Ossian Hall Valley Retreat, Colo Valley review: Going bush, unplugged

Read our writer's views on this property below

With no mobile reception and no kids, Nellie Reeves finds perfect peace.

Camels, horses, deer and llama graze the bushland around Ossian Hall in the Hawkesbury's Colo Valley. A free settler gave the property its name in 1818 after being granted the land by Governor Macquarie.

We're here for relaxation as much as history and for the stunning views to be enjoyed from the Hall's guest cottages, which are surrounded by the Great Dividing Range.

An English-style garden grows along the path around the three guest dwellings. At our cottage, a stained-glass door with a blue wren design opens to a recently renovated room filled with natural light. A V-shaped area leads to a fully equipped kitchen and a log fire.

The accommodation is modern Australian with an open-plan feel - prints on the walls, Japanese paper lamps and a futon-style bed with a firm, queen-sized mattress. Glass doors open to a private balcony, spa and courtyard with valley views.

If you want to discreetly check the BlackBerry and plug in the laptop while your partner is in the shower, this is not the destination for you. There is no mobile coverage or internet access. A landline in the games room suffices here. Ossian Hall is also an adults-only zone.

The valley can flood in strong storms, cutting road access, so check weather forecasts. But if you want a long weekend alone with your loved one and an excuse not to be at work on Monday, this is the place to be in bad weather.

It's a fine-weather weekend for us, though, and after a drink on the balcony we decide to kayak on the Colo River. We paddle upstream and then beach the kayak on the sandbank so as to swim. There is no one to be seen, the size of the mountains dwarfs me and I feel an instant calm. On our way back to the cottage we pass peacocks. Native and domestic bird life is abundant; binoculars and a bird book are in every cottage.

Ossian's spa room is a converted corrugated-iron shed off the games room (think free pool table, darts, log fire). The spa has firm jets that test well on our back muscles. Between the spa and sauna the only thing missing is a shower. The best thing after relaxing is eating, surely. Our cottage's kitchen and barbecue area encourage self-sufficiency but we opt for a chef-prepared seafood platter and dessert.

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A breakfast basket is delivered that evening; hot, fresh bread and the papers are on our doorstep in the morning.

Ossian Hall's activities are free. After breakfast it's a coin toss for mountain biking, swimming in the guest pool or fishing (rod and tackle provided). If you like stimulating urban environments, another location might be more suitable. If you want peace and privacy, you could be very content stranded here.

TRIP NOTES

Address Ossian Hall Valley Retreat, Putty Road, Colo, NSW. See ossianhall.com.au.

Bookings Phone 4575 5250.

Rates The bower and blue wren cottages cost $240 a couple a night, $265 on weekends; the lyrebird cottage is $215/$239.

VERDICT

Why you'd go To get away with your partner in a child-free environment.

Why you wouldn't There's no escaping the kids.

FIND TIME TO

· Bushwalk at Wollemi National Park.

· Visit Australia's oldest pub, The Macquarie Arms Hotel, at 99 George Street, Windsor.

The writer was a guest of Ossian Hall Valley Retreat.