'I live with my phone glued to my hand. This coastal destination less than 3 hours away changed that.'

It’s barely 6am when my phone starts to trill and my blurry eyes are trying to make out the first few lines of a Slack message on my phone. It’s how I wake up most mornings and if I’m being honest, how I spend most of my day (where I replace the phone with a laptop) and evenings (when I go back to my phone).

I'd like to say being online 24/7 is only mostly the norm for those who work in media, but the truth is it's becoming increasingly common in a number of professions. Particularly post-pandemic where the flip side to remote work was the discovery that many jobs can be completed anytime, anywhere.

It's for this reason I (like you, I'm sure, if you're reading this) find it hard to switch off both my phone and my mind. Unless you of course, confiscate my device, lock it in a box and place it somewhere I'm likely never to go looking for it (the gym, maybe?). While I haven't resorted to this yet, I can tell you my husband has been very tempted.

Instead, we've made an effort to take mini-trips where we can and have been on the lookout for local destinations that aren't too far from Sydney but still feel like you're on a holiday. One of those places that I recently re-discovered is Jervis Bay. Less than a three-hour drive from Sydney, Jervis Bay sits on the South Coast of New South Wales and is a favourite destination of Sydneysiders (and locals alike) for a reason.

If you're looking to switch off too, here is the perfect itinerary for a relaxing long weekend away in Jervis Bay (stops included):

Have lunch at The Garden, Berry.

At just under two hours away from Sydney, Berry makes a great stopover on the way to Jervis Bay. My husband and I had lunch at The Garden and immediately felt like we were on holiday as soon as we sat down. I had the chicken cotoletta, otherwise known as the 'fancy schnitzel', and my husband had the vongole pasta that he was thrilled to see on the menu being one of his favourite dishes. Paired with a glass each of the Gaelic Cemetery Riesling, our weekend away was off to the perfect start.


The chicken cotoletta and the vongole pasta with Gaelic Cemetery Riesling. Image: Supplied. Do a ring making workshop with Appleye Jewellery Design at Co.Lab Berry.

Next we visited Co.Lab, a gorgeous shop on Queen Street that is filled with products from over 50 small businesses. We spent some time walking around the store looking at all the handmade items from homewares, to skincare, fashion and more before we were met by Naomi, the founder of Appleye Jewellery Design, to participate in a ring making workshop.


At my work station. Image: Supplied.

It was inspiring to step into Naomi's workspace, listening to her share passion for jewellery making, how she uses it as a form of self care and now loves to share this knowledge through her classes. Using your hands to make a piece of jewellery helped us to disconnect, and we took lots of satisfaction in the finished product of our rings at the end.


Have a snack at the Famous Berry Donut Van.

It wouldn't be a stop in Berry without a visit to the Famous Berry Donut Van. They have been making donuts for over 60 years and it's no wonder they are some of the best I've ever tasted. We opted for the famous traditional cinnamon because you can't go past a classic, although the Nutella version sounded very tempting. They were made fresh to order, deliciously fluffy and warm on the inside and crispy on the outside. All the things you want in a good donut, really.

Yum. Image: Supplied.


Stay at Paperbark Camp and have dinner at The Gunyah.

Inside the tent at Paperbark Camp. Image: Supplied.

We then travelled for another hour or so before driving through a winding tree-lined path to reach Paperbark Camp. Paperbark Camp is nestled in a forest and filled with multiple safari-style tents, except it's worth noting they're not your average tents. Each tent has a wrap around deck, outdoor furniture, hardwood floors, solar powered lighting, complete insect screening and (the best part, in my opinion) an open air private en suite with bath and shower. Having spent a lot of my childhood camping, all I can say is I've never had a camping experience like this. It's truly as luxurious as camping can get.


Yes, I took a bath here. Image: Supplied.


After checking in and settling into our tent, we enjoyed a few glasses of wine while listening to the sounds of the forest and the light rain before we got ready for dinner at The Gunyah. The Gunyah is a tree-top dining room, and we were seated right near the window so we could continue to take in the serene surroundings. From the three-course set menu we enjoyed the kingfish crudo and kangaroo tartare for entrée, sous vide chicken and grilled beef for main and chocolate mouse and a cheese platter for dessert.

The sous vide chicken and grilled beef at The Gunyah (Aboriginal for meeting place.) Image: Supplied.


While we had a wonderful meal, my favourite part was the rose gin cocktail using the Jervis Bay Distilling Co Rose Gin I discovered on the drinks menu. It was so good I went searching for the same gin at a local bottle shop the next day and was thrilled when I secured the last two bottles to take home with me.

I will dream about this cocktail. Image: Supplied.


Take a reformer pilates Class at Flow State Jervis Bay.

The following morning we had an early wake up for a 7am reformer pilates class at Flow State Jervis Bay. Now I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared of being the newbie in the reformer pilates class considering I'd never done it before. However, by the end of it, I was well and truly converted. The space was beautiful and light and our instructor Mel made the class very easy for a beginner like myself to follow. The music was calm and relaxing and I felt supported in all the exercises. By the end of it I had broken a sweat and even completed my first pilates hundred.

Inside Flow State Jervis Bay. Image: Supplied.


Get a coffee at Jervis Bay Coffee Co.

