Ben Lomond, Wentworth Falls review: House of good omens

Read our writer's views on this property below

Conrad Walters enters a garden paradise, is delivered from evil and tempted by dessert.

Not that I was snooping - I merely opened a desk drawer in search of paper - but soon after entering Ben Lomond I came across a weathered red Bible with a bookmark at Psalm 23. Was this, I wondered, a portent of woe or a guarantee of eternal bliss?

Earlier, the estate agent had me worried - and then briefly confused - when I announced my name to collect the keys. "Oh dear," she said with a voice full of dread, "you're going to have a wonderful time." If there were omens in her words, they were beyond me.

Within 15 minutes of arriving, though, I understand the psalm's opening couplet about wanting to lie down in green pastures. This is a reference to the manicured lawn just over the side fence, where the third hole of the Wentworth Falls Country Club begins. The 18-hole course is said to be among the best in the Blue Mountains.

On "my" side of the fence, Ben Lomond's own garden is in full bloom with azaleas, agapanthus, irises and daffodils. As I stroll the grounds and test the cushioned benches and gazebo, I encounter hydrangeas, elkhorn ferns, weeping maples and more. (I'm being a complete fraud in name-dropping like this. I only know the plants because the gardener has left labels on many of the trees and shrubs.)

Back indoors, I continue the search for auguries. With flowering orchids in an enclosed verandah, white plantation shutters, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen that basks in the afternoon light, it all looks favourable enough to me. Plus, with the underfloor and central heating and fireplaces, my three companions and I look set for anything the mountains can throw at us. Not that we'd need much on a spring weekend with clear skies forecast.

The main bedroom, with a large en suite, looks on to the verandah and, beyond that, to a floodlit evergreen in the middle of the circular driveway. The second bedroom is full of light, though its double bed seems a tad slight for such a grand house, said to have been built in the 1920s for a Scottish sea captain.

I like the meandering layout of the property more than my companions but they had a point in noting a lack of sociable furniture. The television room is comfortable for one or two, the kitchen has only a pair of recycled pews made for posture-perfect spines, the dining room is dominated by a square table too large for the four chairs and the adjoining living room is dominated by a charpoy piled high with cushions.

A trip to mountains, though, isn't about lounging around on cushions, so we spend our first full day bushwalking. A five-minute drive away, we test ourselves for six hours, taking in the Valley of the Waters, via Edinburgh Rock and Lillian's Glen, and, finally, conquering the steps that lead up and up from the town's waterfalls.

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Then, as I uncharacteristically lead the way back to the car, another ominous portent: across the middle of the track, I spot a brown snake. In the only heroic gesture I expect to ever have to make in my life, I thrust out my arms in warning to protect my fellow walkers from traipsing on the giant reptile.

"Where is it?" one says.

"Oh, it's only a baby," another says, leaning forward for a better look.

It probably has enough venom to fell a swarm of mosquitoes but Tim, our brave navigator for the day, strides past it. Moments later, the humbled snake slithers away into the bush.

That night, we celebrate our escape with a triumphant dinner at Vulcans restaurant in nearby Blackheath, finished with chef Phillip Searle's signature dessert: chequerboard ice-cream. At least the omens for our waistlines are clear.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Ben Lomond

Address 152 Blaxland Road, Wentworth Falls.

The verdict The garden in bloom is a wonder and the house is full of sunny spots. But you might want to rearrange the chairs before you open the complimentary bottle of wine.

Price $550 a night on weekends (Friday-Sunday), $450 a night Monday-Thursday, minimum two-night stay.

Bookings Phone owner Margaret Rahilly on 0418 210 225 or see benlomondluxury.com.

Getting there Wentworth Falls is 95 kilometres west of Sydney's CBD.

Perfect for A quiet break from the city within easy reach of some tremendous bushwalks. And for laughing at people who chase a white ball around a fairway.

Wheelchair access No.

While you are there Walk yourself silly on a circuit past Wentworth Falls then replenish at Vulcans restaurant (book ahead). Or peruse Lamdha Books on Station Street then head 20 metres south for cake at Schwarzes patisserie.