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Marramarra Lodge on the Hawkesbury River review

Marramarra Lodge on the Hawkesbury River review

One of Australia’s newest exclusive destination retreats, Marramarra Lodge offers stripped-back luxury and secluded all-inclusive accommodation at Berowra Waters, writes Nicola McClean.

There are no whizzing vehicles, no passing chatter, no industrial noise. Other than the echo of singing birds and the quiet swish of the sea, this luxury accommodation on the Hawkesbury River is a place of silence. I step foot from my private boat onto the jetty and realise it’s just the river, the bushland and me. Sheer serenity.

Just a 40-minute drive from Sydney, followed by a short boat ride, the all-inclusive Marramarra Lodge is one of Australia’s newest exclusive retreats.

Pin-dropped along the Hawkesbury River on the edge of Marramarra National Park, and only accessible by the water (seaplane included), the freshly minted property is a true jewel set by nature.

The little touches

I’m greeted with champagne on arrival and escorted to my room. I am staying in one of the eight Peninsula Tents available along with six Hawkesbury Bungalows, ensuring an intimate experience year-round. I am at one with my surroundings in this space; unzipping tent walls reveals unrivalled views of the Hawkesbury, while the shower wall is constructed of wooden shutters opening up to bushland to soak in the elements. It’s equipped with a king-sized bed, a mini-bar stocked with house wines and other beverages, Sodashi amenities, a lavish bathrobe and sunlounges – a dangerous formula for never leaving your room.

© Isabel Darling

Marramarra Lodge is intimate

Catering to only a small number of guests, the lodge offers activities to suit all tastes – think bicycles, kayaks, standup paddleboards and jet skis, plus fishing expeditions, chauffeured local tours and treatments at on-site Ivory Day Spa.

Aboriginal culture is hugely important to this part of New South Wales, so the ‘Indigenous Cultural Experience’ was a clear choice for me. My tour guide, Gavi, explains the rich Aboriginal history of the land on which the lodge sits.

My group of six is shown stunning artefacts, are treated to a traditional musical performance by Gavi. We are captivated by beautiful stories of the First Nations people – stories we’d otherwise never know about.

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Broken Bay Pearl Farm

For jewellery enthusiasts, a tour at Broken Bay Pearl Farm is a must. On a private boat, I’m escorted out to sea to experience the akoya pearl harvesting process first-hand. We harvest two oysters and find a pearl in the second. I am not surprised to hear that more people are opting for pearls over diamonds for their wedding rings – they are hypnotically beautiful. Back on shore, I’m told about the history and production of pearls and marvel at jewellery pieces popular among celebrities, including Claudia Schiffer and Paul Kelly.

Following the afternoon tours, I board another boat and am taken on a sunset sail. I’m handed a glass of champagne accompanied by locally sourced oysters as I watch the sky blush before me – just when I thought the Hawkesbury could not get any more beautiful.

Nicola McClean sunset sailing
Nicola McClean sunset sailing
The pool at Marramarra Lodge
The pool at Marramarra Lodge © Isabel Darling

Decadent degustation at Budyari Restaurant

Budyari Restaurant sets the perfect scene for dinner, nodding to Indigenous culture where people are connected to nature. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the luscious greenery and river, the table decor brings the native flora inside; on my plate, freshly caught seafood from the area offers a most authentic, and delicious, taste of the Hawkesbury.

My five-course degustation meal is prepared by resident Michelin-starred chef Meyjitte Bougenhout. Bringing his worldly expertise to the menu, Bougenhout uses organic produce native to the Hawkesbury. He adds flair to humble ingredients to create dishes in his renowned haute-cuisine style. Highlights include a 61.5-degree egg with truffle, which is cooked to perfection and has my tastebuds begging for more. And then there’s the ‘Aspirin’ course, a palette-cleansing concoction that sees an ‘aspirin’ dissolve in a fresh and zesty substance – what, exactly, I’m consuming is a house secret. But I’m hooked.

Marramarra Lodge offers a slice of honest Australian luxury celebrating the rich heritage of the land on which it sits while ticking off all the five-star essentials.

This article originally appeared in volume 37 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.