It’s fair to say I’m an urban soul.
I love the buzz, action, bars and coffee-shops of the inner city suburbs. But being surrounded by this constant hustle-and-bustle is probably why I love countryside getaways so much. They are a cathartic escape where in-your-face is replaced by wide-open-space.
However for our latest scenic sojourn we had a wish check-list that I didn’t think was actually going to be possible to fulfil. We wanted…
- luxurious accommodation
- a beautiful location that enabled adventures and exploration &
- and the ability to digital detox our screen-obsessed children
How lucky was I then that one day perusing the Inter Webs I stumbled across Dufflebird and their unique getaways for the curious. The property that called to me from their bespoke portfolio of properties was called Shellback and before you knew it we had booked for a three night stay.
Little could I have imagined how utterly wonderful our stay was to be…
Shellback – a seaside escape.
After a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne we arrived at the property nearby Walkerville, Victoria. The last 75 – 90 minutes of which had been spent driving amidst wonderful scenery of undulating and verdant green hillsides. We had a code for the farm gate and after some rather unnimble fumbling with the padlock by yours-truly we drove onto the grounds.
For me at least driving through that gateway was like a metaphoric crossing from city to country.
And as we rounded the bend in the drive and spied the house proper things only got better.
Shellback is located on 75 acres of private property with sweeping views across the water to Wilsons Prom. I allowed myself a smug – yup this’ll do – as we drove up. The canvas of greens and blues on offer from sea, land and sky were simply magnificent. The landscape, and how Shellback has been melded into it, was epic but also pleasingly raw. It was as if you could hear mother nature breathing.
First impressions – impeccable in every detail.
The attention-to-detail on offer here is simply outstanding. The grounds, the layout, the amenities, the beds (so comfy!!!) the interior design, the kitchen , the decking, the heating, the… well you get the picture.
Normally when I go to the country the place that I am staying at gets a “well it’s the country” get-out-of-jail-free card. You know for those times when the shower pressure might be a little low, or there’s some spider’s webs on the deck table or for when you run into something crawling along a wall that you would have preferred not to. It’s the country – these things happen. However not always it seems. Well not here.
This home is slick and stylish however not sterile. It’s a delicate balance that the owners, and presumably the property managers Dufflebird, have gotten bang on.
It was interesting to note that the cottage was also carpeted. Now I’m not sure about you but these days I don’t recall seeing too many higher-end properties featuring carpet. It tends to be polished boards glistening throughout that you see in the enticing promotional photographs. However please, please do not be put off by the carpet.
We came to Shellback despite the carpet – and certainly not – because of it. However my kids and I spent the majority of our time sprawled out upon the ridiculously comfortable flooring. Reading, playing, watching, starfishing and yes maybe even sleeping. Who woulda thunk it!? Something this decadent and not fattening! Praise the gods.
Shellback is a home – as that is what it feels like, not a hotel or apartment – that seems to effortlessly blend inside and out.
A home however where the true hero is the location and that view!
And when the weather allows you will want to be spending a lot of time on the deck! It affords the spectator an incredible panorama out across to the Prom. Oh and I should point out this property is not overlooked by anyone or any other dwelling. Blissfully private.
So we have the ‘luxury’ from our check-list well and truly covered. Now on to adventure and exploration…
The perfect base for day trips and discovery.
Now I must confess that I have a problem sitting still. Even at a luxury resort in Fiji by day two I’m ‘fidgety’ and looking for things to do. My wife on the other hand can relax with a good book, a cup of tea (or three) staring out to an amazing vista for hours. So if you are happy just to sit back, relax and recharge then Shellback is the perfect hideaway. However if you, like me, are keen to get out and explore on day trips then you are also in the perfect spot.
