolateshoppe.com.au
Reviewed in September, 2016
‘Sublime Point Cafe’
When you drive up to Sublime Point, the first thing you notice is the view. Sprawled out 416m below are Wollongong’s northern beaches and as far as the eye can see both north and south along the coast and on a clear day, views from the escarpment don’t get better than this. Walk up or down the 850m track, depending on how energetic you feel, as it’s one of the few walks that link the coastal foothills and the plateau. I am told Sublime Point Cafe re-opened about nine months ago, and I’m glad it did because what a place to dine? Open from Wednesday through to Sunday, the views speak for themselves attracting the crowds on weekends, especially in good weather. I hit the tail end of lunch where several large tables are celebrating, so I have a bit of a wait for my scones. Considering the location, overall the Devonshire Tea is pretty average; ordinary jam (whereby I ask for a second spoonful), cake-like and slightly crumbly scones, and only the whipped cream gets any merit. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, a big plus.
Tea: A selection of Madura teabags served in a sweet little teapot.
Overall: Go for the spectacular views.
Location: Sublime Point Lookout, Bulli Tops NSW 2516 Ph: 02 4267 1855 sublimepoint.com.au
Reviewed in December, 2013
‘The Cliffhanger Cafe’
It’s easy, when rushing by on the motorway (M1) between Sydney and Wollongong, to bypass the less obvious spectacular lookout locations along the Bulli Tops escarpment. Such is the nature of motorway travel. But if you have the time, tucked away down the quiet road near the more prominent Panorama House, is Hopetoun Park. Hopetoun Park is a pretty recreational park that has a walking path passing through it leading to Sublime Point further north along the escarpment and down to the beachside suburb of Austinmer. It also has The Cliffhanger Cafe perched cliff side to take advantage of the expansive views of Wollongong’s northern beaches. I visit early on a Saturday morning during a winter cold snap, so virtually have the place to myself. It’s large and bright with floor to ceiling glass to take advantage of the views, and outdoor seating in warmer weather. When my Devonshire Tea arrives I do a double take at the huge portions of jam and cream – they are massive and disproportionate to the size of the scones. Don’t get me wrong, I commend the kitchen staff for this as far too many cafes don’t serve enough jam and cream. I do however feel guilty leaving so much jam and cream, and although the jam is average and low quality, the cream is thick and freshly whipped. The scones are fresh and have a lovely texture but won’t win any awards. Check with the café staff as the menu says that scones are only served until 11.30am even though they are listed on the extensive dessert blackboard menu.
Tea: A small selection of Twining tea bags. The tea bag is served alongside a small pot of hot water.
Overall: A visitor hotspot so expect it to be busy in good weather.
Location: M1, Bulli Tops NSW 2516 Ph: 02 4267 1096 thecliffhanger.com.au
Reviewed July, 2015
‘The Otford Pantry’
The cafes’ specialty is apple pie but the sandwich board on the footpath screams Devonshire Teas, so I go in with expectations. We sit outside at one of the picnic benches, and it’s busy with daytrippers from Bald Hill lookout at Stanwell Tops and hikers from the Royal National Park. It’s the only cafe between those at Stanwell Park and the Audley Boathouse at the northern end of the National Park so it gets a lot of traffic. Orders are taken at the counter and although no one is there, it still takes at least five minutes for someone to serve me or bother to even notice me. I try both the plain and the fruit scone and am a little confused when it arrives. The fruit scone looks, smells and tastes like a Christmas pudding, all poppy and linseeds – crumbling easily. The plain scone is like a bland dry cake and unremarkable and I feed most of it to the cockatoos. Portion controlled packets of jam, a definite no-no when it comes to a Devonshire Tea and the cream is of the can-whipped, light and airy variety. No pots, just a teabag in a cup, which is expensive at $4.50. The highlight is having a Rosella nibbling birdseed at the end of the table at arms reach.
Tea: A few choices of teabags served in a small mug.
Overall: Disappointing – keep driving, riding or walking by.
Location: 22 Lady Wakehurst Dr, Otford NSW 2508 Ph: 02 4294 1243
Reviewed in August, 2012
‘The Palms Cafe’
The perfect destination for a day trip from Sydney or en route if you are heading south or north along the Illawarra coast, Stanwell Park is a magical place. The small beach is wedged between cliffs studded with homes you wished you owned. The cafes aren’t in sight of the beach, which is a shame, so if you want to eat you have to try a cafe in the village. The Palms Cafe is only one of a couple of places to eat, it’s busy and the service is slow, so be prepared to wait a while if you decide to go through lunch time hours. The big crusty scones are pretty good, fresh, but the jam and cream doesn’t give them a kick to make them great. Open from Thursday to Monday.
Tea: A selection of T2 teas.
Overall: Busy on weekends.
