On the Beach cottage, Culburra Beach review: A shack for four legs - and two

Read our writer's views on this property below

With the storm clouds rolling in, a charming beach cottage comes up spades for Emily Dunn and 'family'.

The weather forecast is grim, but there is blue sky and sunshine as we pack the car. I include swimsuits, beach towels and bucket and spade. It's our first beach weekend of the season with our toddler son, dog and four grown-up friends.

Bringing the dog is among the reasons we have chosen Culburra, a South Coast surf town renowned for its long, empty beaches and a collection of pet-friendly, retro-chic beach cottages. The area is perfect for doing little else but drifting from house to sand and back.

Dreams of a weekend of surf and sun fade, however, as we head south under menacing clouds and arrive at the house in time to feel the first icy southerly gusts. As spits of rain fall, the dog and toddler celebrate freedom from the car on a large flat lawn, which borders beach dunes.

The property has the wistful name of On the Beach, but it's clear we won't be spending much time on the sand this weekend — not such a bad thing in a house this charming.

From the long dining table in the centre of the kitchen to the vintage posters and large timber pelicans on the wall, On the Beach is the sort of beach house that magazine stylists dream of. I can't imagine a dog-shaped curtain rail working as decor anywhere else, yet in this little fibro shack it looks lovely .

As with many fibro "shacks", the house is small. It has three double bedrooms, a spotless modern bathroom and the kitchen has all the conveniences necessary for modern living. Between dining table, couch, red-and-white striped wicker lounge chairs and the sliding-glass front door, however, there is barely enough living space to swing a puppy, let alone accommodate six adults, a busy toddler and the dog.

Rather, On the Beach is designed for indoor-outdoor living. Outside is a laundry and second bathroom, and under an awning we find a host of dog accessories, including bowls, dog-bed and a well-stocked bucket of toys. In fine weather, I imagine, the lawn becomes another living room.

On the grass is a white-washed outdoor table, barbecue and lounge chairs, perfect for sunny days and balmy evenings.

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Beyond is a narrow track to the beach, and we head there for a joyful hour of climbing and rolling down sand dunes. Culburra township appears to have avoided the gentrification of other South Coast hamlets such as Jervis Bay. For dinner one night, we pick up old-fashioned fish and chips, but a quality takeaway coffee the next morning requires a lengthy hunt.

We are rewarded at Ten Thousand Tastebuds Cafe, where we also buy bacon and egg rolls for breakfast at the house.

We spend the rest of the morning taking long walks in the dunes until the weather forces us back inside.

Not that it bothers the menfolk of our party. On the Beach has cable TV and there is no shortage of sport to keep them happy.

They settle in for a day on the lounge and take turns braving the weather for ball games on the lawn with the dog and toddler. The women, meanwhile, decide that if we can't bake on the beach, we can cook in the house's well-equipped kitchen. At the fish co-op in neighbouring Greenwell Point, we are rewarded with fresh snapper, prawns and oysters and, from the supermarket, gather other ingredients for a dinner feast.

By evening, the toddler is in bed, the dog is curled up on a mat by the door, and we prepare seafood as wind and rain batter the coast. Next morning, the weather is no better, but the adults decide to make a beach weekend of it, anyway, and head to the sand, braving a cold surf. The weather is miserable, yet we feel refreshed.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

On the Beach

Address 74 Eastbourne Avenue, Culburra Beach.

The verdict A dreamy beach shack in an enviable location catering for human and canine guests.

Price $800 plus a $50 booking fee for up to six adults for a two-night weekend.

Bookings Phone 1800 693 647, see lovemelovemydog.com.au

Getting there Culburra is about a three-hour drive south of Sydney. Take the Princes Highway to Nowra, turn left on to Kalandar Street-Greenwell Point Road, which becomes Culburra Road. Follow Culburra's Lake Circuit-Penguins Head Road, then turn right into Eastbourne Avenue.

Wheelchair access No.

Perfect for A dog-friendly holiday.

While you're there Explore the surf breaks, pick up fresh seafood from the Greenwell Point fish co-op.