Read our writer's views on this property below
The driveway may fray nerves but the destination certainly won't, writes Peter Harrison.
This can't be right. In my journey to Eaglemont Country Retreat I have reached a moment of indecision. My car is scrabbling up a steep and narrow road that has potholes and heavily eroded edges. It's 1am and the only thing between me and a crunching wrong turn into the bush is a full moon, which is casting a spooky glow and illuminating the rutted drains beside my path.
After a late-night drive from Sydney to Lambs Valley I'm tired and losing my nerve - but with nowhere to turn around I have to push on.
It's only another few minutes later, when a sign points left into Eaglemont, that I remember the words of the owners when I booked: "You'll get halfway up and think it's wrong, but keep going. You're not bringing a Lamborghini, are you?" Turns out their directions are spot on. And the scramble up that road is worth it.
The climbing sun the next morning reveals the beauty of this bushland setting.
Peering down from the western ridge top looking into Lambs Valley more than 200 metres below are three buildings, all with big windows to let in the spectacular views.
The main pavilion has an upstairs bedroom, kitchen, expansive lounge area with wood fire and airconditioning, games room with pool table, and a dining room that seems to float above the valley edge. There are expansive decks and a hammock with surely the best outlook in the valley. The second building houses two studios, one with full disabled access, and can be joined by an access corridor. Each has a spacious bedroom and bathroom looking over the farms far below. The third building, called The Nest, houses two more bedrooms, a living area and a kitchenette.
The buildings can be rented together or separately. Other travellers are using The Nest and I am in the main pavilion, but our privacy is maintained because we are well separated and there is no need to share facilities.
After unloading my supplies (the nearest shop is a 30-minute drive away) I spend the next two days smelling the eucalypts and snoozing in the warm autumn sun. My dog, Jack, sniffs and snuffles his way around blissfully. Having downloaded the weekend papers on the free wi-fi and lying in that hammock, I feel the air moving through the valley. A rain shower blows through on the breeze and, below me, birds swoop for cover.
That steep ascent is more than rewarded in this lofty, secluded hideaway. Just don't bring the Lamborghini.
And then we ate The many restaurants and cafes of the lower Hunter Valley are a lazy 30-minute drive south of Lambs Valley. It's a pleasant, ambling trip. But the full kitchen and barbecue at the retreat make home dining easy. The main pavilion has a big double-door fridge and easily swallows a weekend's supplies for a family. The stove has six gas burners and the oven is huge. The formal dining room seats 10.
The deal maker Relaxing on the deck, listening to the faraway sounds of the valley, is sublimely peaceful. This place is about a still mind, rather than an active body.
Stepping out The historic town of Morpeth is about 30 kilometres from Lambs Valley. It features historic buildings, boutique shopping and talented buskers (I listened to a harpist) on the banks of the Hunter River.
The Hunter Valley is also about 30 kilometres away, with wineries, golf, gardens and food.
Eaglemont Country Retreat
Address Off Lambs Valley Road, Lambs Valley.
The verdict A spacious and natural environment for those wanting to retreat from the world.
Price $250 a night on weekends for two people, ranging up to $800 a night for 12 people. Cheaper rates for weeknights. Pets welcome.
Bookings Phone 0412 295 155 or see eaglemontretreat.com.au.
Getting there Lambs Valley is about 200 kilometres from Sydney. Take the F3 north, then head through Maitland. For sightseeing rather than speed, head through the Hunter Valley and then to Branxton. Once in Lambs Valley itself, trust the owner's directions. You won't need a four-wheel-drive, but low-riding cars will suffer some scrapes.
Perfect for Quiet time in a bushland setting, away from neighbours.
Wheelchair access Yes, to some sleeping quarters and the living areas of the main building.
While you're there Take a walk through the bush. Drive to the Hunter Valley before dawn for hot air ballooning, followed by a long and lazy lunch.