Fun times with a beach babe
There are quite a lot of 1950s fibro beach shacks at Culburra Beach but there is only one that is almost impossible to miss.
With its distinctive hot-pink exterior, Gidget Goes to Culburra certainly stands out. It's dark by the time we arrive from Sydney but, even so, we have no problems finding our accommodation for the weekend.
Gidget, as she is affectionately known by her owners, has had a bit of work done since she was originally built in the 1950s.
Apart from the eye-catching paint job, she has been extensively remodelled on the inside to create a chic seaside haven for holidaymakers, not to mention their dogs (more on that later).
While I'm expecting to find a riot of 1950s kitsch when I open the side door, I'm pleasantly surprised to see a stylishly renovated home with a funky beach vibe.
The main house has two bedrooms, which both lead to inviting decks overlooking the front garden.
One bedroom contains a double bed, built-ins and some beach-themed paintings on the wall. A framed poster of the 1963 movie Gidget Goes to Rome hangs over the bed. Of course.
The second bedroom is perfect for the kids, with two single beds, both covered in quilts with surfboard motifs. I love the fish made from driftwood hanging on the wall. Our girls, aged five and eight, are more entranced by the boxes of toys and books in the cupboard, not to mention the television.
The best bedroom is tucked away in the studio garden cottage, behind the main house.
You enter the room through an impressive bathroom, with a centrepiece bath that could double as an in-ground swimming pool. This links to the main bedroom, which leads to a garden deck, complete with sun lounge.
The nautical theme continues in the main suite, with faux frangipanis and old wooden oars balanced on the exposed beams above the bed. It really would make the perfect couple's retreat.
Having checked out the sleeping arrangements, we sort out a late dinner in the well-equipped kitchen, which has all the conveniences you'd expect: fridge, microwave, stove, gas cooktop and dishwasher.
The dining table has room for six on cute mismatched chairs. Note: Culburra is not exactly a culinary hot spot, so you're best advised to stock up in Berry or Nowra before you arrive.
If alfresco dining is more your thing, there is an enormous barbecue on the main covered deck that overlooks the front garden. It's one of the many lounging areas around the house.
The deck is off the living room, which has a couple of comfy lounges with scatter cushions and throw rugs. One wall is dominated by a giant model sailing ship, while the other wall features the entertainment unit, including a TV, DVD player, CD player and board games. There's a collection of DVDs tucked away in the sideboard along with CDs including Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Elvis and, naturally, the Beach Boys.
Gidget is about a minute's walk from Culburra Beach, a long stretch of sand with surf at its northern end and a more protected area to the south.
The beach is dog-friendly, making it a popular spot for hounds of all shapes and sizes.
Our furry friend, Scruffles, a corgi-cattle dog cross who came to us from Blacktown pound via Monika's Doggie Rescue, is in canine heaven as soon as she steps onto the sand. Romping in the waves with the children, she looks as if she's won the dog lottery.
The outdoor shower proves a practical bonus upon our return as we de-sand the girls and the dog before they are allowed back into the house. Not that it matters, because they are all content playing outside in the securely fenced garden.
Gidget offers dogs the same comforts as their two-legged companions, providing two trampoline dog beds, plenty of bowls and a large box of toys for their chewing pleasure. Guests are reminded, however, to keep their animals off the furniture, out of the bedrooms and to pick up their poo (bags are thoughtfully provided in case you forget).
With its laid-back vibe, child-friendly location and welcoming attitude to animals, Gidget ticks all the boxes for a relaxed family holiday. Indeed, it was hard to tell who enjoyed themselves more: the grown-ups, the kids or the dog.
The writer was a guest of Destination NSW, visitnsw.com and Gidget Goes to Culburra.
Where 78 Park Row, Culburra Beach. www.gidgetgoestoculburra.com.au.
Getting there Culburra Beach is about 2½ hours south of Sydney. Take the Princes Highway to South Nowra, turn left at the Greenwell Point turnoff, take the Culburra Beach turnoff, then follow Culburra Road to Prince Edward Avenue, which finishes at Park Row.
How much $250 ($NZ317) a night, standard weekday rate; $300 a night, weekend rate (except public holidays); $1750 a week, February-November; $2800 a week, December-January (Christmas week $3000). Winter specials available.
Style statement Chic beach shack with a retro edge.
Don't forget Your surfboard, preferably a traditional longboard.
Perfect for Families and their four-legged friends.
Shame about A pair of rubber gloves in the kitchen wouldn't go astray.
Kudos Dogs are welcomed as much as humans. The owners even provide temporary collar tags with the property's address and contact number for the local vet.
Take the kids Absolutely — and don't forget the dog.