Scandrett Bay: Trelise Cooper’s childhood bach
By Rosalind Le Bas Walker
When Trelise Cooper’s father bought the waterfront Moonlight Bach, 15km east of Warkworth, the eight year old cried. And so did her mother.
“It was so derelict,” says Trelise, now one of our top fashion designers. “But we really quickly got over it – it was such a haven and freedom as a kid.” It was the job of the young Trelise and her mother to rid the bach of mouse droppings when the family arrived there from Henderson every weekend in the 1960s.
“It wasn’t like they were smelly city mice, they were nice smelling field mice, but every time we went to the bach we’d have to clean everything.”
With her chores complete, Trelise, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, would skip down the beach to the cowshed, where the evening milking drew people from around the Mahurangi Peninsula Peninsula. It was here the young Trelise got her “best sex education ever”.
“They’d put the bull in with the milking cows and we’d watch him play his part and as kids it was completely fascinating to us.”
While Trelise and the other children sat on the rails watching the animals’ antics, “the men would drink whisky with the warm milk straight from the cow’s teats,” remembers Joan Scandrett, the wife of the late George III from whom Trelise’s father bought the bach.
Trelise describes her current Omaha beach house about 12km away as a “far cry” from Moonlight Bach. But she says the luxury three-year-old property fits with her lifestyle.
“I love my house at Omaha but I wouldn’t have exchanged the carefree childhood at Scandretts for anything. It’s completely part of my heart and soul; the idyllic Kiwi bach.”
A front row seat to the clear waters of the Hauraki Gulf, Moonlight Bach is now managed by the Auckland Regional Council who purchased the Scandrett family’s land after they had farmed it for 130 years. Now, visitors to Scandrett Regional Park can have a brew with the rangers in the historic 1885 homestead and stroll around the clifftops to see superb views of the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Check out the enormous old Norfolk Pine growing on the beach, a legacy of Sir George Grey, New Zealand’s first governor-general.
The farm buildings are relics of a bygone era and the land has had a long European farming history, and was the site of early ship-building in the 1850s.
With a recent makeover, the bach has fresh and funky retro decor. Pink cushions with a jandal motif and bright orange lampshades are some of the cute interior design features hand-picked to fit with the Kiwiana theme. The big blue bathroom sink was installed by Trelise’s parents in the ‘70s.
Rare dotterel chicks frolic on your beachfront not 10 metres away from the bach, while fish jump in the turquoise sea. Throw a line out from the deck and catch a snapper for breakfast, just like Trelise’s family used to do.
Moonlight Bach sleeps six with one double bedroom in the bach plus a sleepout with two bunks and a second bathroom. BYO linen, BBQ, binoculars, insect repellent, snorkel and beach shoes to get around the rocks.