Thirroul, nestled amongst the ferns under a canopy of red cedar and fig trees, overlooking glistening ocean and surrounded by a majestic escarpment was of little interest to me as a pre-teen, save that it was close to Jamberoo Recreation Park.* It was a little slow paced for my city slicker lifestyle – I was living it up in the inner ‘burbs of the Sutherland Shire after all, nary a 20 minute drive from Skate Plus, Greater Union, Sizzler or the beach. 

But now my height and interests have expanded (and been closed down), I see Thirroul for what it always was – a real gem of the Illawarra. But with more boutique shops. breweries, galleries and infinitely better coffee.

Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna start early with a

morning swim.

A quick dip to wake up, squeak the sand under your feet, feel the breeze and feel alive. The beach in and of itself is a magnificent way to spend a day, and you definitely can, but it’s never far away and it’s 

breakfast time.

Come visit us at Black Market Coffee for an open smoked salmon bagel, or pancakes with seasonal fruit creme fraiche, or a smoothie, or house baked treats, or… you get the picture. You’ll be sorted, and it’ll be good.

And now you’re full and sated, it’s time to think about lunch. You’re going to head for the hills or hit the trails, and at every turn you’re going to be smacked in the face with a good view, so pick up some bread and relishes from us, make a stop at Flame Tree Co-op and IGA for veg, chicken in a bag, salami and specialty cheeses for your picnic basket (or sensible backpack), then it’s

time to explore.

While Thirroul is more cosmopolitan than it used to be, it still has that coastal town charm, which includes many shops not opening till 10am. So we’ll leave the galleries and local produce shops to the arvo (but not too late or they’ll close again), and head for the hills.

That escarpment and treescape I mentioned before is home to a bunch of beautiful trails. Spend a couple of hours exploring the Sublime Point Track and then continue along the Forest Walk. Not the whole way, it’s a 15km walk one way, and we need to get back in time for lunch.

If you’re not in the mood for a challenging walk, but still up for a good time, hop on the Bulli to Wollongong Track at the Thirroul stop for stroll, or a cycle along the Illawarra coast. 

And wherever you are when you get hungry, it’s

lunch time.

Enjoy your picnic, and enjoy the surroundings, then head back town for an

afternoon street stroll.

Thirroul is lined with homeware stores, nurseries, bookshops, ethical fashion, antiques, and galleries. It’s very easy to support local when the local artisans and crafters are this talented. Check out Luca Luna for amazing florals and gifts, Collins Booksellers which has an epic selection of books, and Thirroul collective for locally made crafts. You can always find a treasure at Wombat in Thirroul or take a sneak peak at some of the artworks by local artists upstairs at Nest Emporium.

After this I would suggest one last late afternoon dip in the ocean to refresh your spirit, and now you’re truly ready to begin the 

early evening itinerary.

Have a sundowner, and a flick through some records at Franks Wild Years Bar or head over to Pickled Poet for delicious cheese plates and a glass of vino. Soak in the tunes and tones of whatever live music they’ve scheduled for the evening. It’ll feel good. And when you’re ready for

a slap-up meal.

Meander over to one of the many great restaurants. Coastal Thai for your pad kee mao and prawn red curry, Boveda for some boujee mexican, Chiba nights for some epic izakaya style Japanese, South Sailor for your seafood paella, poke bowl, or baja tacos, or Franco Pizza Bar or Ciros for pizza. 

You’ve had a big day, a great day, and hopefully a little sun-kissed (metaphorically – no such thing as a safe tan). If you’ve still a bit more venturesome spirit left, grab an ice-cream and take one last stroll by the seaside, one last splash on the shore, before heading home. Or if you’re done, and I don’t blame you, just take a big inhale of the salty air, and get outta here.


*Where you control the action.