When looks can thrill

The storm clouds part and Veronique Mandray beholds amazing views and some very friendly folk.

The chirping of the bellbirds in the adjacent bushland wakes us, the sun pouring through the skylight reassures us that the weather has come good, and a peek through the window confirms that Whale Cove B&B offers a stunning view over Twofold Bay. Standing high on the hill, it overlooks pretty Cocora beach in Eden.

We arrived the previous evening with a bang, a storm hitting just as we pulled up in the steep driveway. Our friendly hostess, Terry-Ann, gave us a quick round-up: the imposing house, only five years old, was designed to accommodate guests and make the most of the magnificent views.

A corridor leads to the dining and lounge rooms, with bay windows opening to a large deck overlooking a quiet street with the bay in the distance. Stairs lead to two guest suites on the second floor.

Our comfortable room is tucked under the roof, white and bright. The queen bed is dressed in luxurious linen. A double seater, a table and two chairs, placed in the dormer window space, and a console complete the setting. There is also a television with a wide range of DVDs and videos. A single bed has been wheeled in for our daughter, but there's still ample room. Luggage is stored in the walk-in wardrobe.

We find chocolates, fresh fruit and a carafe of port, as well as sightseeing brochures. The bathroom is modern, with an open shower, and in our room (the Master Suite), a deep bathtub positioned up a step in front of the large window has views of the sea or, at night, the starry sky.

And then we ate Being Christmas Eve, we feel like a celebratory dinner and book at Bettena's Restaurant at the Seahorse Inn, a seven-kilometre drive in the rain to Boydtown. Not the elegant place we were expecting, it's a solid local eatery with tasty, plainly presented, food. Although the only waitress on duty was struggling with the few tables, I was happy with my spatchcock, my husband had an interesting rack of lamb smeared with a lemon-scented nutty paste, and our teenager enjoyed her steak.

The best was yet to come - and it was going to be at Whale Cove. Breakfast is served in the dining room and starts with a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt and mango coulis, followed by a "kick-start" juice made of fresh beetroot, celery and carrots from the garden.

Our eggs are then cooked to order and served with baked tomato, mushroom and bacon, and a little salad of leaves, avocado and dried tomatoes. It comes with local artisan bread and homemade jams. Everything is fresh and tasty.

Our incredibly generous hosts, Terry-Ann and her husband, Peter, offer a brilliant service, even inviting us to share their Christmas lunch - another feast. The sense of hospitality we experience is amazing. Conversation flows easily and we feel very spoilt. This is no ordinary B&B.

The deal maker The views. The local beach of Cocora - safe for swimming and snorkelling - is just a stroll down the hill.

Stepping out I enjoy the walk along Aslings beach, which follows the maritime heritage trail. The house is just a three-minute drive from the centre of Eden, a quiet little historic town on the far south coast of NSW with a busy fishing wharf and beautiful beaches. On Boxing Day, we visit the Eden Killer Whale Museum. Among the interesting displays, we are fascinated by the tale of a latter-day Jonah: a sailor who was eaten by a whale in 1891 and survived for 15 hours in its stomach. Fact or fiction?

Thanks to Terry-Ann, I also discover a link between Eden and Mary MacKillop. Her mother died here in the shipwreck of the Ly-ee-Moon in 1886. In gratitude to the people of Eden who helped, Mary set up a school and convent here. It's now closed, but the church can still be visited.

VISITOR'S BOOK

Whale Cove B&B

Address 13 Whale Cove Circuit, Eden.

The verdict The impression that lingers is the one made by our hosts, who provide hospitality that reminds us why B&Bs remain a great accommodation option.

Price From $170 for the Balmoral Suite to $180 for the Master Suite until April 30, 2013. Winter rates start at $140, while, at Christmas, we paid $200 a night for the Master room and $20 a night for a roll-out bed for our daughter. Includes afternoon tea on arrival and cooked breakfast every morning. Romance packages with eat-in meals available on request. No minimum stay.

Bookings Phone 6496 2324, see stayz.com.au/65552, or whale-cove.com.au.

Getting there Eden is on the far south coast of NSW, 476 kilometres from Sydney on the Princes Highway. We drove from Milton (three hours from Sydney) and completed the trip in a leisurely five hours.

Perfect for Relaxing in style.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Take a whale-watching cruise in season.

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