Monday, October 11, 2010
Escape to Bells at Killcare & enjoy Bouddi National Park Walks
To get away for a weekend is such a luxury in this busy life and something I just love to do when I can, with or without the kids!
With the end of winter sports, that tend to consume our weekends, daylight saving beginning and a public holiday Monday looming, I saw the October Long Weekend as an opportunity for me to getaway with Paul.(who some are now calling Mr Cooks!)
A friend had recently sent me an email of Gourmet Retreats and
Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel & Restaurant was on the list.
Unlike all of the other accommodation I'd looked at that week, leading up to the long weekend, Bells would allow a one night stay, on the Sunday night.
So we made a last minute booking and organised our lives (our children really!) to escape together for 36hrs!
"Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Bar, is a luxury coastal retreat with an authentic regional restaurant, featuring the cuisine of renowned Italian chef Stefano Manfredi.
Situated high on the Bouddi Peninsula and surrounded by untouched Bouddi National Park and many secluded and pristine beaches, Bells at Killcare is just a 90 minute drive north of Sydney's CBD and offers exclusive and private coastal style cottage accommodation.
Set in the retreats lush gardens, guests can relax in two storey deluxe spa villas or single story King Spa Suites.
We arrived at Bells for check in at 3pm Sunday afternoon.
The main building houses Reception, Bells Restaurant, a guest library and Day Spa.
We were staying in one of the King Spa suites set amongst the lovely gardens on the property.
In keeping with one of my life motto's "you get what you pay for", staying here was not cheap, however we did get a lot for our money!!
Our self contained King Spa Cottage, had everything we needed and more to unwind for our short stay.
King Bed with en suite spa bathroom, lounge chairs, wood fireplace and TV, a mini kitchenette, including a bountiful breakfast basket. Fresh fruit and granola snacks, as well as organic orange juice, free range eggs from the chickens on the property, bacon made from hormone and antibiotic free Bangalow Sweet Pork, house made pork, sage and garlic sausages and freshly baked Italian bread with jams, honey & onion chutney. There is also Stefano Manfredi’s coffee, for the coffee lovers! Outside an undercover deck off our cottage with outdoor dining setting and a gas bbq to cook our own breakfast the next morning.
Paul inspired by the UNWIND bed pillow, made the most of the facilities immediately!
This place encapsulates many of my passions in one, offering the coast, the bush, fine food, beautiful gardens and secluded time away from the rat race.
When checking in we were given a comprehensive list and maps, for the local bush walks in neighbouring Bouddi National Park.
Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a short bush walk down to Maitland Bay. Distance: 2km return Grade:Steep track with many steps. As suggested in the guide we paused at Panorama rock to admire the view of Maitland Bay
and then descended down to explore this very secluded bay and bird life.
The walk back up we convinced ourselves was great preparation for the dinner we were to enjoy in the restaurant that night!
Another highlight of our stay was taking a walk around the property and discovering chef Stefano Manfredi's vegetable & herb garden on site.
A lovely spring harvest selection of fragrant herbs, radishes,
& rainbow chard were recognisable to me. No doubt soon to be planted tomatoes and strawberries for the summer season. This was inspiring and further motivated me to expand my own, "grow your own" capacity at my home.
A table for two at Bells at Killcare Restarant, Sunday evening was also a delightful experience. The restaurant interior continues the coastal theme, with blues and whites and star fish featuring.
The waiting staff were efficient and very friendly and we enjoyed the Italian fare from Stefano's seasonal menu.
We were served a selection of mixed olives and savoury shortbread to start, followed by some delicious house made Italian bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Here's what we ordered:
Warm salad of asparagus, egg, white Italian radish from our garden and herb salsa $22
Grilled Octopus with celeriac and fennel puree, sauce ravigote $27
Lasagne with Spinach, ricotta & tomato $27
Green beans with garlic $12
Roasted Rabbit Leg with Polenta cake, tomato & herbs $38
We finished a beautiful meal with a dessert to share, Paul ordered dessert and I ordered an extra spoon!
Macadamia Nut torta with Chocolate & home made ginger praline icecream $16.50
I must say I was glad I ordered an extra spoon, as this was an amazing combination of flavours.
After a very restful sleep in our cottage and a late start to the day, we enjoyed our janeCOOKED breakfast on the deck,
and planned our bush walk for the day ahead.
We checked out from Bells, at a very civilised 11am and headed just down the hill, to Killcare beach, where we left the car. With a picnic lunch packed and lots of water, we headed off on an epic 4hr bushwalk together!
Killcare-Box Head-Wagstaffe Distance: 10km Grade 2 well-graded hills each way, the rest level.
The walk included a cliff top view of Tallow Beach, Box Head and Broken Bay, before descending to Tallow Beach, where we had our first break.
Climbing back up we then headed out on the trail to Box Head, this was a remarkable bit of bush walking, highlights being the coastal views and wildlife including kookaburras, a couple of baby brown snakes sleeping in the sun and an echidna crossing our path, up close and personal!
The clifftop views from the tip of Box Head back to Palm beach and Lion Island were incredible, and this is where we had break two!
We then returned back along the Box Head trail and then headed out to Lobster Beach, enjoying the Flannel flower Track along the way.
We again descended...more stairs to Lobster Beach for Break three! Then back up the stairs we climbed and walked round the point, past Wagstaffe to Pretty Beach, where we grabbed a scenic bench seat, had our final break and our picnic lunch. The final leg of the walk was flat around Hardy's Bay, past the Killcare shops and then back up the hill, to the Killcare beach car park, to where we left our car.
Needless to say, after walking from 11.30am to 3.30pm, I had a little afternoon nap in the car, on the F3 on the way home,(don't worry Paul was driving!) I also had rather sore calf muscles the following day, from such bush walking enthusiasm!
There are facilities at Bouddi National Park for day use, lightweight, walk-in camping and limited car-based camping. A fee applies for camping and campers must book in advance through the NPWS regional office. Phone (02) 4320 4203.
Whether your budget allows you to stay at Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel or instead camp out in the National Park, this area of coastline is pristine and a privelege to enjoy, just 90 minutes north from Sydney.
Bouddi Walks by Jeanette Blomfield
Published by Killcare Wagstaffe Trust Inc.
PO Box 4009 Wagstaffe, NSW 2257
Copyright Jeanette Blomfield, 2000