Meme's House, Callala Beach review: Breakers in the backyard

Wave, hello ... the outdoor deck at Meme.
Wave, hello ... the outdoor deck at Meme. 

Read our writer's views on this property below

So close to the beach she's practically sleeping on the sand, Elicia Murray welcomes the never-ending sounds of the surf.

Years ago, there was a documentary about English families who had come to live in Australia. One couple in particular lived up to the whingeing Pom tag with aplomb when they revealed they couldn't stand the sound of Australian birdsong in the morning. They'd probably hate Meme's at Callala Beach. From every room in the house, you can hear the sound of waves crashing. And not just in the morning - all day and all night.

I'd much rather have the sound of the surf than the usual urban cacophony of garbage trucks, leaf blowers and A380s, so Meme's suits me just fine. It doesn't get any more beachy than this single-storey house - not even a footpath separates the backyard from the beach on the northern side of Jervis Bay.

Meme's living areas have an uninterrupted outlook over Jervis Bay.
Meme's living areas have an uninterrupted outlook over Jervis Bay. 

On the ocean side of the house, floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of an incredible view out to the heads, and double blinds can be pulled down for privacy or shade. The hamlet is so sleepy and the weather so delightful on our mid-autumn visit that we have need for neither.

The owner of Meme's has been visiting the area since before there were sealed roads. A shack that had been in the family for decades was torn down about six years ago and this new house built, named after her mother.

Windows make the most of an incredible view.

It's a modern residence with three bedrooms: two containing queen beds and one with two singles. There's a big laundry, too, and the communal living spaces are all at the business (that is, beach) end of the house, with a large, reasonably well-equipped kitchen, eight-seater dining table and lounge room that could comfortably seat four people.

Here's the rub: while on first impressions the house is a chic, modern holiday abode, on closer inspection there are a few features that make it fall short of A-grade.

At the risk of sounding like a whingeing Pom, it seems unusual in a house so clearly designed for a big group to have a lounge room that only comfortably seats four people. And I use the word comfortably with some hesitation: the mint-green leather couches have a dash of the Austin Powers about their retro-futuristic shape and aren't ideal for cosying up in. There's no bin in the bathroom. And this next bit is purely a matter of taste, but there are a few touches I find more twee than terrific, including fake flowers, a collection of frog and dolphin figurines resting on non-slip rubber mats, and daggy place mats on a tablecloth covering a perfectly lovely frosted-glass dining table.

In an unassuming fibro beach shack, you wouldn't bat an eyelid at such elements, but the house on the whole - including the price tag - gives the impression it's classier than this.

There are plenty of features that are just right. A timber-decked courtyard has a schmick barbecue and excellent outdoor setting. Just outside the sliding doors on the beach side is another deck with cushioned furniture positioned to take full advantage of the magnificent view. Comments in the visitors' book reveal that dolphins are frequently spotted frolicking in the waters.

Callala Beach doesn't have much in the way of shops. There's a general store and Callala Bay, a short drive away, has a few more options, but the fanciest joints are at least half an hour's drive north.

I'm travelling with a friend who's never been further south on this stretch of coastline than Kiama, so I drag her to Berry Sourdough Cafe for lunch surrounded by a few dozen of our fellow eastern suburbs weekender types.

We wander around posh boutiques and I blow $11 on a nifty pair of dog-shaped silicone oven mitts from the cavernous Haven & Space home wares emporium.

After dinner, we settle in for a night in front of the TV in the lounge room, picking a DVD from the owner's collection.

The next morning, wild weather provides a dramatic view. We take advantage of a late checkout and contemplate leftover trifle for breakfast but hold out for lunch at Greenwell Point instead. On the menu? Fish and chips, of course.

The writer was a guest of Destination NSW, visitnsw.com and Meme's.

Trip notes

Where 21 Quay Road, Callala Beach, stayz.com.au/24870.

Getting there Callala Beach is about 2½ hours south of Sydney. Take the Princes Highway to South Nowra, turn left at the Greenwell Point turnoff, then right at Pyree Lane, right into Coonamia Road and right into Forest Road, then left onto Callala Beach Road and right into Quay Road.

How much $375 a night, standard weekday rate; $425 a night, weekend rate (except public holidays); minimum two-night stay. Prices rise in December.

Style statement Coastal chic with a view to die for.

Don't forget To bring any required groceries — it is a long way to the nearest decent supermarket.

Perfect for A family holiday where the beach is the main event.

Shame about Only one bathroom. There's a loo in the laundry but the floor space could have easily accommodated an en suite.

Kudos The beds: perfect firmness, silky soft linen and a fab selection of pillows.

Take the kids Absolutely. And keep an eye on them at the beach without raising a sweat.