It may be just five minutes’ drive from the buzzing seafront suburb of Manly, or a 25-minute ride on the Eco Hopper Ferry to its private wharf, but Q Station, a former quarantine station that opened to guests as a four-star hotel in 2008, could easily be a world away. From the moment you are whisked away to your accommodation several hundred metres from the main entrance, there is a sense of having entered a unique natural coastal landscape, one that extends as far as the eye can see. The absence of any cars on the property means this is a tranquil and secluded getaway unlike any other.
Wide verandahs offer jaw-dropping views of national parks and Sydney Harbour and there are 84 rooms in a range of accommodation styles, from three-bedroom cottages to rooms and suites that offer a sense of the original quarantine station experience, sensitively restored in the single-storey heritage building that once housed arriving immigrants. Heritage-listed they might be, but the rooms are also an oasis of comfort and tranquillity, with far more comfortable beds!
There is no other hotel in Sydney that offers such a serene, uninterrupted view of the harbour, and when you have soaked it up to your heart’s content there are beautifully restored guest lounges to retreat to, with complimentary hot and cold beverages, newspapers, books and games.
There is no other hotel in Sydney that offers such a serene, uninterrupted view of the harbour.
Q Station sprawls over approximately 30 hectares and guests are free to wander, to explore the grounds and the fascinating historical properties. Descend the 230-step staircase to pretty, secluded Quarantine Beach (you can easily summon a shuttle to take you back up), perhaps take advantage of a morning yoga class in the dedicated studio, work out at the on-site health and wellness retreat, or snorkel from the beach with EcoTreasures.
Additional activities include after-dark nature tours, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding with nearby Manly Kayak Centre and surfing lessons at Manly Beach. To really cover some ground, why not hire a bike to explore at your leisure on two wheels?
If you’re feeling adventurous you can book the new Zoo2Q tour, a 15-kilometre overnight guided coastal walk that begins at Taronga Zoo with a behind-the-scenes tour and continues all the way to Q Station.
A slice of Sydney history
Before the existence of the quarantine station, which operated from the 1830s to the 1970s, the area was a significant Aboriginal site for healing and burials. A sense of spiritual energy abounds and the rich history of North Head is evident everywhere you look. It’s well worth taking advantage of the guided tours around Q Station, with trips tailored for all ages. It’s certainly a great way to bring some of Australia’s most significant historical events alive for the whole family.
We can’t think of many hotels that offer on-site ghost tours, but at Q Station this is a hugely popular attraction. There is a range of tours on offer, from sessions suitable for children over seven years old, to a middle-of-the-night Extreme Ghost Tour that is not for the faint of heart.
Q Station also offers a mouth-watering dining experience. There is a generous and delicious breakfast buffet at Views, in the refurbished former second-class lounge, and the Boilerhouse Harbourside Restaurant and Bar is open for lunch from Friday to Sunday and dinner seven nights a week. Here you can feast on modern Australian cuisine, with a menu overseen by Ambassador Chef Matthew Kemp that features fresh produce sensitively cooked.
Enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the Engine Room while you watch the action in the open kitchen, or enjoy the views from the terrace, and then move to the mezzanine Boilerhouse overlooking two enormous restored boilers. Perhaps choose an entree of pepper-cured kangaroo with warrigal greens or cured kingfish with Bloody Mary dressing, followed by line-caught snapper with scallops or a hearty grilled beef rib eye with hand-cut chips.
While you dine, savour a bottle of fine regional Australian wine from the carefully selected wine list. And make sure you save some room for dessert – perhaps Snickers in a jar with peanut butter fudge ice-cream, or a cheese board. The restaurant is just footsteps from the beach, where the kids can happily play before or after dinner.
If you’re looking for a unique, historical experience with a wealth of activities right on your doorstep, then Q Station offers the perfect escape.