Highfield Cottage, Southern Highlands review: Homestead high jinks

Read our writer's views on this property below

He's not the groom but a highland country wedding has Andrew Taylor feeling like a million bucks.

A country wedding is the ideal opportunity to be led astray by a blushing bride and her boozy bridesmaids. Yet it is technology - a GPS, to be precise - that leads our wedding party (two girls, two guys - all single) down a potholed goat track that turns out to be flooded and impassable near Sutton Forest in the Southern Highlands.

A panicky phone call to our host, Rhonda, quickly puts us back on track. "Oh no, we never tell people to go down that one," she says as we reverse the car and speedily head through the forest to eventually arrive at the imposing sandstone and black wrought-iron gates guarding our accommodation.

Perched on top of Mount Gingenbullen, Highfield Cottage is a two-storey timber house built as the gatekeeper's lodge to the main homestead - a huge pile built in 1901 that sits further along a driveway lined with pines. Highfield Cottage was built in the Queen Anne Federation style, however, there's more than a hint of Anne of Green Gables in the three-bedroom cottage's sky-blue window frames, steep-pitched roof and picket fence lined with hydrangeas.

So far, so good. Yet one of our weekend group, Jules, is not so easily impressed: "Let's wait until we see the towels."

Inside, Highfield Cottage looks like a doll's house owned by a very neat girl: the curtains are lacy, the bedspreads flowery and the bedsheets tucked with hospital corners. A chocolate cake even awaits us on the breakfast table. And, yes, the towels are fluffy not frayed.

However, oddness lurks in a kitchen drawer in the form of a photo of its contents - egg flip, tongs and so on - all lined up perfectly. We find similar photos in every other drawer and kitchen cupboard.

Although it has two double rooms and a single, Highfield Cottage is only set up to accommodate a maximum of four people, who need to live up to the owner's high standards of tidiness as there are no wardrobes for hanging clothes and no dishwasher. There is also only one - albeit lovely - bathroom, which makes use of rainwater.

The cottage is, however, well-equipped for winter, with plenty of blankets and radiators.

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The breakfast hamper is a thoughtful touch, although my grandiose vision of a basket of fruit, fresh croissants and posh condiments is deflated by the reality of a packet of bacon, half a dozen eggs and a loaf of homebrand bread.

There is a small TV/DVD in the living room with a set-top box to pick up digital channels. Despite detailed handwritten instructions, we're only able to pick up one channel. Stuck watching that nice Andy Muirhead rabbiting on about matchsticks on Collectors, we decide instead to seek out some of our fellow wedding guests at one of Moss Vale's finer ale houses - the Jemmy Moss Inn.

There, we keep the groom's feet warm before returning to the cottage to drink a few dark and stormies under the stars while providing fresh blood to the local mozzies.

The next morning dawns full of promise: the air is fresh, the cattle and horses (including one with a shaved bum) graze contentedly and the sun shines brightly over the rolling hills. It feels good to be alive.Highfield's landscaped gardens stretch before us to the green beyond; the property's Haddonstone courtyard is the perfect place to sit and gaze, shaded by a large camphor laurel tree.

And then the back door slams shut, with the keys inside and my friend Craig and I outside. Luckily, he is surgically attached to his BlackBerry and the girls inside are woken with only medium-level hangovers. They are soon arranged in the car in search of breakfast. The cottage is an easy drive to Bowral, Moss Vale, Berrima and Bundanoon, so we're spoilt for choice.

Moss Vale's Old Farm Kitchen serves up coffee, crispy bacon and poached eggs that cannot be faulted.

Later, as the bride and groom celebrate their first night of marriage, we guests return to the cottage to drink, play and - well - what happens in Highfield Cottage stays in Highfield Cottage.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE Highfield Cottage, 271 Oldbury Road, Sutton Forest. Phone (02) 4868 2520, see highlandsnsw.com.au/highfield.

HOW MUCH From $550 for two nights, for up to four people.

BEST THING Sitting in the cottage's garden at night with a beer in hand, gazing up at the stars.

WORST THING Forgetting insect repellent.

LOCAL SECRET Hair of the dog. Southern Highland Wines (corner of Oldbury Road and Illawarra Highway) is the ideal place to quaff a fruity cab sav or pinot noir and short-circuit a hangover.