Food+Wine

THE KIRCHE @ CHARLES, Barossa Valley, SA.
THE KIRCHE @ CHARLES, Barossa Valley, SA. 

Relax body and mind while giving your taste buds a serious workout.

 

THE KIRCHE @ CHARLES MELTON
BAROSSA VALLEY, SA

Krondorf road, Tanunda
Phone: (08) 8563 3606
Email: virginia@charlesmeltonwines.com.au
Web: charlesmeltonwines.com.au

MT BELLEVUE, High Country, Vic.
MT BELLEVUE, High Country, Vic. 

The location Just over an hour's drive from Adelaide, the Barossa Valley is a must-visit destination for wine lovers. Tree-lined country roads wend their way through the hills of this historic area, first settled by Britons and Germans in the mid-1800s, and there are 70-plus cellar doors to knock on.

The place The Kirche, at the entrance to the Charles Melton winery, was a place of worship for Lutheran settlers from 1864 until the 1950s, but now the prayer books have been put away and replaced with every contemporary comfort for guests. There is a loft master bedroom with king-size bed and an enclosed queen bedroom below. Fully self-contained, The Kirche is ideal for a weekend, or indeed a week. Its full-size kitchen, an extension of the church's original vestry, looks straight onto rows of grapevines reaching out with delicate tendrils for steely guidance. The living area is large and tastefully appointed with a six-seater dining table and a mix of modern and antique furniture, and there's a wood heater ready to stoke on chilly Barossa evenings. The bathroom is large and luxurious and there's a laundry, too.

The experience From home base at the Kirche, there's a plethora of food and wine delights dotted about this picturesque valley. Jump in the car and explore the spider's web of gravel country roads, trailing plumes of pale dust behind (whatever you do, don't forget the map). Once the reconnoitring is complete, return to the Kirche, safe in the knowledge that you can throw the car keys inside and wander on foot up the driveway to sample some rich and elegant Barossa shirazes from the Charles Melton selection. (Lunch is also available at the cellar door daily from noon to 3.30pm.)

THE CHURCHES, High Country, Vic.
THE CHURCHES, High Country, Vic. 

Don't miss ... the fresh flavours of FermentAsian restaurant in Tanunda (fermentasian.com.au); Barossa Valley Farmers' Market, held every Saturday morning in Angaston (barossafarmersmarket.com); Turkey Flat Winery - which helped return crisp and lively rosés to Australian tables - in nearby Bethany (turkeyflat.com.au); Jacobs Creek, both the winery visitors' centre (jacobscreek.com) and the waterway it's named after; Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park; and Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, for eating, shopping and cooking demonstrations (maggiebeer.com.au/farmshop).   
Cindy MacDonald

Cost: $435 a night for one bedroom (two people) or $555 a night for two bedrooms (four people); two-night minimum stay.
Distance: 70km north-east of Adelaide.
Sleeps: 1-5.
Children: eight years and over welcome. The Kirche can accommodate two adults and three children as a group.
Wheelchair access
: limited.

 

WOMBAT BARN, Spa Country, Vic.
WOMBAT BARN, Spa Country, Vic. 

MT BELLEVUE
HIGH COUNTRY, VIC

469 Bellavista Road, Myrrhee
Phone: (03) 5729 7539
Mobile: 0407 012 312
Email: info@mtbellevue.com.au

Web: www.mtbellevue.com.au

The location Myrrhee is in the King Valley, which boasts a clutch of family wineries, trattorias and restaurants serving local wines from some of the highest altitude vineyards in Australia.

ROCKBARE RETREAT, Adelaide Hills, SA.
ROCKBARE RETREAT, Adelaide Hills, SA. 

The place Mt Bellevue is a working cattle farm and cool-climate vineyard offering a range of self-contained, self-catering accommodation, from cosy eyries to a secluded timber lodge big enough to sleep a large family. The Cattleman's is a ranch-style holiday house with views over a verdant valley dotted with alpacas. Tastefully renovated with an eye for detail - such as a comfortable mattress, cotton sheets and cow-shaped soap - it has a queen bedroom, a twin bedroom, a wood-fired stove and an outdoor barbecue.

