If you thought you had to head to the country to escape Sydney’s hustling, bustling crowds, don’t be so hasty. Just half an hour’s drive from the CBD or a breezy ferry ride is a retreat perched (literally) on the edge of Sydney and history. Q Station at North Head is nestled amongst 36 hectares of picturesque beauty in Sydney Harbour National Park. The retreat is located on the former site of Australia’s first and oldest Quarantine Station that operated from the 1830s right up until 1984.
With multi-million dollar views of the harbour stretching before you from the rolling landscape dotted with red brick and roaming wildlife, it is easy to see why hotel Managing Director, Max Player, was so assured of the hotel’s success that he financed the venture personally. Q Station is a slice of history, and the hotel offers a range of tours and facilities to enhance the experience for an additional cost. Lovers of bygone eras will appreciate the Story Day tour and the Wharf Wander that explain the operations of the old Quarantine Station and Australia’s vibrant history of immigration. Those who want to get out and about among the natural beauties of the harbour will enjoy the opportunity to swim and snorkel at Quarantine Beach, or perhaps try stand-up paddle boarding. The wild and wonderful surrounds of North Head also provide a perfect occasion for a family bushwalk or meander along the coast.
If thrills of a supernatural kind are more up your alley, Q Station has your needs covered. As one of Australia’s most haunted locations, the old Quarantine Station is the ideal place to seek out lonely souls of the past. Tours for all ages (and stomach strengths) are available. Young ghost busters will enjoy the Family Ghosty tour designed for kids aged five years and up, running on Friday and Saturday nights, or the Ghost Trackers investigation with real ghost hunting equipment for those aged over 10.
If the grown-up kids need a bit more of a fright, Q Station has created a range of adult-only experiences that are sure to have you reaching for the torch in the night, including a Ghostly Sleepover. If scaring yourself silly isn’t your idea of a fun night out, however, you might enjoy one of the After Dark tours (night vision goggles provided) of the nocturnal owls, possums and other wildlife that call the National Park home.
Choose an overnight Health and Wellness package to truly take advantage of Q Station’s unique location and participate in a yoga session with Skye Baird of Skye Lifestyle. Also included in the package are paddle board hire, bicycle hire, a guided snorkelling tour, as well as a personal training session and breakfast for two. Take lunch by the harbour at Views buffet restaurant or enjoy a meal at the Boilerhouse Restaurant and Terrace. The restaurant gets its name from the lovingly restored 19th Century boilers, pipes and valves adding to the historic atmosphere, while also offering fine dining with exceptional vistas. With a focus on fresh and modern Australian cuisine, the Boilerhouse is the perfect place to reflect on the day’s adventures.
After all that excitement and some supernatural encounters, retire to one of the many refurbished and stylish accommodation options on offer. Stay in one of the Heritage rooms or suites where French doors open onto the great expanse of the National Park beyond for the authentic Quarantine Station experience. Couples can seek refuge in the secluded Retreat suites, but families might prefer the fully self-contained three-bedroom cottages. With three queen rooms, living room and a kitchenette there is plenty of space for the whole brood and – considering the National Park is just beyond the door – masses of room to spare. Some cottages come with balconies and verandas, others with backyards. The outdoor seating areas let you soak up the peace and help you imagine seeing Sydney for the very first time. Let the kids explore Quarantine Beach while you watch the sun set over the harbour.
Whether you escape to the old Quarantine Station for the tranquillity and peace, adventure or ghostly thrills, Q Station has everything you need to create a memorable family holiday.