Cooks Hill Cottage, Newcastle review: Mine of memorabilia

Read our writer's views on this property below

Newcastle's beaches aren't the only draw for visitors, writes Samantha Selinger-Morris.

Driving down Parry Street to the city's heart, I can't help but wonder if the Lonely Planet writers who last year deemed Newcastle one of the world's "top 10 cities to visit" were enjoying a late-night boozeathon when they made that decision. The street is, surely, where town planners' dreams go to die. It looks like this: car dealership, car dealership, office furniture store, office furniture store, camping store, camping store, boarded-up store, the end.

But then we pull into Dawson Street in Newcastle's Cooks Hill, an area that Lucy Feagins, the writer behind the popular blog the Design Files, recently gushed had the city's "leafiest streets and prettiest houses".

She's not wrong. When we walk into the navy-blue cottage with a smart white trim that will be our home for the next two nights, it feels as though we've entered a dream put together by a Surry Hills hipster who imagines himself bobbing on an ocean of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer in the belly of a Danish teak sideboard.

There's the sideboard, in the cottage's lovely open living room, alongside boxy forest-green swivel chairs that my children instantly leap onto. There's a moss-green replica Eames Eiffel chair in the bright-white study and replica Eames-moulded dining chairs flanking a stainless-steel table in the open-plan kitchen. The backyard has an outdoor breakfast bar and spa bath.

But the bedrooms are the kicker. Each has a feature wall covered in fabulous 1960s-inspired wallpaper of muted colours: one putty green and white, the other sunflower yellow and white. In other words the cottage is curated, has hand-blown glass dishes and tribal-esque clay vases that match the decor, and there's an absence of sticky plastic lizards clinging to the walls. It's nothing like our home and that's exactly what we want.

And then we ate The cottage owner has left us a nine-page document recommending where to eat (among other tips), and each one is a hit. At Goldberg's on Darby Street, my children share a delicious roast pumpkin, pancetta and parmesan penne dish so large, each bowl is the size of my head. My roast field mushrooms with sweet potato, fetta and truffle oil, at Talulah (in a shopping hub called The Junction) tastes of autumn. Another not-to-be-missed spot is Estabar, a tiny cafe opposite Newcastle Beach, which has expansive views of the ocean and sells sourdough still steaming from the oven.

The deal maker Location. Cooks Hill Cottage is a short walk from Darby Street and a 15-minute stroll from the glorious Bar Beach. There, the kids burn off energy at the skate park before we walk the promenade to Newcastle's Merewether Beach. Stop for breakfast or lunch at the surf club, which has angular windows that look like something out of a James Bond film.

Stepping out Darby Street's shops include Abicus, which sells fashion and an assortment of CDs, vinyl and working vintage Polaroid cameras. Nearby Honeybee specialises in homewares and kids' toys.

Don't miss the Centenary Antique Centre, on Centenary Road, for great deals on retro goods; and Strip of a Lifetime, a vintage prop hire-cum-boutique in the Hunter Street Mall, for its wealth of curiosities, including working 1960s-built photo booths.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Cooks Hill Cottage

Address 102 Dawson Street, Cooks Hill, Newcastle.

The verdict Spotless, curated cottage in a hip area.

Price $290 a night.

Bookings Phone 0401 269 863, see

Getting there Newcastle is a two-hour drive from Sydney on the F3 Freeway; 2½ hours from Central station by train. See

Perfect for A family getaway.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Visit the Hungerford Hill winery at Pokolbin, or the Wallaroo National Park.