The experience Begin your weekend with coffee and a home-made brioche at the nearby Moyhu Farmer's Market (every third Saturday) where an eclectic mix of local olive oil, woodturning, jewellery and on-site massage caters to all comers. Then take a short drive through the sun-dappled King Valley to one of the local wineries, where you can savour the mountain views over a glass of wild-yeast merlot or an Italian-style nebbiolo. Retire to Mt Bellevue for a quiet evening of relaxation, with only the sound of the wind or the gentle lowing of cattle to distract you.   Miki Perkins

Don't miss ... the chance to pick your own at Newton's Organic Prickleberry Farm (118 Gentle Annie Lane, Whitfield; 03 5729 8272). 

MONKEY PLACE FARM COTTAGE, Hunter Valley, NSW.
MONKEY PLACE FARM COTTAGE, Hunter Valley, NSW. 

Cost: $175 a night for one bedroom; $215 a night for two bedrooms.
Distance:
260km north-east of Melbourne.
Sleeps: 1-4.
Children: yes.
Pets:
by prior arrangement only.
Wheelchair access:
limited.

 

THE CHURCHES
HIGH COUNTRY, VIC

6585 Maroondah Highway, Yarck
Phone: (03) 5773 4233

The location Yarck is a diminutive township between Melbourne and Mount Buller at the foot of the granite Strathbogie Ranges. The scenery is beautiful and Lake Eildon is nearby. Yarck has become a serious foodie/gourmet destination since top operators launched country restaurants there. The Churches accommodation is linked to, and opposite, the celebrated Tearooms at Yarck.

The place The "left side" Church is the town's original 19th-century timber church - its twin is a church hall from last century. Renovated and opened mid-last year, accommodation remains open-plan, with partial walls between living/sleeping and bathing/rear sunroom. Ceilings are vaulted, floorboards polished. Design is chic: a claw-foot bath and a mix of modern and beautiful heritage pieces. There is a king-size bed, but a second couple could sleep on the lounge sofa and single beds can be added. A well-stocked larder and organic bath products are provided.

The experience The operators of The Churches and the Tearooms offer a stay in a romantic and luxurious B&B, with an excellent meal only a minute's stroll across the road. The Tearooms are open Thursday to Sunday; among the delights on the menu are oxtail ragù and tagliatelle; kingfish carpaccio; organic, free-range pork neck; and swell desserts. The Churches' beautiful breakfast includes wholemeal sourdough bread, strawberry and aniseed jam, fresh coffee (or teas), Italian juice and still water, muesli and organic yoghurt, as well as pear and prune compote, each served in homely jars.

Don't miss Take a walk along quiet country roads or pay a visit to the outstanding national parks nearby. For collectors, a couple of must-sees are the old-school bric-a-brac/antique shops in nearby Alexandria and the second-hand bookstore in Yarck.   Jacinta Le Plastrier

Cost: $270 a night, $500 for two nights.
Distance:
140km north-east of Melbourne.
Sleeps: 1-5.
Children: yes.
Wheelchair access:
limited.

 

WOMBAT BARN
SPA COUNTRY, VIC

7 Wombat Street, Daylesford
Phone: 0400 113 457
Email: wombat@wombatbarn.com.au

Web: www.wombatbarn.com.au

The location A 90-minute drive into Victoria's central highlands, Daylesford - permanent population 2100, but jam-packed with accommodation options - offers gourmet dining and wining, holistic therapies and retail offerings, all linked to the mineral springs of the adjacent Hepburn Springs. You can also check out the old-fashioned bookshops and antique stores, the galleries and artists' studios.

The place Wombat Barn is a new, barn-inspired building with superb design cred and a distinct Australian feel, due largely to its construction in corrugated iron and its impressive collection of works by Australian artists and artisans. Located on Wombat Hill with wonderful views, the "barn" - designed by Melbourne-based architect Grant Amon - is split into a pair of two-level modules, each with large, loft-style bedrooms and self-contained living areas. Despite being separate, these are hired together.