Location: 111 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Stanwell Park NSW 2508 Ph: 02 4294 3371 thepalmcafe.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2012
‘The Whitehouse Cafe’
The quaint seaside village of Shellharbour still offers remnants of its historical past. But don’t be put off by the by plush housing estates that engulf the once acres and acres of lush green pastures that surround the historical heart. There’s actually quite a lot of the old left, however some properties have been revamped beyond recognition. Windradene House, now The White House Cafe, was built in 1871 and leased out as holiday accommodation for tourists by the owners who lived next door. Apart from the necessary modifications to create a cafe, the house retains some sort of resemblance to its former self. Although there are a few dining rooms inside the house, the draw card here is the garden setting. It’s Monday morning and the cafe isn’t long open and staff are still setting up outdoor furniture. The scones are light and fluffy but something tells me they are yesterday’s, as they don’t taste as fresh as they could be, which is a bummer, as it’s easy to tell that they could get top marks. The average strawberry jam is paired with fresh but lightly whipped cream – good enough. It’s a nice place for morning tea, and although you can’t see the sea, you can still watch the relaxed Shellharbour world go by.
Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas in a teapot.
Overall: A slice of local history in a pretty garden setting.
Location: 1/29 Addison St, Shellharbour NSW 2529
Ph: 02 4295 5655 facebook.com/whitehousecafeshellharbour/
Reviewed in February, 2017
Visitors to beautiful Berry are spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes. It’s not quite, one on every corner, as competition is fierce with boutiques and homeware stores vying for space, but there’s definitely enough to have you tossing coins to help decide which one to try. Berry currently still endures the Princes Highway traffic, and will do until the bypass is completed. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but perhaps many locals (not businesses) will be happy to have their town back. Until then, Berry’s popularity with day-trippers and passersby will remain strong. After a look at the interesting Berry Museum, which is housed in a former bank, it’s scones at Berry Jetz Cafe. A lively and inviting café, I opt to try both the plain and date scones, which incidentally are brought in from the Berry Bakery and not baked on the premises. My friend and I both agree that the plain scone is the pick of the two, simply because it has a better texture and tastes fresher. The date scone is sweet and dry and we both leave it. There’s very little jam considering the size of the scones but requesting more isn’t a problem. Although you may not want more as it’s very average, quality wise, and although the cream is fresh it’s prepared in a whipping siphon so is particularly light.
Tea: A standard variety of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a teapot. There are other teas available that aren’t on the menu, so ask if you want something slightly different.
Overall: A bright and conveniently located café with a friendly and welcoming vibe.
Location: 1/94 Queen St, Berry NSW 2535 Ph: 02 4464 3320
Reviewed July, 2015
It’s surprising that the only two cafes at the Southern end of Mollymook beach both serve homemade scones. What are the odds? Located a few minutes walk up the road from pretty Mollymook beach, Breakers Cafe offers a relaxed vibe and the only alternative to the other cafe down the road. Although it doesn’t occupy prime beachfront real estate (i.e., in sea spray distance), it’s location across from the park and views of the ocean, albeit in the distance, aren’t bad at all. If sitting outside, you may have to share your meal with a cheeky myna bird. All sweets and desserts are made on the premises, and that includes the melt-in-your-mouth scones. However, these guys don’t get much assistance from the accompanying jam and cream as the jam is average quality and the cream, although real cream, is super light. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my jam to be more tart than sweet, and my cream to be thick and rich.
Tea: A small selection of loose-leaf Temple Tea served in a small pot.
Overall: A less hectic option than the beach cafe down the road.
Maybe Milton is too Bohemian for scones? The town has all the signs; antique shops, historic buildings with a past, homeware stores to browse through, and its strategically perched on the Princes Highway that sees a constant flow of local and holiday traffic. Then why, after scouring every menu in town can I find just one cafe serving scones? Bizarre! I do a full circuit of the town before I come back to Brown Sugar. Defying it’s underwhelming front exterior, Brown Sugar has a small cosy indoor area which it shares with the kitchen, then opens out into a small courtyard, which leads to another small dining area with a different vibe. There’s a seating area for all tastes. To keep young ‘uns amused, a small kiddies play area with a slippery slide sits in the courtyard. I’ve just had lunch so opt for one scone. What a blunder! The scone is exquisite; soft and fluffy with a delicate texture and creamy aftertaste. There’s enough jam and cream to go with it, but it’s a let down. The jam is nothing more than the average cafe stock and the cream is super light, and tastes like dairy whip from a can, which at least is unsweetened and 97 per cent real cream. Milton is a gorgeous town that’s growing by the minute and is heading towards a ‘Berry future’ (another town further north on the Princes Highway). Explore it before it changes too much more.
Tea: A selection of Tea Drop loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.
Overall: It’s the only cafe in town with scones, and worthy scones at that.
