To say it’s only small pleasures at Jerrymara ignores the sheer scale of this NSW South Coast property’s sprawling luxury. Set on an incredible 21 hectares of coastal farmland and shaded by clutches of 100-year-old fig trees, there’s no mistaking the grandeur of this Gerringong homestead, two hours south of Sydney.
And thanks to the tireless efforts of hospitable husband-and-wife-team Kate and Glyn Edis, this is no stuffy stay – it’s the kind of place where magical family reunions happen, proposals are excitedly popped and milestones meaningfully marked.
When the couple made the move south from Sydney and listed their property on Airbnb, they weren’t sure what to expect in their new role as Hosts. “We thought, you know, people will come and stay and we’ll probably never see them again,” says Glyn. “But we now host guests who return three or four times a year and are recommending it to their friends to come and stay. That’s down to Kate’s ability to really welcome people and make them feel special. That’s important to her.”
Indeed, it’s more than just giving people a place to stay for the night. “Kindness is our overriding guide,” says Kate. “I try in advance to think about, ‘What can I do for our guests? What would make it a little bit more special for them?’ It wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun if you didn’t make it a personal thing. It’s much more rewarding to do it this way.”
Here, Kate takes us on a tour of her dreamy home and shares some of her hosting highlights – from pizza nights to outdoor cinema experiences: “If someone has an idea, we’ll try our best to make it happen.”
“I really wanted it to be a place of beauty. Wherever you look, whether it’s a little corner or a big expanse, I wanted it to be the most beautiful that it could be. I think it’s my guiding light.
"We wanted our guests to walk in and feel relaxed, so along with big sofas you can sink into, we used a neutral palette alongside beautiful timber creating a feel that’s timeless and not the tiniest bit twee.
“When we created the spaces, it was important for our cottage to have character and charm; the opposite of a sterile hotel room. So, we added layers to make our spaces feel like the best sort of home; alongside candles, throws and books you’ll find beautiful blooms and living plants. I’ll spend hours before a guest arrives ensuring that each room has something green and gorgeous waiting to be enjoyed.
“One of my favourite places to sit is at the back of the landscaped garden area, under the big fig trees, and look back towards the house. That to me is heaven. Glyn likes to sit by the fireplace. We also go up to the top paddock where our home is. It looks over to the ocean. We're happy for guests to go up there and watch the sunset.
“Even though the beach is only five minutes drive away, people tend not to leave the property once they get here. We’ve got the tennis court – it’s floodlit so you can play at night and we supply racquets, balls and all the rest. We’ve got the pool, the barbecue, the pizza oven. I often supply fresh dough – if guests have kids, they almost always want to do a pizza night.”
“Glyn and I have just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary but we’ve actually known each other for over 40 years. We lived over the road from another growing up so I’ve known him since he was 12. Now we’ve got three adult kids and the eldest is expecting our first grandchild so that’s exciting!
“Before we moved south, we lived in Potts Point in a beautiful apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour. I had retired – I was a recruiter – and Glyn had his own commercial fit-out business and was over it. I wanted to do something impactful and came upon the idea that we could buy a place with space, where we could live and also have a separate rental home that we’d list on Airbnb. So we did it.
“As Hosts, this is the first time we’ve worked together – which has had challenges, I think it’s fair to say [laughs]. But we’ve really got it down pat now.”
Where to eat and drink
“For coffee, there are two we love in Gerringong, run by the same owners: The Little C and The Kiosk at Werri Beach. Il Locale in Berry is our favourite breakfast; we probably do that once a week as a little treat.
"Glyn likes the spiced beans. For lunch or dinner, there’s The Hill Bar & Kitchen in Gerringong. It’s more relaxed than the others – definitely a local’s favourite. We also love Bussola and Queen St Eatery in Berry and The Blue Swimmer at Gerroa; it’s a little shack, which is kind of cute. They’re all really good.”
Things to do nearby
“Obviously, you should head to the beach. Werri Beach in Gerringong is beautiful and only five minutes away. The Kiama Coast Walk is the closest and most famous walk. If it’s nice weather, almost everyone inevitably does it if they’re here for any length of time. It follows the coastline from Kiama to Gerringong and back again. That’s really lovely.”
The Instagram moment
“Off the back deck, looking over the fireplace. When guests arrive, they sit on the back deck and pan from left to right, and that’s the first thing they put up on social media. It’s the classic Jerrymara shot.”
For the family
“Kids always play footy or cricket out the back – there’s a big space beside the pear trees. But we’ve had all sorts of different things here. We’ve had an outdoor cinema set-up, which is cute for the kids. We’ve had tennis coaches come in. We’ve even had the local bookshop owner come to us and do story time for the little kids. If someone has an idea, we’ll try our best to make it happen.
“In keeping with the privacy and serenity of Jerrymara, we want our guests to have as much or as little interaction with us as they desire. We’re just a message away if they need us but we love for guests to capture that feeling of peaceful seclusion. It’s important to us that they can relax and soak up every minute without the real world intruding.”
Soundtrack to your stay
“A Kind of Magic by Queen. That’s what people say to us: that there’s something magical about our place.”
What guests say
“We get lots of little cards; sometimes guests actually send me gifts. That’s really nice. We’re quite grand outside but we’re cottagey inside, which is just the nature of the buildings. But it’s very homey. That’s something that comes up — people will say how at home they feel.”
That special something
“Every time a guest stays with us, I make a donation on behalf of the guest group. They get together, talk with their family and then they get back to me and then I’ll make a donation to their chosen charity. That’s really important for us but it’s really meaningful for them.”