The Donnybrook Eco Retreat is located right in the heart of the Hunter Valley, a little more than a couple of hours' drive north of Sydney. It's a luxury "tent" nestled at the foot of a dam favoured by ducks and set among lush green rural paddocks.
The accommodation comprises one spacious main room with a queen-size bed and ensuite bathroom with shower. All the camping basics and more than enough food for breakfast over the weekend - including farm eggs, freshly picked strawberries, home-made pancake mix, jams, bacon and creamy yoghurt - are provided. Supporting Donnybrook's eco credentials, the "floorboards" are made from recycled plastic bottles and sawdust, the drinking and shower water is collected rainwater, electricity is derived from solar panels and, finally, there's a five-star composting toilet (which is way more tolerable than it sounds).
It's easy to sleep in at Donnybrook, with the wildlife orchestra sounding just like a baby-calming CD. In the morning, with the floor-to-ceiling windows of the tent zipped shut, the soft orange glow of sunrise seeps through the canvas, making you feel as if you're on an African safari instead of the outskirts of historic Maitland. Once unzipped, they reveal 270-degree views of verdant countryside, the sort of landscape you don't get to enjoy in a conventional hotel.
Donnybrook is a stone's throw from the myriad attractions of the Hunter Valley. For something different, find Cranky's Corner, a swimming hole hidden in the hills about a 20-minute drive from the tent. The water is bracing, but how can you resist a dip in Mother Nature's therapeutic ice bath? You're on an eco retreat, after all.
Need to know
Cost: From $200 a night for a two-night minimum stay.
Distance: 2.5 hours' drive (180km) north of Sydney.
702 Luskintyre Road, Luskintyre, NSW
PHONE: 0434 414 733