Airbnb Review: Best for pet friendly stays! Sandon Beach Cottage & Skate Park

Our mission is to find a ‘grey’-friendly stay with a big, fully fenced grass garden, an hour from Sydney, which makes us feel like a million dollars (and a miles) from the city. With the M8 tunnel now open, we take up the challenge to ‘go south’ to the Illawara area busting with beaches, bars, breweries and cafes. My partner Mr G, arrives a bit later taking the fast train from the city to Thirroul.

Meet the taste testers – The Greys

Let’s introduce you to our taste testers:
Georgia: We first adopted Georgia two years ago. She is a pretty little thing, it has been a journey as our nervous little girl is slowly growing in confidence. She has trouble walking on a lead in streets as the world is too scary. It was clear she needed a fearless leader, another greyhound.
Maggie: She goes by many names Magster, Mad Max Maggie, Maggie-Moo!! It’s like welcoming The Terminator into your home. She is intense about life in every way but very loving and endearingly vulnerable. Living in the inner west, our fur cows (as they like the odd munch of grass) have been missing a place to run off lead in safety. It’s a challenge many dog parents face, if you are not comfortable with dog parks.

Sandon Beach Cottage (SBC), Bulli  Woolongong owners Alana and her hubby Dan, searched almost two years for their perfect seaside escape. Finally, they bought SBC in 2023 after her young boys saw the skate park in the garden and well, the rest is history! The sale was so famous it even made the newpapers for a ‘house + skate park’!

Location: Bulli is the lesser known sister to hip n’ happening Thirroul, just north of Wollongong. SBC is on Point Road, it’s the real estate dream of us all – at the end of our road is not just a beach but, wait for it, ‘Bark on the Beach’ – a phenomenal dog friendly beach where our girls have so much fun. The call of ‘walkies’ in the evening has no effect. They are sun, sea and woofed out! Hoooooowwlll.

The Journey & Arrival

The new tunnel makes a trip down south a breeze, within an hour myself and the ‘girls’ are pulling into the magnolia lined driveway. A farm sized gate is all that stands between us and doggie heaven. The greys are out and ‘off’.

A ‘marine’ style dog park for our greys…

The ‘Grey’ Garden: It’s a huge sweeping garden with a raised deck to my right, outside shower, hose station and grassed sloping layers leading down to an enormous sandpit (Maggie’s idea of heaven) plus a fire pit at the end – though at 50km per hour Georgia and Maggie are not really taking in the magnificence of it all. Whoah, there it is – for real, a big skate ramp! Maggie hasn’t really mastered the art, and instead goes flying from lawn, to ramp and down a level to the grass and heart stopping speed. Over the weekend we revel in a the human delights of a mature planted garden with succulents, cactus, lime trees. The greys are enthrawlled, yummy grass, along with so much to sniff, look at and investigate.

The upper deck becomes our favourite early evening spot for drinks. We have peak-a-boo views of the ocean, a woodland of trees in the distance and the misty cloud topped mountainous escarpment to the right. It’s like a scene from Gorillas in the Mist. Birds tweeting, soaring skies, greenery. Seriously an hour from Sydney??

The Cottage – Keys in hand I open the back door (after nearly having heart failure it didn’t work in the front door, then I manage to drop the key which falls through the decking. Alana to the rescue though)! Voila!

Lounge & Dining – I step into the kitchen area first and the house opens up immediately, it smells divine with Glasshouse candles around the place. The interior design is Hamptons meets Byron surf cool with an all white colour scheme, wooden accents and flourishes of happy planting! Two teak celing fans are contrast to a living area hugged by extremely comfy sofas. I love a three seater and the additonal two seater means it has seating to accomodate the three bedrooms. A lot of Airbnb’s fail in this regard.

Kitchen – A beast of a DeLonghi coffee machine graces the counter top with Vittoria coffee beans at the ready to be ground. This quickly becomes our morning ritual. The kitchen is decked out with a functional array of utensils, though we have to do an emergency dash to Woolies due to the fact Mr G raided his wine stash at home and there is no bottle opener. Tea, olive oil and salt n’ pepper are all provided. A lovely welcome touch from Alana is a surprise cheese platter of local Shoalhaven Camembert, a cheddar, quince paste. A slab of artesian chocolate which disappears faster than your can say ‘Mr G’. Oh and where did those shortbread biccies go?

The Bedrooms – There are Three…

Main bedroom

What I really like is that there is a door you can close between living area and the bedroom section. If you have family or friends who want to kick back into the night, you can retire, gracefully and peacefully to a bedroom. It’s a double door thing which means a good nights sleep and control of my environment.

The main bedroom is a good size with wardrobes and a ceiling fan. The back bedroom has twin beds with the added bonus of patio doors which slide back onto the decking. The middle bedroom has a queen size bed. After our first nights sleep, I am in love with the supa dupa soft bed linen which makes me want to roll around like an Andrex puppy. I text Alana to find out where I can buy them. We sleep like babies, with the ultimate luxury of silence. From time to time we hear the soft undulating rumble of a train which just makes it feel more romantic!

Main bathrooms

Bathrooms: There are two. The main one is by the bedrooms, with a fantastic power shower and rain shower along with Monday toiletries. I think the builder must have been a giant, as the cabinet mirror means I have to stand on my tippy toes if I want to see more than the top of my head!

Grey-tester Verdict

What we are addicted to? WOOF! We had a hoot in the garden. We love racing around the back, then zooming down the slope. I want to make the sandpit my personal office, though Georgia keeps play bowing at me to run after her. Our Snooza beds fitted so well into the home. It was lovely and quiet. We had the best time jumping in the surf and Georgia made friends with a dog/lamb cross bread. We love it here.

What we need to be more addicted? Our mum likes to a cook and she found there were not enough serving plates or red wine glasses. Our humans like the option of a firmer pillow but we think they should have Snooza beds instead.

To Book: Sandon Beach Cottage, Point Road, Bulli, NSW book here

Out & About in the area

Point Cafe, Bulli – A 5-10 minute walk towards the beach. It has all the ‘feels’. We order a double bacon and egg roll on turkish (delish), and a veggie special with sumac pumpkin and beetroot hummus. It’s on point, and the sevice and coffee are excellent. Great for ‘dog-watching’ as they all parade up from the beach. It’s packed with good reason!

Resin Brewing, Bulli – Just a few minutes drive, to town is Resin. We order a paddle of beers and settle into high chairs. Mr G orders a brisket burger and declares it one of the best he has had. Lots of families are enjoying a breezy saturday and pups are loving the chips!

Rueb Golberg Brewing – A 15 minute drive gets us to this legendary beer & Mexican food spot. The reviews are raving and we get to know why. $15 gets us a magnificently authentic plate of totilla chips with a tomato salsa and gauc. The tacos are enormous and fantastic value too, even better with live music on Sundays. Some of the best Mexican around.

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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