Two Figs Winery

To the untrained eye, the raised wooden platform in the backyard of the beach house looks like a human baking tray, where sunbathers offer themselves to the sun gods.

But not to my mum’s eye.

That’s a painting platform,” she says, eyeing the view past he scrub, down to the vast stretch of sad that is Culburra Beach.

An artist who has been on more trips with her easel than with her family, she should know. And it figures. This seaside getaway once belonged to Arthur Boyd, one of the leading lights of Australian art in the 20th century. After his death in 1999, Mark Manton, also an artist bought the property and gave it a chic facelift.

He ditched the apricot colour scheme in favour of a modern charcoal-and-white palette, with stainless-steel finishes, blond timber floors and enough quirky accessories – such as the cow hide on the loft room floor – to life it above your average private holiday rental.

When I booked online, Manton e-mailed instruction for staying at the house, including what to bring and interesting places to explore. Payment is requested upfront. At $750 for a minimum two-night stay, this seems an inconvenient penalty for being organised enough to book well in advance.

The morning of our arrival, he phones through detailed directions and reminds me to pack food, CDs and DVDs. It’s Mum’s birthday so dame Judi Dench and Jane Fonda come along for the ride, but I draw the line at Nana Mouskouri. Even though the weather in Sydney is rotten and the forecast is for grim conditions along the coast, I throw in the swimmers too. I needn’t have bothered.

It takes a shade over two hours to drive from Sydney to Nowra and it’s a further 20 kilometres to Culburra Beach. We’re in no hurry – as the cellar-door staff at the Coolangatta and Two Figs Wineries can attest. Not only does Two Figs have an excellent name, it also has some great drops, delicious cheese and panoramic views. It’s dusk by the time we arrive at our house.

The two bedrooms are at the back of the house; they’re simple, with homely bedding on the two queen-sized beds and ac couple of bedside tables in each. The bathroom, between the rooms, has fresh white tiles and a decadently deep bath. Bring your own towels and toiletries.

Upstairs, the wow factor kicks in. The open plan room has a kitchen in one corner with a big round window over the sink: Playschool meets Titanic. I guess if you’re going to do the dishes you may aw well enjoy the view. The timber-and-brushed-stainless-steel diving table seats six and a fireplace between the couch and the TV makes me wish there was more chill in the air.

A spiral staircase leads to the jewel in the crown – a loft room, home to a cowhide, a cane and cushion chair in the shape of a a squashed marshmallow and a couch and deck that have the best views from the house, out past the bush to the ocean. You can hear the ocean from every room.

There aren’t too many places left of the South Coast that are untouched by tourism. Culburra has been touched but the sticky fingerprints aren’t as obvious. We spend the weekend walking on the beach, cooking, sampling local wineries and visiting Nowra to see Meroogal, an 1880s home maintained by four generations of women from the same family.

As seaside escapes go, this is up there with the best. If you don’t mind cooking, it’s a great place for a night in to celebrate something special. And if you have to wash up, at least there’s a view.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Cellar door opens daily from 11am – 5pm.
Call on 02 44485003 or email

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Welcome to Two Figs