Our suite is spacious and light, and those river views encourage us to relax. We can do this either in the privacy of our quarters or in the reading room, where a selection of novels, DVDs and antiquarian books is provided, or in the ballroom, where a pianola is propped up against one wall and super-cosy sofas are arranged before a widescreen television. We dine in the ballroom at a white-clothed, candlelit table, with an open fire providing a relaxing backdrop.
Owners John and Laurelle Grimley, who painstakingly renovated the property after discovering it almost derelict in 2003, run a restaurant in town and are happy to rustle up evening meals for guests as part of a package. The food here is not gourmet but it is hearty fare and a thoroughly decent option if you want a quiet night in.
The original part of this expansive country house was built in 1825 by the dashing-sounding Thomas Roadknight, who was chief district constable of Elizabeth Town, as New Norfolk was then known. Roadknight perhaps had his work cut out for him, given that 554 residents of Norfolk Island, the penal colony off the east coast housing the worst convicts and offenders of the time, had been relocated to Elizabeth Town several years earlier. New Norfolk has shrugged off its murky past, and its biggest attractions are the handful of antique and curiosity shops. Don’t miss the excellent Drill Hall Emporium in Stephen Street, with its incredible selection of covetable items from the past.
Woodbridge, meanwhile, can arrange outdoor adventures for guests, many taking advantage of its riverside location, including fly fishing, jet boating, wilderness walks, wildlife packages and even tours in a Mustang convertible of Derwent Valley wineries and producers.
The Grimleys are not based on site but are available at the push of a button. As homes away from homes go, Woodbridge on the Derwent is a terrific option. Rooms from $400 (including breakfast) or $550 for two with dinner. www.woodbridgenn.com.au.