North End, Gerringong review: Retro charm at Fibro Majestic

Read our writer's views on this property below

Mags King discovers you don't need to live in the lap of luxury to find yourself in paradise.

An idyllic weekend away can mean staying at a big ocean-front home with million-dollar views and a pool. For us, it's a 1950s cottage with a jetty at the bottom of a long garden at Werri Beach, Gerringong.

North End cottage is in a quiet suburban setting of fibro cottages, impressive architectural dwellings and a sprinkling of mansions straight from a product line - all benefiting from being just a few steps away from Werri's sweeping beach and minutes from Gerringong village.

The first thing that strikes us about North End is an imposing pine tree in the front yard that frames the cottage. We arrive in rain, which shows no signs of abating, and the delightful tasks of unloading and unpacking become more manic than usual. We put the combustion fireplace to work instantly. The cottage's tidy open-plan arrangement makes good use of the available space, flowing to the three well-sized bedrooms and to the bathroom. The kitchen is compact, clean and equipped with all the necessary accoutrements.

Wooden floors, retro-style lamps and artwork on the walls add character and charm, as do the simple furnishings. I use a fresh throw from one of the bedrooms to cover the sofa bed, as it looks like it has seen better days - an instant makeover. Boredom will find it hard to creep in when staying here as there are stacks of board games, a CD player, a selection of DVDs and a small but perfectly functional TV.

Glass sliding doors open from the cottage's living room on to the deck, from which the views are impressive. We walk down rickety steps to the garden; an outside shower and a storeroom are underneath the house, along with a couple of kayaks, a canoe and life vests for guests to use. Native lemon trees line the garden, leading to a jetty that looks over a lagoon.

A sweeping beach between two rocky headlands, with rock swimming pools at one end and the lagoon at the other, Werri attracts its fair share of surfers and body boarders. Some of the best waves on the South Coast are found here.

An indulgent meal and several rounds of board games later, we're ready for sleep, which is just as well, as a 12-kilometre walk awaits us the next morning. Summer returns with the early light and with it the full glory of the view from North End - delightful, rolling green hills and seascapes typical of this coastal and agricultural region.

However, we're walkers, not surfers and the Kiama Coast Walk is being officially opened on the last day of our stay at the cottage, so we take advantage, a day ahead of the crowd, and head for the hills after a hearty breakfast on the deck, enjoying the garden and the water views beyond. We start our walk at Werri Beach, a few steps away from the cottage, where there is a car park for visitors.

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The coastal walk is six kilometres each way from Loves Bay, just south of Kiama, to Gerringong, and cuts through several patches of farmland. The ocean views are dramatic. It took more than a decade to cement the deal in order for a public pathway to open but as the locals are only too quick to tell you: "We've been walking here for years and years."

However, these days there are no unhappy landlords chasing walkers off their property or wandering cows to avoid. Now they'll have to get used to tourists like us, and our cameras, discovering one of the South Coast's most scenic spots.

I blame the wind blowing in the opposite direction for curtailing our efforts to complete the walk that day. We turned back at the four-kilometre point but in my books, an eight-kilometre walk is always worth a huge iced mocha coffee at the Gerringong Deli Cafe.

Our nieces didn't walk at all, preferring to spend most of the weekend hand-line fishing off the jetty at the cottage.

Some in our group went kayaking and canoeing on the glassy waters of the lagoon and some enjoyed watching from the comfort of the cottage's deck, grazing on food and drinking wine.

When we packed up to leave, placing the hook on the latch of the wooden and wire-screen front door, we said farewell to Werri Beach, to Gerringong and to a delightful little north-facing Fibro Majestic.

The writer was a guest of North End and Tourism NSW.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE North End, Werri Beach, Gerringong.

HOW MUCH $300 a night during weekends. Minimum two-night stay. Phone (02) 4234 2065, see southcoastholidays.com.au.

BEST THING A slow-combustion fire for winter visits, seeing cows grazing in summer.

WORST THING There are two adjoining bedrooms, so visits to the bathroom may need planning.

LOCAL SECRET The sea pool next to Cooke Park, at the end of Jupiter Street, is within a two-minute drive of the cottage.