Read our writer's views on this property below
Melissa Singer takes the opportunity to advance the romance at a bush retreat in the Hunter.
GETTING bogged in a muddy pothole isn't the ideal way to begin a romantic weekend but at least you know things can only improve.
And so we find ourselves, stuck in first gear, putt-putting our way up a steep ridge in the Hunter Valley to Wild Edge Retreat.
Luckily, Significant Other is at the wheel or we might have never reached our destination.
But once we do, it's clear that the state of the road is as much designed to keep stickybeaks away as it is to test rally-driving skills.
New owners have given Wild Edge a nip and tuck - we're told the grounds became overgrown while the sale sign was up but everything appears to be clipped to perfection now.
Our "pavilion" - there are four on the property, two with private pools - is named Wind Spirit but it could just as well be called Heaven.
At the back of the 91-hectare property, it is the newest and biggest of the rooms, built two years after the retreat opened in 2003.
Skipping straight past the bedroom and the pool area (more about those later), one of the most romantic settings is the bathroom, built from stone shipped by barge from New Zealand.
No expense has been spared in creating a sanctuary for rejuvenation and relaxation - L'Occitane products and king-size bath sheets are added touches.
When dusk beckons, there are few better ways to soak up the atmosphere than in the double sunken bath, glass of wine in hand, listening to a chorus of birds and cicadas wafting through the bi-fold windows.
I'm no ornithologist but in 10 minutes I see several species of parrot, a kookaburra and a cute-as-a-button fairy wren, which are known for their impressive endowments, Significant Other is quick to point out.
If baths aren't your thing, then a dip in the infinity pool or relaxing on the deck also make ideal full stops to relaxing days (unless you classify visiting wineries hard work).
A double daybed littered with cushions provides some protection from the sun, the mosquito net there to ward off the march flies.
Those who dare can navigate the dirt road into town for dinner but the smart money is on self-catering.
In keeping with the standard set in the bathroom, the kitchen is stocked with Stanley Rogers cutlery and Scanpan cookware. It's a huge relief not only for Mr Foodie but for the organic steaks we went to the trouble of bringing with us.
Just a tip: cook meat and fish on the outdoor grill or you might be inhaling it until breakfast time thanks to the open-plan design.
One minor let-down is the quality of the breakfast basket; gourmet produce would be a welcome replacement - especially given the room rate - for the supermarket yoghurt and tinned fruit. Still, the eggs, bacon and butter were all fresh and went into making a killer BLT on sourdough we had brought with us.
When the airconditioning is going full steam, there isn't much use for the retreat's throws and blankets but winter in front of the log fire here would be oh so snuggly. Ditto the king-size bed, from which you can enjoy the view or read while relaxing to tunes coming through the Bose sound system.
Lighting is also central for creating the right mood.
Tea lights are on every table, mantle and ledge and guests are encouraged to light up (the candles, that is). Some couples might object to the flat-screen TV being visible from the bed but it's great for pumping out music videos while you cook breakfast or for a late-night hit of the shows you used to watch together when you first met.
See, TV can be romantic - it's how you do it that counts.
The writer was a guest of Wild Edge Retreat and Tourism NSW.
260 Craft Road, Wollombi, NSW. (02) 4998 3304 wildedgeretreat.com.au.
Take the Calga-Peat's Ridge exit from the F3 and follow the signs to Wollombi. The turnoff to Wild Edge is on Narone Creek Road, about two kilometres beyond town towards Cessnock.
From $330-$440 a night midweek; $440-$580 a night on weekends, depending on which pavilion you book.
Five-star log cabin — without the logs.
Total isolation — mobile phone reception is patchy, which is the whole idea.
Late-night snacks. Travelling into town after dark can be a hairy experience.
A shame about
The march flies disturbing our poolside bliss.
The golf-buggy porter service made us feel like movie stars.
Take the kids?
No. The retreat is couples only — that also excludes groups.