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Read our writer's views on this property below
A lighthouse cottage at Sugarloaf Point is the perfect cover for Andrew Taylor to take in the wind-lashed vistas and migrating whales.
PLATONIC relationships do not appear to exist north of Newcastle. The caretaker of Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, Judy Gagg, has clearly detected deep currents of affection between my companion, Trish, and I as she shows us around the Head Keeper's Cottage.
"I've made up all three beds but obviously you won't be needing all of them," she says.
Obviously, she didn't hear our tussle over whether to turn left or right on to the Pacific Highway at Chatswood, which ended with me comparing Trish's hair to Leo Sayer's. Or is that how couples show their love for each other?
Of course, Judy might have assumed we would share the four-poster in the main bedroom because of its stunning views of Lighthouse beach, Treachery beach, Seal Rocks and the ocean. It's hard to imagine sleeping with a better view but Trish hasn't driven here to wake up next to me.
Built in 1875, on the second-most easterly point of Australia, the three-bedroom cottage was home to Sugarloaf Point's head keeper for more than a century until machine replaced man in 1997. It's now part of Myall Lakes National Park and one of three properties blessed with some of the best views in Australia. It's also one of the more windswept, as evidenced by the rattle of the cottage's sash windows.
Judy leaves us with a bottle of Merlot from a local winery and suggests we troop up the hill to the lighthouse after sunset to see her (despite its shape, the lighthouse is a lady, Gagg says) play her part in lighting the east coast "like a street with lamps".
It's not just ships that navigate the dangerous shoals around Seal Rocks. It's whale migration season, when humpbacks and southern rights head north. The wind has whipped up ferocious surf and it's easy to see why this was the site of countless shipwrecks, including the SS Catterthun, which sank in 1895 with the loss of 55 lives.
Inside, despite its exposed location and high ceilings, the cottage is pleasantly warm, thanks to the thick stone walls. The living room and each bedroom have heaters; the beds have only thin continental quilts and Trish nicks the blanket on my bed for herself.
Tastefully renovated, the Head Keeper's Cottage is spartan, furnished with sturdy wooden furniture, a cabinet of memorabilia but devoid of Victorian-era chintz or frou-frou decoration. Sugarloaf Point's first head keeper, Henry Hoadley, would hardly have been a man to stuff his home like a nanna. But he would appreciate the big-screen digital TV, a barbecue the size of a Honda Civic and spacious kitchen well stocked with crockery, cutlery, pans and a huge fridge.
The large oven does a great job of roasting our leg of lamb and vegies. Unfortunately, we've forgotten oil and gravy - an oversight not easily rectified since the nearest supermarket is at least 30 minutes away at Pacific Palms, although there is a tiny store at Seal Rocks. But Judy rustles up a bottle of canola oil and suggests we make a red wine jus of the meatliquids left in the tray.
Light pours through the large sash windows next morning, providing a far gentler, if earlier, wake-up than our alarm clocks. It also pours into the bathroom and day tourists might catch non-native fauna if you forget to close the wooden blinds while showering.
The cottage's east-facing verandah is interrupted by an enclosed area where you can gaze out to sea without your hairstyle collapsing in the wind. It's a great spot to marvel at foam-flecked waves and seagulls diving for fish.
"Humpback whales are celebrated for their energetic antics and the males' haunting 'songs' used to attract females during the mating season," according to one of many info sheets. In other words, they're the kings of the karaoke room. The brochure also advises keeping an eye out for cetacean yoga moves such as "spy hops" (raising head out of the water), pectoral and tail slaps, fluke-up dives, tail swipes and logging - which could be the whale version of planking.
The writer was a guest of Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Accommodation and Tourism NSW.
Where Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Accommodation, Kinka Road, Seal Rocks.
Getting there Take the F3 from Sydney. Turn off Pacific Highway two kilometres north of Bulahdelah onto The Lakes Way, before taking Seal Rocks Road at Bungwahl.
How much $450 a night for a minimum three-night stay, Friday to Sunday, in the Head Keeper's Cottage between May and September. Two assistant keeper's cottages are cheaper.
Style statement Moby Dick with the plumbing and comfort of James Packer's motor yacht.
Perfect for A reunion with friends or family. The three-bedroom Head Keeper's Cottage comfortably sleeps a maximum of eight guests.
Don't forget Binoculars for watching whales and dolphins, boots for national park walks, fishing tackle to land dinner and wetsuits to surf.
A shame The kitchen basics — oil, spices, flour — are not provided, though guests are warned to be self-sufficient.
Kudos The cottage is filled with more books and DVDs about lighthouses than you'll probably ever want to read. The caretakers also have a library of DVDs and board games.
Take the kids If they love the surf, get a thrill from seeing whales and dolphins and won't get blown over by a stiff breeze.