Read our writer's views on this property below
Sheriden Rhodes checks into John Singleton's new beach house.
Advertising entrepreneur and publican John Singleton has a soft spot for the central coast. It's where he spent childhood holidays and it's where his father eventually retired. Today he owns the smart guesthouse Bells at Killcare, the three-bedroom retreat Pretty Beach House, Blue Tongue Stadium at Gosford and the Strawberry Hill Stud at nearby Mount White. His latest venture - a chic, eponymous five-bedroom beach house on Killcare Beach - is perhaps his most personal project yet.
The way Singleton acquired his newest property in a growing portfolio of resorts in the area is typical of the way he does business. He was walking past the site where he used to holiday as a child and saw a light on. It was a dairy farm when he was young and featured a simple white weatherboard house.
Singleton knocked on the door and asked if he could take a look around. The owner said yes and mentioned he was thinking of selling.
The old house, which was virtually unchanged since Singleton stayed there, was demolished to make way for the beach house, which took about three years to design and build. The only evidence of its former incarnation is a little fibro garage that has been remodelled as a self-contained bungalow detached from the main house.
Apparently Singleton wanted his extended family - he has had five wives, seven children and is now with girlfriend Yvette Hartman, also from the central coast - to be able to experience the same view over Killcare Beach and carefree summer days that he experienced as a child. He planned to retire here but that idea was shelved.
Instead, he has leased the property to Brian and Karina Barry, the proprietors of sister properties Bells at Killcare and Pretty Beach House, and the latest beach house can be rented for holidays. The Barrys, who founded Newcastle-based Bluetongue Brewery, met Singleton when he bought into the company, which has since been sold to Coca-Cola.
Brian says Singo loves the central coast - and in particular the secluded Bouddi Peninsula encompassing the villages of Hardys Bay, Pretty Beach, MacMasters Beach, Killcare and Wagstaffe - partly because the locals leave him alone.
"They might nod and acknowledge him but there's no fuss, whereas in Sydney it can be more confrontational," he says. Singleton loves fishing and does the bushwalk from MacMasters Beach to Terrigal regularly.
The house is perhaps best described as barefoot chic. Located beside the Killcare Surf Club (of which Singleton is a patron), it is designed by award-winning architect Karen Burke, who is renowned for creating beautiful beach houses.
Comparable to any of the premium properties at Palm Beach (a 20-minute ferry ride away from nearby Patonga), the Singleton Beach House also comes at a more modest cost.
Soaring ceilings, white walls and smart decor evoke a Hamptons-inspired feel, yet it's also family friendly and unpretentious. Parents can keep an eye on their charges on the beach from the wraparound front deck. With five bedrooms and assorted living areas, there's plenty of space for groups to relax, then gather for a barbecue (or two - there's one on each deck), or something special from Steve Manfredi's kitchen at Bells, or hamburgers from the surf club beach kiosk.
The house is decked out in contemporary neutrals with chic beachy accessories and black-and-white photographs of Singleton and his family, which makes it feel like you're a guest in his home. There are striking coral and driftwood sculptures, a sandstone fireplace, five flat-screen televisions and two painted surfboards mounted on a wall. The master suite on the upper level - comprising study, dressing room, bathroom and a private deck - overlooks a waterfall and landscaped bushland.
My two-year-old daughter and I sleep in what's referred to as John's room. I discover something in common with Singo - we both like to sleep in very dark rooms - and I love the metal shutters that fold down and encase the space at the flick of a switch, or open to reveal bushland and birds.
On the lower level there are two more double bedrooms, both with views of the beach and one with an en suite, which is where my friend sleeps with her daughter. Our daughters are a little too young to sleep in the terrific kids' bedroom with its four built-in bunks and extra trundle bed.
Also on this level is another bathroom with a bath and a second living area with kitchen, providing separate spaces for children and adults. A montage of sepia surf photographs hangs in the entrance hall.
There are many seating areas but we most often find ourselves with a glass of wine on the front deck while the girls swing in the hanging rattan pods. For group entertaining, there's a bar made of driftwood on the upper deck. The team at Bells can provide meals and hampers and there's a courtesy transfer to Manfredi's celebrated restaurant, two kilometres away. Otherwise there's the surf club restaurant and beach kiosk next door; sleepy Hardys Bay is a 10-minute stroll for coffee or tapas at L'anxaneta or dinner at Yum Yum Eatery.
At first light my daughter and I pad out barefoot onto the deck. The beach is deserted and the sun sparkles off the water. The only sound is the steady crash of waves on the shore and as I sip my coffee, I feel like I understand Singleton a little better, surrounded by his photographs and memories from childhood. And surely it's going to be a terrific dinner party story to say we actually slept in Singo's bed.
Sheriden Rhodes stayed courtesy of the John Singleton Beach House.
Killcare Beach on the central coast is 90 kilometres from Sydney CBD. A night at the John Singleton Beach House costs from $1000 mid-week off-season (May-August) and up to $2500 a night for weekly bookings in peak season. Two-night minimum bookings apply; there is a $500 end-of-stay cleaning fee. Phone Bells at Killcare on 4360 2411, see bellsatkillcare.com.au.