Book Barn Cottage: Weekend Away: Berrima

Read our writer's views on this property below

Natasha Wallace enjoys a cottage stay in the Southern Highlands.

THE SETTING

A quaint timber cottage, once the gatekeeper's house on the historic 1839 Bendooley estate, near Berrima in the Southern Highlands, sits opposite a vineyard and at the top of a wide, red clay laneway leading through a grand estate of spectacular gardens and beautiful sandstone buildings. A garden of daisies, lavender and roses hugs the pretty, comfortable two-bedroom cottage. A hedge shields it from a busy road. Known as the Book Barn Cottage, it has views overlooking the paddocks from all its french doors and windows. The grounds also house the renowned Berkelouw Book Barn and its restaurant-cellar door, and Antiquariat, for rare books, prints and maps.

THE SPACE

The Book Barn Cottage's main bedroom has a king-size wrought iron bed with luxurious, thick white sheets and a huge double

en suite. The second room has two king singles, one with a trundle, and there is a second bathroom with a bath. There is an open-plan lounge and dining area which is small but functional. The home is tastefully furnished with a mix of modern sofas, industrial and reclaimed wooden stools, French provincial-style side tables and pretty cushions. A lot of thought has been put into the decor, with ceramics in soft colours, fresh flowers, old classic books on the mantelpiece and large botanical prints in timber frames on the walls. On the back verandah are a small table and two chairs, perfect for sitting at while the children play in the grassy backyard.

THE KIT

The cottage's small country kitchen has a dishwasher but a basic oven. There's a barbecue on the verandah and a full laundry. There is also a fireplace and ducted airconditioning and heating.

COMFORT FACTOR

Advertisement

The cottage is sparkling clean and big on detail, from the olive oil in the pantry and fresh milk in the fridge to the generous supply of bathroom products and quality towels. There are wooden floors in the living space and lovely plush dark grey carpet in both bedrooms. There's a bookshelf of books which you can buy at a discounted price at the bookstore if you start reading a novel you just can't leave behind.

FOOD

Bendooley Bar and Grill, a two-minute stroll down the lane, is a must-do for lunch (there's also a cellar door and handcrafted beers), but book ahead. Otherwise, the region boasts too many specialty delis, cheese shops, restaurants and cafes to list. Here's just a few: in nearby Berrima there's the fine dining restaurant Eschalot, The Two Skinny Chefs cafe and the oldest continuously licensed pub, The Surveyor General Inn. Sweet tooths must try the French Gumnut Patisserie (also in Bowral). Bowral itself has plenty of quality cafes and bakeries, such as Flour Water Salt and Biota bar and restaurant, which made it into The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide last year.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

We loved walking around the well-kept grounds with its manicured hedges and large flower beds. We went several times to the lake to watch the ducks and the children enjoyed visiting the chickens (and collecting their eggs). Nearby Berrima is the best preserved village of Georgian sandstone architecture in Australia. Here, you can visit the Harper's Mansion maze (open at weekends) and those with children will also appreciate the wonderful playground there. Visitors without youngsters can while away an afternoon browsing the antique shops, craft stores, galleries and gift stores. Those who like to pursue activities outdoors can visit the Illawarra Fly treetop walk and Morton National Park for its waterfalls. Bowral has homewares and clothing stores, too.

THE VERDICT

A picturesque, relaxing getaway in a glorious setting.

HOW TO GET THERE

It is about a two-hour drive from Sydney. Follow the Hume Highway south-west to Berrima. The cottage is about three kilometres further along, on the Old Hume Highway.

ESSENTIALS

Book Barn Cottage, phone 4877 1370, see berkelouw.com.au/pages/the-book-barn-cottage. Rates from $250 a night midweek; $375 a night at weekends and public holidays.

The writer stayed courtesy of Book Barn Cottage.