‘Hedgehogs Coffee Shop’
Follow the stencilled hedgehogs on the pavement in to the cafe hidden behind a big green hedge. There’s plenty of seating outside in the courtyard, which is well and truly shielded from the busy Princes Highway by said hedge, which offers a great respite from the weekend Berry madness. Indoors is a bit noisy from the open kitchen but the black and white photographic display is well worth a peek. Served on little paper doilies and lightly dusted with icing sugar, the scones are fluffy. Shame about the too ordinary and small portion of jam but the cream, although light was okay. Take your credit card for the shopping you are sure to do during your visit.
Tea: A variety of black and herbal teabags served in a small teapot.
Overall: A hidden oasis.
Location: 98 Queens St, Berry NSW 2535 Ph: 02 4464 3051 hedgehogscoffeeshop.com.au
Reviewed in October, 2010
‘Little Tree Cafe’
As the Princes Highway weaves its way south to the border, it passes through many stop-worthy picturesque towns. The Yatte Yattah plant nursery is out on its lonesome, neither here nor there when it comes to attaching to a village of sorts, which makes it a lovely quiet place for a break or if you need a plant in a hurry. Set well off the road, the small nursery has a decent selection of plants if you feel the need to peruse while you wait for the scones to arrive. The indoor section of the cafe is neat and tidy if not a little sterile, but the best seats in the house are on the wraparound deck that looks over lush green lawns. There’s a choice of plain or date scones, so I opt for the plain. They’re not bad, and taste quite fresh but with a definite microwave taste. When I mention this to my partner he says he saw them come out of the freezer. The strawberry jam is average and there’s plenty of the lightly whipped airy cream. Top marks for presentation (I came here in 2009 and the scones were served in a basket) and the quirky souvenir spoon.
Tea: The usual selection of tea bag teas served in a small pot.
Overall: A quiet nursery cafe tucked well away from the rush of the Princes Highway.
Location: 38 Tierney Rd Yatte Yattah NSW 2539 Ph: 02 4456 4254 yatteyattahnursery.com
Reviewed in February, 2017
‘Mollymook Beach Hut’
As they say – location, location, location! And Mollymook Beach Hut has it in spades. Attached to the surf lifesaving club at the southern end of Mollymook Beach, the Beach Hut pulls in the crowds as it is the quintessential Aussie fish ‘n’ chip shop where you can get a classic hamburger, an ice cream, and a coffee, as well as pick up a hat or sun screen. It’s well patronised by locals and visitors alike and with the close proximity to the beach, it’s easy to understand why. We’ve beat the mid morning rush, just, and can only imagine how popular this place is in the summer holidays. Not long out of the oven, the scones are light and fluffy, but joined together like some sort of scone cake. There’s not quite enough of the average jam or the fly away cream, but at least it’s fresh, probably Dairy Whip, which is at least 97 per cent ‘real’ cream.
Tea: A basic selection of Tea Pigs (love the name) silk pyramid tea bags served in a mug, unless you ask for a pot.
Overall: Beach shack casual in a killer location.
Location: Ocean St, Mollymook NSW 2539 Ph: 02 4455 1758
‘Our Book Shop & Cafe’
On weekdays Berry moves slowly. It’s when the locals come out to enjoy the cafes without having to jostle for a table with the waves of visitors at weekends. I like it – peaceful and relaxing. It’s easy to sniff out scones in Berry, so I try Our Book Shop & Cafe, a largish cafe that’s a combination of inside seating at the front and a rear courtyard that has an entrance from a carpark. Just off the shady courtyard a dining room has shelves of second-hand books, and out the front, next to the cafe entrance is a bookshop that also sells cool cards and children’s toys. The scones are not long out of the oven, so I pace myself and settle for one. It’s fresh, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but unfortunately the jam and cream are a little ordinary; too sweet and too light. I try not to salivate over the lemon meringue pies and banoffi tarts as I simply couldn’t fit either of them in after my scones.
Tea: A variety of tea bags served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: A chilled hangout with a kicking outdoor courtyard for warmer weather.
Location: 103 Queen St, Berry NSW 2535 Ph: 02 4464 1920
Reviewed February, 2014
After a new teapot? A quirky gift for a tea-loving friend? Or need to stock up on tea supplies? Something’s Brewing has all this and more. The more includes coffee beans, hot chocolate, Maxwell’s Treats jams and spreads, and every kind of tea accessory you can think of. And did I mention the spoilt-for-choice specialty tea selection? The latest addition to the business is the adjoining tea room. A spacious area where you can sip one of those teas you’re hankering to try accompanied with fresh scones. Plain, pumpkin and gluten-free scones are on offer, as well as a ‘scone of the week’. The scones are just going into the oven when I arrive, so my ‘scone of the week’, which is sultana, and traditional plain are super fresh. Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, these scones are made using the Country Women’s Association (CWA) recipe. When it comes to choosing a spread, it’s a difficult choice. Maxwell Treats in Berry supplies the strawberry, blackberry and three berry jam, sweet orange marmalade, passionfruit and lemon butter. I can’t resist the lemon butter, and I get plenty of it. The same goes with the cream. The cream is thickly whipped and blended with vanilla bean and a touch of icing sugar, and is not quite Chantilly cream. To say the portions are ‘generous’ is an understatement! Please note, although gluten-free scones are available, they are not baked daily, and the place is closed on Tuesdays.
