When our home for the night heaves into view there’s a moment of disbelief, as if despite knowing where we’re staying the reality still hasn’t sunk in. After all, it’s a simple A-frame house, solar panels on the roof, walls of gun-metal grey, the front facade all glass doors and white wood.
The things is – the surreal thing is – that it’s bobbing up and down among the million-dollar yachts and sleek motorboats moored near Palm Beach on Sydney’s Barrenjoey peninsula, 41 kilometres north of the CBD.
Not a houseboat. An actual house. A luxurious two-storey villa, if truth be told, with a lounge, kitchen, loft bedroom and rafters. Rafters, for goodness sake. There’s also a gas fireplace and a flat-screen TV with Netflix, et al. Oh, and an open-air deck with a barbecue and furniture on which it’s a pleasure to sit and consume the champagne and seafood platter that greets our arrival.
And did I mention that it’s floating – floating– on Pittwater at Palm Beach?
Lilypad was the realisation of a 10-year dream by northern beaches native Chuck Anderson. Initially part of an exclusive members-only consortium, Lilypad is now open to the public.
We are met by our concierge at a small jetty just around Sand Point from the main Palm Beach ferry area and tender across to Lilypad in about 60 seconds.
Thanks to the folding glass doors at the front and the soaring five-metre eaves above the lounge there’s a palpable sense of space here. It helps, too, that the simple black-and-white Nordic-style decor means there’s no feeling of clutter.
On most water-borne vessels, for instance, the commode (or “head” as we salty sea dogs call it) is crammed into the sort of area that Laika the dog had when the Russians shot her into space on Sputnik 2 in 1957. Here, there’s not only a fully functioning bathroom with a large rain shower and lovely Aesop gunk with which to make oneself beautiful, but also a fully-sized toilet that, frighteningly at first, flushes itself.
After a quick but exhaustive “safety” briefing during which our concierge explains the running of the place she hands over the house iPad and, reiterating that she’s at the end of the phone should we have any needs or issues, heads back to shore. Which is our cue to run around the place, touching everything and turning things on and off while sluicing down oysters, champagne and sushi like half-starved seals. After which we throwthe ready-prepared steak, lamb cutlets and kebabs on the barbecue.
It’s quite a windy night but, thanks to a clever design which means the house’s “foundations” are built to provide less water resistance, the house remains stable with just a gentle swell to lull us to sleep. It was either that or the second bottle of rose.
In the morning we take the self-drive runabout out for the first time (no licence is needed) and head towards breakfast at The Boathouse Palm Beach. There’s a bit of a wind whipping up some waves and the first few minutes are a white-knuckle ride. This isn’t because the boat’s bucking about, it’s because I’m a landlubber who’s holding the wheel with a vice-like grip.
It’s cool to turn up to breakfast in a boat, though, and even cooler to head back in a much more relaxed mood. Especially when Lilypad comes into view again. Oh, it’s a life on the ocean wave for me.
Keith Austin was a guest of Lilypad.
Overnight stays for two from $1650 mid-week, $1800 at weekends. Use of paddleboards, fishing rods, personal self-drive vessel, chef-prepared food and complimentary onboard drinks are included. Onboard breakfast supplied by The Boathouse Palm Beach and breakfast can be also taken there with a complimentary $60 voucher. Packages include transfers to Lilypad by seaplane from Sydney’s Rose Bay or by luxury chauffeured vehicle. See lilypadpalmbeach.com.au