Ice and cosy

We present our top re­treats ideal for a snug­gle

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

Pretty Beach House, NSW: Three vil­las are set high on the Cen­tral Coast’s se­cluded Wagstaffe Penin­sula, 90 min­utes north of Syd­ney. This is re­sound­ingly a cou­ples’ hide­away, with pri­vate heated plunge pools, plenty of loung­ing space and toasty-warm bedding. For­get tele­vi­sion: cack­ling kook­abur­ras and screech­ing rain­bow lori­keets pro­vide the sound­track and it’s the per­fect place to curl up with a good book (or some­one who’s read one, as the old say­ing goes).

There is an open fire in the main pavil­ion, deep arm­chairs and the un­match­able at­trac­tion of meals de­signed by Ste­fano Man­fredi, who di­vides his time be­tween here and nearby sis­ter prop­erty Bells at Kill­care.

Rug up and walk around the bushy es­tate, dot­ted with pink-barked an­gophora and for­ag­ing brush tur­keys, or head for my lo­cal beach, the long and some­times wild Kill­care, where one of Pretty Beach House’s own­ers, ad­ver­tis­ing guru John Sin­gle­ton, keeps a sea­side cot­tage and has strong links with the lo­cal surf life sav­ing club. www.pret­ty­beach­ Su­san Kuro­sawa Lenna Pent­house, Tas­ma­nia: There’s some­thing mes­meris­ing about watch­ing a storm brew over the ocean from the safety and warmth of one’s liv­ing room. Par­tic­u­larly if that liv­ing room hap­pens to be in a lux­ury rooftop apart­ment with prime po­si­tion on Ho­bart’s beau­ti­ful Bat­tery Point water­front. The two ex­quis­ite Lenna Pent­house apart­ments atop the her­itage-listed Lenna ho­tel of­fer 360-de­gree views through floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows; ar­guably the best van­tage point in town to take in the water­front, Princes Park, Mt Welling­ton and bustling Sala­manca Place without hav­ing to ven­ture out into the cold. Each lux­u­ri­ously kit­ted out apart­ment has two king-sized bed­rooms, two bath­rooms, kitchen and liv­ing ar­eas — plus wrap­around bal­cony for balmier days — but the two pent­houses can be com­bined as one for larger groups seek­ing an in­dul­gent Tas­ma­nian es­cape. This cor­re­spon­dent was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the un­der­floor heat­ing in the bath­rooms. Who needs ugg boots in the mid­dle of win­ter here? Michelle Rowe Mona, NSW: For a taste of Provence without the pric­etag (or the sum­mer warmth, sadly), head to the Na­tional Trust-listed town­ship of Braid­wood in the NSW south­ern tablelands. There lies Mona, a 19th-cen­tury pile on 42 scenic hectares of golden po­plars, grand­fa­ther oaks, rose gar­dens, or­na­men­tal lake and even a croquet lawn. Ac­com­mo­da­tion is in the two-storey stables villa with its four bed­rooms, kitchen and lounge with bil­liard ta­ble and juke­box, or in the more sumptuous three-bed­room coach­house dat­ing from 1903. Book for a min­i­mum of four peo­ple and you’ll have exclusive use of ei­ther prop­erty. The hand­some vil­lage of Braid­wood, with its art, an­tiques and eater­ies, is a brisk walk or short drive up the road. But with farm­style break­fast pro­vi­sions sup­plied, gourmet meals by ar­range­ment, board games and open fires, leav­ing Mona is un­likely to be a pri­or­ity. Ken­dall Hill Elm Wood, Tas­ma­nia: Set in Tas­ma­nia’s Golden Val­ley, 30 min­utes by road from Launce­s­ton or 45 min­utes from Devon­port, Elm Wood is shaded by ven­er­a­ble oak, ash and ch­est­nut trees, hard against West­bury Vil­lage Green; it feels lifted from the pages of a Beatrix Pot­ter sto­ry­book.

And al­though it looks as if it’s been mar­i­nat­ing in th­ese green sur­round­ings for a cen­tury, the Vic­to­rian gothic-style house was pur­pose-built as a guest­house just a few years ago. Un­like many B&Bs in Tas­ma­nia, what you get at Elm Wood is not just a bed­room but an en­tire do­main. There are three enor­mous suites in the main house that sleep up to four, each with a wood-fired heater as well as elec­tric heat­ing.

There’s also Lin­den Cot­tage, a snug abode just for two. Plan to stay a sec­ond night at the very least. With the pas­sion of the newly con­verted, Gil Stokes is a per­sua­sive ad­vo­cate for his adopted home. Gal­lop off af­ter just one night and you’ll re­gret it, not to men­tion miss­ing out on an­other scrump­tious break­fast. www.elm­ Michael Ge­bicki Evanslea, NSW: Shak­ing win­ter’s grip is easy in Mudgee, about 3.5 hours’ drive north­west of Syd­ney. Warm winer­ies and cosy restau­rants abound, but fives­tar Evanslea, a lux­ury B&B, ban­ishes the spec­tre of per­ish­ing from the cold en­tirely. Cen­trally lo­cated, this prop­erty of­fers four lav­ishly ap­pointed, self­con­tained cot­tages on park-like acres by a river. It is im­pos­si­ble not to snug­gle in when roar­ing fires and plump beds aug­ment hi­ber­nal vis­tas. Spa baths and dou­ble show­ers en­sure pink cheeks, par­tic­u­larly if fol­lowed by the com­pli­men­tary port.

