What does it feel like to stand on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean like Cathy from Wuthering Heights? The wind billowing in your hair, you turn around to look at your multimillion-dollar house, two perfectly architect designed cantilever sections perched on top of an escarpment overlooking Werri Werri beach.
Every window is a living painting as sky and earth meet and the mustard coloured beach sweeps beyond view. Black and white cows roam the hills, magpies swoop, eagles soar – it’s beyond the imagination of Emily Bronte.
I am clearly no ‘Cathy’ but Headland House is mine all mine for a few days. It’s enough to turn a woman to her dastardly Heathcliff side, except that I am sharing it with my partner Mr. G, and his glorious family (who I have adopted!) to celebrate my birthday.
It’s impossible not to be smitten on arrival, the road stitches a dark seam through green rolling hills, nonchalant cows look up from their munching, another simply decides to walk onto the road and ponder the meaning of life. Two chestnut horses are resting in the shade of a large fig tree and our car travels to the horizon, magnetically drawn to the gates which open to the magic words “Headland House please”.
Dovecote House is an experience that makes you want to ooh and arrh like a lusty teenager. Like a loved puppy you may roll around rubbing yourself up against every surface, chair, pool lounger, and fabric. I am ready to prance in my kaftan and get a butt cheek uplift.
White pebble stepping stones lead to the front double height doors opening into an infinity-like glass corridor with each of the four bedrooms a surprise to the right. The main bedroom is a haven for any hedonistic rock star, the low-slung king-size bed looks tiny against an entire wall of views and a sexy black sofa to chillax.
Bathrooms are all moodily clad in black tiles, rainforest showers, and Aesop toiletries. Bedroom upon bedroom reveals seductive but different touches; there are window seats perfect for reading a book, voyeuristic bathrooms with huge windows to showcase your birthday suit to the minions below.
The corridor opens into the main section where design and nature combine in one room. A black suspended fireplace with two chairs looks out onto the world below – simply slide open the glass doors and step into your own storm room. The open plan lounge is a delight for little feet with soft cotton wool ball rugs.
Masculine lines and feminine touches blend with low slung sofas, caramel leather day beds, paintings, cow hides, rose gold mirrors and copper touches. The Miele kitchen has a curated and well-stocked pantry with luxury goodies such as Veuve Fourney & Fils champagne, organic coconut yoghurt, smoked bacon, chocolates and a cupboard bursting with spices. Even the Kitchen Aid kettle is just too cool for school allowing you to choose that perfect 70 degrees for your green tea to enjoy in the TV room.
It’s a roasting day so it would be rude not to while away the afternoon flicking through Vogue by our private swimming pool. It’s hard to leave, but dinner at Blue Swimmer is calling and with family connections to Three Blue ducks (and a reputation to match) we are seated by the window watching a huge storm roll in over the ocean.
Crispy croquette spheres of luscious potato and speck are served with a bowl of calamari, its tentacles sprawling on a bed of bomba and quinoa with a celery and dill salad. The bouillabaisse is a jumble of mussels, prawns and all things fabulously fishy.
Heidi returns with a big smile and more of their delicious house-made sourdough. Mr. G is rather partial to legs… and this braised duck is no exception, everything about the dish is exceptional from the beetroot and tapioca crisp to the rich jus. Donut lovers might question a grating of haloumi into the batter, but it creates a delicate salty backdrop to blackberry jam. We brave the storm and return to Headland House.
We head south to Berry. Mountain Ridge Winery is just off the highway and its change in ownership reflects Tom’s environmental and ecological view point, from the kitchen gardens to pop up pizza and collaborations with organic producers.
There is not a male chromosome in sight as the veranda becomes packed with girls celebrating. The rest of the ‘G family clan’ arrive from Sydney and we kick off lunch with a sparkling blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot after tasting a magnificent Verdelho and macadamia dessert wine harvested from trees they are nursing back to life.
We dine on share plates of dips, poached chicken tamarind coconut salad, house-made pumpkin and ricotta gnocchi it’s the perfect veranda lunch with stunning views onto Saddleback and Cambewarra Mountains.
We head back to the house. By afternoon the ‘G family’ have all dispersed into their natural habitats, dad on a fancy beanbag under a gold freestanding reading light, mum on the long sofa reading a book, brother on another sofa. After an evening of ‘cards of humanity’ (I did manage to win with 14), I retire leaving the rest of the gang to carry on. A simple glass door separates living with sleeping so no matter how big the party, you can keep calm and snooze on.
We head back to Blue Swimmer for breakfast as we have to try their ‘eggcellent’ award-winning Baghdad Eggs. Every single one of us orders it, apart from Mr. G who goes rogue with mushrooms on toast with mozzarella and arguably wins the ordering stakes. A blustery walk along 7-mile beach works off breakfast. Kids are playing in the shallows, surfers are catching waves only to be outnumbered by the Nippers!
We spend a lazy day at the house. We know there are a million places to explore, Berry, Kiama, beaches and surrounds but the highlight is dinner thanks to our private chef!
Karina is the founder and cook behind Dandelion and Mallow Wholefood kitchen, she’s a younger but no less passionate version of Maggie Beer, who left her company job to follow her passion for cooking. Within minutes our kitchen is a hive of activity decorated with local organic produce tumbling from wooden boxes and carrots so gorgeous I wish I could date them.
Like gravity, the G family are dressed for dinner and are drawn to the beautifully laid table as we are served an aromatic plate chimichurri prawns. Nothing says love more than a roast chook (sourced from Buena Vista Farm) It’s a looker and more tanned than George Hamilton!
Soon the table is laden with roasted veggies drizzled with tahini and Wollongong honey, a leafy salad dotted with jewel-like radishes and green beans along with broccoli seasoned with chilli. The house fills with the extraordinary smell of baking and five perfect chocolate beetroot fondants have us enraptured with the drama of it all.
Karina quietly packs away leaving us with her delicious home backed range of lavish and cheeses from Pecora Dairy and extraordinary memories of a meal where the family and the food were centre stage.
Dovecote House represents an extraordinary feat of architectural design thanks to Atelier Andy Carson. It is a very special place in the world. As we leave, we reflect how gloriously, hedonistically happy we have all been here; but then perhaps it’s hard not to be on top of the world when the property you are staying in, literally is.
Photographs by Tim Bean