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Avalon Beach And Surrounds With Virgine Batterson

Travel

While a beachside picnic may only now be a distant summer dream for us rugged-up Melburnians, it’s very much an all-year-round reality if you trip up North.

Take yourself on a virtual holiday (or plan a real one) with this guide for a relaxing family getaway to Avalon Beach, one hour north of Sydney’s city centre. French-born, Avalon-based fashion designer and retailer Virgine Batterson of  Mamapapa is your guide!

27th July, 2018

Virgine Batterson moved from France to Australia in 2001. After 10 years in Darlinghurst, she settled in Avalon Beach. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Virgine Batterson
Friday 27th July 2018

I was born and bred in France and migrated to Australia in 2001 with my husband Scott. We fell in love with Australia the moment we arrived!

I had always been obsessed with clothing (all ages and sizes) and launched my label Mamapapa in 2003. It was initially a baby’s clothing label but has since grown into a brand that offers womenswear as well.

We moved to Avalon in 2011, after living in Darlinghurst for 10 years. We wanted to find an environment that was more open for our family.

Compared to where I grew up in Lille, in the North of France, surrounded by family and good food, Avalon is very different. But the beach culture is something I really love and which we didn’t have growing up; I couldn’t live without it now!

What I love most about the Avalon Beach area is that we now spend most of our time outside, enjoying the local beaches and parks as well as restaurants and cafés. 

Avalon Beach is only an hour from the Sydney city centre, and it is such a nice change of scenery. People should visit for Mamapapa (for starters!), plus the beaches that are so beautiful up here, and not to mention all the little, hidden treasures along the coastline!

There’s something to enjoy in any season. In winter, grab a great coffee to warm up in the morning and do the lighthouse walk. In spring and autumn, I recommend renting a boat at The Boathouse and taking it out on the harbour. Then in summer, it’s all about taking long picturesque walks and making the most of daylight savings!

Virgine’s tour of her area begins with an early-morning coffee from Classic Coffee VanPhoto – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The Van was a tip-off from some local surfer friends. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Make it for sunrise if you can! Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The baristas are friendly and everything on offer is great,’ tells Virgine. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Early morning on South Avalon Beach. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Looking out over the headland. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

COFFEE – Sunrise At Classic Coffee Van

Some of the surfers at work got me on to this van.

If I can get out early enough, I try to meet the girls for a tea or coffee and get a good view of the ocean in before I start my workday. 

The baristas are friendly and everything on offer is great – of course, the coffee!

Classic Coffee Van – Parked Weekdays at South Avalon Headland, 6-9am.

Virgine’s clothing and homewares store, Mamapapa. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Her label, Mamapapa, offers super cute children’s and womenswear. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Virgine also stocks homewares and other treasures from Australia and abroad. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The store opened in late 2013. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Virgine (centre) with her team at MamaPapa, Maddie (left) and Leia (right). Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Store details. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Napery and other gift items. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

STORE – MamaPapa

I opened the Mamapapa Store here in November 2013. Taking this shop actually came about quite suddenly, but after having closed my store in Darlinghurst, Manon et Gwenaelle, in 2011, I couldn’t wait to get back into store retailing. 

Our little store offers a gorgeous array of earthy tones and textures in the form of items from all over the world… not to mention my own children’s and womenswear label, Mamapapa! I’m really excited to be preparing for the forthcoming Summer 2018 collection, which will be in store and online in September. 

Mamapapa – 11/20 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, NSW 2107.

At Hungry Ghost. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Virgine and her son Liam at The Hungry Ghost. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The hot chocolates are that good! Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

CAFÉ –  The Hungry Ghost

If you’re in need of another coffee, or some delicious, hearty food, The Hungry Ghost next door should be your next stop.

This charming little place is family friendly and has a great terrace.

They serve great jaffles (try the bolognese one!) and sweet treats,  as well as winter favourites like warming soups and organic porridge!

The Hungry Ghost – 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, NSW 2107.

Celine imports an incredible selection of food and wine from their homeland! Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Le Petit MarchéPhoto – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The produce store is run by Virgine’s friend Celine, also from France. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

PRODUCE –  Le Petit Marché

With a French friend Celine owning this place, of course it was destined to be one of my favourites!

She imports an incredible selection of food and wine from France. My list of recommendations is virtually endless! But to start: you must try the saucisson, fromage, rillette, wine, and chocolate! 

Le Petit Marché – 15 Robertson Rd, Newport, NSW 2106.

Family picnic at Snapperman Beach. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Family picnic at Snapperman Beach (left to right) Kenyon, Virgine, Liam and Ella. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Picnic envy! Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Le Petit Marché produce. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

ACTIVITY – Snapperman Beach Picnic

The beach is so very peaceful and raw. It also offers some truly amazing sunsets. 

Often after work, I’ll pack up a basket of food, a ball and the towels and head here to enjoy the late afternoon with the family. 

Snapperman Beach – Off Iluka Road, Palm Beach, NSW 2108.

Inside Clareville Kiosk – Virgine’s go-to for a special dinner. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The restaurant is hosted in a cute little cottage. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

The food is incredible as is the relaxed atmosphere,’ tells Virgine. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

Looking down from Clareville across Pittwater Harbour. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

DINE – Clareville Kiosk

We often go to Clareville Beach for barbecues and to meet friends, and on one occasion noticed this charming little cottage on the corner.

It’s now our spot for special occasion dinners, and a night out with friends (without the kids)! The food is incredible as is the relaxed atmosphere. 

They serve a set menu, with a three or six-course option – I definitely recommend the latter!

Clareville Kiosk – 27 Delecta Avenue, Clareville, NSW 2107.

The Little Black Shack on Mackerel Beach. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Inside the two-bedroom one-bathroom cabin. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The cosy accommodation features an open fireplace. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

A fisherman’s shack handbuilt in the 1930s, it is now a private eco-retreat. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

STAY – The Little Black Shack

If you wanted to turn your day trip into an overnight getaway, this beautiful Airbnb is my pick of where to stay!

Once an old fisherman’s shack, handbuilt in the 1930s, now a private eco-retreat, it is just one mile from Palm Beach… but feels like a real sanctuary away from it all. This is largely due to the fact there are no roads, no cars, and no shops – Mackerel Beach can only be reached by ferry (an old wooden vessel named Myra) or water taxi!

The two-bedroom one-bathroom cabin includes an impressive kitchen for guest use, along with kitchen garden and fishing gear, plus a cosy open fireplace.

Wake to a sunrise over Palm Beach headland and explore the surrounding Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

The Little Black Shack – 29 Ross Smith Parade, Great Mackerel Beach, NSW 2108.

South Avalon Beach. Photo – Jacqui Turk for The Design Files.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net