Lyrebird Studio, Ellalong accommodation review: Weekend away

Read our writer's views on this property below

The location  

Travel 90 minutes north on the M1 from Sydney and you'll find yourself in the Hunter Valley, a place of such bucolic perfection that you half expect to see hobbits crowning the horizon. The small township of Ellalong is just 15 minutes from Cessnock.

The place  

This little cottage is situated on 40 hectares on the edge of the Watagan Mountains, well populated by kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. Once a tin "humpy", it has been lovingly made over by owners Di Baker and Peter McNeill and is now a cosy, compact retreat comprising a double bedroom, economically equipped kitchen and sitting room, its walls decorated with the prodigious, nature-loving output of artist Baker. Visiting artists are invited to make full use of her spacious adjoining studio, which is airconditioned or heated, depending on the season.

The experience  

Prepare for a weekend of totally unplugged seclusion. Your phone won't work (at least not without some very creative positioning around the property) and, despite the presence of a TV, there's no free-to-air or pay programming to distract you from the very important business of ... chilling the hell out. Instead, pour yourself a glass of red, put on a CD and read a book in the presence of Ray Charles and guests.

Don't miss  

Enjoy a lie-in in the soft-as-a-cloud king-size bed with its expensive linen (the sitting-room sofa also pulls out to make a double bed) and the spectacle of grazing kangaroos, snuffling wombats and soaring wedgetail eagles. Drive into Cessnock's multi-award-winning Royal Oak Hotel and order, depending on your appetite, a plate of Sydney rock oysters or gourmet pizza (hello, roast duck, shiitake mushrooms and hoisin sauce). The list of home-grown tipples is impressively comprehensive.

Need to know

Cost: $500 for a minimum two-night weekend stay.

Distance: 1.5 hours' drive (150km) north of Sydney.

Children: Older children only.

405 Wallaby Gully Road, Ellalong, NSW

PHONE: (02) 4998 1950

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WEB: lyrebirdstudio.net.au