Tea: Choose from over 50 varieties of loose-leaf teas (sold in the adjoining tea shop) and served in a vintage teapot. Today it’s chilly out so my cute teapot is dressed in a smashing tea cosy.
Overall: A tea room that does the whole DT shebang beautifully.
Location: Shop 9, 23 Wason St, The Chambers, Milton NSW 2538 Ph: 02 4455 6996
Reviewed in June, 2017
‘The Berry Tea Shop’
You’ve got to love Berry. Every time I stop by there’s a new shop to explore. This time round I stumbled upon the Berry Tea Shop tucked away from the busy Princes Highway. Very exciting indeed – a shop dedicated to ‘all things tea’! There is a wonderful array of teapots (some on the pricey side) and an extensive range of loose-leaf teas to fill them. I try to hold back the urge to add a piece to my collection and instead sit down to enjoy afternoon tea. It’s that sort of place, to sit, relax and chat over a pot of tea. There is a table with a selection of cakes and this day, date scones. A serving is a civilised single scone, a perfect accompaniment to a morning or afternoon refreshment. It’s the end of the day so my scone isn’t as fresh as it could be, but I am suitably impressed with the double thick cream and the thick rich raspberry jam. I am definitely going back with a female friend to absorb the quiet ambience and enjoy this perfect location to take scones and tea.
Tea: 36 varieties of loose-leaf teas served in different sized pots depending on the type of tea chosen.
Overall: Immerse yourself in all manner of tea things.
Location: Shop 1/66 Albert St, Berry NSW 2535 Ph: 02 4464 1218 theberryteashop.com.au
Reviewed in March, 2013
‘The Treehouse Cafe’
In sleepy south coast Ulladulla; The Treehouse Cafe is so much more than a cute shack under a couple of ancient shady trees. Brightening up a bland concrete corner in a shopping centre car park, The Treehouse is more Byron Bay than south coast NSW, and is a true stand out. The menu has a healthy spin with lots of fresh juices and wholesome food, and healthy raw desserts and treats. ‘Byron style’ cafes (as I like to call them) typically don’t go down the scone alley, so I am thrilled that The Treehouse caters to everyone from vegans to DT loving folk. And just like the rest of the cafe’s menu, the DT errs on the unique side. It’s a scone meets a muffin in a flowerpot, filling and always a novelty. It’s paired with superb tart mixed berry jam that tastes homegrown, and chilled thick Chantilly cream with just the right hint of vanilla. A big tick for the proper teacup and saucer, contrary to popular belief, tea drinkers do appreciate it and tea tastes so much better. Pick up herbal teas and eco-friendly products, and maybe a vegan treat for the road.
Tea: An unusual range of health orientated teas.
Overall: Wholesome food with a south coast spin, and the novelty of eating scones from a pot, and the garden…and…and…need I go on?
Location: 4 Boree St, Ulladulla NSW 2539 Ph: 02 4455 3991
Reviewed in September, 2016
When I first drive by the Baby Blue Cafe I mistake it for a fish ‘n’ chip shop as it has that look – minimal, stark and basic. A sandwich board out the front advertises scones – just baked. That sign wins me over, and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint. The small scones are exquisitely fresh with just a hint of crispness on the outside. The homemade cherry jam is tasty and the fresh cream thick. Overall the Devonshire Tea is amazing and so utterly surprising from an unsuspecting cafe. If you are passing Batemans Bay it’s definitely worth the diversion, but call beforehand to make sure they are baking.
Tea: Huge pot with teabags.
Overall: Unsuspecting and top-notch!
Location: 33 Orient St, Batemans Bay NSW 2536 Ph:02 4472 2179
Reviewed in February, 2012
If you’re wandering along the esplanade skirting Batemans Bay’s Clyde River, sitting down with a scone and a cuppa is nigh on impossible. The locals point out that the area is popular with retirees, which, I might add are ‘supposedly’ scone lovers. If this assumption is true, then why are Devonshire Teas so elusive in the area? Luckily Blank Canvas comes to the party. Their tables spill out onto the esplanade and afford a prime view of the river and passers by. The better than average scones are quite robust, but why served cut in half? Personally, I like to do my own scone dividing. The average jam and super light bland cream (that’s likely from a cream canister) don’t do it justice either. Watch out for the hungry seagulls if sitting outside, as they are happy to share your meal.
Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf teas (especially herbal) served in Japanese iron teapot, that’s big on personality and lacking in tea.
Overall: Prime location overlooking the Clyde River.
Location: 7 Orient St, Batemans Bay NSW 2536 Ph: 02 4472 5016
Reviewed in June, 2017
‘Bodalla Dairy Shed’
As we pull into the cute historic town of Bodalla we head straight for the Bodalla Dairy Shed, a retro milkbar and cafe. It’s only a 15-minute drive north from Narooma or south from Moruya, but it feels a world away from the bustle of the larger towns. As it’s a warm day we sit out the back in a covered eating area overlooking the green hills. My partner is most impressed with the old recycled timber door that’s our table. I, on the otherhand am more impressed with their fresh home-baked scones. The friendly waitress slides my Devonshire Tea in front of me on a bread board – very cool, and offers us a sample of some thick Greek style yoghurt. Yum! But back to the Devonshire Tea: the cream is lovely and thick but the jam is just your ordinary supermarket stuff. I love this village, I’ll be back – this place is tre cool.
Tea: A big pot with some herbal varieties.
Overall: Retro funk.
Location: 52 Princes Hwy, Bodalla NSW 2545 Ph: 02 4476 2881 bodalladairyshed.com.au
Reviewed in February, 2012
What I love about Narooma, apart from its sleepy town attitude and exquisite dagginess, is that property developers and celebrities haven’t yet discovered its Byron Bay-esqe beauty. Maybe it’s too far from Melbourne to be worth the hassle, or the icy water temperatures just don’t suit Sydneysiders? This visit round, we finally make it to Montague Island. We join Wazza, a jolly gnome-like man, who is the perfect captain and host for the boat trip and the snorkel with a couple of seals, that aren’t particularly interested in us humans. At only eight-kilometres off the coast, the swell can get treacherous preventing the small vessels making the crossing and dropping visitors at the island. Landing is strictly controlled by National Parks and Wildlife, and you can only alight if you are doing a tour or staying at the lighthouse keeper’s quarters overnight. Back in town, drop in to Casey’s Cafe, up on the hill in one of the three shopping hubs in Narooma. There is no set ‘Devonshire Tea’ as such, so you can order as many scones as you like, and team them up with whatever drink you’re after. Today’s scones are pumpkin and date, and are robust i.e., firm and heavy and a bit dry, and would probably be better eaten with a smear of butter. The jam is a homemade blueberry compote and the fresh cream is whipped in a cannister, making it too light and airy for me. Indoors, the cafe is cheery and bright with floor to ceiling glass to take advantage of the pretty views out to sea (in the distance).
Tea: A small selection of handmade organic loose-leaf tea served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: A popular cafe at the top of town.
‘Cafe on Vulcan’
More country than beachy, Moruya is best known for the granite that quarried and shipped up to Sydney almost a hundred years ago to be used on the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The town is pretty proud of this and not afraid to let you know by the looks of the signs on entering both from the north and south of town. A collection of historical building are scattered throughout the centre of town and Cafe on Vulcan is one of several well-kept buildings but more than that, it’s built from the very material it is famous for. There’s indoor seating in the high vaulted front room or under shady umbrellas in the rear courtyard. You can order as many scones as you like, but I stick with one. I’m slightly miffed that it comes already dressed with jam and cream, as I prefer to go through the process myself. The scones are definitely baked on the premises but are a bit rubbery and the cream although fresh is too light and melting quickly in the summer heat. I popped in to check whether they had scones as they are not on the menu, so if you are making a special stop, you may want to give them a call.
Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas served in a cool transparent teapot.
Overall: Dine amongst the granite used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Location: 57 Vulcan St, Moruya NSW 2537 Ph: 02 4474 4334 cafevulcan.com.au
Reviewed February, 2014
Looking at Leanne’s Cafe from the Princes Highway, you wouldn’t think that behind the front door is an eclectic cafe serving homemade plain and date scones with an interesting collection of gifts to sift through while you wait. I’m a sucker for teapots and cute teacups, anything that’ll spruce up an afternoon tea. If you don’t have any spare cash to take something home with you, sit amongst the goodies, otherwise on a nice day, sit on the front or side deck. The Devonshire Tea comes with one scone, so I try the date, although both look appealing. The scone is a bit dry, but maybe it’s due to it being the afternoon, as no doubt it would have been superb straight out of the oven. I’m well impressed with the thick cream, as not enough cafes put this much effort into the cream. NB: When I visited, Leanne’s Café was called @15 Cafe, but since has had a change of management.
Tea: A small variety of tea bags served in a boring teapot considering they sell lots of cute ones in the gift shop.
Overall: Good shopping if you need a new teapot or teacup.
