Read our writer's views on this property below
They came, they saw, they lost, but Louise Hall and her teammates commiserated in comfort by the Kiama surf.
Self-respecting weekend warriors know that a bath to soothe aching muscles, a comfortable bed and a fridge filled with drinks are must-haves for the sporting getaway. However, other special touches can also turn team camp into an enjoyable break once the whistle has blown.
My partner and I were two of thousands of players from around NSW who recently descended on the pretty south coast village of Shellharbour for the annual Oztag State Cup. The three-day tournament packed in several games but it also provided a great chance to check out the area, just 90 minutes' drive from Sydney.
With all accommodation in Shellharbour booked out, we headed 15 minutes further south to Kiama. While picking up the keys to our beach pad was a breeze, finding our townhouse, called Avanti, wasn't. Part of a near-new complex overlooking Surf beach, there were no signs or house numbers and the jumble of keys and remote controls didn't give any clues, either.
But once we made our way inside (by pointing the remote at every garage to see which one opened) there were no complaints.
Set over three large levels, Avanti's main living area opened on to a large balcony overlooking the beach, complete with a barbecue and outdoor furniture to lounge on and watch the waves.
Upstairs was both the main bathroom and an en suite bathroom, a fully stocked laundry and two enormous, comfy beds. Downstairs was an extra room with a pull-out lounge, which served perfectly as the depot for the mountains of gear we'd bought but could have been an extra bed for any last-minute teammates. The living room and one bedroom had a DVD player, the property's full-size fridge took all our water bottles and ice packs and the supermarket up the road had the supplies we needed for the weekend.
Conveniently, the playing fields were a short drive away and the first few games were done and dusted. We washed off the dirt, chucked the uniforms in the wash at Avanti (which has a clothes dryer and iron, too, for guests who favour a more formal wardrobe than us) and refilled the water bottles. With the balmy evening weather just perfect for being outside, the cafes and restaurants along Kiama's main strip were full of people, as were the picnic tables in the park across the road.
We had a pep talk over chicken and cashews at a Thai restaurant next to the Sebel, washed it down with some training beers in the chic open-air Blue Diamond bar underneath, then strolled back to Avanti.
Comfortable beds with good linen soothed our tired limbs.
The next morning, we shook the last of the stiffness from our muscles with an early-morning swim at the beach, 100 metres away. Breakfast on the balcony as the sun rose was divine.
However, when we opened the balcony door to refill the portable cooler, which we'd left out overnight to drain, it was gone. It seemed an opportunistic patron leaving the pub across the road had opened the gate (which didn't have a lock), gone down the stairs and helped themselves. That night, my team commiserated. We'd lost a cooler and all six games. We sat on the balcony as the sun set and professional football was screened on the flat-screen TV in the lounge room. We continued at the pub across the road and quietly said thanks for our luxury lodgings after seeing the dorms where other teams were bunked, smelly socks and all.
After another morning swim, my partner headed back to the field for the finals, while I made use of another important facility for any sporting holiday: the local hospital. I joined dozens of tag victims undergoing X-rays by the understanding staff. Then, nursing our wounds (a broken finger in my case) and wounded pride, we farewelled our camp and headed back to Sydney, knowing that at least our weekend accommodation had been a winner.
The writer was a guest of Avanti and Tourism NSW.
WHERE Avanti, 3/62 Manning Street, Kiama. Phone (02) 4232 2888, see www.stayz.com.au.
HOW MUCH $675 for two nights; $975 for three nights.
BEST THING Multiple indoor and outdoor living areas, some with ocean views.
WORST THING Proximity to the pub and train station can mean noisy people walking by at all hours.
LOCAL SECRET Restaurant 1871 takes its name from a heritage-listed former infants' school house and serves modern food in a gorgeous historical setting.