You know that house that you want to buy when you grow up? The one by the beach, far enough away from Sydney that is an easy weekender, with bedrooms galore, views of the ocean, a veranda to watch the world go by, different areas for friends & family to find their own hang out spots and oh yeah – a heated swimming pool. Well this house is it.
Much like everyone in lockdown we have missed out on seeing family and friends, so Mandala Beach House is our cunning plan to maximise time, minimise travel and be reunited with god children from Canberra (The Cav’s) and friends on the other side of Sydney (The Miottis) who are bravely joining our band of merry men and toddlers all in the hope of a romantic escape. So, can this house cope with all these competing needs; mum & young family, our DA writing team and a loved up couple?
Situated in the north part of Jervis bay is a sleepy town called Callala Bay, it’s got a few shops. If you want a snazzy café, restaurant life or even brewery happiness then the reality is a 30 minute drive around the bay to Huskisson, or an expensive $120 each way cab if you want to drink. This is what happens when there are no Ubers in town.
Arrival – We arrive in the middle of one of NSW worst storms! Seeing the house from a distance through horizontal rain is like a ship reaching shore. It’s hard not to say woooaahhh when you open the huge front door and walk down the long hallway which stretches the entire length of the house. Two bedrooms are to the left and it opens out into a large lounge with double doors to a game room and another large bedroom to the right. However, we are not really looking at that… but the swimming pool! If there wasnt a force ten gale out there, we would be throwing off our clothes with wild abandon and jumping in.
The Welcome – A handwritten note from Mel & team is sitting by a bottle of Two Figs local wine which is a lovely touch. Mmmmm, now which of the 20 cupboards holds that wine glass?? If you are hoping for some supplies on arrival, you’ll be disappointed. The pantry is empty except for olive oil, salt & pepper, Nespresso pods/tea and a few mini cartons of milk. Its OK, a woman can survive on wine alone, surely?
Bedrooms – This is a brand new house and it is thoughtfully designed. Every bedroom has an ensuite with moody dark grey tiles, white porcelain basins and large showers – all top of the range. Custom wall holders show off full size Leif Botanicals products so there’s no need for twister style antics scrambling around the floor during your private rain shower! With four bedrooms downstairs and two on the upper floor our guests take their pick. The Cav’s downstairs & Miotti’s in the bedroom by the pool. The cunning plan being that the kids will wake early and take over the top floor! The master bedroom upstairs is a similar size but has a walk through (not in) wardrobe to the bathroom. Here lies a dilemma and concern. There is no door, so unless you are completely comfortable with being that intimate, devise a warning system!
Lounge & Kitchen – They say the kitchen is the heart of the house, it sure is. The toddlers make a b-line for two things; the blackboard has a gravitational pull which is primal and also a deliciously big sofa with something remarkable they don’t get often, CUSHIONS! Within minutes the house is now a forest of cushion trees, then a cushion tent, an igloo and so it goes on. You do not need a TV. The adults meanwhile have a different gravitational pull which equals champagne and nibbles round the kitchen island. In fact, this becomes our defacto hang out.
Private Chef Dinner – When you have a house like this, you really don’t want to go out. We hire Jonny from Citrus Catering to cook for us all for the night. Pouring over the private dining menus in advance is hellish. This is not a task for the indecisive! We are already onto a magnum of Louis Roederer (thanks to the Moittis) as Chef Jonny and Wendy (who is our server for the evening) arrive. They bring the fun conversation, prep, pans and merrily get to work. Wendy weaves around our group serving us duck pancakes, wild mushroom arancini, chicken & prawn dumplings and Sri Lankan prawn cakes. To watch it all being cooked is better than a ring side seat at Masterchef. To have a chef feels special, but to have someone serving us is positively decadent! We sit for dinner as we’re served a platter of tea smoked duck tumbled with coriander noodles, Vietnamese salad, green papaya and nuoc mam dressing. There is no game of ‘hunt the duck’ here, juicy, generous, umami laden slices stop conversation…briefly. A dish of saucer shaped prawn ravioli sits on top of a rich seafood bisque which contrasts beautifully with fresh baby herbs and lemon oil. Wendy returns later as she announces the next course, so everyone knows what they are eating! The pan fried salmon is a marvel atop a bed of puree and pickled cauliflower, charred baby broccoli, sauce vierge and crowned with crispy golden brown bullions of salmon skin. Thai yellow curry is all the better for aromatic roasted chicken breast cuddled up to glazed Asian greens. Almost at bursting point we push on, deserts have special tummy space and we cross the finish line with a raspberry brioche bread & butter pudding and lemon brulee tart and vanilla bean ice-cream. During the meal it’s been a marvel for the mum in our group to get the toddlers bathed, (get canapes), then get them into bed (hurrah!) knowing she can switch off, as they are all asleep downstairs. Anyone with kids will know add a baby sitter, taxis and anxiety to a night out at a restaurant and you are looking at $500+ So why, oh why, don’t we do this more often? As we look up from our ice wine, the kitchen is spotless and we wave goodbye to our new friends who made us feel like super stars.
Views – The large balcony makes the lounge feel like it extends into infinity. We are rewarded with an amber sunrise to the left (it has stopped raining). Low slung lounge furniture provides uninterrupted views from the kitchen. It’s the perfect place to munch on high protein low sugar muesli and enjoy a cappuccino. The access road is the only thing that separates Mandala from the sea and a footpath alongside it becomes great people watching as mums push prams, joggers, walkers and dogs parade by.
The Pool –This is a big boys pool. It’s deep. By day two we all find time to play, with the Miottis going for a beach walk while the kids are at play, finding solitude later in the day with it all to themselves. They have exceptional talents of drinking beer whilst treading water, having discovered built in entertainers fridge and BBQ. With no real shallow end to speak of, this is one pool to hold onto any tiny hands. The garden area is landscaped with a dramatic black feature wall towards the end of the pool providing privacy. At night, the pool glows bright red which captures a number of Instaworthy clicks.
We’re Addicted to: It’s contemporary, beautifully styled and oh so new! We loved that every bedroom was a similar size with an ensuite which means there are no ‘dud’ rooms! It’s super modern, built for entertaining and has spaces for everyone to find their special time and place.
To get us more Addicted: Love to see some supplies on arrival along with a few books, magazines but top marks for a drawer with some board games which we never got stuck into!
Mandala Beach House – Just over 2hours from Sydney, Callala Bay, Jervis Bay
Citrus Catering based in the Milton/Ulladulla area and operates on the South Coast from Nowra to Batemans Bay.
Our Dining Guide to The South Coast is here