Lavender Views, Berry review: Valley views and beds galore

Read our writer's views on this property below

Julietta Jameson finds a large homestead and a little table tennis provide much-needed family fun.

SOMETIMES the truth can creep up on you. At other times, it can hit you in a blinding flash. Take two realisations during our weekend stay at Lavender Views.

First, the gradual one. Several of the adults in our party are sitting at the huge table on the back terrace, sipping sundowners as we stare across the undulating Berry countryside. It's dotted with cows and ponies, clusters of trees and windbreaks of spiky pines.

However, there's not a lavender bush in sight and we've been puzzling over that.

"Aah," one of us says suddenly with the kind of intonation that suggests insight. She pauses, sips, sighs contentedly and continues: "The view really is lavender."

We all look with new eyes and so it is, we concur, as we watch the setting sun change the landscape into shades of purple. It's glorious.

The other, more sudden truth occurs at the table tennis table. The youngest of our crew, a four-year-old boy, challenges me to a game. He's never played before; I hardly have, either. Still, I am not prepared for the whipping I get from this little fellow, whose head barely bobs above the table. He's unbelievably good.

"You've got to see Ronan play ping-pong," I announce breathlessly to his parents as I run back into the main house. "You have a champion on your hands."

Meanwhile, his older brother, six-year-old Declan, is busy on the tennis court belting balls with Roddick style and strength, if not accuracy, to another hapless adult.

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Later, we toast to a future in which these clever lads will be minted sports stars keeping us all in a manner to which we would like to be accustomed. And we laugh. It just feels so good to do that. We've come to Lavender Views, all 12 of us, because there's been sadness in the lives of those boys and their parents, some illness and an unexpected death in the family. We thought a getaway, en masse, might be just the circuit-breaker. We could not have been more right and Lavender Views could not have been better for it.

It comprises two hectares of grounds with views of Broughton Valley and the escarpments of the Cambewarra Range. The rambling ranch-style house accommodates 10 in five bedrooms, the main with a queen-size bed and en suite, two others with double beds and two with two singles.

Above the garage, the home of table tennis, is a loft with additional sleeping for seven.

There's a full kitchen, laundry, formal and informal dining rooms, and a super-comfy lounge room with a good TV where the kids hang out with DVDs in the evening.

Outdoors, there's an entertainment area with a barbecue, seating for everyone (including a separate, smaller table), an all-weather tennis court and gardens that include a bonfire area with stone seating and lawns big enough for a cracking game of cricket.

The house is lifted out of the ordinary by being festooned with gorgeous yellow roses out front, while interior decoration includes the owner's collection of old street signs and railway, car and plane paraphernalia. An antique railway-crossing signal lights up in one corner, vintage petrol bowsers sit in others and other curios abound. It's a fun place and the result is a weekend of laughter and letting go.

Keeping it casual, some of us take the kids to Shoalhaven Heads beach; others pop into Berry for shopping while some in our party stay put and do puzzles (supplied, along with board games) before hitting the tennis court again.

Later, we all come together for a slap-up dinner, barbecuing barramundi and snapper bought at Nowra Fish Markets. It is the sort of weekend that makes you wish it were longer and, before we hit the road, we vow to reconvene at Lavender Views in the not-too-distant future. At the very least, we say, we owe it to the little champions in the making.

The writer was a guest of Lavender Views and Tourism NSW.

Trip notes

Where

Lavender Views, 421 Coolangatta Road, Berry. (02) 4464 1793, berrygetaways.com.au.

Getting there

Follow the Princes Highway to Nowra. Coolangatta Road is the first left just as you hit Berry township.

How much

From $314 a night. Extra for the loft.

Style statement

Planes, trains, automobiles, bats and balls.

Perfect for

Groups, family get-togethers and tennis lovers.

Don't forget

Sheets, towels and your swimmers for the nearby beach. Consider a speaker dock for your iPod, too.

Shame about

The pantry is locked, so groceries must remain on benches and left about the place — tricky with food supplies for a tribe.

Kudos

A large space wonderfully set up for a group to split off or come together as the mood takes you.

Take the kids?

Absolutely. And their friends.