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Dining with dolphins

JUDY ATHA reviews the Ana Mandara, an adults-only, five-star boutique bed and breakfast property in Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

I’D ALWAYS put off exploring Australia. It was going to be a retirement thing, something to do when I could no longer be bothered to sit on a plane for hours on end. And then COVID hit!


With the world cut off and my itchy feet still desperate to explore, Australia was no longer something to do in retirement.



With borders closed to most states it was easier to stay in New South Wales and avoid the hassle of potentially getting stuck. Who needs the stress of filling out paperwork to visit the Gold Coast?


So when my husband said, “how about Port Macquarie?” I thought why not.


We checked into the Ana Mandara for a four-night stay. A beautiful five-star bed and breakfast catering for adults only was music to my ears.


You are welcomed by Leo and Jennell who are the owners and hosts of this delightful and secluded property just outside the town centre. Don’t worry it’s not that far out of town…maybe a leisurely 30-minute walk or five minutes in the car.


On arrival you are greeted with a beer or a glass of wine while the formalities of check-in are sorted out. The communal lounge room and welcome area offers an honesty bar, complimentary fruit, smart TV with DVD’s and a view of the Hastings River.


It’s here where dolphins give you a wave as they pass by on their way up stream at breakfast and if you’re lucky on their way back at sunset. There is also a large outdoor spa which can accommodate up to nine guests…perfect for a good soak and a glass of bubbles after an adventurous day exploring. 


The property offers four good sized bedrooms each with balconies and views of the aforementioned river. The first thing I noticed when I entered my room was the smell of lemongrass and was impressed that it was the Glasshouse brand in a nod to the local arts venue known as ‘The Glasshouse’.



All the usual amenities are on offer; soft bathrobes, slippers, luxury shampoo and soap, plus Netflix. A fridge was also a welcome addition to the room along with complimentary water.


Nothing is too much trouble. If you require a transfer from the airport it’s included in the nightly rate, as is breakfast. If you need a lift into town, or in our case to the Tacking Point Lighthouse to begin the Coastal Walk, no problem, hop in.


Breakfast is a feast, none of this pre-cooked buffet stuff. Leo is an amazing chef and the enthusiasm and glint in his eyes as he tells you what he’s got planned for breakfast is contagious. It’s something a bit different every day and if it’s not to your liking he’s happy to whip up whatever you do like. 



No visit to Ana Mandara is complete without experiencing one of Leo’s evening meals. Again, just tell him what you like and what you don’t and he’ll put together a masterpiece.


I love seafood but my hubby not so much. And although a seafood platter is usually for two, Leo was able to adapt it for one and then cooked up a mixed grill for my other half. 


Leo and Jennell offer a professional five-star service without the intimidation of some luxury properties. They are down to earth people who are passionate about providing their guests with an amazing experience. 


I can’t wait to go back!


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Written by: Judy Atha
Published: 15 March 2021

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