As a young musician playing the many venues that used to exist in the early '80s, my band and I at the time used to do a little road trip out of Sydney every few months. Just old enough to play in the pubs that employed us, we were brash 18-year-olds smashing out our original tunes with a few covers thrown in to keep the punters on the dance floor. Believe it or not you could pretty much play three of four nights a week if you wanted to back then. Sadly, that is no longer a reality.
One of our favourite weekend runs started in Wollongong on a Thursday night, with the Friday at a room we affectionately called the Fish Bowl at Ulladulla's Blue Marlin Hotel. We completed our trip with what was always an awesome evening, playing the historic Tathra Hotel on the Saturday night.
The pub's owner was your typical laconic larrikin, a fella by the name of Rob Little who loved his music and was always a treat to play for. In fact, all the biggest bands in Australia played at Tathra Hotel because it was such a great venue. I could go on but what goes on tour, stays on tour!
Returning to the pub all these years later, I discovered that it has certainly changed since those halcyon days. The hotel proper recently went through major renovations and the upstairs heritage rooms are spacious and fresh with a little touch of yesteryear, maintaining magical views right across the whole of Tathra and its beautiful beaches. The music still exists but is now a little more subdued. The cuisine has certainly stepped up from the old pub fare offered back then and now you can enjoy a top-class meal in the stylish restaurant area or out on the deck with its ocean views.
If you're an oyster lover then you could not be in a better place. Owned and operated by the delightful Rodely family, Tathra Oysters has been winning awards for their mouth-watering molluscs for years and years. The waters around these parts are just perfect for the Sydney Rock variety to thrive and Jo, Gary and Sam have been rewarded appropriately with plaudits of the highest order.
For terrific culinary ambience, head into Fat Tony's Bar and Grill. Owner Anthony Little's passion for his business is evident right across the board, from his interaction with the diners, to the food that is created and the drinks that he himself will probably formulate for you, Anthony loves his lot in life and it shows. A relaxed vibe fills the room and all I saw were happy customers laughing, engaging and savouring every bite.
After an entrée of oysters (somebody stop me) I enjoyed a delicious dish of local chicken with parmesan and basil crust, semi-dried tomato polenta cake, almond butter-glazed broccolini, confit garlic and a champagne laced cream sauce.
A picturesque spot for a delightful breaky, brunch or lunch is situated right on the water at the historic Tathra wharf. The Wharf Local has without doubt one of the most spectacular outlooks you could ask for, so to sit and enjoy local fare or a delicious coffee and cake here is a bit of a must when in Tathra.
When you indulge in life, it's always good to give yourself room for that next offering - and alleviate the guilt -by engaging in some form of physical activity so I got active with the help of Aaron and Bronwyn at Tathra Beach and Bike.
First up was some SUP action on the main beach and a paddle across to the wharf itself. The water around the pier is crystal clear and it was easy to spot plenty of marine life, including some massive stingrays who looked very comfortable in the dazzling waters. During whale season you might just find yourself sharing the ocean with a migrating Humpback as well, as they have been known to venture in close to the shore and wharf!
Back to the shop and I swapped the SUP for a mountain bike and hooked up with some members of the local mountain bike club. Stacey and Andy were so accommodating with a relative novice like myself and spent a short session checking that I could actually ride a bike!
They then guided me along some of the 50 kilometres of mountain tracks. It was such fun, but it was with mixed emotions as we rode through some of the hardest hit areas that took the brunt of the fire. Whether you're a keen rider or a beginner like me, the Tathra Mountain Bike Club would be happy to help you out. In fact, that just seems to be the feeling I got from everyone I met.
Might have to get the band back together for one more visit!
If you want more info on Tathra or any of the New South Wales areas that are looking for a little extra love, head to www.visitnsw.com
Scott McRae is The Travelling Guy