We spent a fascinating five minutes with Josh Tyler, general manager at Oaks Ranch. There's big changes in store for this Mossy Point property.
Eurobodalla-raised chef Josh Tyler wasn’t planning on returning to the NSW South Coast so soon. Having taken the reins as executive chef at Bali’s The Ungasan, a luxurious clifftop retreat near the legendary reef point break of Uluwatu, life was good – until Covid-19 came along.
“We went from having a fully functional resort at the start of the week to shutting it down by the Friday afternoon,” says Josh, who began his career washing dishes in Batemans Bay before going on to cook up a storm in the kitchens of Sydney, Canada, France and China under the tutelage of culinary legends including Sydney chef Peter Doyle.
After heading home to Malua Bay as the pandemic gripped the globe, the father of two soon realised that he wouldn’t be moving his family back to Bali anytime soon. Then serendipity called – literally.
“Lisa Cork, who owns Oaks Ranch in Mossy Point (with husband Martin), called me out of the blue one day when I was driving home with my wife,” says Josh. “She had asked a friend I grew up with if she knew any chefs, and my friend said: ‘actually I do know one who has just come home’.”
One thing led to another, and Josh joined the team at the freshly renovated boutique hotel, which welcomed its first guests in April following a string of weddings delayed by the pandemic. Though Josh didn’t come on board as a chef, but as general manager.
For the former owner of two local businesses – Tyler’s Kitchen and Tyler’s Pantry, the latter earning Josh a coveted chef’s hat from the prestigious Good Food Guide – stepping into a management role wasn’t actually a huge career pivot.
With Oaks Ranch’s charming alfresco restaurant currently in the capable hands of food and beverage director Fergus Lynch and chef Massimo Spedaletti, Josh is embracing the opportunity to diversify his focus.
“It’s a change of pace from staying in front of the stove all day long, but I’m really enjoying being across more facets of the business rather than just food and beverage,” Josh says.
With 14 stylish suites, a magnesium pool (with private day beds on the way), and a nine-hole golf-course with complimentary use for guests also on the 300-acre property, the role is keeping Josh on his feet. But he admits the views from the office aren’t bad.
“One of the most amazing things about Oaks Ranch is the way it transports you to this beautiful rural setting just a few minutes away from the beach,” Josh explains. “As soon as you walk through the front door, you’re greeted by this sense of vastness, with the countryside and the mountains stretching out in front of you.”
Furnished in a soothing palette of neutrals and earthy tones, Oaks Ranch brings a slice of laid-back luxury to Mossy Point, with thoughtful touches including a complimentary in-suite minibar stocked with sweet and savory treats and soft drinks. And while the latest renovation of the property, which hugs the Tomaga River, is technically complete, there are more enhancements in the pipeline.
“We’ve got plans to expand the golf course into a Greg Norman signature course (with two tee set-ups for each hole so you can play a full 18) in the next couple of years, and we’ve got some e-bikes we’re going to set up so guests can explore the property, or head down to Broulee Beach,” Josh says. “We’re also looking to extend a trail down to the foreshore so guests can access the river directly from the property.”
Oaks Ranch is also in hot demand as a wedding venue, with nuptials hosted as part of an exclusive access arrangement so regular guests will never feel like wedding crashers. Between the venue’s spectacular setting and passionate staff, it’s easy to understand the appeal.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have lived in some really beautiful parts of the world, but when I come home I just think, wow, this is this is hands-down better than anywhere,” says Josh.
We have to agree with him there.
Josh Tyler’s top five things to do in Eurobodalla
- Surfing in Malua Bay. “I grew up there, so I’m a bit biased,” says Josh.
- Paddling a kayak up the Tomaga River. “You can head down to Mossy Point and hire a kayak or a SUP from local operator Region X.”
- Beach picnics with the family. “We’ll load the car up with oysters and prosciutto and cheese and just go for a drive until we find a nice place to enjoy a picnic.”
- Bushwalking in Murramarang National Park. “The walks around Pebbly Beach and North Durras are just stunning.”
- Checking out local restaurants. “In Batemans Bay there’s a great bar called Mami’s, and Sandbar is really nice for fine dining,” says Josh. “And we always take the kids to Sam’s Pizza.”