Standing pretty: Pretty Beach House

Bouddi is an aboriginal word for “heart” – and at the heart of the Bouddi Peninsula lies the premium Pretty Beach House. It’s an easy 90-minute drive north of Sydney, or you can also get here by helicopter, ferry or a 20-minute flight from Sydney by seaplane.

Originally opened in 2009, the property was destroyed by fire and has only recently reopened. Interior designer Michelle Leslie worked with local artisans to create its new look – a mix of salvaged materials and new designs, from locally sourced sandstone to handmade mud bricks, Busatti Italian bed linen and timber beams from a dismantled bridge in Queensland. The result is warm and welcoming. 

Consisting of four pavilions, Pretty Beach House has that real connection to the location typical of Luxury Lodges of Australia properties. Nestled in the bush, the property has views across beautiful Bouddi National Park. It’s a short walk to the pristine sands of Lobster Beach, Box Head or Tallow Beach. A bike ride will get you to the seaside villages of Killcare, Wagstaffe or Hardys Bay. There’s lots to see, so leave time to explore.

On our first afternoon we take the mountain bikes out. After the bush track, it’s a moderate level ride through the National Park down to Killcare beach. On a perfect spring day, except for a few happy dogs and their owners, we are the only people around. Back at our lodge, we’re greeted with a cold drink and sit around the pool reading the paper and enjoying the fresh air and sounds of the native birds.

These lodges offer the ultimate in intimate luxury. The food alone is reason to stay. The cuisine of renowned chef Stefano Manfredi (pictured below) features seasonal Italian flavours, with much of the produce coming fresh from the garden at sister property Bells at Killcare. A special offer for foodies lets you pre-book a private cooking class in the fabulous open kitchen and then sit down to enjoy your creation. Guests not wanting to play chef can order meals at any time of the day and choose where they’d like to dine – privately, in the main dining area, alfresco or even on a private boat. We favour the dining room with its open fireplace, vaulted ceilings, mood lighting and views over Box Head to the Pacific Ocean.

Chef Stefano Manfredi at Pretty Beach House

For dinner, we savour the five-course degustation paired with wines from an extensive range. The menu starts with a delicate crab salad followed by crisp-skin quail, lobster tail wrapped in prosciutto and, for the main course, a tender Mandagery Creek venison fillet. Dessert is a light ending to a perfect meal – vanilla parfait with pear, lime and mango coulis and an espresso di Manfredi with frivolezze. Unsurpassable! And yet, the next morning, I have to say breakfast is also superb – definitely the best croissants I’ve ever tasted, and that includes Paris! Everything is made in-house or on the sister property, Bells at Killcare.

The Pretty Beach Launch can be chartered for cruises around the Bouddi waters, visiting secluded beaches and coves where you can picnic, snorkel and swim. Depending on the season, you may even see dolphins or whales. If you’re looking for more adventure, spend a full day deep-sea game fishing for marlin, tuna and shark above the continental shelf.

When you’ve finished hiking, mountain-biking and big-game fishing (oh, and there’s also The Springs Championship 18-hole golf course just 30 minutes from the house) it’s time for the Bouddi spa, which uses pure Australian botanical products from the LI’TYA range. The treatments incorporate traditional Indigenous elements and begin with a cleansing Aboriginal smoking blend, which calls upon the healing energy of the Earth to reconnect and balance the client. For more than three hours of serenity, The Dreaming starts with a footbath, followed by an exfoliation and mud cocoon, a hot stone massage and head massage, and concludes with a facial and hand treatment. Best not to plan too much after that, you’ll be too relaxed to venture much farther than the sunbed!

Pretty Beach House offers all-inclusive, personalised and around-the-clock service, but it is not for all tastes. Children under 13 are only catered for with a book-out of all four pavilions by one group, and the owners emphasise the property is not serviced apartments. Daily service comes at an extra cost if required.

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