Al­most Provence

Vic­to­ria’s Tren­tham and sur­rounds brim with quirky charm

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia -

im­ported gar­den­ing tools, quirky wall art and Smither­sla­belled pre­serves and condi­ments.

Clark­son rec­om­mends a deca­dent rum baba to for­tify us for the walk home, although it’s all of 10 paces to the town’s lead­ing digs, Twigs on High, a charm­ing twobed­room, self-con­tained cot­tage crammed to the rafters with French pro­vin­cial knick-knacks.

From the front it looks like a de­sign shop (which it once was, and be­fore that a restau­rant), so keep the door locked or you may find vis­i­tors wan­der­ing in, look­ing to buy a scat­ter cush­ion or toile de jouy sponge bag.

The main liv­ing area is enor­mous, di­vided by a large eco fire­place. The em­pha­sis is as much on com­fort as on style, and owner and in­te­rior de­signer Fiona New­land has thought of ev­ery pos­si­ble de­tail to make this a ro­man­tic re­treat from the hec­tic 21st cen­tury. There’s a gen­er­ously stocked li­brary, stacks of the lat­est de­sign mag­a­zines, a pi­ano, board games, loads of throw rugs and a big telly.

Although guests are greeted with a gen­er­ous ham­per of lo­cal pro­duce, the rus­tic kitchen does not have to work too hard, with sev­eral cafes and restau­rants only min­utes away on foot. (Pic­nics are also an op­tion, with a stash of brol­lies, gum­boots and rugs in the porch.)

We are wo­ken early by the sound of chat­ter­ing folk traips­ing down the lane be­side the cot­tage, headed for the Red­Beard His­toric Bak­ery, where the 19th-cen­tury wood-fired Scotch oven has been in use since 2am. (It’s worth get­ting out of bed for the bak­ery’s home­made baked beans with Mered­ith feta on or­ganic sour­dough.)

The Col­liban Food­store cum wine bar (18 Mar­ket St) is good for cof­fee, and is the per­fect spot to stock up on gourmet food­stuffs or sam­ple wines from its large list (with tast­ings on Fri­day evenings). For lunch, wan­der across the road to The Cos­mopoli­tan Ho­tel, an in­trigu­ing, tum­ble­down build­ing badly dam­aged by fire in 2005. It looks derelict from High Street, but if you pop around the cor­ner you’ll re­alise the prop­erty is un­der­go­ing grad­ual restora­tion and ta­bles are avail­able in the cosy sta­bles or be­neath cen­tury-old elm trees in the lovely gar­dens.

Out and about you’ll find a cou­ple of tiny cel­lar doors. Pass­ing Clouds, set on a hill above Musk, is a charm­ing spot to sam­ple the re­gion’s ex­cel­lent pinot.

And don’t miss the pretty Tren­tham Falls, Vic­to­ria’s long­est sin­gle-drop wa­ter­fall.

Be sure to pop into Dayles­ford for lunch at Alla WolfTasker’s Wom­bat Hill House cafe and store in the town’s botanic gar­dens. It is housed in the re­stored care­taker’s cot­tage, its walls are daubed with mu­rals, and wom­bat sight­ings are listed along with daily spe­cials on the black­board. This de­light­ful cafe spear­heads the grad­ual re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of th­ese mag­i­cal gar­dens, dom­i­nated by enor­mous old trees, in­clud­ing a pine­tum es­tab­lished by Fer­di­nand von Mueller.

‘‘The aim here,’’ says Wolf-Tasker, pro­pri­etor of the ac­claimed Lake House in Dayles­ford, ‘‘is a more re­laxed venue, ca­ter­ing for lo­cals and pro­vid­ing a plea­sur­able, vis­ceral garden-to-plate ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

You can sit in­doors (by the fire in win­ter), in the con­ser­va­tory or in the lovely veg­etable garden hedged by es­paliered crab-ap­ples, where, over sum­mer, heir­loom to­ma­toes threaten to go on a trif­fids-like ram­page. Chris­tine Mc­Cabe was a guest of Twigs on High and Tourism Vic­to­ria.

above Comfy and stylish Twigs on High is an ideal re­treat from the hec­tic 21st cen­tury

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.