Once an exclusive, dedicated fishing lodge nestled in the rolling foothills of the Snowy Mountains between Gundagai and Tumut in southern NSW, Nimbo Fork is nowadays reeling in all-comers. Why, it could even rename itself "Nimbo Fork & Knife" considering it recently landed a big fish (sorry: the puns end here) in the form of the burgeoning restaurant brand Three Blue Ducks which now runs its culinary offering. Smart move. In a corner of NSW with few standout dining opportunities, the landing of Three Blue Ducks, which originated in Sydney's beachside Bronte a decade or so ago and now has branches as far as Brisbane and Melbourne, is a major plus, not only for Nimbo Fork, but also the region.
Nimbo Fork is about 400 kilometres (or a four-hour drive) south of Sydney and 525 kilometres (or a five-and-a-half hour drive) north of Melbourne. The lodge is set in the Snowy Valleys of the southernmost extremities of the vast Riverina region of NSW and between the two aforementioned townships. And the lodge's name? It's derived from the captivating and fork-shaped confluence of the Tumut River and Nimbo Creek which flows below the property.
Below the cosy main lodge building, which houses guest suites, Nimbo Fork's weatherboard cottages are straight out of The Truman Show. Neatly arranged along a ridge above the river and creek, the cottages, in perhaps a legacy of the lodge's original purpose, still have something of a fishing and hunting theme, with walls adorned with fish species prints and mounted animal heads. Ensuites are pleasingly large with views of the river, creek and the sublime surrounding countryside. Curiously, a tiny TV in my cottage could be found perfectly accommodated behind one door of the wardrobe and, in terms of a property of this calibre, an espresso machine and milk frother or even a French press with real coffee supplied, would have been appreciated instead of the coffee bags provided.
The restaurant, based on the Three Blue Ducks's philosophy of unpretentious, ethical and authentic food, operates out of the main lodge building, overlooking the watercourses and hillsides, which doubles as the lodge reception and inviting guest lounge. True to the Ducks' raison d'être, the food proves appealingly fuss-free. In this setting and locale it's hard to pass up a main of whole butterflied trout with capers, garlic, lemon and dill with a side of kipfler duck-fat roasted potatoes. Full marks to Lucy Young, the outstanding maitre d (and sometime receptionist during your reviewer's stay) who runs the floor with poise and panache befitting a top city eatery.
Although Nimbo Fork is nowadays pitched at the general public rather than the overseas and domestic fly-fishing fraternity, there's still plenty of scope to don waders and dip a line in the creek with professional guides available for hire. Horse-riding, bushwalking, bike riding and picnics by the river can also be arranged. Massages are also available. The photogenic Tumut River and Nimbo Creek, which features its own rapids close to the lodge, are easily accessed for a quiet and contemplative stroll down from the cottages and suites. Of course, the salubrious lodge is eminently suited to doing nothing whatsoever for a day or two, should you so elect.
Once known mainly for a wholly underwhelming dog on a tuckerbox, the roads to and around Gundagai (and for that matter Tumut) form an unexpectedly beautiful corner of NSW. The area is finally realising its potential and what a pleasure it is that, in the heart of it all, Nimbo Fork and Three Blue Ducks are now open for us all to enjoy.
Rooms in the main lodge building from $320 per night and cottages from $365 per night. The restaurant is open for dinner between Wednesdays and Sunday and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Nimbo Fork Lodge, 330 Nimbo Road, Killimicat, NSW. Ph: (02) 6944 9099. See nimbofork.com.au
It's a tie between the gorgeous river and creek setting and Lucy, the maitre d at Three Blue Ducks (don't tell anyone about her in case she gets headhunted by a big smoke restaurant).
The actual accommodation, as pleasant and comfortable as it is, could benefit from a tad more pizazz to complement the views and the tariff.