Location: 15 Princes Hwy, Mogo NSW 2536 Ph: 0413 941 607
Reviewed February, 2014
‘Mogo Ice-creamery & Outdoor Cafe’
By the looks of it, Mogo Ice-creamery & Outdoor Cafe seems to have established itself in a former retro service station. With a lick of paint and lots of shady seating in the front garden and where once vehicles pumped fuel, the cafe is a comfy spot and a handy people-watching podium. The blackboard at the entrance announces what flavour of scones are in the house and today it’s plain, apricot and ginger – impressive, although I don’t know why I have to pay an extra dollar for the privilege of having two different flavours. Maybe it’s due to the extra jam as the plain scone arrives with strawberry and the apricot is matched with apricot jam. Sweet. I love the creativity in alternate offerings (it doesn’t happen enough), and apricot fans will love the chunks of dried apricot. In saying that the scones are a bit floury and heavy, and the cream fly away light.
Tea: A variety of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: Nice shady outdoor area to watch the world go by.
Location: 38 Princes Hwy, Mogo NSW 2536 Ph: 02 4474 0190
Reviewed February, 2014
‘Red Rose Cafe’
There’s not a lot happening in Moruya on a Sunday morning. Most of the businesses are closed and there are only a couple of cafes in town that aren’t takeaways. Located on the Princes Highway, the main thoroughfare in Moruya, the Red Rose Cafe does a busy trade. Nothing flash, there are a few booths inside (did I ever mention that I have a penchant for booths?) and a few tables and chairs on the footpath. I am surprised to find a batch of scones sitting on the counter, as it doesn’t seem like a ‘scone’ kinda place, but then I spy a couple of older ladies tucking in to some. The small scones are above average and the dusting of icing sugar on top gives them some flavour. The cheap jam doesn’t do the scones justice and although the cream is fresh, it’s still a little too lightly whipped.
Tea: A variety of black and herbal loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.
Overall: One of only a few cafes in town.
Location: 52 Vulcan St, Moruya NSW 2537 Ph: 02 4474 2707
Reviewed in February, 2013
‘South Coast Cheese Cafe’
The place is a favourite for stocking up on local south coast cheeses on your way through the beautifully restored historic village of Central Tilba. It’s quite touristy but the country setting is lovely and it can get very busy during holiday periods. While you’re there, sit out on the back deck and try their scones, as they are absolutely delectable: country fresh and slightly crispy on top. The jam isn’t bad but the too little and too light cream is a let down to the rest of the Devonshire Tea. Absorb the south-coast country life with mooing cows as a backdrop.
Tea: A variety of loose-leaf teas.
Overall: Country good.
Location: 1 Bate St, Central Tilba NSW 2546 Ph: 02 44737 659 southcoastcheese.com.au
Reviewed in February, 2012
‘The Blue Heron Cafe’
Far enough away from the traffic banking up on the Princes highway and close enough to the Riverside Park and Moruya River, The Blue Heron Cafe is easily missed if you don’t leave the highway. A block or so from the riverside, its handy position and quiet surrounds make it an ideal rest stop. There are only a few tables outside, so it’s first come first serve, otherwise there are enough inside the split-level cafe. The two country-style scones are a bit burnt on the bottom today, but nonetheless they still have a robust wholesomeness about them. It’s always a pleasure when a cafe has made an effort and served some homemade style jam, and although the raspberry jam is on the runny side it’s much appreciated. The fresh cream is meltingly light, out of a whipping cream canister I suspect. The cafe gets busy when the Moruya Country Markets are on, literally right across the road, every Saturday from 8am.
Tea: A range of organic loose-leaf teas served in a pot.
Overall: Tucked away cafe conveniently located near the Riverside Park.
Location: 4/28 Ford St, Moruya NSW 2537 Ph: 02 4474 3025 m.facebook.com
Reviewed in February, 2017
‘The Courtyard Cafe at Mogo Fudge’
Like Berry and Milton, Mogo is a cute place to break up a journey along the Princes Highway. A plethora of cafes, giftware stores and galleries offer a great excuse to stretch the legs and grab a bite to eat. If you have more time, visit the Mogo Zoo or the Original Gold Rush Colony where you can have a go at gold panning. With limited time, I only tried one cafe and added the others to my list for next time. The Courtyard Cafe at Mogo Fudge is set back from the highway, so it gives you a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle and there’s a giant outdoor chess set if you fancy a quick game before getting back behind the wheel. Apparently Mogo Fudge was featured on a Getaway episode (so the sign says) and it almost makes you feel inclined to buy some. I turn my back on the fudge and try the scones. They’re fresh on the inside and crispy on the outside, but look a bit bread-roll-like for me, but nonetheless are above average. The jam is passable and although the cream is freshly whipped, it’s a bit light for how I like my cream on scones.
Tea: Loose-leaf teas with a few herbal varieties available.
Overall: A quite courtyard away from the highway.
