Venue Crush: Bespoke Getaway in Lush Port Stephens

Salt One

All photos courtesy of Salt at Shoal Bay

Sun-loving days by the water's edge, meandering between pristine beaches and weathered homes was the catalyst for this luxury beach house in the humble seaside town of Shoal Bay, Port Stephens.

An hour north of Newcastle, Lauren and Michael Charge went back to their roots to transform a worn-down abode into a modern Australian beach house with three self-contained spaces. Already experienced in the home reno business, and avid travellers themselves, they saw a gap in the local market for a unique family holiday home with all the trimmings of a bespoke getaway.

Now, Salt at Shoal Bay is putting this beautiful beachside town on the map, with guests flocking from near and far to experience the stunning accommodation. Made all the more impressive with its beautiful surrounds and incredible vistas, we went behind the scenes to get the lowdown on this chic coastal retreat. 


At the base of Tomaree National Park and across the road from Shoal Bay Beach, Salt is a simplistic, yet luxurious beachside stay. It's a place where you fall asleep to the sounds of waves lapping against the shoreline. And you wake up to native birdlife flittering about beyond a fence-line that was inspired by the weathered coastal fences of Tasmania's sand dunes.

The house itself has been divided into two self-contained levels and a third freestanding cottage. Each with their own style, but weaved together with raw timber elements. Coming from a graphic design background, Lauren chose a neutral palette to create a sense of calm. She uses white as a base and introduces texture to complement the stunning views of Shoal Bay.


High raked ceilings and large glass windows frame views of Tomaree and Yacaaba Headlands in the upper level of the house (Salt One). 

Salt One

The interiors are kept minimalistic in the four-bedroom suite; it's self-contained with a full kitchen, open plan living and dining area complete with a gas fireplace. The sliding stacker door takes you out onto a luxurious deck with lounge and barbeque facilities, and the master bedroom has a private balcony with views of the beach. 

Below, in Salt Two, the barefoot luxury vibes continue. It too offers four bedrooms, a full kitchen, and an open plan living and dining space with a gas fireplace. Unlike Salt One, the lower level has a private outdoor dining and barbeque area and a side deck and bar with views of the headlands. 

Salt Two

It's a nod to island luxe, and the light-well in the kitchen will have you swooning over the lush surrounds. 

Salt Two


Along the south end of the property is a two-storey cottage (Salt Three). It has a more provincial living-slash-country coastal vibe going on. 

A cosy getaway with two bedrooms, lofty raked ceilings, open plan kitchen, dining and living room complete with a wood fireplace, and a large outdoor courtyard that was made for entertaining – and all with views of the headlands.


A sleepy coastal town an hour north of Newcastle, Shoal Bay is perfectly positioned at the base of Tomaree Mountain on Port Stephens peninsula. Bounded by bays and a national park, there is so much to explore on and off the land. Days can be spent cycling tracks, hiking trails, dolphin spotting, and even kayaking the untamed coastline of Tomaree National Park. 

It's a place where many retirees settle for a quiet and relaxed lifestyle, but when the weather warms up the local population swells, and the towns of Port Stephens transform into bustling hubs. It's a lifestyle that Lauren and Michael were brought up in and that many Sydneysiders are starting to tap into. With them, comes a burgeoning café and dining scene that’s an easy walk from Salt at Shoal Bay.

Photo Credit - @luceandlize


Want a similar look to Salt at Shoal Bay? Head to some of Lauren's favourite local homeware stores, The Home Interior and Homebody Nelson Bay. Filled with beautiful coastal and raw texture pieces, they stock brands such as Uniqwa furniture, The Dharma Door, The Beach People, and Robert Gordon ceramics. 

Zephyr Lounge, $3,595, by Sarah Ellison from Life Interiors; Lattice Coffe Table, $795, The Home Interior; Harbour Bar Chair, $689, Uniqwa Furniture; Wooden Beaded Necklace, $49, Uniqwa; Pampas grass print, $399, Temple and Webster.


  • Mood board everything to make sure it all feels right together.
  • Be specific about each of the finishes, as those tiny details add together as a whole to make a place feel unique.
  • It's important to get the bones of the structure right. Interior furnishings (rugs, tables, chairs), you can update over the years.
  • When it comes to styling, don't follow trends, choose pieces that feel right to you.
  • Don't settle for something if it doesn't feel right.


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