Built on a privately-owned Wagyu and polo farm and only opening in September, Hazelwood Estate brings a whole new kind of country elegance to the Gold Coast Hinterland. Ensconced in a cosy green valley within gates and fences, you may have intentions to explore the region but you're unlikely to want to leave the grounds. Probably because – despite its very dignified design – Hazelwood Estate feels like home, and guests mix like old friends. When non-guests come for meals, you feel like you're playing host.
Situated just seven kilometres from Binna Burra – an historic eco-lodge set in the heart of the 20,000 hectare World-Heritage-listed Lamington National Park - you're actually much closer to the Gold Coast than it feels like out here. Gold Coast Airport is less than an hour's drive away, while Brisbane's CBD is 75 minutes. The tiny village of Beechmont (home to two cafes) is only five minutes away.
This must be the epitome of country elegance. Pavilions and cabins are built across rolling green hills, each spaced out adequately to make it feel like you have no neighbours. It's a short stroll to the property's piece de resistance, The Paddock, a clubhouse-style bar and restaurant. Guests sit beneath a soaring ceiling, looking through floor-to-ceiling windows (pre-dinner, you might like to sit beside an enormous open fireplace with a drink). In summer, the windows roll back so guests can dine on a terrace in the dusk. Pre-dinner drinks can be taken at a bar overlooking a polo field, 300 metres away, past polo horses in paddocks. You'll often find the chefs outside in the market garden foraging for dinner ingredients.
There are three luxury pavilions and 17 king farm cabins with warm natural wood furnishings, open fireplaces and private outdoor decks where you can sit and watch kangaroos and kookaburras. The pavilions also have free-standing bath tubs, but all rooms share the same elegant farm-house vibe. Floor-to-ceiling windows throughout mean you won't miss a single creature wandering by, and pavilions are faced north-west for a killer sunset.
You won't taste better dishes anywhere in regional Queensland. A stay at Hazelwood Estate is centred around its cuisine, three-course dinners and big breakfasts are included with your room. Chef-in-residence Cameron Matthews is one of the country's most awarded chefs – earning multiple hats in his 12-year tenure as Spicers Retreats' executive chef. He's spent months establishing relationships with local farmers and it shows. As you might expect on a Wagyu farm, the beef is really, really good.
Put your dancing shoes away, there's nothing close by but mesmerising views across national parks and the caldera of a 22-million-year-old extinct volcano (Tweed Volcano) and a tiny village (Beechmont) where you won't want to blink as you drive through, lest you miss it altogether. But some of Australia's best day hikes are waiting seven kilometres up at the road at Binna Burra: so pack your hiking shoes instead.
It's not easy to find a place that melts your heart the moment you step into it, but Hazelwood Estate does that, and then some. Although its restaurant/ bar is meant to emulate the elegance of a golf clubhouse somewhere in Europe or the UK, there's no stiffness. Here it's as welcoming and casual as your own house. When outside lunch guests turn up in fancy clothes, you'll feel more suitably dressed in jeans.
Rooms from $649 per night. 422 Binna Burra Road, Beechmont, Queensland. See hazelwoodestate.com.au
There's no pomp and ceremony, it's your home, so get comfortable. Before you know it, you'll be hanging out with fellow guests and staff like you've known them for years.
It's early days, so the landscaping between king cabins and pavilions is still growing. There are no privacy issues, but it'll look better when the trees and plants grow.
Craig Tansley travelled courtesy of Hazelwood Estate.