It may be renowned for its historic streetscape, bucolic, evergreen setting and close proximity to the coast, but it’s the supportive community that makes the small town of Milton, in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast, so special. “It’s the friendliness — everyone looks after each other,” says Jo Delly, who, with her chef husband, Alex, runs acclaimed local restaurant St Isidore, which sources many ingredients from its large kitchen gardens. “There’s comradeship between people, and businesses are really great at supporting each other. It’s just so welcoming and laidback.”
Jo estimates that as many as two new families are moving to Milton each week, ensuring the town’s vibrant mix of food, retail, education and medical services continues to develop and evolve. A proposed bypass — which would see the highway diverted past Milton and Ulladulla — is also thought to be getting closer, with commencement of the project expected in coming years.
The Budawang tribe are the original inhabitants of this part of NSW, and were sighted by Captain Cook on his voyage in 1770. The first European settlers arrived in Milton in 1828, establishing a cedar-cutting industry that drew more farmers and saw Milton become the commercial centre of the district by 1875. Today, the main street is a charming mix of old and new, and the town is framed by rolling pastures, the majesty of Pigeon House Mountain and the Budawang Range, and the occasional glimpse of sparkling surf.
With mild temperatures year round, there’s plenty to enjoy. “The bushwalking is amazing,” says Jo. “You can really entertain yourself — you can eat, drink, walk, meditate, do yoga, do a cooking class…” For more information, visit
Food and wine
. Simple, seasonal food done extremely well.
. Stop in for bread, pastries and flavoured milks.
. Breakfast and lunch, served in a converted cheese factory.
Standing side by side, these historic buildings (the hall is now the local library) are a charming highlight along Milton’s main street.
This boutique winery (pictured below) also boasts a fromagerie, restaurant, brewery and beautiful accommodation.
. Overlooking Milton, within the nearby Morton National Park, Pigeon House Mountain offers a steep loop walk with stunning views of the region.
Green Island beach. One of the South Coast’s best surf spots, half an hour’s drive north-east via Bendalong.
Above, a celebratory feast at St Isidore.
. Food, clothes, bric-a-brac and more; held the first Saturday of each month.
Revival Antiques and 20th C Design. Designer and former resident Collette Dinnigan shopped here. Shop 2a, The Settlement, Milton. (02) 4455 1200.
The best of modern surf culture.
Luxe accommodation plus day spa and acclaimed restaurant Rick Stein at Bannisters.
. The two renovated cottages on this two-hectare property are small but blissful.
Once a creamery for a dairy, this self-contained loft cottage overlooks green pastures.
Milton is a scenic, three-hour drive south along the coast from Sydney, and just under that from Canberra via Braidwood and Batemans Bay. Trains from Sydney run regularly to Kiama and Bomaderry, with local bus services available from there. There’s also a daily bus shuttle to and from Canberra.
With its idyllic surrounds, café scene and close-knit local community, Milton’s “got everything”, says Ben Pryde, principal and director of the local Raine and Horne. He adds that about 65 per cent of buyers in the area hail from Sydney. A tightly held market, Milton offers a mix of character homes and new estates — expect to pay between $600,000 to $1.3 million for a three-bedroom home on a suburban block in town — as well as premium acreage surrounding the village for between $1.3 million to $2.5 million. “There are also places on acreage further out, more in the bush, for those looking for solitude or escapism,” says Ben.
Milton has two primary schools, Milton Public School and St Mary’s Star of the Sea, and a handful of preschools and early learning centres. Ulladulla Public School and Ulladulla High School are also close by, as are TAFE campuses in Ulladulla, Nowra and Moruya. The University of Wollongong is two hours north, with hundreds of course options available.