Milton Country Retreat, Milton review: In the bosom of Milton

Green acres ... Milton Country Retreat.
Green acres ... Milton Country Retreat. Photo: Megan Johnston

Read our writer's views on this property below

Megan Johnston enjoys a farm-stay with views of the region's famous peak.

Hmm, farm-stay. I'm all for a weekend in the country but farm-stays sound like hard work. Chopping, shovelling and mustering are not activities that scream relaxation to a couple of work-weary city-dwellers in search of bucolic restoration.

Farm-stays suit families with children. Let the youngsters run wild while the parents rest up at the farmhouse. But without a brood in tow, the sell is a little tougher.

One look at Milton Country Retreat, however, removes all doubts. This rustic three-bedroom, two-bathroom bolt-hole set in 20 hectares of farmland in the lush hinterland of the south coast is less about toil and more about leisure.

For those who fancy sweaty activities, the obvious attraction is the cabin's proximity to Pigeon House Mountain. Hordes of visitors conquer its craggy peak each year. The base is a short drive away but we prefer to appreciate the beauty of the - there's no other way to put it - breast-shaped formation from our lodgings.

From the windows of the living area, the Budawang Ranges stretch from horizon to horizon, providing a dramatic backdrop to the pastures that surround us.

Nestled into the landscape is the retreat. Built from fashionably rusted galvanised iron, the exterior looks every bit the old hayshed it mimics. Inside, however, is a comfortable cottage fitted out in simple farmstead style and muted shades of green and gold, with wooden panelling, generous couches and a sun-drenched kitchen. Other features include a plush rug in front of the slow-combustion fire and two handsome Federation-style bathrooms, one with a huge claw-foot tub.

Timber antiques decorate the three bedrooms, which sleep six between two queen beds and a pair of singles. While a liberal use of lace, checks and florals on the furnishings is hardly hip, here it somehow works. Overall, the focus is more on comfort and character than on luxury, but at no point do we feel deprived.

Civilised essentials include aircon, television and multimedia players, plus a microwave, gas stove and the right number of pots and pans. A gas barbecue and an outdoor table setting looking straight on to the mountain range are ideal for larger gatherings. The pantry is virtually bare but that's the perfect excuse to gather produce from local providores.

There is ample privacy and, apart from a friendly greeting, we barely see the on-site owners during our stay. Visitors who don't mind communal facilities are welcome to use their pool and spa.

Guests can feed apples and carrots to three resident horses and there's an old tractor for children to clamber over, but that's about as strenuous as things get. If the urge to farm is irresistible, you can book a visit to the nearby dairy or drop by a riding school, a short drive away. Tracks in the area are also popular with bushwalkers.

If you prefer, it's just as easy to do nothing. That's what we have in mind when we arrive stocked with provisions bought along the way. One of the retreat's owners, Lionel Meyers, clad in muddy boots and a hay-strewn jumper, explains the basics before leaving us to our new abode. His wife, Elizabeth, has left a lovely home-made lemon cake on the kitchen counter.

Under the gaze of a couple of cows and horses, we unload our supplies and enjoy supper as the sun sets over the mountains. In the morning, we spy a kangaroo and joey through the bedroom window.

Our first day is spent lounging but the second is more energetic. We drive to Milton, where we stroll by bustling cafes and poke around in vintage furniture shops. If we had more space at home, we would stuff the boot with treasures and Grant Featherston chairs, but we can only admire.

In Ulladulla, we refuel on fish and chips by the harbour, and for dinner splash out on an impressive seafood feast at chef Rick Stein's Bannisters restaurant overlooking Mollymook beach.

Back at the property, the night sky is dazzling. With the help of smartphone technology, we pick out planets and constellations. If this is farm life, I'm not complaining.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Milton Country Retreat

Address 142E Woodburn Road, Milton.

The verdict A rustic retreat big on comfort and character.

Price A minimum two-night stay costs $320 on weekends for two people.

Bookings Phone 4457 3497 or 0409 573 497; see miltoncountryretreat.com.au.

Getting there Milton is about three hours' drive south of Sydney via the Princes Highway. Turn right at the traffic lights and follow Croobyar Road then Woodburn Road for about 15 kilometres.

Wheelchair access Limited.

Perfect for A rural getaway for couples or families.

While you're there Climb Pigeon House Mountain, browse antiques in Milton, head to Ulladulla for fish and chips or splash out on excellent seafood at Rick Stein at Bannisters, Mollymook.