Location: 44 Princes Hwy, Mogo NSW 2536 Ph: 02 4474 3389 courtyardcafemogo.com.au
Reviewed in March, 2013
‘The Garden Cafe’
I’ve passed by the entrance of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden many times, but have never found the inclination to stop. For one, the entrance comes up on you pretty quickly, secondly, you don’t expect a botanic garden in the middle of the bush on the Princes Highway, and thirdly, you’ve either fuelled up in Batemans Bay if you are coming from the north or in Mogo if you are coming in the opposite direction. What a shame, as this lovely little haven is a heavenly place to take a break from the bitumen. Admission to the 42ha site, which is part of the Mogo State Forest, is free, and there are several short walking tracks of varying distances, BBQ facilities, an arboretum, display gardens, a very small plant nursery and of course the Garden Cafe at the Visitors Centre. There’s quite an extensive menu, considering it’s location, and all sweets are home-baked, including the scones, which have a creamy and buttery texture. The jam is your average run of the mill strawberry but the thickly whipped fresh cream is a treat. The sprig of fresh mint garnish is a nice touch. Open Wednesday to Sunday 9-4pm.
Tea: A broad selection of Pukka and Twinning tea bags served in a classic teapot.
Overall: A chilled out space where you can feel a million miles from anywhere.
‘The Rose & Sparrow’
Even in all its kitschness (is that a word?), I love visiting this gorgeous National Historic Trust town. With a name like The Rose and Sparrow, I feel as though I should be entering a British pub, but instead I pull up a pew on the deck of a cafe surrounded by patrons eating eggs rather than sipping a pint. I must admit the scones are pretty good as they’re fresh, but like so many other Devonshire Teas is let down by the jam and cream. Here the jam is bland and the can-cream airy with not enough of either to dress the scones.
Tea: Small pot with a variety of unusual loose-leaf teas to choose from.
Overall: A good people-watching cafe.
Location: 4 Bate St, Central Tilba NSW 2546 Ph: 02 4473 7229
Reviewed in February, 2012
‘Tilba Teapot Cafe’
After the obligatory wander up both sides of Bate Street in Central Tilba, and maybe even a short diversion up to the lookout, grab a bite to eat at the Tilba Teapot Cafe. Non tea lovers shouldn’t be fooled by the giant teapot on the outside as the place does a roaring trade with some mean looking burgers and sandwiches. Whether you sit on the back deck, which is more balcony than spacious seating area, under the eaves on the footpath out the front or inside, the Tilba vibe is never far away. Today I get to try both plain and date scones, which are truly delectable. I prefer the plain as its outer crispy shell blends well with the fluffy inside, although my partner says they are a bit salty, and I find the date scone a bit sweet. There is no scrimping on the jam and the cream is freshly whipped but a bit too much on the light and airy side.
Tea: A small variety of loose-leaf teas are available.
Overall: A value for money eatery in a tourist town.
Location: 2/17 Bate St, Central Tilba NSW 2546 Ph: 02 4473 7811
Reviewed February, 2014
The Bega Cheese Factory is simply, underwhelming. There are miniscule pieces of cheese to sample, but nothing you can’t get in your local supermarket. The museum upstairs has some interesting antique farming implements such as milk canisters and an old butter churner, and gives an insight in to dairy-farming life. The cafe is more cafeteria than quaint cafe, with a self-serve style food cabinet with all goods covered in Gladwrap. Not a good sign, so I was expecting the worst when I chose my sad-looking date scones (plain are also available) sitting on a neatly wrapped plate for two. Surprisingly, the scones weren’t bad at all, quite tasty without being either fluffy nor dry. I asked the staff to heat the refrigeration out of them, and the school-aged girl who served me did just that without mircowaving the life out of them. The jam and cream arrived in plastic containers, which lowered the standard, another notch. The jam was better than your standard sort but the cream was too light and airy.
Tea: A variety of T2 teabags in a small pot.
Overall: A bit of touristy kitsch.
Location: 23-45 Ridge St, North Bega NSW 2550 Ph: 02 6491 7777 begacheese.com.au
Reviewed in February, 2013
I love Eden! It’s everything that the more touristy towns further north aren’t. As you drive in it feels like the last frontier, which it is, before heading further south in to Mexican territory. The area is steeped in whaling history and a visit to the Eden Killer Whale Museum is a must. Eden is also the gateway to Ben Boyd National Park and the 30km Light to Light walk. The kangaroos are so tame at the Saltwater Creek campsite that they can be real pests, and will eat your dinner off your plate while you’re not looking! Back in town, things are more sedate. Cuppaz Cafe on the main drag is one of the few cafes in town and is a hamburger joint/cafe/book exchange, all rolled in to one. Although not advertised, they have a Devonshire Tea option that offers the usual except only a single scone. The scone looks fresh and arrives dusted with icing sugar, however turns out to be underwhelming and a bit dry. It’s accompanied with your stock-standard jam and another pot of airy light cream. Oh well, it doesn’t change my mind about Eden.
