This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

This Remote Fisherman’s Shack Is A Little Slice of Heaven

Stays

Back in 2013, Jamie and Ingrid Kwong passed this isolated fisherman’s shack buried in the rock face of Great Mackerel Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign. They could see the ramshackle state it was in from their old wooden boat, but that was half the romance.

After a loving restoration, the pair now share their beloved holiday destination with other seafaring folk. The Little Black Shack is a rustic gem filled with Jamie and Ingrid’s handcrafted furniture, panoramic bay views and the promise of a simpler life.

3rd March, 2020

Perched on the rockface, Little Black shack was originally constructed by local fisherman to house their families. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Gear for fishing and crabbing. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The shack’s weathered look survived Jamie and Ingrid’s restoration. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The house is filled with Ingrid and Jamie’s restored, recycled and handmade furniture. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

A well-equipped kitchen. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Sea views wrap the entirety of the house. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

A properly wonky and ramshackle maritime vibe. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Seafaring ornaments. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The house is filled with a history of treasures. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Imagine a season of wild and woolly weather here! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Everything you need for a cosy atmosphere. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

So much room for activities. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Photo – Luisa Brimble.

A room with a view. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Original sandstone walls. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Even the restored parts of the house don’t look new. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The woodfired oven out the back. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The front deck provides luscious sea views down onto Great Mackerel Beach. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Stunning! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The house is only accessible by ferry… Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 3rd March 2020

‘If we didn’t already have it we made it ourselves our of recycled materials. We didn’t want to make a home at the expense of the environment’ – Jamie Kwong.

Never have I wanted to put on my warmest clothes and curl up by a window to read a book more than I do right now. At the Little Black Shack at Great Mackerel beach, you can picture the Swallows and Amazons in woolly jumpers racing homemade rafts across the bay, or Julian, Dick, George, Ann and Timothy the dog picnicking with tongue sandwiches on the beach. The shack and its surrounds remind me of a real life Enid Blyton novel (the Australian version).

Jamie Kwong first spotted his future property on a television ad when he was a teenager, and couldn’t believe his luck when he sailed past the same little hut later in life. In 2013, he and his partner Ingrid purchased the plot with plans to build an off the grid home for their young family, to spend their days exploring waterways, fishing, camping, living off the sea and hiking in the surrounding national park. The shack was perfect for their lifestyle.

Whilst the pair were drawn to the practical, utilitarian nature of the shack, it was in need of an update to make it habitable. ‘It was pretty much unliveable’ recalls Jamie. ‘The roof, interior and exterior walls were all asbestos, termites had eaten the majority of the timbers, and there were more packs of rat bait than human food. Much of it was not weatherproof, the garden walls had crumbled into the sea and the toilet was in a shed outside.’

The pair proceeded to lovingly restore the shack without compromising on its visible history. ‘We simply took it apart bit by bit and put it back together as it was (with a few minor alterations),’ Jamie states. He and Ingrid then filled the home with recycled, repurposed, restored and homemade furniture, allowing the house to retain its wild and woolly maritime interiors. ‘If we didn’t already have it, we made it ourselves out of recycled materials. We didn’t want to make a home at the expense of the environment.’

And at every chance it gets, the landscape peeks its way in, inveigling itself into the nooks and crannies of the structure and the lives of whichever human is occupying the shack at the time. Rainwater is used for showers (outside or in), a kitchen garden hosts a plot of wild native greens and the outdoor kitchen is equipped with a wood fired oven and barbequeue to cook everything you’ve harvested. Guests read books and play board games instead of watching TV, and there is gear for kayaking, fishing and crabbing.

‘The environment was behind every choice we made,’ Jamie explains. ‘It’s probably what we don’t have that makes the shack so special. There are no shops, cafes, roads, cars or Foxtel, so the shack is a complete escape from our hectic, modern lives.’

The Little Black Shack looks almost like a stage set, somewhere the Dursleys would go to flee Hogwarts owls, or Cameron Diaz would venture in The Holiday. The structure captures a rustic homeliness, an essence of hygge that bestows immediate atmosphere on any story taking place within it. The feeling of Little Black Shack existed before the plethora of films and novels it stirs memories of, and will transcend the many more to come.

Fancy a few nights in this secluded maritime idyll? You can book a stay here.

This Week

On the Market

This One-Of-A-Kind Modernist Mansion Is The Definition Of Hot Property!

A secluded, modernist masterpiece in the Northern Beaches is for sale!

Architecture

A House Full of Texture For A Family of Makers

A red brick masterpiece for a painter, a builder and their mechnically-minded sons in Northcote!
Sasha Gattermayr

Shopping

Bonnie And Neil's Beautiful New Showroom Is A Patterned Paradise

The Melbourne-based textiles and homewares brand open the doors of their new incredible new showroom and studio!

Similar Stories

Stays

Is This Private Island Tasmania's Best Kept Secret?

Photographer Kara Rosenlund shares her trip to Tasmania's elusive Satellite Island.
Kara Rosenlund

Stays

An Off-The-Grid Eco Bush Retreat Rebuilt From The Ashes

This entirely self-sufficient bushland house in Gippsland was destroyed in the Black Saturday fires just two weeks after it was completed. N...
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

A Dream Weekend Away At The Retreat, Pumphouse Point

TDF's Chelsea Hall spends a heavenly weekend in Tassie at Pumphouse Point's newest luxury accommodation offering, The Retreat!
Chelsea Hall

This Week

News

Local Chef Ella Mittas' First Cookbook Brings Us A Taste Of The Mediterranean

The Greek-Australian chef shares her most delicious recipes and personal essays in Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Christina Karras

News

Bid On Spectacular Contemporary Art From Australia's Best At The IMA's Benefit Auction!

Snap up works from award-winning artists thanks to the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane’s glamorous annual gala and online auction!
Christina Karras

On The Market

For Sale: An Ultimate Sydney Dream Home, With Waterfront Views

This new Balmain family home has it all - a resort-style backyard, swimming pool, gym, steam room, home theatre, and it's for sale!
Christina Karras

Stays

A Serene Architectural Getaway Overlooking Vineyards In Central Victoria

Barfold Estate's new boutique accommodation is the best kept secret in the Heathcote / Kyneton region – for now!

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

At Home With Sheridan

The Minimalist Inner-City Sanctuary Of Skincare Guru James Vivian + Ben Esakoff

A Prahran Edwardian cottage meets a minimalist architectural addition, with exposed materials, an impressive art collection, and textured Sh...

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.
Lucy Feagins
  20 hours ago

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Stays

Is This Private Island Tasmania's Best Kept Secret?

Photographer Kara Rosenlund shares her trip to Tasmania's elusive Satellite Island.
Kara Rosenlund

Stays

An Off-The-Grid Eco Bush Retreat Rebuilt From The Ashes

This totally self-sufficient bushland house in Gippsland proves you don’t have to sacrifice sustainability for luxury!
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

A Dream Weekend Away At The Retreat, Pumphouse Point

TDF's Chelsea Hall spends a heavenly weekend in Tassie at Pumphouse Point's newest luxury accommodation offering, The Retreat!
Chelsea Hall

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net