If you were to mention the words ‘Sutherland Shire’, the usual reaction is an upturned nose and a face of disgust. “Oh, the Shire… Ew” is usually a standard response. Aside from the disastrous, corny television show that never saw its final days, and the horrific riots in 2005, most of these reactions actually come down to the fact that most people haven’t experienced The Shire and what makes it so special.
If you are going to make that courageous step into The Sutherland Shire (Yes, its considered an accomplishment if you have managed to get there without immediately turning into a spray tanned bogan), then Cronulla is the place where you want to land. From its array of spectacular crystal clear blue beaches, fantastic restaurants and cafes, and the varied boutiques in the mall, Cronulla is a place where the word ‘boredom’ does not exist. For some the area is a close getaway,, a quick step into paradise, a breath of fresh air. For its residents, it is the beautiful whereabouts in which they wake up day after day. If you are someone who has had the opportunity to experience all that is Cronulla, then consider yourself lucky.
What makes this area so unique is the variety of what it has to offer. The most obvious reason that makes Cronulla what it is, is the long stretch of beaches that wrap around the coast from the north at Boat Harbour to the southern headland at Bass and Flinders Pointt which flows into the Port Hacking. These beaches are simply an attraction in themselves which happens to be almost every shire bumpkin’s favourite spot for a swim. The beaches are such an attraction to people because not every beach on this coastline is the same. First you have the surf beaches; Wanda, Eloura, North Cronulla, and South Cronulla Beach. This is where you will find the surfers, boogie boarders, the sun-bakers, the beach bums, the families on a day out and the lifeguards patrolling the waters. These beaches are crowded with people in summer, giving sun lovers a taste of what Bondi is like. Next are the rock pools and smaller rock pool beaches such as Shelley Beach and Oak Park. These beaches offer a more relaxed and sheltered atmosphere which attract families with younger children and the elderly who fancy a swim on a hot summer’s afternoon. Then finally, the bay. Gunnamatta lies to the west of the Cronulla coastal beaches and features swimming baths for those who seek an alternative to the surf. The beaches are not only popular in the warmer months, but there is still plenty to offer in winter. The extended pedestrian and bike path named ‘The Esplanade’ runs all the way from Wanda beach in the north to Bass and Flinders in the south. A great way to spend the colder mornings is to take a stroll along The Esplanade and soak up some beautiful rays of the Australian sun which will take you along all four beaches and rock pools and deliver some of Sydney’s most spectacular scenery.
Image : Eduardo Kikko
The second most popular attraction is the Cronulla Plaza (Mall) and its busy, vibrant lifestyle. Cronulla mall is always pumping with an outgoing and spirited atmosphere.The mall provides a range of surf shops, fashion boutiques, eclectic bars, restaurants and cafes. If you were to take a stroll down the strip mid morning on a Sunday, you will notice the overwhelming number of people brunching, taking their dog for a walk or grabbing a coffee to go. The plaza is one of The Shire’s social hubs where people come together to have a good time. There are always events taking place in the mall including ‘the Easter Show’, ‘Santa’s Workshop’, the popular movie cinemas and the themed nights at the local bars so there is no doubt that Cronulla can successfully keep the locals entertained.
Another reason to pay beautiful Cronulla a visit this weekend is the abundant amount of fresh food that is available., The local dining scene has come of age and has made an impact with good reviews in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. If you are looking to wine and dine, restaurants such as SummerSalt (which attracted no less than Prince Harry for his last Australian visit), The Duck Republic Kitchen and Bar, and Sea Level (which serves some of the best seafood in Sydney), are sure to leave you with a satisfied palette. If something a little more low-key is what your after, there are a number of bars and small eateries that will satisfy. El Sol is a Mexican bar on the main street of the suburb, whipping up some fancy cocktails and serving authentic Mexican food at great prices. The famous Northies Hotel is a crowd pleaser, with an extensive menu that offers daily specials, like 2-4-1 meals on Thursday nights. The hotel even has its own bar/night club, designed and decorated to reflect a milk-bar, where you can find classic hamburgers and hotdogs. Or if you simply long for that first beer to get your weekend going, bars such as The Blind Bear, Queen Margherita, or Cronulla’s freshest addition and a ‘must visit’, Low & Lofty’s.
So give Cronulla a go on your next weekend outing, you won’t be disappointed.