Tea: Limited varieties in both loose-leaf tea and teabags.
Overall: A nice vibe on the main drag.
Location: 207 Imlay St, Eden NSW 2551 Ph: 02 6496 1493
Reviewed in March, 2013
‘Poppy’s Courtyard Cafe’
Merimbula reminds me of the southern suburbs of the Gold Coast back in the 70s and 80s; low-key with a lot of touristy attractions to keep families amused. As far as the south coast of NSW goes, it’s pretty buzzy, getting a lot of business from Victorians. Poppy’s Cafe has a shady garden and sits across the road from the bay, and the day I visit, is the quietest than some of the other cafes. I am surprised to find scones on the menu as it is a beach resort, and I can’t imagine finding scones in Burleigh Heads. The scones are quite good and fresh and just the right size. The jam portion, although okay quality, is so insufficient I have to go back and ask for more. The cream is also too light and because it’s gearing up to be a hot day, started melting.
Tea: A limited choice of teabags served in a small pot.
Overall: A lovely garden with a water view.
Location: Merimbula Plaza, Market St, Merimbula NSW 2548 Ph: 02 6495 1110
Reviewed in February, 2013
‘Taste of Eden’
Unlike the nearby restaurants and cafes at Snug Cove in Eden’s historic port area, The Taste of Eden is just a bit further removed to have clear views of the fishing trawlers lining the jetty. The cafe is bright and cheerful and feels as though it should be right on the beach as it’s decked out in pale yellows and blues. We’re the only patrons this particular afternoon and so have the place to ourselves. The scones look promising, sitting pretty on the counter, but arrive rather exposed at the table already sliced in half like little cakes. They are dry and quite unappetising to say the least, and the mediocre jam and the light cream dissolves on my knife. Don’t let it stop you taking a stroll or doing the things you do in a fishing town – eating fish ‘n’ chips!
Tea: A small selection of teabags served in a small pot.
Overall: The nautical touches are inline with the theme in Eden.
Location: Shop 4, Snug Cove, Eden NSW 2551 Ph: 02 6496 1304
Reviewed in February, 2013
‘The Train Cafe’
The red rattler that is The Train Cafe looks good for its age, considering it was built in 1926. Renovated in the early 1950s after a rail accident, the red rattler was soon decommissioned in 1956 and somehow found its way to the streets of Cobargo. Transformed into a quirky cafe, the property is far more than the carriage itself. There’s seating in an outdoor courtyard shaded by umbrellas, and more seating indoors on the other side of the carriage. The carriage is far bigger than it looks, however it’s a shame that there are only a couple of booths and the rest is decked out with standard tables and chairs, deflecting from the carriage-y feel. The scone business must be doing well as I am told they have baked three batches of scones today. Very fresh and creamy, I can’t fault them. It’s only until after I leave that I see the sign out the front of the carriage saying that the scones have won first prize at the local Show! The rich homemade raspberry jam is also excellent with the only let down being the cream, which is feather light. Seriously, who cares? The other two components are so good that a serving of ‘too light’ cream has no chance of spoiling top-rate scones. Closed Tuesdays.
Tea: A mismatch of loose-leaf and tea bag teas served in a tea-pot.
Overall: The iconic red rattler meets a revitalised 200-year-old village.
Location: 57A Princes Hwy, Cobargo NSW 2550 Ph: 02 6493 6144
Reviewed in February, 2017
‘The Wharf Restaurant’
As a long time scuba diver, I’m not one for aquariums – too predictable amongst other things. So when I visit The Wharf Restaurant, I stay upstairs without venturing to the depths below to see the oceanarium and witness one of the fish feeding sessions (school holidays only). The aquarium is ideal for landlubbers and kids to get up close to the creatures that lie beneath the south coast crystalline waters. Above all the serene action sits The Wharf Restaurant, looking more functional than flash, but blessed with million dollar views. Perched at the end of Lake Street, peering over the old wharf, the lucky few outdoor diners (and many more indoor) get to stare at the expansive views of the Merimbula inlet and southern coastline. Although offering a menu heavy on seafood, I notice a tower of scones on the bar when I walk in. The serving comes with two scones, but after devouring half a seafood platter I can barely handle one. The scone is baked-today fresh, easy on the eye (looks good), and has a creamy texture. The strawberry jam is average but good enough, and the fresh cream light, aerated in a whipping cream cylinder. We’re not far from Bega country and delight in listening to a couple of dairy farmers grilling the waitress about the quality of the cream used with the scones!
Tea: A selection of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized tea pot. My water is far from hot, and definitely not hot enough to brew the tea.
Overall: A spectacular location for expansive views towards the Merimbula coastline.
Location: The Wharf, Lake St Merimbula NSW 2548 Ph: 02 6495 4446
Reviewed in February, 2017