Jane Austen country: Milton, NSW
Rolling green hills, magic mushroom sunsets and cows. Lots and lots of cows. Welcome to Milton, NSW.
We drive into town after five hours stuck in The Long Weekend Exodus; traffic that crawls along the Princes Highway making you question your decision to leave Sydney.
For once, we are grateful for the snail’s pace as we peruse the main street. The buildings are a hodgepodge of late-1800’s architecture and 1940’s post-war boom. Norfolk Pines tower over lawns and ‘for sale’ signs anoint every third house. Why is everyone trying to get out of Milton? Egad! We’ve just spent five hours trying to get in.
We pass through on the way to our camping ground but vow to come back.
The next morning we head into town for a caffeine hit only to discover a jam-packed main street. Junior buskers strum on every corner, dogs, prams and hundreds of feet vie for space on the narrow footpath. The markets are on and the local biddies are out in their droves selling crocheted teatowels, baby blankets, tea cosies, and my personal favourite, the footy supporter’s knitted octopus. When exactly did octopi in football guernseys become de rigeur supporter ware?
In order to make this snappy so you can get back to the 5,000 emails that have piled up over the five day break, here are my favourite things to do in Milton:
1. Pilgrims Vegetarian Cafe: Convincing The First Husband to eat vegetarian food is like trying to talk Anna Wintour into wearing tracksuit pants. In public. Nonetheless, our motley crew of semi-soaked campers enjoyed a thoroughly delicious night of animal-free dining. There were three options on the main menu (burritos, enchiladas and soft tacos), one salad option and two dessert options. The ‘Dining for Dummies’ approach made the whole experience extra easy and the addition of colourful photography lining the walls and fresh-faced staff equal a very hippie, happy place.
2. Nikki B’s: I am a seasoned cheapskate, meaning I can tell the difference between quality vintage and crappy tat pulled out from under the house. Milton, being of the quaint South Coast town variety, is riddled with ‘antique shops’ selling the aforementioned detritus. There is one exception: Nikki B’s, where fabulousness abounds at very reasonable prices. I bought a 1960’s biscuit tin covered in blowsy, technicolour roses ($19) and a blue/purple art glass ashtray ($32) and proceeded to bask in the afterglow of well-purchased retro.
3. The Rainbow Pie Shop: When pie connoisseurs die, they go to The Rainbow Pie Shop. No, I don’t mean that they use cadavers in their pies. What I mean is that this place is heaven for pie lovers. Beef and burgundy, lamb and rosemary, peppered steak and lots of other traditional and exotic options that we didn’t make it through (two days in a row was our limit). You can add on peas, gravy and potato mash for a few dollars more but, having tried both ways, we decided that the buttery, flaky, heart-attacky goodness needs no embellishment, bar a generous squirt of tomato sauce.
4. Cupitt’s Winery: Hidden down a country lane lined with liquid ambers doing a seasonal striptease, Cupitt’s Winery is an 1800’s sandstone cottage, a terrace and a large restaurant serving dishes that would stand up to any Sydney snobbery. We pop into the warmly lit tasting room, lined with works by local artists, and the Assistant Winemaker – let’s call him Rosie’s Hot Son – takes us through a tasting flight. The Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc is grown locally but all the other grapes (Chambourcin, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Syrah and Saignee) all come from Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains. Rosie’s Hot Son explains that it’s too wet to grow a lot of varietals on the South Coast, hence the importation. I buy two bottles of Syrah Viognier and a Botrytis to drink with the girls over a hefty cheese plate.
Have you been to Milton, NSW? If so, what did you think? If not, did you go away for the long weekend? How was it?