The experience The owner is a serious collector with a fine eye, making Wombat Barn a place for aesthetes. Intriguing pieces include vintage lamps from Georges and pottery by Nyk. There is also a down-to-earth, homely intention behind the styling, which encourages relaxation: a pile of knitted blankets, an array of cushions, a cast-iron kettle and casserole dish, an old-fashioned woollen tea cosy. The nearby "corner shop", Cliffy's Emporium, is wonderful and a magnet for foodies, offering items of local provenance (organic where possible). Wombat Barn accommodation includes a voucher for an eat-in breakfast here or takeaway items to prepare at home.

Don't miss … Daylesford has a popular weekly Sunday market which abounds in food stalls, local crafts and vintage treasures, and a monthly farmers' market. Take a mineral bath or spa at Hepburn Spa (hepburnspa.com.au) or walk the hilltop road behind Wombat Barn for views over the township. The nearby, well-known Convent Gallery (conventgallery.com.au) also has excellent gardens and food.  
Jacinta Le Plastrier

Cost: from $730 a weekend; two-night minimum stay.
Distance: 120km north-west of Melbourne.
Sleeps: 1-4.
Children: 10 years and over, by prior arrangement.
Wheelchair access:
no.

 

MONKEY PLACE FARM COTTAGE
HUNTER VALLEY NSW

165 Fordwich Road, Broke
Phone: 0488 881 100
Email: info@eventsinthevines.com.au
Web: www.eventsinthevines.com.au

The location "The Hunter Valley's best-kept secret ..." So runs the blurb on the tourist pamphlet for Broke, a cute hamlet (population 400) set in gently undulating country and framed by a stunning granite escarpment. It features numerous boutique vineyards, cellar doors, olive groves, alpaca farms and inviting restaurants.

The place The best-kept secret in Broke may well be Monkey Place Farm Cottage. Surrounded by fields of friendly sheep (but no monkeys) and graced by beautifully maintained gardens, Monkey Place Farm Cottage is a 100-year-old guesthouse that has been completely refurbished. Inside are two immaculate bedrooms (a third bedroom is in a separate studio), a modern kitchen, a bathroom with a deep bath built for two, and a living area with fireplace and gorilla-size TV.

The experience Peace and privacy are the real selling points. The guesthouse - part of Fordwich Estate, a 40-hectare working vineyard - is near the end of a dead-end road, and the silence has to be heard to be believed. You could also easily spend your entire stay here without seeing another human or simian. How's that for serenity! And if that's not enough to go ape over, outside is a wraparound verandah that's perfectly positioned to capture the morning and afternoon sun, where one can sit and enjoy local produce, take in the distant hills or watch the abundant birdlife.

Don't miss … riding around on bicycles visiting some of the many vineyards near Broke. Mount Broke Wines (130 Adams Peak Road; 02 6579 1314; mtbrokewines.com.au) was once a dairy farm and has its tasting room in an old milking shed. Jim Hope & Rebecca Davis

Cost: $600 for two adults for two nights (extra adults, $85 a person a night); single-night rate is $150 a person with a minimum tariff of $600.
Children:
$60 a child a night; infants under two free.
Distance:
160km north of Sydney.
Sleeps: 1-6.
Children: yes.
Wheelchair access
: no.

 

ROCKBARE RETREAT
ADELAIDE HILLS, SA

102-104 Main Street, Hahndorf
Phone: (08) 8388 7155
Email: retreat@rockbare.com.au
Web: www.rockbare.com.au

The location As Australia's oldest surviving German settlement, dating from 1839, Hahndorf was once characterised by a mixture of authentic German heritage and tourist kitsch. That still exists, but now there's a more contemporary edge as the village grows as a centre of food and wine from the surrounding region.

