Not even the occasional lashing of rain could dampen our elevated spirits as we carefully made our way down the slippery road of Ku’ring-Gai Chase National Park to our weekend abode, Calabash Bay Lodge, on the Hawkesbury River.

Decked in wet weather gear and clad in solid walking boots, we were warmly welcomed at the public ferry by Manny Affarian, chef-cum-manager of Calabash Bay Lodge who ferried us to the house. It took 10 minutes in a comfortable runabout which gently cut across the still waters.

pv CaroleWhiting Wildluxury Calabash 0012
Calabash Bay Lodge on the Hawkesbury River

Those in the know have dubbed the lodge “Ferrari of the River.” 

We are staying at the plush and contemporary, four-bedroom Calabash Bay Lodge with sweeping riverfront views that end at a private mooring with its own runabout. The small boat has a canopy and a powerful, four-cylinder, 50HP engine. Perfect for poodling along the river to have a stickybeak at other waterfront properties. And there are some amazing houses cleverly built into the cliff escarpment with views to die for.

Why Calabash Bay Lodge is a perfect idyll

Calabash Lodge is surrounded by pristine eucalypt bushland and ancient sandstone cliffs fronting onto the Hawkesbury River. Winding creeks meet eucalypts and rock cliffs, deep in Ku’ring-Gai Chase National Park.

The persistent rain and cold temperatures did not diminish our excitement. Calabash is a warm and welcoming get away. A place with a fireplace in the main lounge to gently recharge, rejuvenate and restore. 

Main lounge opening out to the main balcony
Main lounge opening out to the main balcony

The house can only be reached by boat. So leave your designer stilettos and dresses behind, this is all about all-weather gear, thick, corduroy jeans, sturdy walking boots and a raincoat.

Manny is an experienced chef who can fire up a private three-course meal at the Lodge.  He lives about five minutes away in the adjoining bay and loves Berowra Waters where he and his Kiwi wife brought up their two girls.

“The girls only know life by the water – they are very comfortable to go by boat, they are good swimmers and love the lifestyle here,” Manny proudly says.

By the end of the weekend, we understand why.

How to live the life on a riverfront idyll

“Life on the Hawkesbury was beautiful during Covid – we were isolated from Sydney and just continued living our lives by the waters undisturbed by Covid restrictions – it was bliss.” he added.

The calming effect of the river, the remoteness and tranquility are compellingly restorative – helped, no doubt, by the sleek, modern amenities from organic paper towels, biodegradable sandwich bags to Zip Hydro Taps dispensing sparkling, plain and hot water at your fingertips.

Impeccable kitchen with all the bells and whistles
Cosy kitchen

The kitchen’s main benchtop is generously large with designer stools for guests or family members to gather round while someone prepares the meal. Almost every cooking utensil – fridge, ovens, micro-wave, dishwaters – are within a short step away – you are surrounded by one of the best designer kitchen we have ever stayed in.

There is a beautiful, oval wooden dining tables in front of picture perfect windows facing the river – many hours are spent sitting here reading, eating, sipping a glass of red or simply dawdling while admiring the changing water scene in front. What bliss.

Inside Calabash Bay Lodge’s riverfront idyll

There’s a bedroom with ensuite on the ground floor. Upstairs there are three additional bedrooms including the master bedroom with a king-sized bed and ensuite – and river water views.

The other two bedrooms share a large bathroom with rain shower and bath tub. A shared large balcony is easily accessible from the bedrooms.

At the back there are steps leading to a small yoga studio on the roof top with birds eye view of the river.

kayaks, fishing rods underneath the main house
Kayaks and fishing rods underneath the main house

Below the main house, there’s a comfortable sitting and dining table for 10 where Manny can rouse up a mean barbeque, if you so wish.

For keen kayakers, there are several to choose from including  paddleboards and a double canoe. There’s also a fridge-freezer stocked with bait for anglers keen to snare a flathead, bream, whiting or mulloway.

Sadly after two attempts, once at dusk and another at dawn, my angler partner had several bites but did not catch any. Perhaps, the next time round.

Life on a riverfront idyll

Off peak rates start from $780 per night for a seven-night stay or $1200 per night for a two-night stay including weekends. Minimum two nights or three night on public holiday long weekends.

There’s also the Ultimate Hawkesbury Pearler’s Package from $930 pp for six guests which includes two nights at Calabash Bay Lodge, a private boat tour from the lodge to Broken Bay Pearl Farm on Mooney Mooney plus a three-course private chef meal at the Lodge including a bottle of sparkling on arrival.

You can also experience a VIP arrival by seaplane from Rose Bay in Sydney or Palm Beach to Calabash Bay Lodge with lunch or dinner at the hatted riverfront restaurant, Berowra Waters Inn.

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For a custom quote for small groups visit  [email protected]