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Macmasters Beach: the Central Coast gem you need to know

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Just one and a half hours from Sydney’s CBD there’s a beach I’d never heard of until I was invited to go and stay. A beach that makes people who’ve been lucky enough to find it smile when I mention its name, and one that now sparks the same response from me whenever I think of it.

Macmasters Beach feels like a Central Coast secret. While its neighbours including Killcare, Avoca and Terrigal are all familiar names, somehow Macmasters managed to slip under my radar.

On the beach there’s a surf club and a single café / restaurant. Back in the bushland there’s a coffee shack. And that’s it. It’s all bush, beach and private homes, including some that you can temporarily call a home of your own on a Macmasters Beach holiday.

As I drove from the countryside to Macmasters Beach for the first time and found myself in heavy Central Coast traffic I wondered exactly where I was headed. Then my GPS told me to exit the roundabout onto Scenic Road and everything changed.

The traffic fell away and I found myself driving through beautiful lush bushland and feeling like I’d gone from the rat race to being on holiday. A feeling that only grew stronger as I stepped into my home for the next few days.

The Ambassador’s Retreat

When Allan Macmaster made his way from Scotland to become one of the first land owners in the area in 1855 he found himself a very sweet spot with a view to build his family home.

While the house owned by the man the beach is named after may be long gone, the Ambassador’s Retreat now stands on that land and most of that incredible view remains the same.

Ambassadors Retreat Macmasters Beach deck

The Ambassador’s Retreat is named after its previous owner, the late Sir Ian Turbott, who was the first Governor of Antigua and Grenada, Chairman of the Cape York Space Agency and the founding Chancellor of Western Sydney University.

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The current owners also have a personal connection with the area that goes back around fifty years, and have lovingly restored it to be a place that they can share with friends and with those who book in for a stay through their Airbnb.

The Ambassador’s Reteat can sleep up to six guests in three bedrooms, with two king beds and two single beds, all with ocean views.

The upstairs king bedroom has a walk in wardrobe that leads through to the upstairs bathroom where you can soak in the spa bath or freshen up with a shower, while the two bedrooms downstairs share a shower and toilet.

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Ambassadors Retreat Macmasters Beach lounge
Ambassadors Retreat Macmasters Beach living room

There are lots of places to relax outside on the huge wrap around upstairs and downstairs decks, though I’ll confess I loved getting up, making a cup of tea and coming back to bed to just look out at the view and do a little reading in bed.

As well as having a full sized kitchen with an oven, stove and microwave to make your own meals there’s a large Weber BBQ for those BBQ moments.

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One of the things I loved is that it really does feel like someone’s home with special pieces of art on the walls, rather than a holiday house that’s been filled with any old thing.

There are interesting books to read including Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note where I learned that OMG was first used in a letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Ambassadors Retreat lounge image Amanda Woods

And as well as being able to use the super fast broadband to stream movies and shows on Netflix, Stan and more, you can listen to your favourite tunes through the Sonos system, or go old school with the record and CD players.

So dust off your favourite vinyl and CDs and bring them along, or do as I did and have a lot of fun going through the owner’s collection and enjoying the flashbacks.

What to see and do at Macmasters Beach

The first thing to do is take a big breath and exhale. And then delight in the fact that you don’t have to rush anywhere.

At the Ambassador’s Retreat you can spend your days forest bathing or salt water bathing. Bring your walking shoes to explore some of the best coastal walks in NSW, with the Bouddi National Park starting right there at the end of the street. And be sure to pack your swimmers to feel that salt water on your skin.

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Macmasters Beach is considered one of the top surfing beaches in Australia so be sure to bring your wetsuit and board if you like to get out amongst those waves. You can also swim between the flags or if the waves are looking a bit rough you can do what I did and go the much gentler route with a dip in the ocean pool.

Macmasters Beach pool view, image Amanda Woods

While my friends may have initially laughed at the idea of sharing the protected pool with the occasional toddler it was so lovely to float in that water and look out at that view that we soon forgot about feeling a bit silly and just enjoyed the moment.

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If you love your coffee then a visit to Looloo’s Coffee Shack is a must. As well as roasting their own coffee they have also have kombucha that’s been handcrafted on the Central Coast on tap.

There’s a cute cubby house for kids complete with toy saucepans and kettles where they can have their own tea parties while you have your cuppa, and I love the fact that they make biodegradable and Nespresso compatible coffee pods.