Evanslea’s cen­tre is a 19th-cen­tury fam­ily home. Here An­drew and Vicki Hud­son serve break­fasts to guests in a sunny con­ser­va­tory where snooz­ing pets add coun­try charm. A wel­come will be ex­tended to your pet too, pro­vid­ing it is docile. The Hud­sons are wildlife car­ers so moth­er­less kan­ga­roos hop about the gar­dens and hang in sacks from chairs. In the thick of win­ter Evanslea even warms the heart. Leonie Coombes Mt Stur­geon Cot­tages, Royal Mail Ho­tel, Vic­to­ria: Vic­to­ria’s at­mo­spheric Grampians feel like the Scot­tish High­lands, the per­fect set­ting for a wellinsu­lated stay. On the south­ern edge of the Grampians Na­tional Park, 260km west of Mel­bourne, is Dunkeld, home of famed food des­ti­na­tion the Royal Mail Ho­tel. Less well-known are the Mail’s cot­tages on an op­er­at­ing sheep prop­erty 3km away, at the foot of Mt Stur­geon. The 1840s one-and two-bed­room, blue­stone shear­ers’ and cooks’ quar­ters have been re­stored and fur­nished with queen beds, plus sin­gles in the two-bed­ders, kitchen fa­cil­i­ties (break­fast pro­vi­sions in­cluded) and leather so­fas for curl­ing up by the open fire. Guests have full ac­cess to ho­tel fa­cil­i­ties and com­ple­men­tary trans­fers if they treat them­selves to a Royal Mail din­ner. Var­i­ous walk­ing trails run be­tween the es­tate and ho­tel, around Dunkeld town­ship or into the Grampians. Men­tion our spe­cial of­fer for read­ers when book­ing a cot­tage for two nights un­til Au­gust 31 and stay a third night for free. www.roy­ Ju­dith Elen The Boathouse, South Aus­tralia: The one-room Birks Har­bour Boathouse, though high and dry for the mo­ment, is Wind in the Wil­lows adorable. Set on a tiny, 1920s ma­rina bob­bing with wooden boats in the his­toric Mur­ray River port of Goolwa (60 min­utes south of Ade­laide), this win­ter-snug hide­away sleeps just two. With wood fire and so­fas set by the tall win­dows it’s the per­fect hide from which to ob­serve the re­gion’s pro­lific bird life. Flocks of sev­eral hun­dred pel­i­cans are not un­com­mon. Set on a quiet street in the old part of town, the Boathouse lies within walk­ing dis­tance of cafes and restau­rants but is so tucked away (with a kitchen in a cup­board, flat-screen telly and su­per comfy bath­room), you’re un­likely to stray far from the bleached deck. The quaint Birks Har­bour com­plex re­turns to

Snug as a bug: The Boathouse Cam­paspe House, Vic­to­ria: Less than an hour north of Mel­bourne in the ‘‘ I cant be­lieve it’s not Eng­land’’ land­scape of the Mace­don Ranges, Cam­paspe House qui­etly sim­mers like the set­ting for an Agatha Christie thriller. The 1920s English manor sits prim and pretty in the or­derly con­fu­sion of a ma­ture Edna Walling gar­den, but it reeks of ad­ven­ture, in­dul­gence and — with any luck — deca­dence. The thrill here is writ­ing your­self into the script; of su­per­im­pos­ing or­di­nary old me onto the tex­tured fabrics and ma­hogany and leather and rich rugs and open fires of Jeanne and Richard Pratt’s for­mer week­ender. Cam­paspe House is ac­claimed as a gourmet re­treat, and chic chef Tim Fowler has added some mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties to the famed food. In-house mas­sages, gar­den strolls, or the harm­less pre­ten­sions of croquet and pe­tanque await. And if you think the Mace­don Ranges is all about fine wines, check out Wood­ends Hol­gate Brew­house for real beer and unreal food.­paspe­ Rob In­gram Cra­dle Moun­tain Lodge, Tas­ma­nia: Some­times, breath­tak­ing cool-weather wilder­ness on a grand scale is worth a lit­tle ex­tra travel time, par­tic­u­larly when Tas­ma­nia’s World Her­itage listed Cra­dle Moun­tain-Lake St Clair Na­tional Park is at your back door, and wal­la­bies and wom­bats wrapped in their warmest win­ter wool­lies pa­rade be­fore your cabin each day. At Cra­dle Moun­tain Lodge, toasty-warm open fires, your own cosy tim­ber cabin (go for the King Billy Suites if you can) and the lodge’s in­dul­gent Wald­heim Alpine Spa make the jour­ney — a flight to Launce­s­ton, and two-hour drive up the range — worth the ef­fort. Pack your boots and thick­est snow jack­ets for the 20 walk­ing tracks, and time your visit to savour the gourmet de­lights planned for Christ­mas in July cel­e­bra­tions, or hosted de­gus­ta­tion din­ners this July 24 and Au­gust 15. A win­ter dis­count of 15 per cent ap­plies from now un­til Septem­ber 30, and from July 1, this Tas­ma­nian icon will be un­der new own­er­ship, promis­ing to de­liver the same up-close-and-per­sonal rus­tic wilder­ness sor­cery as the Voy­ages group did be­fore them. www.cradle­moun­tain­lodge. Merry Kirk­wood its early 20th-cen­tury glory next month when founder Napier Birks’s homestead, set in im­pres­sive gar­dens be­hind the Boathouse, opens as an up­mar­ket re­treat. Think el­e­gant, en­suite bed­rooms, state-of-the-art kitchen, push­but­ton gas fires and spa­cious grounds. www.birk­shar­ Chris­tine McCabe

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