It’s not glamping because there’s no tent. It’s not a deserted island because there’s no water or sand. It’s not a resort because there are no neighbours. But Melawondi has elements of each of these – the fresh air of the country, the seclusion of the island, and the luxuries of a resort room.
One of the owners Tanya Fisher is a keen photographer. She’s snapped platypus in the waterway which sits at the bottom of the hill, koalas at the top, and kangaroos and birds pretty much everywhere. From the cottage, you can’t see the neighbours, yet they’re close enough to call upon if you need. The feeling of isolation has its advantages, and the views from the ridge will explain why – turn off the phone and go for a walk. It’s not yoga, but it’ll go a long way to clearing the head.
Sure, there’s a fully-equipped kitchen, dining table, fireplace, lounge and flat-screen television. Sure, there’s a large bed with neatly folded towels and chocolates to go with the bubbly left in the fridge. Sure, there’s a terrace with daybed overlooking the valley below. But the real attraction is the bathroom. Go for the open-design double-headed shower if you like, but the better option is to open the curtains and sit in the double spa which, incidentally, also overlooks the valley.
Sitting in a room in the middle of nowhere doing very little hardly sounds enticing. A pre-ordered meal awaits in the oven, there’s a platter with local produce on arrival, plenty of books to read on the outside daybed, DVDs to watch on the television, and quite remarkably – if you really need it – wifi access to the outside world. This really is a civilised escape, with nobody within cooee to destroy it.
Tanya Fisher is a pretty good cook. And daughter Emma bakes up a mean cookie. There are a variety of packs available to guests, but the winter warmer is a beauty in cooler months. Upon arrival, a tender casserole is kept warm in the oven, a sticky date pudding cool in the fridge. Then, there’s fresh bread, choc chip cookies, and you’ve probably already had a fill of fruit and cheese on a welcome platter. It would be possible to pop into Imbil or nearby Kandanga for some local tucker, but there wouldn’t be much point with such generous portions of home-baked delights on offer. There's also a hearty bacon and egg cook-yourself breakfast.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Standing at the trough in the “men’s” at Imbil’s Railway Hotel, the bloke standing adjacent casually starts conversation: “Been travellin’ have ya?” Who knows how he knew, but it’s difficult not to interpret the friendly approach as: “You’re not from ‘round here, are ya?” It was, of course, a welcoming charm with a warm smile, and befitting of rural hospitality. There are a few knick-knack shops, selling homewares and farm clothing, along the main drag of Imbil. And when ordering a beer and pub pizza, be sure to keep a dollar aside for the jukebox at the Railway – where the number one most-played song is the Jimmy Buffet/Alan Jackson duet, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.
Don’t blame Tanya and Tony Fisher that you didn’t know about this place. They’ve been trying to tell people about their hidden gem for years. The luxury cabin ticks some very important boxes when it comes to a romantic weekend away: privacy is premium, the bathroom a treat, and the owners are absolutely intent on making guests feel comfortable. There might not be a resort pool or clubhouse, but there’s plenty of space to call your own. It’s a real winner.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Brisbane, it’s a good two-hour hike. Follow the Bruce Highway to Exit 253 which connects through to Kandanga and Imbil, just south of Gympie. If you hit Imbil, you’ve gone too far. Melawondi Rd is on the right.
Melawondi Spring Retreat, 149 Melawondi Road, Imbil. Some people were recently able to pick up a mid-week special on Our Deal, at $249 for two nights, bottle of bubbly and welcome platter. Normal price is $250/night mid-week and $295 on weekends. That rate includes breakfast. Phone 0408 736 223, see melawondispringretreat.com.au.
- The writer was a guest of Melawondi Spring Retreat.
- See other great Queensland Escapes.