Fact: coffee tastes better after you've done reformer pilates. Can you believe the bragging rights I have after just one class? In all seriousness though, I spent the entire time we were enjoying our coffees at Jervis Bay Coffee Co located just off Huskisson Wharf telling my husband how great my body felt after the reformer pilates class and that I might take it up at the studio I had noticed down the road near our house. The Jervis Bay air had truly changed me.

Coffee with a view. Image: Supplied.


Have a massage at Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.

After our coffee we walked to Maya Organic, a boutique beauty salon that offers a menu of organic treatments, for a massage. Stepping into the space had me feeling relaxed before my body even met the massage bed. The treatment room was beautiful and calming as my therapist gave me a 60 minute relaxation massage. All the products used felt wonderful on my skin and the technique of the massage practically put me to sleep instantly. I left feeling like I was walking on a cloud which is always the sign of a good massage.

One of the treatment rooms inside Maya Organic. Image: Supplied.


Have lunch at Pasta Buoy.

By this time we'd well and truly worked up an appetite and lunch at Pasta Buoy did not disappoint. There were so many things we wanted to try on the menu that we found it hard to narrow it down but settled on the vodka rigatoni, wagyu lasagne, carbonara tagliatelle and garlic butter sourdough cob. All the pasta is hand made daily so everything we ate tasted amazing, though if I had to pick my favourite it would be the vodka rigatoni.

The vodka rigatoni, wagyu lasagne, carbonara tagliatelle and garlic butter sourdough cob at Pasta Buoy. Image: Supplied.


We took our boxes of pasta down to the nearby beach and enjoyed our lunch on the hill overlooking the water. I was tempted to return and try the dessert gnocchi yet after lunch, I definitely had no room left. If you do ever happen to try them, please tell me how they were as I still think about them.

Do a guided Aboriginal Cultural tour of the White Sands Walk.

From lunch we then drove to Greenfield Beach carpark to meet Aunty Diedre who took a group of us on a guided Aboriginal Cultural tour. Aunty Diedre is a Walbanga woman of the Yuin nation and a respected Elder with incredible knowledge. She has been leading bushtucker tours for over 20 years and took us on the White Sands Walk, stopping at key points along the way to educate us about our surrounds and sharing her deep connection to Country.

Aunty Diedre on the White Sands Walk. Image: Supplied.


Aunty Diedre took all of her knowledge of bushtucker from her family, passed down through generations and had a deep understanding of the seasons, land and plants. Aunty Diedre showed us how to make soap, remedies for leeches, mosquito bites and mouth ulcers, and even lanterns to guide in the dark and tools for brushing hair, all from the local plants. When showing us these creations from the land, Aunty Diedre noted that 'where the problem is, the solution is usually nearby.'

Making soap on the White Sands Walk. Image: Supplied.


Have dinner at Wildginger Huskisson.

For dinner, we visited Wildginger Huskisson, an Asian fusion restaurant and wine bar that was bustling with people from the moment we walked in. It had a very buzzy atmosphere, with diners sprawled around the vibrant bar. Everyone we spoke to told us that Wildginger is known for its incredible cocktails so we made sure to order a lychee bellini and bloody aperol sour on arrival.

The crab wontons and pork belly betel leaf at Wildginger Huskisson. Image: Supplied.


For dinner we had crab wontons and pork belly betel leaf to start and pork loin katsu noodles and braised beef cheeks (warning: this is hot) with rice for mains. From the sides to the mains, these dishes were bursting with flavour and paired really well with our cocktails.

The pork loin katsu noodles and braised beef cheeks. Image: Supplied.


Have breakfast at Salty Joe's.

The next morning we checked out of Paperpark Camp and headed to Salty Joe's for breakfast. They don't take bookings but we didn't wait long at all and I was sold when I saw they had rhubarb pancakes as a special and immediately had to order it.

The massive breakfast and eggs benny at Salty Joe's. Image: Supplied.


My husband had a massive breakfast (can confirm: it was massive) and I also ordered an eggs benny. Yes, it was too much food and no, we couldn't finish all of it but as I said, I couldn't go past trying the pancakes.

The rhubarb pancakes with popcorn and Toblerone. Image: Supplied.


Go on a Dolphin Cruise with Jervis Bay Wild.

From there we walked to the entrance of the Fisherman's Wharf for a dolphin cruise with Jervis Bay Wild. The vessel was comfortable and had plenty of space to sit and take in the water and of course, be on the lookout for dolphins. The species in Jervis Bay are the bottlenose dolphin and there are over 100 of them in the marine park.

A close up of one of the many dolphins we saw on the dolphin tour with Jervis Bay Wild. Image: Supplied.


We ventured out with our captain pointing out some local spots along the way before we reached a pod of about eight or so dolphins. We were lucky enough to see them swimming along with the vessel and even play on the bow. I've been on quite a few dolphin tours before and aside from being in the water, this is the closest I had been to them.

When we arrived back on land from the dolphin tour, we began our drive home back to Sydney. My husband and I talked about how it was the most relaxed we had felt in a long time. So the next time I hear the trill of my alarm and reach for my phone in the morning, maybe I'll remember the wise words of Aunty Diedre and note that where the problem is, the solution usually isn't too far away. Less than three hours away, in fact.

What is your favourite way to relax and reset? Tell us in the comments section below.

Mamamia travelled as a guest of Shoalhaven Tourism. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's own.

Image: Supplied/Valentina Todoroska.

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