Port Stephens Beach House

Port Stephens, Hunter Valley, Australia Book from AU$700

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Sparklingly modern Australian beach home with sumptuous views over dunes and native bushland, 2 hours north of Sydney (sleeps 6-8)
With its eco-principles, innovative architecture and inside-out design, this villa is a showcase for contemporary Australia. Built in 2000, its two connecting pavilions have arched roofs which allow light and air to flow freely, so there's no need for air-conditioning. From every point, the views are sublime: north-facing window-walls on the ocean side, a series of terraces overlooking the native bush and adjoining National Park, and a large garden with infinity lap pool for al fresco living. There's a wonderful feeling of seclusion and privacy, yet it's only 5 minutes' walk down to the endless surf and sand dunes of One Mile Beach.

Inside is an open-plan living-dining space, a fully-equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 large solar-powered bathrooms and a billiards room - all you need for a top notch holiday with family or friends. And if you want more lebensraum, there's excellent hiking, fishing, diving, dolphin-watching, dune-driving and horse-riding on your doorstep.

Highs

  • We loved the innovative design and contemporary style
  • The vistas over bush, dunes and ocean are truly stunning
  • Superb attention to detail, from underfloor heating to corian work surfaces
  • Wonderful location, with long sandy beaches and several National Parks to delight active types
  • No other houses in view

Lows

  • Anna Bay (the town) isn't particularly stylish - this is not Byron Bay - but you can get your basics here
  • Located at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac - but once through the door you're in another world, and you forget you had any neighbours
  • Often booked up in summer

Best time to go

The coast is fabulous all year round - certainly less crowded in the winter months (Jun-Aug) although the sea is less inviting. The best months for whale watching are October to November. It comes into its own in the summer months (Dec-Feb) but it is often booked up in advance.

Our top tips

The stables in Nelson Bay offer horse-riding through the sand dunes; unforgettable

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Villa
  • 3
  • Self-catering; drive to restaurants
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Snooker Table
Room:

Rooms

There are three bedrooms - 2 doubles and 1 quadruple - sleeping up to eight people. The Master bedroom is in its own 'pavilion' which you enter via a small covered walkway that connects the two buildings over the pool. A vast kingsized bed sits on a polished wooden platform set against a row of cupboards; in front of them, there is enough space for a long desk and a cot if required. French windows open onto a private terrace with small planter table and chairs, from where you can admire the extraordinarily beautiful view. Steps lead down to its own patch of lawn. The ensuite bathroom has double corian sinks and a wet-room double shower with an opaque glass rear wall and pebble-set bench around. The separate toilet is perhaps the best loo with a view we've ever seen.

The other bedrooms are on the floor below. The double has a queensized bed, oyster coloured walls, rattan side tables and shelving, and an opaque window wall. The marine blue quadruple has 4 single beds and a witty pair of paintings, one showing a figure swimming towards you and the other showing the same swimmer powering away from you.

Between the two bedrooms is a long light bathroom with double round sinks, a long mirror, a wet-room shower and extensive, corian-surfaced cupboards.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

There's an up-to-the-minute galley-style kitchen with shiny stainless steel appliances: a huge fridge-freezer with an ice-maker, a five-ringed cooker, a microwave, excellent storage, and a sink with superb views across the bush to the bay. The surfaces are made of a beautiful decorative concrete embedded with shells and quartz stones. Beside the sink, windows open to create a clever little hatch for passing food to the terrace, where a dining table seats 8 in comfort; a sill beside the window allows dirty dishes to be cleared away quickly.

Beside the open plan living area is an indoor dining table (also for 8) - perfect for evening dining or when the sea breeze gets up. As for al fresco dining, there's a choice of a sheltered, gas-fired BBQ by the entrance or a conventional BBQ on the downstairs terrace.

Anna Bay itself is not renowned for its restaurants but there are plenty of fine seafooderies a little further afield. Recommendations include Zest, Sandpipers, Merretts and Chez Jules around Nelson Bay; or Amaryllis at the Horizons Golf Club and the Port of Call in the Landmark Hotel. There's a full list in the house.

As for shopping, Anna Bay is fine for basic provisions, while Nelson Bay about 8 kms away has supermarkets, delis and speciality food shops.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Oven
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Port Stephens is a large sheltered bay with many spurs and fabulous beaches. Nearest is One Mile Beach which is part of the longest barrier sand dune in Australia, usually deserted except for surfers.

  • Ride the sand dunes around Port Stephens in a 4WD - it's exhilarating!

  • Nelson Bay, just 10 minutes drive away at the mouth of Port Stephens, is the dolphin capital of Australia - there are regular dolphin tours, and some boats have underwater cameras

  • Go diving from Nelson Bay; classes are available

  • The wineries of the Hunter Valley are only an hour's drive away - worth a day trip

  • Another worthwhile day trip is Broughton Island, 1/2 hour by boat from Nelson Bay, and home to spectacular numbers of birds including little penguins; great diving too

  • The nearest National Park is verdant Barrington Tops, a world heritage wilderness with walking trails and lookouts and guided tours through its diverse ecosystem

  • Myall Lakes, further north, attracts fishermen, windsurfers and sailors, and is famed for its tea-tree coloured waters, native forest, sand dunes, bushwalks and meandering lakes

  • Hump-backed whales pass in the spring on their migration

  • Take a helicopter tour

  • There's a golf course in Salamander Bay

  • All manner of pampering for your body and soul is available in Nelson Bay

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching

Kids

Children are welcome and will love the proximity to the beach, the pool and the pool table. Toddlers are less suited to the stairs and the stylish furnishings. A cot is available on request (price on application). There's also a garden for the kids to romp around.

The Port Stephens area is superb for families with outdoorsy kids. There are a wealth of activities and adventures to be had including the National Park and Marine Park, or just head down to the beach and hang out.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The third bedroom downstairs has 4 single beds in it, a perfect kids dorm

Children's meals:

There's a microwave for heating up kids meals and baby bottles

Kids Activities on site:

  • Board games
  • Books
  • Pool table

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Fabulous beach, surf school on One-Mile Beach
  • National Park
  • Great Lakes Marine Park
  • Dolphin spotting
  • Port Stephens has go-karts, water sports, camel rides, bicycle hire, botanic gardens
  • Nelsons Bay has a cinema and shopping

Families Should Know:

There are some steep steps down to the sea. The pool is unfenced and infinity-edged

Distances:

  • Airport 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
  • Shops: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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