Itinerary: Shirley Hannan National Portraiture Award

Mimosa Richard Green

Mimosa Rocks National Park, just a few kilometres north of Tathra.

The crisp winter months draw artists and art lovers alike to Sapphire Coast, to be inspired by nature and local galleries, forage for the season’s harvest and rejuvenate the senses on crisp, salt air.

In June the Shirley Hannan National Portraiture Award opens at Bega Valley Regional Gallery. It’s one of Australia’s richest realistic portraiture awards, with a first prize of $50,000. Time here is well spent, and beyond the gallery walls awaits nature’s own temperate masterpiece. For those of you contemplating a winter sojourn, we’ve created a itinerary for art lovers with the ‘Shirley Hannan’ as it’s piece de resistance, with a nature walk, grower’s market and maker’s gathering in close pursuit.

See the finalists

It’s a landscape Hannan herself was familiar with. A gifted portraitist, she was well known in the Bega Valley as a staunch supporter and generous patron of the arts. She funded the John Balmain National Award for Portraits and Figure Drawing from 1993 until she re-established it in her own name in 2002. In 2016, the biennial award has attracted works from both established and emerging artists from across Australia.

Cobargo Village is home to many artisans and historic buildings.

Cobargo Village is home to many artisans and historic buildings.

A round trip of some 124 km, this trip takes you on a loop from Bega, through fertile dairy farming country to the quaint village of Cobargo, then across to the seaside port of Bermagui and south to to Tathra through Mimosa Rocks National Park. It is Yuin country, and you can take an interpretive walk at Mimosa Rocks National Park to explore the park’s largest midden.

Cobargo village was established through the daily routine of tending cows and creating rich, yellow butter. It’s turn of the century buildings house the crafts of those times, seasonal produce, leather work, pottery and blacksmithing along with crafts like beaded jewellery and vintage clothing. Just around the corner from the main street is Cobargo Farm, a lovingly tended 16 acre market garden, nursery and open garden that is over 40 years old. Saturday is the best day to visit Cobargo, as the Laneway Markets are celebrated by the whole street.

The fishing town of Bermagui is a 35 minute drive through dairying country with a grand entrance through a spotted gum eucalypt forest. ‘Bermi’s eateries and attractions are nestled around the harbour, from the architecturally designed Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative to the Bermagui Blue Pool and Dickinson Park. Stop for seafood at Blue Wave Seafood where the

Drive through dairy country to coastal ports.

Drive through dairy country to coastal ports.

fish comes straight from the boats. There’s also organic oysters from Wapengo Rocks and Eden Mussels right up to 7pm at night. If you time your visit for a Thursday afternoon, you can also see a whole range of local produce and wines at the Bermagui Grower’s Market.

From Bermagui, the coastal town of Tathra is 40 kilometers south. The road meanders across one lane bridges, stunning beaches and the spotted gum eucalypt forests of Mimosa Rocks National Park (Here’s a great short stop). There are two exceptional galleries along the way, Ivy Hill is set within a renovated farm house and Narek Galleries is set on former church grounds, but with in winter they open only by appointment. Contact them directly to ensure you’ll get a viewing.

Once you cross the beautiful Mogareeka Inlet head to the iconic steamer wharf and the The Wharf Locavore where you can see a range of beautiful creations from local artists and makers and top up your esky with prepared foods. #Note the Tathra Wharf suffered storm damage in June and is unlikely to reopen prior to September 1. Please check the Facebook page for updates.

The Shirley Hannan National Portraiture Award opens at Bega Valley Regional Gallery on June 17, and closes on August 20.

Bermagui Wharf

Bermagui Harbour is lined with eateries specialising in fresh seafood and galleries.

Bega Valley Regional Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday (10am to 4pm) and Saturday (9am to 12 noon).







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