The place From the street, the untouched, heritage-listed facade, built in 1845, gives little clue to the splendid split-level RockBare cellar door behind. It's a fine introduction to the collection of stone buildings extending behind the cellar door, culminating in the private - and quiet - RockBare Retreat. Downstairs are two spacious bedrooms with king-size beds, and two living/retreat areas - the library with its own 200-bottle wine cellar, and a vast dining/living area complete with full commercial kitchen (in-house chef available on request). Upstairs is a third double bedroom with balcony and a children's retreat with bean bags and a giant TV.

The experience Although safely isolated from the Main Street tourist buzz, it's an easy stroll to the many attractions nearby, from smart cafes to traditional German-style pubs, antiques and craft shops, and gourmet delis - not to forget the cellar door next door. Guests can get married or have a party in The Paddock, a verdant meadow next to the retreat, or take a longer walk along the nearby Heysen Trail to Bridgewater (nine kilometres, 2.5 hours). Nearby wineries include Hahndorf Hill, Shaw + Smith and The Lane, with more in the surrounding region.

Don't miss … a visit to the former home and studio of artist Sir Hans Heysen, The Cedars (08 8388 7277). Have lunch on the terrace at Udder Delights (91a Main Street; 08 8388 1588) or eat currywurst at the Hahndorf Kaffeehaus (51 Main Street; 08 8388 7521). Dine on the sauerbraten pot roast with a glass of Franziskaner Weissbier at the German Arms Hotel (69 Main Street; 08 8388 7013). Buy kippers from the Harris Smokehouse (37 Main Street; 08 8388 7000), BumBurner Sauce and beer steins from The German Pantry (45 Mount Barker Road; 08 8388 7454) and knives.   Nigel Hopkins

Cost: from $400 a night for two people; two-night minimum stay.
Distance: 25km east of Adelaide.
Sleeps: 1-6.
Children: yes.
Pets: yes, by prior arrangement.
Wheelchair access:
limited.

 

MOUNT VIEW LODGES
HUNTER VALLEY NSW

839 Mount View Road, Mount View
Phone: 0419 479 001
Email: relax@mountviewlodges.com.au
Web:  mountviewlodges.com.au

The location The green slopes of the Brokenback Range curve south-west off the main Hunter Valley access route. Winding up the dark dirt tracks beyond Cessnock, there's the pleasing sense of breaking new ground - albeit ground containing an architecturally designed rural retreat, complete with toasted muesli and thick-cut back bacon.

The place Mount View Lodges are set against the slope like twin launch pads, jutting into the sky above a broad patchwork valley. Outside, the view is spectacular. Inside, the bedrooms are restrained, the bathroom is bright, the open-plan kitchen/dining/living room wide and serene. Furnished in minimalist style, both lodges are floored with sleek granite-flecked concrete. A deck and barbecue encourage outdoor cooking, while even the inexplicable lack of a bottle opener (not every wine bottle in the Hunter is a screw top) fails to blunt Mount View's powers of seduction.

The experience The lodges offer the chance to: 1) take long walks along country lanes, even scaling sagging wire fences to pick wormy (but wild! Like a Keats poem!) local pomegranates; 2) poke the wood-fired heater; 3) experiment with innovative ways to get corks out of bottles.

Don't miss … The hatted Bistro Molines (749 Mount View Road; 02 4990 9553; bistromolines.com.au) is a 10-minute drive away; Krinklewood winery (712 Wollombi Road, Broke; 02 6579 1322; krinklewood.com) is further afield, but is stocked with gorgeous examples of the local viticultural rock star: Hunter Valley semillon.   Amanda Hooton

Cost: There are two lodges. For a two-night weekend, the one-bedroom is $580, the two-bedroom is $850. Breakfast supplies are included.
Distance:
160km north of Sydney.
Sleeps: 1-4.
Children: not recommended for toddlers (stairs, wood-fired heater).
Wheelchair access:
no.

