Read our writer's views on this property below
After a kitchen stir almost causes an international incident, Tanya Lake begins to feel the love.
The problem with sharing a large holiday house with many people is you have to get up extra early to have your morning coffee in peace. It doesn't matter how fantastic the pad is, if it's peak hour in the kitchen, things can sometimes get a little tetchy.
It is 7am when a young German to whom I had not yet been introduced, but whose name
I later learnt was Enrique, takes my stirring spoon. I ask for it back. He doesn't give it. I start searching for another. There isn't one. I beginn to fume, spilling my coffee. Then
I notice his bemused smile.
We are staying at the Love Shack, a funky baby-blue beach pad on the cliff-top above Seal Rocks, just over 300 kilometres north of Sydney.
The location is unbeatable and the house wonderful; full of art, framed photographs and books galore.
The book collection's themes are photography, artists, travel, Bali, karma, surfing. There is enough good reading material to last a year or two.
A big red heart is painted on the front door and repeated everywhere, including the driveway, which also reads: "Open your heart."
I'm trying to. Really I am. You see, the Love Shack sleeps 10 people (two double bedrooms and the rest are in an upstairs dorm) and at $1500 for three nights, it's an economical way to invite the gang (and perhaps their yet-to-be-introduced international chums) away for the weekend.
Seeking solitude I stumble past the driveway with my coffee in hand, passing a meditating stone Buddha on the cliff-top holding a fresh red hibiscus. I am on Boat Beach in moments, watching morning divers prepare their tanks and fishermen working on their trawler.
By the time I return, the house is awake, sunlight is shining across the front verandah and I vow to be less grumpy with Enrique, whom I see is swinging back and forth in a hammock, looking out over the sea.
Enrique turns out to be a good-natured bloke and for the rest of the long weekend, our happy gang seems to never stop laughing as we lurch from fishing expedition (out front, no luck), to group surf (round the corner at Treachery Beach, offshore, magic sunset, full moon, dolphins, amazing), to snorkelling trip (out front, saw a ray, got scared), to lighthouse jog (super windy, lovely view, stopped jogging).
And while our days are filled with this fun, the nights are even merry as we cook snags on the barbecue and make a fire inside the classic Indian fire cooker on the Love Shack's balcony, gazing into the flames and boasting of the naan we will cook along its terracotta wall.
I have a lovely outdoor bath with my toddler in the Love Shack's rooftop tub but we soon find the plug is broken and without a tool kit, we can't empty the bath for another dip the next evening. Oh well. We choose the outdoor shower instead, then drip across the deck to dry in front of the fire.
Extremely thin dingoes wait hopefully for scraps each evening and Enrique thoughtfully locks the house, not wanting me to become the next Lindy Chamberlain should the dogs become really hungry.
The mosquitoes are also ravenous and even though we use repellent liberally, we leave our holiday looking like smallpox sufferers.
This, along with the scrub turkeys and giant lizards we encounter on the track down to Treachery Beach, reminds us that although we're only three hours from Sydney, we're in the bush. If you want a beach pad with amazing views for a week away with friends, this is the place. Just remember the mozzie net.
WHERE The Love Shack, 55 Kinka Road, Seal Rocks. See pacificpalmsholidays.com.au.
HOW MUCH $500 a night, minimum two-night stay. Sleeps 10 in three rooms; two with double beds, the other with six beds.
BEST THING View and the books.
WORST THING No mozzie nets in the double bedrooms.
LOCAL SECRET Walk to the lighthouse (half an hour each way), check out beautiful Treachery Beach in the national park or drive a little further north to Blueys or Boomerang beaches, grabbing a real coffee at Pacific Palms along the way.