Looloos compostible coffee pods, image Amanda Woods

If you use coffee pods at home you can buy some of theirs and enjoy a cuppa from a pod that breaks down in 180 days rather than 500+ years. And if you can’t make it to Macmasters Beach you can also buy Looloo’s biodegradable pods here.

From Looloo’s make your way back to the Ambassador’s Retreat with a slight detour along Cockrone Lagoon. This wildlife sanctuary is a great spot for bird watching and canoeing, and as you follow the water you’ll find yourself back at the beach where you can feel the sand between your toes as you walk home.

When you reach the end of the beach you can treat yourself to a bite to eat at the Barefoot Café where the menu includes a mix of café classics and Thai dishes including fish and chips and hot green curry with rice. Grab a seat overlooking the beach or go for the takeaway option and head up the pathway to eat at your own outdoor table with a view.

Things to do around Macmasters Beach

There’s nothing quite like a long walk along the beach. Unless there’s a Burnt Honey Bakery treat waiting at the other end.

While you could drive from Macmasters Beach to Burnt Honey in Copacabana it takes about 15 minutes to weave your way around on the roads. And depending on how quickly you can do a 1.5km beach walk it wouldn’t be that much longer to go by foot. And may even be a tad faster.

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Owned and run by Hayley Thorncraft and Joanna Fairall who met while working at Black Star Pastry, fell in love, got married and then went travelling through Europe and the UK to visit as many amazing bakeries as they possibly could, this is one of those bakeries that’s worth travelling for.

They use local suppliers wherever possible, do everything they can to reduce their environmental impact, and make freaking delicious breads, pastries, cakes and more.

Just thinking about my gingerbread almond croissant made with Pepe Saya cultured butter, single source milk, organic flours and happy hen eggs gets my mouth watering. Seriously delish.

Burnt Honey gingerbread croissant, image Amanda Woods

On the other side of Macmasters Beach on the edge of Hardys Bay, the quiet village of Killcare has some sweet spots to visit including the super cute boutique plants and gift shop Eylse in Wonderland and the Fat Goose where I enjoyed a delicious brunch before exploring for the day.

It’s also where you’ll find Bells at Killcare, the luxury boutique hotel and restaurant where you can pamper yourself with an indulgent spa treatment.

My spa therapist Kylie worked magic during my Mala Mayi massage and after having a full body aromatic desert salt exfoliation, being wrapped in warm mud and having a scalp massage I rinsed off in the shower and got back on the table for a Kodo massage that had me floating out of there.

For a special Central Coast meal, Wild Flower Bar & Dining uses seasonal dishes inspired by the produce grown and harvested in the Bells at Killcare vegetable garden.

Friends who regularly stay at the Ambassador’s Retreat have a great Bells lunch system that involves choosing a designated driver and someone who is happy to miss out on the walk (these can be different people) and then most of the group sets off on a beautiful one and a half hour walk to a long lunch before driving back together.

And if you’re in more of a resort than holiday home mood Bells is another beautiful place to stay in this part of the world, with boutique cottages, suites and villas and some pretty spectacular bathtubs.

Meanwhile if you enjoy a good gin or liqueur it’s worth the 20 minute drive from Macmasters Beach to Erina to visit Distillery Botanica

Take a walk through the garden to see all of the plants that are used to make their award winning spirits and liqueurs before being guided through a tasting and picking up a little something to enjoy as you watch the sunset from your Ambassador’s Retreat deck.

The distillery is also home to Mr Goaty, delicious gelato created by former Three Blue Ducks chef Dan Hughes. Try a hand churned goat milk gelato, including banana cinnamon caramel and turmeric and orange flavours, or a vegan silky sorbet in mango passion, strawberry and finger lime and more.

If you’d like to use Macmasters Beach as a base to explore the Central Coast there’s plenty more to see and do. But if you’re anything like me you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from the Ambassador’s Retreat to see and do them.

I happily let my daily plans dissolve away into nothingness so I had more time to simply be in that home. Looking out at that view. And just be in the moment.

So if you’re planning a stay at the Ambassador’s Retreat my best advice would be don’t go making too many plans. And bring everything you need to make your own sundowners and dinner so you can just spend as much time as possible in your beautiful holiday home.

Ambassadors Retreat Macmasters Beach deck view

Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of the Ambassador’s Retreat but as usual all opinions remain her own.

And a big thank you to Tom Ferguson for the Ambassador’s Retreat images. Apart from the portrait shot that I snapped on my stay, he is the man behind all of the images of the Ambassador’s Retreat. You can see more of Tom’s work including some pretty stunning architecture at TomFerguson.com.

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