Within roughly five kilometres of the front door, you can reach beautiful & brooding beaches, crumbling historic ruins and a lighthouse perched atop plunging cliffs. Extend that radius to around 20 kilometres and you can now include the quaint, artisan village of Fish Creek and the wonderful rural town of Foster with a vibrant cafe scene and good coffee. The jewel in the day-trip crown is of course the mighty Wilsons Prom. It’s about 40 kilometres to the National Park entrance or 70 to Tidal River. (One way)
Our favourite spots and recommendations.
Cape Liptrap lighthouse.
A mere three minute drive from the front gate is the bombastic Cape Liptrap. Sheer cliffs tip into churning seas below with a lonely lighthouse standing sentinel to warn passing seafarers of the possible peril. The original lighthouse was built in 1913. A wonderful spot to visit at any time of day for those photographers amongst you the sunrise and sunset here are truly magical. And yup I’ve seen both!
Click an image to enlarge.
The ‘local’ beaches.
South Walkerville Beach.
A five minute drive from home base down a gravel road is a truly magical beach. South Walkerville is the inspiration for Alison Lester’s famous children’s book – Magic Beach. And isn’t it just! Set in a secluded cove, the gently lapping waves wash over craggy rock pools and up towards caves hewn into limestone. Our kids loved it. Two or three autumnal hours were spent in gleeful exploration. Perhaps most excited were mum and dad to have their kids not staring at, or asking to stare at, some mobile or tv screen.
A century ago this inlet would have been the antithesis of calm. It was a thriving industrial hub with six monolithic lime kilns spewing thick coal and coke smoke into the air. The lime produced here was a key product used in the construction of the rapidly growing city of Melbourne in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can still see the ruins of two of these old kilns today. One is undergoing a magnificent restoration – if you see the stonemason undertaking these works yell out “Kelvin” and say g’day. He likes a yarn.
Another five minute drive, this time down a dirt road, is Bear Gully. This beach is more brooding with a very different ambiance to South Walkerville. A visit here is rewarded with stunning views across to the Prom in the distance. The telltale silhouette of mountains lie as a moody backdrop to a patchwork of rock pools and burnt orange boulders in the foreground. It is a very atmospheric place and I had it all to myself when I visited. (If you don’t count the seagulls)
As the crow flies the drive to the Prom is not that long, but it feels longer due to the slow winding roads. I recommend a visit here as a must if you haven’t been before but bear in mind it will take around an hour or so to reach the iconic attractions of Tidal River and Squeaky and Normans beaches. A good way to plan the day is to stop into Fish Creek en route (2 km diversion) for a cuppa, look around and a bite-to-eat before making the run into the National Park.
The Prom is one of those places that is too vast to write a short blurb about. It is Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness area and enthrals with its natural beauty. I have visited twice now and don’t feel like I have even scratched the surface of what it has to offer. It is a beguiling and scenically stunning destination. You can read about my first visit to the Prom and the profound effect it had on me by clicking the link.
Shellback is a perfect sum-of-the-parts.
It is the ideal retreat for those seeking a soul recharging city escape. The hours melt away here in luxurious surrounds. But it’s also the perfect base for those of an adventurous ilk wanting to explore some incredible scenery and little-known, almost secret, spots. It’s great for families, singles or couples alike who want to hit the beach rather than a laptop for a few days of cleansing digital detox.
This place not only met our expectations but soared above them almost like those incredible stars.
Enjoy your stay
Rates start from $300 per night (correct as of 6 June, 2017)
- Located on Cape Liptrap about a 2.5 hour drive from Melbourne CBD.
- Sleeps up to 7 people | 4 bedrooms (4th bedroom very small) & 2 bathrooms (2 showers, 1x bath)
- No Internet or Wifi | However all of our phones got coverage no problems. Telstra is always the most reliable in rural areas.
- Book through Dufflebird – ‘Getaways for the Curious’
- Plenty of activities onsite for kids (Of all ages). Cricket & Bocce sets, fishing rods, table tennis table…
Please note: We stayed as a guest of Shellback. All opinions and views expressed are my own. All photography Saxon Templeton unless otherwise credited.