Homestead Estate ,Rosewhite review: At home by the fireside

Read our writer's views on this property below

Kay O'Sullivan finds simple pleasures and attention to detail at a bed and breakfast with style.

I'm not a fan of bed and breakfasts. It was a journey through the English countryside in the 1980s that did me in. Too many ornaments, too much potpourri (any potpourri is too much), fluffy toilet covers and big fry-ups served by nauseatingly genial hosts keen to know about our plans for the day.

But I've changed my mind after a stay at the Homestead Estate at Rosewhite in the Happy Valley. With a name like that it had to be worth a punt, or at least one night.

Happy Valley is 10 kilometres from Myrtleford and we stopped off overnight on the way home from the snowfields.

First impressions are promising. Slowed down by bad weather, we are 90 minutes late. Hosts Noela Dawes and Micheal Freudenstein greet us in the driveway, grab our bags and shepherd us into a sitting room.

I am delirious with delight at what we find. Toasty fire, soothing music and a brimming plate of warm goat's cheese/flaky pastries, dukkha, peppery extra virgin oil and bread worthy of St Kilda's master baker D. Chirico. Plus, a big, big glass of sangiovese. All produced on the 12 hectares that surround Homestead Estate.

Noela and Micheal had presumed correctly that - being so late, the weather being so awful, the roads so unfamiliar - the driver might be in need of reviving. Too right.

Escapees from Sydney, Noela and Micheal have had the property for a decade and have done an extensive but sympathetic renovation on the 1869 homestead. They have also planted grapes and olives and there's a pool in the gardens.

The sitting room has leather chesterfields, a marvellous Chinoise cabinet and the fire is of the flick-on flick-off kind - full marks for environmental concern.

Advertisement

If I'd been settling in for a couple of days I might have plucked one of the hardbacks (no dog-eared copies of Airport here) from the well-stocked book shelves but air-freighted international editions of Hello! and Vanity Fair are hard to beat when you're tired and emotional.

I mention the magazines because it shows the attention to detail that is a hallmark of the property. Air-freighted magazines aren't cheap.

Dinner is served in a dining room big enough to make you feel grand but not intimidated. The meal is a fragrant lamb casserole and I don't know how Noela and Micheal manage it but they whip up a vegetarian dish for the young lad whose careless mother (me) has forgotten to tell our hosts that he has a philosophical objection to eating lamb. (I had been asked when I booked.)

For parties of people who are certain of their arrival time, the meal is cooked to order. It's simple fare, says Noela. But I think she is underselling herself and her culinary skills.

The house has three bedrooms. Two are in the newer wings that fan out from the original homestead and there's one inside the older section. All have their own bathrooms, television, heating and sound system.

My cream and maroon Victorian-style bedroom is vast, so too the en suite, which is stocked with a velvety robe, thick towels (nicely heated by the time I get to the room) and no sight of toilet covers, fluffy or otherwise.

Breakfast next morning is generous, made of local product and cooked to order. Also on the menu is freshly squeezed orange juice, the kind of detail that divides winners from losers in the accommodation stakes - and converts people to the joys of the bed and breakfast.

You could easily hunker down for a couple of days at the Homestead Estate. There are all those books to be read - once you've finished Vanity Fair - a pool, plenty of shady spots to sit in the gardens and stare at the surrounding mountains, or you could ask the hosts to arrange an in-house spa treatment. Plus there's always my preferred option of whiling away time in the north-east, sampling the fruits of the vines grown at Homestead Estate.

The same goes for Happy Valley. It might not have the profile of the neighbouring valleys but from what we saw on our whistlestop tour it deserves a long weekend to do it justice.

VISITORS' BOOK

Address RMB 2705 Happy Valley Road, Rosewhite.

Bookings Phone 5753 5318, see www.homesteadestate.com.au.

How much One night's accommodation, sparkling wine and cheese platter on arrival and cooked breakfast, $175 for two. Cyclists' special includes above and two-course dinner for two, plus bike and guest pick-up from Myrtleford and Ovens for $220.

Summary Don't like B&Bs? You will after visiting Homestead Estate.

Getting there About 10 kilometres from Myrtleford and seven kilometres off the Great Alpine Road along route C534, follow the Mount Beauty Road from Ovens.

Verdict 18

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.