Andrew Mevissen

I’m certain if our hotel room was any closer to the sea it would be classed as a cruise ship cabin. Our room even boasts a balcony hovering over the waves, just like on cruise liners. And it’s on that sun-kissed balcony that we’re ensconced in our deck chairs, fixated on the mesmerising view. But it’s hard to know what to focus on – the waves caressing the clifftops just metres below or our resort’s uber-cool infinity pool with its inviting water seamlessly melting into the Pacific. So, this is how the other half lives?

Our heavenly coastal hideaway is Bannisters by the Sea, which is perched, spectacularly, above the sea at sleepy Mollymook on the NSW South Coast, three hours from Sydney. Framed by gums and hugging absolute waterfront real estate, this luxury, boutique resort dissolves stress, slows your metabolism and makes you put your phone down. It’s a tonic for the soul. And a lot of its magic comes down to that view, over the pool and out to sea. Even at night, the sea works its charms, with the soothing sound of the waves lulling you to sleep. Bannisters by the Sea oozes chic coastal cool, calming frayed nerves as soon as you park the car and glimpse sight of the shimmering pool, with accompanying bar. Grab a drink or one of the resort’s gourmet pizzas, relax, unwind and feast on the views. How’s the serenity now?! The location was once a quintessentially bland ‘70s motel but in 2002 was transformed, totally, into a luxury getaway for discerning city escapees who like their views paired with gin and tonics, sparkling wine and craft beer as well fine gourmet cuisine starring the best, fresh seafood on the NSW South Coast.

Overseeing the culinary offering is celebrity chef, Rick Stein who gives the resort’s waterfront restaurant its name. At Bannisters by the Sea in Mollymook, dreamy days can be spent watching the sun rise over the sea, paying homage to the beautiful breakfast buffet, disturbing the ripples in the pool, soaking in the rays, grazing on your balcony (each of the 32 luxury rooms afford sea views – of course), walking and swimming at the nearby beach and pampering your palate with amazing food at Rick Stein’s elegant restaurant a few metres from your room. You have not visited the South Coast until you have tried the local prawns, oysters, crab and lobster – all enhanced by Stein’s inimitable flavours. And you have not been to Rick Stein’s until you have chosen from the menu the hazelnut and coriander-dressed scallops, lobster ravioli and chocolate fondant – a trio of legendary dishes almost as divine as the views from your Bannisters balcony. Sated by crispy skin salmon and vanilla hazelnut affogato, we hit the road to explore a little before heading home.

The eclectic antique stores and cafes of Milton not far away are always satisfying as is tasting the local drop at Cupitts Winery near Ulladulla. The more active can climb the birdcage-shaped Pigeon House Mountain, which was named by Captain Cook as he sailed up the coast in 1770. The blindingly white sands of Jervis Bay are tempting and the succulent oysters at Greenwell Point near Nowra are legendary but we are in the mood for a scenic drive so we follow our intuition and trace secreted, winding lanes through verdant hills and valleys behind Kiama, marvelling at Eden-like landscapes, before stopping for an ice cream in Berry and motoring home far more chilled than we headed south.

Published in the October 2019 Issue of Sydney Observer