Justine Tyerman reverts to childhood at a quaint settlement on New South Wales' Central Coast.
I'm sitting on a rock with luke-warm sea water lapping at my feet. Tiny fish are finding my toes a curiosity, like a foot spa I once visited in Taiwan.
Small children are laughing and splashing in a shallow pool sheltered from the pounding surf by a necklace of massive rocks hefted into place decades ago by the thoughtful early settlers of Killcare, a little beach settlement 100km north of Sydney.
So far-sighted of them to provide a safe paddling pool for the young ones ... and the doting grandparents who are watching over them.
It's a mild 23 degrees in the middle of July, New South Wales school holidays.
Little boys are playing 'king of the castle' on truck-sized boulders; tiny tots are building sand-castles; teenagers further along Putty Beach are surfing and paddle-boarding; a couple of men are fishing off the rocks; retirees are walking their dogs; and fitness fiends are jogging up and down the golden sand.
The locals and a handful of holidaymakers are gathering for lunch at tables on the grass outside the surf club kiosk for the famous seafood basket. It's a busy day at Killcare - there are all of 25 people on the beach, a far cry from the teaming masses at Bondi, 90 minutes south of this idyllic, peaceful spot on the Central Coast.
We came up from Sydney for a long weekend of R&R and stayed at a beautiful home right on the beach, recommended by Luxe Houses, a luxury villa rental agency based in Sydney who market the property.
I have stayed in many sumptuous homes with spectacular views but stepping into Killcare Beach House, I was flooded with an unexpected sense of home-coming.
It's an exquisite place with an effortless warmth and liveability, a substantial, broad-shouldered, capable home which seems to say, 'welcome, come into my embrace, I can meet whatever needs and wishes you may have' . . . and it does.
The three-storey, 885sqm home allows all ages to have their own space. All rooms have magnificent ocean vistas and balconies. There were only four of us but I could envisage three generations enjoying a happy, trouble-free holiday here.
Many holiday houses are not child-friendly, which makes for stressful times for parents and youngsters alike. But Killcare is a home to bring children.
I could hear the echoes of their laughter as they delighted in the space and sturdiness of the enormous downstairs rumpus room with its chunky couches, trundler beds, drawers packed with games and books, huge wall TV, Classic Arcade Play Station and adjoining sunny, cheerful bunk room that sleeps eight. The space opens wide onto its own balcony with outside table and chairs.
Another clever ground-floor design feature is the separate entry from the beach with an outside shower and foot-bath where little ones can be de-sanded before coming into the house.
Towels and togs can be hung on the clothes line in an enclosed patio or thrown in the big washing machine and drier which are part of the shower/toilet/laundry complex a small resort would be proud of.
Despite its functional purpose, no expense is spared here. The benches are marble, the tiled floor is heated and the shower cubicles have a full range of Luxe Houses' exclusive Appelles' shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturiser.
The main entrance foyer with its impressive tall wooden doors, atrium, living, lounge, kitchen and dining area are on the middle floor.
The kitchen is designed to handle large gatherings of all ages and the adjacent oval dining table, made from weathered recycled wood, is forgiving and fuss-free.
There's a superb outside dining option in a patio with louvre doors and walls beside the secure glass-walled pool, and a BBQ station that is so well-equipped, it's really a second kitchen.
Plump, comfy couches, a wall-mounted wood-burner and a 62-inch flat-screen television create a versatile, cosy lounge with a stunning panorama of the beach, while floor-to-ceiling glass doors open on two sides to a balcony with yet another outside table and chairs.
When in need of peace, the adults can take refuge in their top-floor, two-bedroom penthouse with a spacious lounge, large flat-screen television, and a balcony that stretches the full length of the house. The view of the coast, all the way to Sydney, is astonishing.
While Killcare has the feeling of seclusion, within walking distance there are excellent cafes and restaurants including the award-winning Manfredi at Bells. Chef Stefano Manfredi is rated so highly, Sydneysiders often catch a seaplane there just for lunch.
And there's plenty to do with an aquatic playground for all ages on your doorstep - surfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, boating, sailing, fishing, diving, cycling, and horse riding.
Take the kids hiking along the myriad of coastal and bush tracks to a string of deserted, jewel-like beaches. Along the way, explore Aboriginal rock carvings and bizarre tessellated rock formations, and watch out for passing whales.
Better still, go out to sea on a whale-watch boat and you might be lucky to have a close encounter. Humpbacks migrate south along this coast from October to November and north from June to August.
We brought two grown-up 'kids' with us, sophisticated young adults who lead hectic lives in Sydney. They were spellbound by the peace and tranquillity of the place, and soon reverted to childlike behaviour ... as did we — splashing in the surf, playing beach cricket, building sand castles and leaping in the air with glee.
The place-names puzzled me at first and then I realised their significance — Killcare, a place to kill your cares, and Putty Beach, where the sand is golden, the colour of fresh putty.
When I'm a granny, I'm going to take my grandchildren to this special, care-free place.
Killcare Beach House is on the Bouddi Peninsula on New South Wales' Central Coast.
Getting there: Air New Zealand flies direct to Sydney from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
All reservations with Luxe Houses include access to concierge services who can arrange (at additional cost) private charter jets, helicopter transfers, yachts, launches, jet-boats, private chefs, waiter staff for guest occasions, butlers, drivers, bespoke spa treatments, experienced nannies, guides, personal trainers and anything else to help make your stay flawless.