With travel around NSW now permitted, many people are taking the opportunity to explore our beautiful state via road trip. And if you're a seafood lover, you are in luck! The NSW coast is dotted with fishing towns, cooperatives, oyster shacks and delicious seafood restaurants; travelling this stretch of coastline is truly a seafood-lover's dream.
Over 50% of seafood sold through the Sydney Fish Market auction comes from NSW suppliers, with many of those suppliers being fishers’ cooperatives like those at Wallis Lake, Newcastle, Ulladulla, Bermagui, Coffs Harbour, Ballina and the Clarence River. The seafood you can purchase from these local businesses is as fresh as it gets; if you time your arrival well, you'll even get to see it being unloaded from the local fleet.
Not only are you able to enjoy incredibly fresh, high-quality seafood in these fishing towns, but you also know that you are directly supporting local businesses. Regional NSW has taken a huge hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with the tourism many businesses rely upon being reduced to almost none. There's nothing better than knowing that you are directly supporting friendly, family-owned businesses, after such a tough time.
We have created the ultimate NSW seafood road trip itinerary to give you all the information you need to find the best spots to eat local seafood in NSW. Whether you plan your entire road trip around these stunning locations, or just pop a couple into your itinerary, you're guaranteed to find some of the best seafood of your life in these places!
The Sapphire Coast is located at the southern end of NSW, approximately halfway between Melbourne and Sydney. This area is famous for its wild coastline, secluded beaches, pristine estuaries, whale watching opportunities, and of course, oysters!
November is the ideal time to visit this section of coastline, allowing you to catch the end of whale-watching season while also enjoying the warm spring/summer weather and associated seasonal seafood.
With so many lakes and estuaries, oyster leases along the Sapphire Coast are plentiful and harvest-rich. Find a complete oyster-lovers itinerary here. Aside from the huge range of oyster experiences, our top spots to visit in this region are:
Eden Wharf and surrounds: Eden is home to one of NSW's largest fishing fleets, meaning that all of the restaurants close to the wharf are supplied with stunningly fresh seafood year-round. Make a point to try some Whiting, Snapper, Flathead or Garfish from this area.
Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant: With spectacular 180-degree ocean views, this restaurant is the perfect place to stop in for a fresh seafood lunch. Bonus for families – they have a huge aquarium on site, filled with all manner of marine life!
Bermagui Fishermen's Wharf: The Bermagui Fishermen's Cooperative is a major supplier of fresh seafood to Sydney Fish Market, mainly catching Flathead, Ling, Snapper, Tuna and Swordfish.
Head north from the Sapphire Coast to find the Shoalhaven area, a stretch of coastline brimming with delicious produce, seafood eateries, and expert fishermen and oyster farmers.
Make sure to visit at least one of the fish and chip shops in this area; they are generally supplied seafood directly from the local fleets, and many of them have won awards for their fish and chip quality! Top picks include The Fish Shop at Burrill Lake, Beach Hut Café in Mollymook, Pelican Rocks Café in Greenwell Point, and World Famous Fish and Chips in Jervis Bay.
You also don’t want to miss these seafood spots:
Ulladulla Fishermen's Wharf Seafood: Family-run fishing fleets have used the Ulladulla Fishermen's Wharf as a hub since the 1930's, and the local cooperative is a major supplier to Sydney Fish Market. Now, the cooperative is attached to a fantastic seafood restaurant, where you can enjoy the true ocean to plate experience.
Nowra Fresh Fish and Meat Market: If you're staying a night in this area, we definitely recommend heading to this Market. It is one of the largest wholesale suppliers of seafood on the South Coast, and it’s open to the public! Grab some Prawns, Fish or Oysters and cook them up yourself on the BBQ.
Central Coast and Hunter Region
Drive north on the Pacific Highway from Sydney, and you will come across stunning seafood experiences at almost every turn. Known for fantastic surf spots, long sandy beaches, and verdant, subtropical hinterland, this area is home to some fantastic oyster farms (especially along the Hawkesbury), and a number of fishing towns.
You could honestly dedicate a few days to the seafood restaurants and retailers on the Central Coast. Some must-sees are Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf, Casanova Oysters and Seafood in Berkeley Vale, Beach Parade Seafood in Canton Beach, D & L Witchard in Woy Woy, and Darron's Seafood in Wamberal. For an even longer and more detailed list, click here.
Here are some of our other must-dos along this pristine section of coastline.
Commercial Fishermen's Cooperative (Newcastle): Seafood from this cooperative is transported to Sydney Fish Market auction on a daily basis, making it one of the market's strongest regional suppliers. The cooperative’s huge array of fresh local seafood, ranging from the humble Mullet to succulent Eastern Rock Lobster, is worth beholding, and it’s guaranteed that nearby seafood restaurants will have the freshest produce on the menu if you don't want to cook it yourself.
Wallis Lake Fishermen's Cooperative: Another of Sydney Fish Market's biggest NSW suppliers, the Wallis Lake Fishermen's Cooperative is a stunning oceanside location famous for a variety of Prawn, Rock Lobster, Crab, and estuary-caught fish products. The shop gets the pick of the day's catch straight off the boats of their local fleet, so it's certain to be the absolute freshest you can get.
The Stunned Mullet (Port Macquarie): This airy, beachside restaurant is famous for the stunning Australian seafood on its menu, and is a great (slightly fancier) way to enjoy the huge variety of seafood caught around the Port Macquarie area.
Mid and Far-North Coasts
With its fertile farmland, abundance of fresh seafood, and creative restaurant and bar scene, the NSW Mid and Far-North Coasts have become a year-round destination for foodies.
You'll drive through charming towns, past fantastic surfing spots, and visit world-famous beaches as you wander along this stretch of coastline – plus, there are plenty of incredible seafood spots to check out. A few of our favourites are:
Coffs Harbour: Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Cooperative is Sydney Fish Market’s second largest supplier providing a huge range of exceptionally fresh product to the Market. Include Coffs Harbour on your travel itinerary and you can enjoy their premium, sustainable seafood at the source and with a view of the harbour. The Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Cooperative boasts a booming retail trade with a large fresh retail display and a takeaway shop serving daily local specials and the best fish and chips in town. The Coop’s wholesale outlet delivers premium seafood to local restaurants and cafes so you’ll be bound to find lots of menus in the town and surrounds featuring local seafood.
Clarence River Fishermen's Cooperative (Yamba): Boasting seafood harvested from nature's most pristine estuary and oceans, this fishers’ cooperative is a consistent supplier of delicious King Prawns, Snapper, Flathead, Tuna, Rock Lobster and Bugs to Sydney Fish Market. Enjoy all of these delicious species and more on a visit to their retail outlet in Yamba.
Ballina: There are so many fantastic seafood spots in this small coastal town that you will be spoilt for choice! Definitely pay a visit to the local fishermen's cooperative for some mouthwateringly-fresh takeaway seafood... And, of course, make sure you get a picture with the Big Prawn!
While this guide is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the fantastic seafood options in our state, we hope it gives you the inspiration you need to take a seafood-lovers road-trip along the NSW coast this summer, supporting local every step of the way!