AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE is one of the more unique venues I have come across. One of my online food blogger friends from Brisbane knows the couple that owns it and she got in touch and told me I would love it. It was 90mins from home and anything over an hour I usually skip but it was in the Royal National Park in the Sutherland Shire and it’s on the water. It sounded like an ideal day trip so I got foodie sister, Get Fat with Nat, and we headed off to the Shire.
THE EXPERIENCE THAT IS AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE:
It took me exactly 90mins from Manly to Audley Dance Hall on a Sunday morning. Fantastic time for podcast catch ups – am obsessing over CASEFILE at the moment – check it – but I am digressing. The last part of the drive is into a national park. It is beautiful and winds a fair bit and there is lots of green. If there is bushfires or a LOT of rain in the days before you will not be able to get to AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE so plan accordingly.
When you eventually get to the bottom of the valley and you can see the buildings, park anywhere you can. You are in a national park so if the entry toll booth is not open when you enter by the time you leave you will have a fine on your car. It is only $12- which is the cost of park entry. You can pay at the information centre or call them and fix it up over the phone – the national park website was kept failing, calling was easier.
The building itself is HUGE. The cafe seats up to 60 people outdoor but they are all covered tables. The venue overlooks Audley grounds towards one of the largest trees you will probably have seen. Beyond the tree is Hacking River. The inside of the lower level of AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE is 50% the local information centre (where you can pay for park fees) and the other half a counter. You order and pay here and can get takeaway stuff if you want to grab a sanga and do a bushwalk.
The upstairs is a large hall, I assume this is where the “dance” part comes in. I have not seen it but it can be utilised to formally seat up to 200 people for weddings and I have to be honest, I fell in love with this place and if I ever meet Mr Right would get married here in a heartbeat. Seriously – check out their instagram HERE – it is one of the most beautiful places in NSW.
Outdoors at AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE is a marvel. The Audley Grounds are vast; full family fun cricket matches, picnics, BBQs, swimming and paddling is in order. You can hire boats, kayaks and paddle bikes from the other side of the river and there is abundant walks to do. My next visit will be for a full picnic spread to be prepared so I can hire a boat and paddle up the river and enjoy a feast in the water. Take a bottle of wine, get my date to paddle and voila, perfection haha.
I wonder if you can camp nearby?
The menu at Audley is elevated above cafe fare. It is a fully licensed venue with a decent assortment of Australian and NZ wines and a few beers to choose from. A few sneaky wines should be in order, however don’t drink and drive! Breakfast menu until 1130am and lunch menu until 430pm. They use Marvel Street Roasters Coffee from Byron Bay and T2 Loose Leaf Teas. AUDLEY has a vast assortment of cafe juices, shakes and even an iced matcha.
Of note is a decent kid’s menu which will keep everyone happy, but they mostly won’t want to eat, the place has zero phone reception so they will go crazy wanting to run around. They will sleep well the night after an AUDLEY visit.
The breakfast menu reads like a Newtown cafe with the Dancehall Big Breakfast the standout for me, I am not a Shakshhuka fan but if you are this one looks good and i’m always up for a Rolled French Omelette. They do have a small selection of breakfast items available all day for those people that just gotta have breakfast later in the day.
I should note that the menu changes seasonally and maybe a little more depending on what is fresh and available. The gnocchi we had when we visited is out and a new one is in at the moment. They have a Ploughman’s, quite a few salads, fritters, fish and chips, a beef or chicken burger, pre-mentioned gnocchi, a fish of the day and a seasonal taco, plus a few sides. It is what you would expect from a Northern Beaches Cafe – and it’s impressive.
WHAT WE ORDERED:
- Ploughman’s lunch, house made duck & chicken rillettes, cured meats, pickles, olives, artisan cheese, beetroot & red onion marmalade, sourdough. Perfect to share $25
- Homemade potato gnocchi with grilled asparagus, peas, kale, goat’s cheese and truffle oil $22. (Current one is made with slow braised lamb, brussel sprouts, soft herbs, mustard butter & parmesan for $24.50)
- Shredded pork tacos with slaw and blackened corn with tomato salsa, sriracha yoghurt and blue corn tortilla $21-
- Juices – bottled by Juice Farm
- Coffees – Marvel Street Roasters from Byron Bay
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
A delicious meal in perfect surroundings. The juices were good and I loved they came in sealed jam jars from the maker but I would prefer freshly made in a cafe. I did not have a coffee but Nat did and enjoyed it, she is caffeine obsessed so this is high praise.
You can never go wrong with a Ploughman’s and this was no exception. I could just live off them! The pork tacos were AMAZING – the heat off the sriracha mayo was deeeelish and the combo with the blackened corn was genius. And that gnocchi – heavenly. I am gnocchi partial and while this at first turned me off because it had no meat I always fall for that truffle flavour and the asparagus was cooked to perfection. And you gotta love anything with goat’s cheese. Their current gnocchi also sounds wonderful!
If you live in the Shire and haven’t yet visited AUDLEY DANCE HALL AND CAFE, the Royal National Park and the Hacking River then you are mad! If you are from Sydney and want a wonderful all-day trip with the family then you HAVE TO DO THIS. The food is impressive, the venue is fantastic and the surroundings are what some people would call God’s country.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambiance, 1/1 cost, 0/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
Audley Dance Hall and Cafe Deets:
PH: 02 9542 6222
2 Lady Carrington Drive, Royal National Park, NSW, 2232
Open 7 days: 830am (8am weekends) – 430pm
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – small selection
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes – small selection
KID FRIENDLY: Absolutely
BYO: Possibly – check with venue – they do have a wine menu – for picnics and the like of course BYO.
*** Spooning Australia was invited to attend this venue and the meal was complimentary ***
For more reviews of Regional NSW Restaurants – click HERE