The Buckland, Buckland Valley review: Renovators' delight

Ah, the serenity ... front-row seats to sunsets over Mount Buffalo.
Ah, the serenity ... front-row seats to sunsets over Mount Buffalo. Photo: Michelle Potts

Read our writer's views on this property below

Michelle Potts heads to the high country to escape from the jackhammers at home.

In fear of highway hypnosis, we head off-piste through the King Valley, sidetracked by a tasting of crisp Italian-style whites at Sam Miranda's cellar door. Next stop, fromage and sourdough from Milawa Cheese Factory, then on to The Butter Factory at Myrtleford for a roll of their hand-churned, cultured, lightly salted best. Before long we're in the picturesque Buckland Valley among vines, chestnut groves and pasture, traversing the ridge in low gear counting chalets as we pass. Ours is No.5.

He drops our bags on the expansive timber deck, momentarily distracted by a spectacular sunset over Mount Buffalo. I slide back the heavy double-glazed glass doors that run the length of the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room, then snoop around.

Inside the eco-friendly, corrugated iron-clad pod, it's modern and uncluttered. Think Italian designer leather sofa, oversize cord ottoman, cowhide rug and soft alpaca throws. Plush furnishings take on a neutral palette complementing the landscape. High-end appliances and entertainment systems include an iPod dock and iPad compendium.

Next to the lounge, behind a modern gas log fire and wall-mounted flat-screen LCD TV, is a large bathroom with a glass-walled shower, recessed tub and secluded bushland outlook. Floor-to-ceiling doors line one side of the hall, cleverly disguising a compact, fully equipped laundry and wardrobe space, leading to a king bedroom nestled among wattle trees and peppermint gums with 270-degree pillow-height views across the landscape. Soft cotton bedlinen, a goose-down duvet and latex mattress add personal comfort. You even have pillow choices.

Every morning we drift in and out of sleep under a blanket of warm dappled sunlight, relishing the tranquillity and natural beauty of the valley. It's sheer bliss by contrast to the renovation zone at home in "Melbourne's most liveable suburb". No drills, jackhammers or sanders - just the odd bleat, cackle and tweet.

In the breakfast lounge nearby - a smart, guests-only cafe designed in sympathy with the chalets - Eddie whips up bacon, tomatoes, sauteed Swiss browns and exquisite saffron-coloured organic googies "from the lady down the road" while his wife Sabine plays barista and concierge. It's a relaxed, friendly affair. Graze from a buffet of fresh fruit, juices, muesli, Euro-style yoghurt, breads, spreads and local berry jams. Grab a timber bistro table and dine indoors or share the vine-lined pergola with the dogs, Charlie and Cosmo, and drink in the verdant valley vista. Alternatively, sink into a soft leather sofa and linger over the papers, flick through tourist flyers and plan the day's agenda.

Our weekend agenda is pretty much extreme indolence. We wander down to the lower paddock and pat the milky-white Saanen dairy goats - an all-girl herd of 14. Another day we drive into Bright for a walk along the river under weeping willows, eventually ending up at the visitors' centre with a tote full of fresh walnuts, chestnuts and Mount Buffalo roasted hazelnuts.

As far as B&Bs go, it's difficult to get past the high-quality fitout and serene bucolic setting at The Buckland, and the in-house automatic Italian espresso machine, luxury L'Occitane bath products and breakfast cooked-to-order make the weekend away even more memorable.

VISITORS' BOOK

The Buckland

Address McCormacks Lane, Buckland Valley.

The verdict A high-country haven with hypnotic views.

Cost $360 a night including breakfast for a three-night weekend in No.5.

Bookings Phone 0419 133 318, see thebuckland.com.au.

Getting there The Buckland Valley is 345 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, four hours by car via the Hume Freeway. Detour at Snow Road (C522) to pit stop in Oxley and Milawa, then head for the Great Alpine Road.

Perfect for Romance and relaxation.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Stock up on farm-gate produce; explore cellar doors; dine at Boynton's Feathertop Winery, or Bright's Tani and Ginger Baker. Cycle and hike.