Front-row seats for a sea spectacular

Home is where the heart is? Not when the view's this good, writes Sarah Maguire.

Living on a flat suburban street without a view, in a city famous for them, my husband and I tell ourselves it doesn't really matter. You don't live in a view, we say; it's what's inside your four walls that counts.

Since our weekend at The Forresters Beach House, we've quietly abandoned that charade. I could have spent the entire weekend on the balcony, watching little figures play ball on the beach, hang-gliders weave through the air and surfers bob on the waves; all sweet in themselves but totally eclipsed by the big, blue, sparkling sea.

The Forresters Beach House sits on a steep hill above Forresters Beach on the Central Coast, a few minutes' drive north of Terrigal.

What makes the view so amazing is the abrupt elevation; a prehistoric sand dune, actually, along which now sit remnant shacks amid mansion-sized weekenders on the exclusive Kalakau Avenue.

This beach house is far from your traditional fibro but, compared with more recent arrivals on the street, it's a little like the middle-aged aunty in a cardigan among a gaggle of glamorous young girls.

However, beyond the dated A-frame exterior is a basement apartment that can be rented separately and beds for eight on the level above. This old aunty is quite the bon vivant, happy to accommodate 12 people at one time in six bedrooms serviced by four bathrooms, two kitchens, two living areas and two balconies with those wonderful views.

But she doesn't take any nonsense: you must be 25 or older to book, pay a $1000 bond and there are no pets, no smoking and strictly no parties. On the flip-side, babies are most welcome, with port-a-cots and a high-chair among the facilities provided for your rugrat.

Apart from the master bedroom, which has had a recent makeover, there's nothing noughties chi-chi about the interior but it's spacious, comfortable, modern and well equipped.

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The inventory tells you exactly how well equipped. Every item is listed room by room in such detail it would have been no surprise to see all the magazines and old paperbacks in the bookshelf listed title by title.

So don't even think about nicking the hand towels.

In the open-plan living area, the windows are floor-to-ceiling and the walls wood-panelled. The kitchen cabinetry is a chunky wooden affair, full of everything you need for a lengthy self-contained stay.

While it's great for a weekend, this is a place you might want to put roots down, for a week or two; endless days of swimming, sun and sand and, because there's room to sleep a tribe, lots of (quiet) socialising around the barbecue with family and friends.

From the house's flat, grassy backyard, it's a few minutes' walk down a steep track to reach the beach. Turn left and you can take a long stroll along Forresters Beach, where the high-banked sand suggests strong currents at work, so you'd be nuts not to swim between the flags.

To the right is the flatter Spoon Bay, which is unpatrolled but has rockpools where children like to play.

Just inland from the bay is Wamberal Lagoon Nature Reserve, home to protected birds and animals, and if you keep walking, Spoon Bay becomes Wamberal Beach, which becomes Terrigal Beach: one long stretch of sand with a cup of coffee and a browse through Terrigal's boutiques awaiting you at the end.

This time, however, I want to see it all from afar. I decide to forgo the four-kilometre walk and turn back. It takes a lot more effort to get back up to the house although, given the walk is through nature reserve, it's a slog with a certain charm.

By 4pm on the day of our arrival we're sitting on the beach house's third-level deck with drinks in hand, nibbles close by, enjoying the view and the birdlife. The nearby banksias teem with rainbow lorikeets, noisy mynas and honeyeaters.

When the sun goes down, you can cook your dinner or order home-delivery take-away - both options allowing you to curl up on the couch in front of the television.

Otherwise, you can try one of the dining options suggested in the guest directory. We treated ourselves at the award-winning Onda Ristorante Italiano in Terrigal, where the modern Italian food, like our view at Forresters, proved very good for the soul.

The writer was a guest of The Forresters Beach House and Tourism NSW.

TRIP NOTES

Address

The Forresters Beach House, 32 Kalakau Avenue, Forresters Beach.

Bookings

Seetheforrestersbeachhouse.com.au and click on "bookings and enquiries", which has a rental agreement you fill out and fax or email.

Rates

In the warm season, $1490 for a weekend in the house, $790 for the apartment, or $1890 for both. Weekly rates are $1890, $1090 and $2490 respectively.

VERDICT

Casual living with space and breathtaking views.

Why you'd go: For a bona fide beach fix.

Why you wouldn't: You're addicted to five-star interiors.

FIND TIME TO

* Dine from the extensive menu at The Bay Bistro at the Bateau Bay Hotel.

* Stroll down Forresters Beach village's main street.

* Book a beauty and massage therapist to visit you at the beach house. See betterbodyhealthbeauty.com.au.

* Browse the art galleries of Erina and Avoca.

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