The Anchorage

“Fair winds and fallowing seas”

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Late in August the G.O. and I made history. In the eight year epoch of our relationship within a twenty-plus year friendship, although a few have been planned, we’ve never managed a romantic weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of the day it became apparent our ships had the potential to dock at the same port…

…But, not too early on the Saturday morning, we set off for Port Stephens, a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, our destination The Anchorage at Corlette, located on the opposite side of the bay from Hawks Nest, so beloved by my family.

Enroute we stopped briefly at the Port Stephen’s Winery and Murray’s Brewery. The brewery began its existence at The Pub With No Beer at Taylor’s Arm, so we were interested to see its new incarnation. It’s no better than it was, so we moved on.

Arriving at Nelson Bay, we drove around to Fingal Bay, and strolled at Shoal Bay, before it was time to head to The Anchorage.

Shoal Bay

We’d been warned the hotel was slightly shabby. However, only the bathroom showed slight evidence of its age. Otherwise, The Anchorage accommodation is true to its website word:

“Nestled between rugged bushes and built in the style of a cosy fishing village, Peppers Anchorage is a boutique resort offering luxury seaside accommodation in the beautiful New South Wales region of Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Overlooking the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoilt waters of Port Stephens, allow the sea to soothe your soul with a seaside weekend escape.”

Even had the room been less than we’d expected, we would have forgiven it anything as the view rendered the lodgings more than satisfactory.

our piece of paradise for the evening

Being the time of day for a late lunch, we reconnoitred with the aim of locating the café/restaurant. Prior, I’d done the online research de rigeur to a weekend away, and we were anticipating :

“Nautical High Tea on the waterfront. The English tradition of High Tea is a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon with good friends or family, whatever the occasion.
With stunning views of the 90-berth marina, Corlette Beach and the sparkling waters of Port Stephens beyond, enjoy High Tea in the Verandah Tea Room, Main Guest Lounge or in Merretts Restaurant. On warmer days, you are welcome to indulge in the outdoors with a table set on the deck. With a distinctive seaside ambience, unrivalled views and the attentive service of the Peppers team you’ll be assured of a delicious afternoon.
Includes Chefs selection of finely cut finger sandwiches, a range of delicate pastries and petit fours and freshly baked scones with jam and cream, plus a cup of tea or coffee.”

Sadly no. Merretts restaurant was undergoing refurbishment. A set lunch (2 courses for $35) was on offer in the conference room operating as the restaurant, but at 2.35 pm, we’d missed it by 5 minutes, not that we’d have taken it up, as diners were agonizingly confined to the “restaurant” interior with no tables set up on the terrace on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

Room service and a BYO bottle of Chardonnay provided the solution.

wine and mezze with a view

The obligatory post lunch stroll entertained us, and fed day dreams of a boating lifestyle.

messing around with boats

The clear waters of the bay offer fish viewing but not angling, as within the marina it is prohibited, other than by local dolphins partaking of a late lunch also.

a distinctive seaside ambience

After quick visit to the local Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, where Woolworths and K-mart impinged on our respite from reality, we settled on our patio with cups of tea, and later glasses of wine, to appreciate the nautical view.

indulge in the outdoors

At 8pm we adjourned for dinner to the makeshift restaurant to find it also meant a makeshift menu, rather than the anticipated:

“Relax and savour the delicate flavours of the ever changing menu at Merretts Restaurant, complimented by an extensive wine list featuring local, Australian and wines from around the world. A typical three course dinner might include citrus cured salmon or Redgate farm quail followed by pot roast belly of pork served with granny smith puree, summer slaw, peanut and chilli dressing and shrimp wontons. And to complete your culinary journey an apple tasting plate of jelly, crumble ice cream, tarte tatin and delice or caramel parfait with flambéed bananas.”

The meal was more than adequate but uninspiring, so no photo’s of our repast but our choice of wine to celebrate our anniversary speaks volumes.

Barking Mad Reisling, Reilly’s Wines, Claire Valley, South Australia

“There’s no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there’s no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make.” – Spirella

Note for Ship’s Log: I would like it documented for the record, my patience in this instance (not always evident), as I have been desirous of sojourning at this particular establishment for over 25 years.

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