The Sorting Shed, Porepunkah review: Eat, drink, be merry

Read our writer's views on this property below

Sue Wallace cooks up an authentic Italian treat on a gourmet escape.

Rolling pins are getting a workout under the eye of Patrizia Simone, who has taken leave from her Bright restaurant to share her culinary secrets.

Flour flies as we work to produce handmade strand pasta and ravioli with the award-winning chef from Simone's, who chats about her career, her heritage and her love of good food.

We are enjoying a private cooking lesson on a girls' weekend at the new Sorting Shed luxury accommodation at Porepunkah, which sits in the shadows of north-east Victoria's snow-covered Mount Buffalo.

The striking, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, concrete and timber property was inspired by the design of the area's historic 1930s tobacco sorting sheds.

Melbourne architect Sally Draper and Porepunkah builder Craig Martin have created an impressive, two-storey, self-contained retreat using traditional concrete formwork methods and recycled materials, including the stringybark timber floors.

The designer kitchen, with its high-end appliances, can accommodate a small group of masterchefs in the making and has plenty of platters and bowls for our gourmet efforts.

We also make an authentic Italian sauce – just like Patrizia's nonna used to make in her home town of Perugia in Umbria – to accompany the pasta, and toast our efforts with some of the region's best drops.

Class over, there's a scramble to see who claims Draper's signature window seat, with beautiful views of shady trees and the Ovens River.


The good news is there are plenty of other places to stretch out – by the wood-fired heater or you can escape to the cosy den and claim a sofa.

Downstairs, three generous-size bedrooms have rural vistas of the property, which is home to the Alpine Angus Stud.

The main bedroom has an en suite and there's a second bathroom, with a spa bath, close to the other bedrooms.

Heated polished-concrete floors keep the downstairs cosy and there's an authentic sauna – open the door and the aroma of fresh pine wafts out.

The hideaway has the stamp of interior designer Russell Grainger, who also worked on the property's other two retreats, Cavedon's Kilnhouse and Chinaman's Kilnhouse.

We head to the balcony to soak up those mountain views and, by chance, spot the remains of an original concrete kiln and sorting shed – grateful we are cocooned in this luxe descendant.

And then we ate Inquisitive Angus cows stare at us from the paddocks as we fire up the barbecue on one of the two balconies. The second night, we head into Simone's in Bright to enjoy a fabulous Italian dinner.

The deal maker The scale and harmony of the upstairs living area is impressive and the large windows make nature your room-mate. The sauna is also a clincher.

Stepping out Take your skis and head to Mount Hotham, which is half an hour up the road, while Falls Creek is one hour away.

Food and wine lovers will enjoy nearby Bright, where cafes and restaurants have great local produce. Stop for a coffee at Ginger Baker and a boutique ale at award-winning Bright Brewery, and stock up on supplies at Bright's Make It, Bake it, Grow It market if you happen to be there on the third Saturday of the month.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


The Sorting Shed

Address Cavedons Lane, Porepunkah.

The verdict A chic rural retreat that pays homage to the area's heritage.

Price The Sorting Shed accommodates up to six adults and costs from $700 a night for six on weekends, $400 a night for two and $550 for four. Cooking classes range from $120 a person midweek to $150 a person on weekends, includes lunch with wines.

Bookings Phone 0400 733 170; see

Getting there Porepunkah is 316 kilometres from Melbourne or about three hours' drive. Follow the Hume Freeway, take the Milawa turn and then head on to the Great Alpine Road. It is about 45 minutes from Milawa.

Wheelchair access No.

Perfect for a romantic getaway, three couples or a girls' weekend.

While you're there Pack the Lycra and follow the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, a great way to see the area.