Dream Cottage, Berambing review: Whippings before breakfast

Read our writer's views on this property below

From hidden doors to straps on the wall, the surprises keep coming at this mountain escape, writes Elicia Murray.

THERE'S a trick to installing a secret door at a guest house. Don't make it too secret or your guests might not find it. That sounds obvious but I think it's worth mentioning to the owner and builder of the Dream Cabin the day after we check in, when I phone to ask how to crank up the heating during a late-spring cold snap. He asks if we have managed to find the switch for the floor heating – "the one near the secret door".

Uh, yes and no.

We had flicked the switch the night before – and still shivered. What we hadn't realised was that the thick sandstone slab next to it was actually a hidden door.

"I told you so," Plus One says. It's true, he had indeed given the panel a hefty shove the night before and wondered aloud if there was anything up there. So well guarded was this door's secret that we gave up after another push, stoked the fire and poured more wine.

The prospect of somewhere new to explore is intriguing. The cabin has already provided plenty of oh-my-goodness moments, with its clever use of timber and sandstone, its stunning window-walled bathhouse, mezzanine level with a second queen-size bed and its spectacular view over Bowens Creek Gorge. And that was before we made it to the bookcase, where best-sellers share shelf space with titles such as Tantric Sex and Dirty Talk: Speaking the Language of Lust.

So with one almighty tug, the cabin's secret door is opened, revealing a steep sandstone staircase leading to a sun-drenched timber living area. There's a flushing toilet – just when I was getting used to the long drop out the back. There's a spa – in case the one in the bathhouse or the ancient cast iron tub outside aren't enough. And look, there are restraints on the wall, in case . . . someone fancies a good whipping before breakfast?

I grab the two straps bolted to the wall and wind them around my wrists, with my arms above my head, asking Plus One to confirm that these are, in fact, bondage-style restraints and I'm not just jumping to kinky conclusions.

"Ah, yep," he says. We're both puzzled by a thick metal ring on the wall but concede we have much to learn about this kind of equipment.

It seems rather dull to consider food at a time like this but hunger trumps any other urges. The Apple Bar at Bilpin is buzzing. Former Sydney chef Michael Jaggard's specials are so popular that many have been scrubbed from the menu by the time we order. Wood-fired pizza with prosciutto is the highlight.

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On our last morning we trek to a creek at the base of the gorge on the south side of Mount Wilson. It's a steep, beautiful walk through rainforest. Apparently, there are Aboriginal rock carvings nearby but when I notice my sneakers squirming with leeches, I don't stick around to find them.

Flicking through the visitors' book back at the cabin, it's clear past guests have been as impressed as we are – and as prepared to jump to the conclusion that the straps upstairs are not, as the owner later explains with a laugh, for yoga.

More than one entry refers to being restrained; another describes in too much detail some wedding anniversary merrymaking in front of the fireplace. My favourite? "Thanks so much for the sweet place! We had a bitchen time."

So did we.

The writer was a guest of Dream Cottage, Wollemi Wilderness and Tourism NSW.

Trip notes

Where Dream Cabin, Wollemi Wilderness Retreat, 88 Bulgamatta Road, Berambing, near Bilpin. 0409 393 425, wollemiwilderness.com.au.

Getting there Take the Bells Line of Road from Richmond towards Lithgow. About seven kilometres past Bilpin, turn right at Berambing Crescent, then right into Bulgamatta Road. The Dream Cabin is at the end of the tarred road.

How much $391 a couple, a night (two-night minimum). Accommodates up to four adults.

Style statement Rustic luxury with a touch of the risque.

Perfect for Couples in search of a romantic wilderness getaway. Or possibly a spot of bondage.

Shame about The heating. Even with the fire going, we needed extra layers of clothes.

Kudos The view from the bathhouse. Who needs walls?

Take the kids? The cabin is not ideal for children.

Don't forget To BYO towels.