Mount Irvine, Blue Mountains, NSW
phone: (02) 9331 2881
The location Far from the chintzy antique stores of Leura, Mount Irvine is the Blue Mountains as they were meant to be: lush valleys quiet except for the sound of birds chirruping and the occasional crunch of car tyres on loose metal roads. Nature lovers will delight in exploring cool-climate gardens such as Bebeah and Merry Garth, or ambling along narrow roads lined with magnificent century-old beech and elm trees.
The place Named after a Robert Frost poem, Mending Wall is remote enough that you are warned to arrive with enough supplies and a full tank of petrol (the nearest store is 45 minutes' drive away). The angular, modern three-bedroom house is set in 2.2 hectares of woodland gardens and affords a view of the skyscrapers of Sydney on the horizon. Inside, there is an impressive kitchen stocked with every implement and device you might require (including a Nespresso coffee machine), and the house is furnished with comfortable classics, including chairs by Arne Jacobsen and Charles Eames. The open-plan living area features dramatic artwork by Minnie Pwerle, a gleaming grand piano and a crackling open fire, but the highlight is undoubtedly a collection of more than 1000 books ranging from the full collection of Marcel Proust to original unbound scripts for films such as The Truman Show.
The experience This is a place that invites the kind of unhurried contemplation that is not possible in everyday life, but if the appeal of reading, cooking or lazing in the outdoor spa should wane, it's advisable to grab a set of gumboots from the "mud room" located near the front door and stride out in the neighboring Wollemi National Park. The property also has a impressive garden featuring rare rhododendrons and azaleas as well as modern sculpture, including a startlingly lifelike man with a suitcase that was shown in Sydney's 2009 Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.
Don't miss … The nearby village of Mount Wilson is worth a visit for its heritage buildings and picturebook tree-lined streets. The Victorian-era Turkish baths are believed to have been built by Richard Wynne (benefactor of the well-known art prize) in the 1880s for his sick wife.
Cost: $1000 a night (sleeps six); two night minimum stay.
Distance: 135km (2 hours' drive) west of Sydney.
- Good Weekend