 

THE DENMAN HOTEL
SNOWY MOUNTAINS, NSW

Diggings Terrace, Thredbo Village
Phone: (02) 6457 6222
Email: stay@thedenman.com.au
Web:  thedenman.com.au  

The location The alpine village of Thredbo is located in the heart of the Kosciuszko National Park, 215 kilometres from Canberra and 500 kilometres from Sydney. Thredbo is one of the top destinations in Australia for serious skiers in winter, and a popular spot in summer for walking, mountain-biking, fishing - and peace and quiet.

The place Built in the 1960s and recently remodelled by owners Ed and Judy Denny, the 36-room Denman Hotel is all you'd expect of a cosy mountain retreat. It exudes old-fashioned rustic charm with a touch of eco-chic. An abundance of natural materials has been used and warm generous bursts of colour are everywhere - on walls, armchairs, and the snug, dramatically lit Apres Bar. Chef Hayden Ellerton, awarded his first Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide hat this year, serves fine food at Terrace restaurant and more casual fare at the Old Pool. Both offer views across the valley to Mount Kosciuszko and the vertiginous Crackenback trail. There are single, double, queen and king rooms, as well as a two-room family suite. Some have views, others balconies, and all are fully serviced. The hotel offers guided walks and has a day spa.

The experience Though it may be tempting to stay snuggled in bed or dally with the paper over breakfast, there is no escaping the pull of the outdoors. Thredbo's winter charms are obvious, but in summer it's a calmer, quieter place to be. Tackle the snowgum-covered mountain on foot, go mountain-biking, shoot nine holes on Australia's most elevated AGU-rated golf course, play a set or two of tennis or try your hand at fly-fishing.

Don't miss … walking to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - the 13-kilometre hike through the magical alpine landscape takes about five hours and is well worth it. Set out with a friend or join a tour (thredbo.com.au). Oh, and be sure to take water.   Barbara Sweeney

Cost: Summer rates, including continental breakfast, start from $195 a night for a double room with view; winter rates, including hot breakfast, start from $185 a night for a double room with view. Family rooms are also available.
Distance: 500km south-west of Sydney. In winter, Aeropelican Air Services fly to Cooma and an airport shuttle connects with Thredbo.
Sleeps: 1-5.
Children: yes.
Wheelchair access:
limited.

 

LILLIANS ON LOVEDALE
HUNTER VALLEY, NSW

Lovedale Road, Lovedale
Phone: (02) 4990 6958
Email: info@lillians.com.au
Web: lillians.com.au

The location Curiously enough, the Hunter Valley can seem as busy as the city you've escaped. Roads are choked with tour buses and crowds mill around grand wineries that seem a long way from the area's agricultural roots. Lovedale, in the region's east, is less than 10 minutes' drive from Pokolbin, but it's altogether more bucolic.

The place Named after a much-loved elderly aunt, Lillians on Lovedale is a two-bedroom replica of the Federation-style farmhouse that stood on the 10-hectare property late last century. The fact that one of the owners, who also run the adjacent Allandale Winery, is a graphic designer is revealed in the restrained country decor (there's no chintz whatsoever). There is an expansive, well-equipped kitchen and you'll find a high standard of breakfast provisions: eggs, bacon, muesli, fruit and fluffy croissants, as well as Lavazza coffee.

The experience If arriving at night, it can be difficult to spot the Lillians sign from the road, but any irritation is soothed by pouring a large glass from the complimentary bottle of Allandale wine and drinking it on the wide balcony - or in front of the fire in cooler months. The next day, between excursions to nearby wineries or a round of golf, it's best to position yourself on a lovely plump couch and flick through one of the many copies of Country Style magazine.

Don't miss … Despite being at the quieter end of the Hunter Valley, there are plenty of places where you can get a good casual meal. Leaves & Fishes (737 Lovedale Road, Lovedale; 02 4930 7400) serves excellent fish sourced directly from the lake in front of the restaurant.   Lauren Quaintance

Cost: $220 a night for two people; $400 a night for four people; two-night minimum stay.
Distance:
160km north of Sydney.
Sleeps: 1-4.
Children: yes.
Wheelchair access:
no.

 

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