River­side beauty

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

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.

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