Barefoot luxury accommodation nestled on the shores of the Hawkesbury River
It’s a stretch of water many of us haven’t had the opportunity to explore; a large inlet that dominates our landscape and is surrounded by National Park and bushland, honestly it is an under-appreciated pocket of our own back yard.
For my first time, I took the exit on the M1 that I had always wondered where it would lead.
The Deerubbun boat ramp at the Mooney Mooney is where we are picked up from; to our left, we can see the busy highway and to the right, our cruiser arrives which will take us to a hidden enclave only accessible by the waterway.
This exploration of Hawkesbury River opens up a whole new world and provides you with a welcome escape.
If seclusion and being socially distant is the thing we still want most right now, Marramarra Lodge is exactly the experience we’ve been longing for, and this unique, authentic, and indulgent escape is right on our doorstep.
Our boat transfer to the Lodge is skippered by Brett, one of the many hospitable colleagues of Marramarra Lodge.
As we cruise down the river, he takes the time to slow down and point out landmarks and the history few of us would be aware of; with this level of detail and knowledge, you quickly become aware this will be a unique experience.
After twenty minutes of absorbing beautiful landscapes, we have arrived at the Lodge; as you take in your surroundings, it is hard to believe that literally 20 minutes ago we were pulling off the M1. Now, in the midst of the Hawkesbury River estuary, with rugged bushland and islands aplenty to explore, and yet a little over an hour from the city.
Greeted by Marty, who with his partner Nikki, manage the Lodge and lead this highly engaged team overseeing the property, we are taken on a small walk of the island with many insights shared about the history, the stories of the river and its many purposes over the years.
From stories of early white settlers using oysters not for eating but to grind the shells for building materials, to important stories of country and the area we are visiting. You become grateful for people like Marty who oversee and engage with the Traditional Owners to preserve the historical sites on the property.
We recommend taking a tour with a local Dharug guide to give you insights and share the rich history of the region, which can be arranged through lodges guest services.
We are staying in a Peninsula Tent called ‘Gadyan’, the Dharug word for a Sydney cockle. This cockle is commonly harvested for food in the tidal flats and seagrass beds of the estuary surrounding Marramarra Lodge - all the accommodation are named after Dharug words for flora and fauna native to the area. Our room is a luxury tent, with canvas sides and roof - which is where the tent aspect kind of ends.
With a wooden floor, glass windows and doors that open to your own personal perch (balcony) in the gum trees, a large king size bed, leather lounge and a bathroom reminiscent of river rocks and natural stone sinks, you forget that you have checked into a ‘tent’.
This is more than an elevated concept of glamping - this is a private bungalow with canvas sides which allow you to hear the water lapping on the rocks below, the birds singing as the sun rises and rain dropping on the roof above you.
With a reverse cycle air conditioning and perfect wifi, you have all the comforts of a modern hotel combined with the perfect immersion of nature that you can enjoy without having to worry about being covered in insect repellent.
Not to mention the all-inclusive mini bar which features impressive boutique beers from Bay Rd Brewing and Bent St Brewery, sparkling wine, Jiva Kamucha, a range of small-batch juices, enough chocolate to get your fix and savory snacks to graze on throughout the day.
Guests are invited to partake in a sunset river cruise, where you enjoy the local delight of Coffin Bay oysters.
This magical journey takes us around the surrounding islands and bays - our skipper talks through landmarks and stories of the river before stopping for an uninterrupted view of the sun setting over the hilltop ridge in front of us.
As we return to the Lodge, he suggests stopping by the Boathouse where the team have recliner chairs perched at the door edge to take in the ever-changing sunset light show happening before us.
It is in this boat shed you find the complimentary recreational equipment – kayaks, SUP boards and fishing rods. You also have access to jet skis, a self-drive leisure cruise, private pearl farm experience, and fishing charters – all optional experiences the team can organise for you.
Your stay at Marramarra Lodge is inclusive of all the essentials, and the most important item on our list is the food.
All meal periods are served in their Budyari Restaurant, located in the Main Lodge.
With a total of 14 accommodation units and a maximum of 28 guests (this is an adult only retreat), you feel as though you have the space to yourself. From the degustation menu to the paired wines that are included in the daily tariff, the team expertly share details of the chefs’ daily creations and accommodate any dietary needs.
Simply put, the food is outstanding – amongst the best in the region. From the a la carte lunch offering, which saw us have the expertly cooked John Dory (with our choice of wine) followed by a perfect panna cotta, to the degustation dinner, offering a 5-course meal with paired wines where even the most ravenous guest would be content with the servings given.
The menu is created and prepared by Chef Jèrome Trèmoulet whose passion is evident for local seafood and produce. Hailing from the South West of France and having worked for luxury hotel group One&Only Resorts, Chef Jèrome delivers a dining experience that is memorable, cooked to perfection and makes you inquisitive about the elements on the plate.
With a rotating menu based on the fresh produce available, you will have a different dining experience every night. The dining room experience is a real highlight of our stay at Marramarra Lodge, with Chef Jèrome’s masterful creations alone being enough for us to book a return trip to Marramarra Lodge.
After dinner, the fire pit is lit for guests to enjoy and there is a range of board games and even a billiard table for entertainment. I recommend meandering back to your accommodation to appreciate the lack of light pollution and clarity of the night sky. From your balcony, mother nature continues to deliver another spectacular show for you take in comfortably from your room.
Morning brings a majestic serenity to wake up to in a luxurious king-size bed, whilst enjoying the sounds of birds and absorbing the sunrise. The electric blinds open at the press of a button to reveal the incredible natural surroundings and authentic Australian landscapes, leaving you feeling like you are hundreds of kilometers from home.
The easy accessibility to a location so remote is the unique feature of Marramarra Lodge, we should also mention you can arrive by helicopter or seaplane if you so desire.
Being here you could easily fill two to three days exploring the surrounding bays and islands, visiting the day spa, relaxing poolside or just taking refuge on your deck with a book.
However, you cannot help but be in awe of the nature around you and the seclusion you have been granted with not having to travel far at all. To think this perfect pocket of privacy is nestled on a point on the Hawkesbury River within an hour and a half to your world of responsibilities yet sitting in the boat shed taking in the sunsets of another perfect day they a feel a world away.