The tourist-roads and by-ways of the Bega Valley can reap many rewards. From Bega and then Tathra to Bermagui, weaving itself through coastal forest with occasional glimpses of sapphire seas, one might swoon at the pristine beauty. But this journey will also enrich you culturally and gastronomically.
Day to day worries seem to dissipate at each bend in the road, and with a restaurant or two lurking in the bush along the way you can nourish your body as well as your spirit.
Bega Valley Regional Gallery
Open Mon to Sat 10 am to 4 pm
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1 Zingel Place, Bega
02 6494 2222
Gallery Director Iain Dawson is an energetic and devoted advocate for Australian, Indigenous artists and art of our unique SE Asian Region. There is always something intriguing and ground-breaking happening at this major regional gallery. From November through to February the BVRG presents an extraordinary exhibition titled ‘Weapons for the Soldier’ a groundbreaking collection of works initiated by the young men of the APY Lands, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artists to examine complex themes of weaponry, warfare, and protecting land and Country.
Open Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 1 pm
47 Church Street, Bega
02 6492 5322
Spiral is an artist-run gallery (two spaces) in Bega, with an ever-changing plethora of fabulous works and exhibitions. Throughout December and January in Gallery One is [email protected], a smorgasbord of original artworks for the summer season: ceramics, jewellery, textiles, prints, paintings, handcrafted wood, baskets, glassware & more. And in Gallery 2 throughout December is Clay Ground – Valley Potters & Imlay Crafts showing handmade, whimsical works, fun functionals and quirky ceramic treasures.
Rainchair Ceramics: Tanja Open Studio
Open when the sign is out, most weekend, most days during Summer
9 Haighs Road Tanja
02 6494 0171
Completely surrounded by coastal forest, callistemon and birdsong, Gosia and Barry Jackson’s gorgeous studio and art reflects the colours around them. Barry trained as a sculptor which is evident in his pieces, which are dark and textural, tainted with smoke, and metal and seem to have been broken apart and reassembled. Gosia’s works are more colourful and figurative, joyful, playful, and if you ask her she’ll explain this is a reaction to growing up in a communist country. You will want to linger with this delightful couple.
The art of lunch along the way:
Open Thursday to Sunday 12 until 2 pm
2845 Tathra Bermagui Rd, Murrah
02 6494 0164
Here Head Chef Glen Simpson is the artist, creating beautiful, refined dishes in the stunning environment of a hand built, rammed earth restaurant surrounded by vines and beloved spotted gum forest. Taste Mimosa’s wines before you settle on the spectacular deck and enjoy the view. This is a refuelling stop with elegance. Enjoy Chef Glen’s beloved locally caught seafood, Asian influenced dishes and fabulous cheese boards, before returning to the road.
Ivy Hill Gallery
Open Thursday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
1795 Tathra Bermagui Rd, Wapengo
02 6494 0152
Carolyn Killen is passionate about art and about local artists. Carolyn opened Ivy Hill Gallery in 2003 “I knew there were great artists in the area… I find the gallery very rewarding. It connects me with the community.” Carolyn also loves her garden and one can recline on the expansive lawns near the crabapples, relaxing after wandering throughout her lovely light space. Carolyn determinedly focusses on local talent, and for the remainder of November has a painter and a photographer showing “Place and Identity. Paris and Bega.” then in December all should come and celebrate the voluptuous exuberance of flowers with “Bloom” from three local artists, Veronica O’Leary, Judith Thomson and Jane Aliendi.
Bermagui Mudworks Pottery & Cafe
Open Thursday to Monday 10 am to 5 pm
23 Alexander Drive, Bermagui
0408 273 445
Just before you finally head down the hill into Bermagui proper, there’s a sign sending you off into the bush to Mudworks Pottery and Café. Kim and Mike Collingham will be there to greet you. This lovely, friendly couple create much of their work for garden settings, and there are plenty of pieces on display. You (and the kids) could also get involved, painting a bowl or mug, or even playing on a pottery wheel if Mike’s amenable. You can book in for kids parties also. A little cafe serves refreshments.
Shop 7 Art at the Fisherman’s Wharf, Bermagui is a new entry in the art trail. Set up by ten local artists this is a kind of co-op and will house an ever changing display of local works. Open every day except Tuesday from 10.30 am.
But beware this tantalising trail, like a perfect cocktail, the combination of local flavour and interesting ingredients, is seductive and may render you unable (or unwilling) to leave.