From Ned Kelly to early settlers: Historic Stays offers chance to holiday with history

Why check in at a modern hotel when you can stay in the cottage where photographer J. E. Bray once took portraits of the Ned Kelly Gang in an upstairs room?

 Historic Stays, a collection of more than 40 properties around Australia, gives you the chance to holiday with history. Options range from an early Georgian cottage to a grand Victorian residence or classic Queenslander.

The new booking site is the brainchild of heritage architecture and history lover Alison Vassallo. She says all the properties are unique and represent part of the country's history.

In Victoria there's Ned Kelly's Marlo Cottage in Beechworth with ruby-red leadlight which was once a thriving photography studio. And in NSW, one option is Bundeena's Simpson Cottage, built with convict-cut sandstone. This was the original home of the Simpson family, some of the first settlers south of the Hacking River. The restored cottage retains its original features such as timber-lined ceilings and front door with the original lock.

"Often we can pass through a country town, spot an incredible bed and breakfast or cottage accommodation, and wonder 'why did I not know about this place before now?" Melbourne-based Vassallo says.

"We look for properties with significant original period detail, such as leadlight windows and doors, fireplaces, fretwork and joinery."

"There's a need to support accommodation hosts to showcase these historic properties [the owners] have worked so hard to restore. It's a true labour of love and we connect them with like- minded people who love and appreciate what they've achieved." She can appreciate this more than most, having renovated her own century-old home.

The best historic properties have been restored to accommodate modern-day comforts without detracting from the property's period charm, Vassallo says.

"Some of our properties have under-floor heating, spa showers, chef's kitchens, outdoor baths, luxury converted stables, even plunge pools."

She says after lockdowns the appeal of open countryside is strong.  "There's no better time to take an old- fashioned road trip and rediscover Australia, and it's in our country towns where travellers will find many of our beautiful historic properties."

"With many of our properties catering for small groups or families, quite often, they end upmore economical than hotel accommodation."