Read our writer's views on this property below
Brigid Delaney enjoys clear days and cold nights during a sojourn most pleasant.
The last time I had been to the north-east of the state was during the year I turned 21 and every weekend there was a party. I had gone to a college with a lot of country kids – and a high proportion seemed to be from that region.
Months seemed to pass in a blur of car trips up the Hume, drinking beer and playing mix tapes. Wangaratta, Wodonga, Shepparton, Albury all merged in a sort of a montage. The parties were on a farm or in backyards or, for the posher kids, at a winery in Rutherglen or restaurant in Beechworth. What else? The loveliness and colours of autumn, the serious and still winters. Clear days, cold nights.
Whatever the season, later in the night there'd be arguments with bouncers while trying to get into one of those regional pubs: old heritage buildings, five floors, a sports bar and disco, pokies and trouble at 3am. The next day you would wake to a tangle of people in sleeping bags in the loungeroom of someone's parents' house and a dry feeling in your mouth.
More than a decade has passed since those 21sts and I am keen to revisit the region. Not to see its nightclubs, sports bars and hotdog vans – but its more sophisticated side.
One brochure told me that since 1994 the area had been branded as a gourmet region – evocatively titled "Milawa" – and one can buy regional produce in tastefully rustic and painfully authentic gourmet stores and restaurants.
Under exposed timber beams and tended lovingly by women in natural fibres, there are $6 loaves of bread that look authentically distressed – as if made by a farmer's wife with careworn hands and an ancient Saxon recipe. There are little jars of jam with deliberately faded labels and lumpy fruit and coquettish bottles of olive oil that whisper promises of faraway abbeys, secret recipes and virgins. There is cheese. There is wine. There are couples who approach the produce reverently, as if about to genuflect at an altar.
I have booked into Mount Pleasant Luxury Accommodation. Note the words "luxury" and "pleasant." It's hard for luxury to be unpleasant isn't it? I've never heard anyone complain that their luxurious five-star hotel was "unpleasant".
If it was, it wouldn't be luxurious.
With these word associations in mind ("luxury, luxury, luxury," whispering silkily in my inner-ear) we drive right past our accommodation, eyes craned instead looking for some Xanadu in the next paddock.
But the two-bedroom brick veneer is it. Mmm – it doesn't look so luxurious on the outside. In fact, it looks quite ordinary. But we aren't staying outside looking at the exterior of the house; we are staying inside looking at the interior, so I guess the plain facade doesn't really matter.
The inside had been, as they say, "tastefully renovated". There are lots of white finishes, polished floorboards, an excellent fire, wonderful kitchen, spa bath, master room with ensuite and second bedroom. The house is incredibly light due to enormous windows that open onto the pastoral surrounds of a working farm.
So let's look at its name: Mount Pleasant Luxury Accommodation. There is no sign of the "Mount" but it is very, very pleasant.
I am not convinced, though, that it is "luxury" – a big word that probably only a dozen places in Australia can use and get away with.
That said, the owners have made every effort to make the place special. It is incredibly clean and well-appointed with everything from books to Austar to a selection of DVDs.
The fridge is stocked with items for breakfast and snacking: wonderful medieval-looking breads, smoked salmon, eggs, home-made hollandaise sauce, a bottle of champagne, some Muscat and a box of Lindt chocolates plus fresh coffee beans and orange juice. The kitchen is well-equipped with utensils, so you can bring your own food and cook.
But as this is gourmet central, it is important to venture off the farm. The house is not far from the Milawa eateries such as King River Cafe and Brown Brothers winery.
It is all very gourmet – but also very beautiful. This part of the world is stunning. Mount Pleasant has bikes so I ride twice, once in the morning, once at dusk. The landscape is beautiful and eerie – lots of fog and occasional splashes of sun making the green fields luminescent. Now and again I see a flock of corellas or cockies and from time to time an ancient, large, grey tree sitting seemingly immovable in a paddock.
The fresh farm air, the local produce, the wine that flows like, well, wine and the Mount Pleasant homestead's incredibly comfortable beds make our stay pleasant.
Mount Pleasant Luxury Accommodation
Address Wightons Road, East Wangaratta, Victoria.
Bookings Phone 5722 2616 or 0419 862 156. Email email@example.com. See mountpleasanthomestead.com.au.
Getting there East Wangaratta is about a three-hour drive from Melbourne on the Hume Highway.
Cost Mount Pleasant Homestead is $295 a couple (or room) a night on a weekend. An extra $100 a night is charged for the other room.
Summary Comfortable and spacious house close to the Milawa Gourmet Region. Expensive, though, if you go with a friend and want to have a room each.
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.