The Blue Mountains region west of Sydney is one of NSW's tourist treasures. Just a couple of hours by car or train, the gum tree-covered peaks and glacier-carved valleys offer any number of stunning vistas. Bushwalks traverse eucalyptus-scented forests and pass under impressive sandstone escarpments, while the many pretty townships have cafes, restaurants and antique shops to tempt the visiting tourist.
At Blackheath, almost as far west as you can travel in the mountains before they give way to the vast plains of inland NSW, turn left from the township over the railway line and take the sloping and winding Shipley Road through the gum trees.
A kilometre or two down the road on the right, you'll find the rustic Kanimbla View Clifftop Retreat, which comprises two charming cottages ("Valley" and "Banksia") as well as studio accommodation. The olive-coloured "Valley" cottage, our destination, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and dining area and a sunken lounge room with tall, north-facing windows that let in plenty of natural light. There are also a number of impressive "eco" features, such as solar power, waterless and odourless composting toilets, and interiors fitted out with natural and recycled materials - including large, polished tree branches that act as roof supports.
Kanimbla View offers a true-blue get-away-from-it-all destination. Set on a significantly sized bushland block, the resort doubles as a wildlife refuge, meaning that, on any walks you take in the grounds, you'll be much more likely to see birds, frogs and lizards among the rampant native vegetation than other humanoid types. An indoor feature, much appreciated on a colder day, is Valley Cottage's wood-burning fireplace, which helps create a warm and cosy atmosphere, while the location of the cottage, some way from the road, guarantees a peaceful stay.
The resort features tennis and petanque courts, while the property's cliff-top walk offers an easy excursion to three spectacular lookouts across the vast expanse of the Megalong Valley. A short drive from the resort are the magnificent walking tracks that weave their way in and around Centennial Glen nature reserve; if you're lucky, you might catch brave climbers scaling the reserve's many sheer sandstone cliffs. Blackheath has a number of enticing cafes where the fat can be chewed, while further afield there are unparalleled views from Govetts Leap into the Blue Mountains National Park.
Cost: "Valley Cottage" is $660 for a two-night weekend stay for two people.
Distance: 2 hours' drive (110km) west of Sydney.
113 Shipley Road, Shipley Plateau, Blackheath, NSW
PHONE: (02) 4787 8985 or 0414 712 713