Anglesea Heights, review: On the dress circle

Read our writer's views on this property below

Paul Kalina discovers a coastal retreat with an inspiring outlook.

It was meant to be an autumn getaway in the mountains but illness put paid to a five-hour drive. An alternative, anyone?

The answer appeared on a previously unfamiliar website, greatplacestostay.com.au, in the image of a bold, modern house worthy of the cover of a home and lifestyle magazine and with views to die for.

Anglesea Heights is a far cry from anyone's idea of a fibro beach shack. Located in what locals refer to as Anglesea's "dress circle", it's a bold, new, double-storey house containing two rental properties designed by Torquay-based architect David Seeley.

Unlike most real-estate brochures, however, the website pictures and descriptions of light-filled interiors with views of beach and ocean aren't telling lies or pasting over anything untoward. If anything, our expectations are surpassed as we pull into the driveway, where a large terraced garden of native trees, shrubs and ground cover has been established.

The house is divided into separate units. Courtesy of a corner location and a steep incline, each is accessed from different streets.

Ours is the lower Horizon Apartment, which can accommodate four adults and two children in two double bedrooms and a smaller bunk room.

The entry is up the garden path and through the back of the house, leaving the enormous frontage for sliding glass doors that divide the living area and two main bedrooms from a wide verandah that offers easterly views of the coast towards Queenscliff.

The house is built with limestone block walls, warm timber floors and massive floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows. Yet it isn't a house that looks like a testament to architectural ego or flamboyance, let alone a chilly edifice of modernist steel. Rather, it's a warm, welcoming and surprisingly inconspicuous place that is perfectly in tune with its natural setting and practical uses.

Advertisement

From just about anywhere in this house the views of coast and bush are magnificent, the incursion of neighbouring houses and traffic minimised by the elevation and vegetation.

Even if the functional, usable area of the open-plan kitchen - a compact, apartment-style space comprising a small benchtop, hob and fridge subtly disguised within a cupboard - is small, the living areas are massive.

With a large table, two couches and a couple of casual armchairs, there's plenty of room to spread out, which is clearly encouraged with the provision of fold-up deck chairs and an outdoor table, where we spend the daylight hours.

Admittedly, finding kitchen utensils turns out to be the equivalent of an Easter-egg hunt, given they are disbursed among several cabinets in the living room. It's all there, just not where you'd expect it to be.

The two bedrooms - one with a queen-size bed, the other a double - have built-in wardrobes and are dominated by glass doors opening on to the balcony. A good-size bathroom is positioned between the two.

Another patio off the living room has a barbecue, table and chairs and is partly protected from the elements by the house's upper level. There's also a large laundry and a second toilet.

The entire top level, Skyline Penthouse, is taken up by what must be a massive apartment; it's promoted as "extravagant luxury for one couple only" (a staircase linking the two apartments is smartly concealed behind a sliding door within a wall of cupboards).

A five-minute walk down Harvey Street takes you to the beach and casual Red Till cafe. Come prepared with ready-made food or something to whip up yourself, though, as there's every chance you won't want to tear yourself away from this retreat unless necessary.

VISITORS' BOOK

Anglesea Heights

Address 53B Harvey Street and 3 Jackson Street, Anglesea.

Bookings Lewtas Real Estate, 5263 2214, see lewtas.com.au.

Getting there A 90-minute drive from Melbourne.

How much Horizon: mid-week $200-$280 a night, weekends $240-$340 a night. Price depends on number of bedrooms required. Maximum of four adults, two children. Skyline Penthouse: midweek $285 a night, weekends $320 a night. Couple only.

Summary A striking architectural house, coupled with mod-cons, a great location and a welcoming ambience put this in a class of its own.

Verdict 18

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.