I love our city and exploring it with my family is one of my favourite things to do. I’m also big of the mini break, as in taking my team out of our usual context to calibrate and just being together. So naturally, when Sydneymum was invited to check out their new mini break package at Q Station I jumped at the chance.
Before this adventure, I didn’t know anything about the former Quarantine Station in Manly, except that it had pretty good ghost tours, and being one who likes a scare it is on my Sydney bucket list. I was grateful however no ghosts were included in this glamping package. I’ll be back for that.
Q Station is located at Manly’s North Head so it was probably not the best-made plan to leave Maroubra bang on peak hour on Friday afternoon, but guess what? The trip was fine. By the time I could say “see this is where we usually turn off for Taronga”, answer a few questions about The Spit Bridge, show them where I once lived on Sydney Rd, I was saying “Here’s Manly” and we were seeing signs to Q Station, and to look out for bandicoots.
We got to reception and were greeted by our host, Director of Sales and Marketing, Kun and a smiling team who quickly took us to our cottage. It was then I wish I had taken the kids out of school after lunch.
We had arrived in another world; a historical town surrounded by the vast bushland of the national park and spectacular views across North Harbour, Port Jackson and the entrance to Sydney Harbour. This is arguably the best view of Sydney.
The grounds are huge and it really is easy to forget you are minutes from bustling downtown Manly. It actually reminded me of one of my favourite days riding a bike around WA’s Rottnest Island, except it didn’t take a 4-6 hour flight, 40-minute car ride and a ferry to get there. It barely took us 40 minutes across town in peak hour, but I digress.
Q Station buildings are all charming and beautifully maintained pieces of history. The heritage accommodation might be over 180 years old but defy age thanks to a recent restore and refurb with added hotel quality standards.
There are nine cottages on the grounds and over 70 hotel style suites. Our three bedroom cottage was rightly four stars but had all the trimmings of five with things like soft new carpet, a deep bath, big fluffy towels and robes, clean white sheets and perfectly dreamy pillows.
Like their parents, the kids immediately felt welcomed at their new digs and flew straight into their teepee that was set up in the lounge with games and munchies. This is what you call glamping at Q Station. They were also impressed with our huge enclosed backyard.
Once unloaded and scrubbed up, we joined Emma (the better half of Sydneymum) and her tribe who were staying at another cottage down the road. We then headed, with our host, Kun, to the most magnificent guest room to enjoy the last light of the day and Sydney harbour views. This lush room is one of few common areas guests are welcome to enjoy at any time.
And I thought the Q Station was about ghost tours.
As Kun walked us down the famous 242 steps to dinner, I made my admission that I didn’t know anything about Q Station before today except for a bit of ghost busting. I also told him I was glad not to do a ghost tour because for sure I’d be awake all night worrying about uninvited visitors.
“That’s one of the most common questions we have about our accommodation”, he explained, “is it haunted? The thing is, the ghost tours are held in a different area, not part of the hotel at all. The tours happen at the old hospital and there’s a mortuary there but where our guests stay it is called ‘Healthy Grounds’ because nobody passed away there and we’ve not had any unexpected guests around to date”.
After delivering us all to The Boilerhouse for some fine dining, our host made his farewells and we went on to have an absolutely delicious meal in another character filled building. We decided to take our desserts back home as the kiddos were being kiddos in a restaurant so my night finished up with me tip-tapping on my laptop and eating chocolate parfait in bed – a truly perfect end to the day in my eyes.
The following morning we went on a non-spooky but fascinating historical tour which I’m leaving to Emma to share about but I can hand on heart say ‘we’ll be back’. It was a great mini-break. Next time, however, I’m starting early and bringing the swimmers and the bikes.
No wonder they call it Sydney’s best-kept secret.
I’m looking at dates now to book in for a school holiday glamping escape.