You don’t have to wait for balmy weather to enjoy a weekend break by the sea. If the location is as spectacular as King’s Beach on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, even if the conditions are decidedly wintry, it’s an unforgettable experience, as we discovered last weekend.
Kings Beach is located along a stretch of coastline at Waitpinga, adjacent to South Australia’s Encounter Bay, a spot beloved by fishermen and surfers, but otherwise, considering its proximity to popular Victor Harbor, surprisingly secluded.
We first discovered Kings Beach Retreat several years ago when looking for a B&B with a view of the ocean. “Sea view” is a term tossed around rather loosely by accommodation establishments, I’ve found. It can mean anything from the sound of waves lulling you to sleep (which was what I had in mind) to a spot of blue visible only through binoculars between a gap in the curtains. But Kings Beach Retreat offers the full experience. Perched on a cliff above the waves, there are three accommodation options to choose from; a large house that sleeps 8, plus two smaller self-contained retreats, respectively called “Sea” and “Sand”. All described as “architect designed wilderness retreats”, they offer probably one of the most stunning locations to be found in South Australia. If your desire is a “get away from it all” escape where sea, sky, rocks and rolling hills are all you can see for miles around, this venue is ideal.
Designed to take full advantage of the breathtaking view, the accommodation is comfortable and attractive but unobtrusive. Arguably the best feature (shared by both the “Sea” and “Sand” retreats) is the glassed in courtyard with well cushioned window seats, inviting you to just lie back and soak up the scenery. Dusk, from this vantage point, with miles of violet hued sky and darkening sea in all directions, is an experience only to be be enhanced by a nice glass of red (or whatever colour takes your fancy). And if, like me, your idea of heaven is to wake to the sound of the sea and the sight of waves unfurling on a pristine shore below you, you’ll wonder why you ever thought to stay anywhere else.
Delightful as this location is when the sun shines, it takes on a different but no less compelling character out of season. When the skies are menacing, the rain lashes the windows and crashing waves break in great plumes of foam against the rocks, it’s Heathcliff country, brooding, melancholy and majestic.
Walkers are especially blessed here as the Heysen Trail winds along the cliff tops just a few metres away and we enjoyed bracing hikes in both directions over the two days we spent there. You can keep going for as long as your stamina holds out – all day if you so desire, or just enjoy an hour or so, as we did.
It’s only a short distance from Kings Beach to the shops, cafes, restaurants and other attractions of Encounter Bay and Victor Harbor, so in the remote eventuality that you tire of the reclusive life, it’s not far to go to find stimulation. We dined at “Eat at Whalers”, the current incarnation of the restaurant at Whalers’ Inn Resort, a place that’s had more changes of ownership than anyone, let alone its owners, can remember. This establishment is also situated in a location to die for, with views looking straight out over Encounter Bay to Granite Island and beyond. Lunch outside on the deck is the optimum time and place to enjoy this aspect. On a dark, cold and windy night, the only place to be of course is inside and from here the view is curtailed. However it was warm and cosy and attractively if not strikingly decorated. Somewhat on a par was the food, which was enjoyable, appetising but not spectacular, apart from the dessert we shared which was a superb Poire Belle Helene. Pear and chocolate is a match made in heaven, but the pear has to be exactly right, just at its peak of poached perfection and this one was. What made the dinner a highlight of our stay however was the impeccable service. Everyone who served us was friendly, attentive and efficient without being pushy or intrusive, qualities sadly rare in service staff in such restaurants.
Of course, in the true spirit of getting away from it all and relishing seclusion, at Kings Beach Retreat, you could always just stay in. There are basic cooking provisions and a barbeque or you could stock up beforehand on gourmet treats that don’t need cooking, plenty of good wine and let the sloth in you take over. For a day or so, it can’t hurt to throw the to do list out the window, turn off the phone (the reception’s lousy anyway) and enjoy a few untrammelled hours (good word that). In fact I recommend it.
by Anne Green