Somewhere Unique, Wollombi review: To avoid wildlife, go bush

Read our writer's views on this property below

After a, well, unique introduction to Wollombi locals, David Sygall retreats to the elegant embrace of his secluded cabin.

WITHIN 10 minutes of buying a beer at the Wollombi Tavern on what seems to be a sleepy Sunday night, we are deep in conversation with locals Julia and Gina. We have just come from checking into our tranquil haven, Somewhere Unique, and the two women are telling us of residents' battles over native title claims in the area years earlier and how it led indirectly to the formation of the Wollombi Cultural Centre Committee, which is committed to protecting and promoting the region's cultural, artistic and historical integrity.

Julia's ex-husband, it turns out, was a famous sculptor, "but I don't want to talk about him", she declares. Instead, Gina takes over to tell of Julia's own artistic skills and the annual exhibition she hosts.

I'm still on my first Coopers and my partner is on her first Dr Jurd's Jungle Juice (a local concoction akin to rocket fuel) when another local, Dave, pops up. "I don't wanna blow hot air," he says. "But I'm world famous." Motor sports, apparently.

Then, as a pigtailed, oddly dressed Russian who runs a bazaar across the road from the pub starts dancing on a table, my partner's juice kicks in and it dawns on me that historic Wollombi, on the convict-built Great North Road in the lower Hunter Valley, is anything but sedentary.

We escape the tavern to the other side of town (about 30 metres away) and into Panino - a cosy Italian restaurant housed in a 170-year-old building - for a divine meal of roast pork and quail. Then it's back to Somewhere Unique - five minutes by car - to take stock of our hilarious initiation to the area and to bask in the luxury of the retreat.

The brilliantly supplied cabin comes with a complimentary bottle of Noyce Brothers 2004 Shiraz, a full breakfast hamper, Byron Bay organic coffee, teas, jams, locally made chocolates, soft damper and Brookfarm macadamia muesli.

Other touches are abundant and thoughtful: Natio bath products, candles, local soaps and an oil burner with an aphrodisiac blend enhance a truly epic bathroom - gigantic oval bath, separate shower and grandiose showerhead. Everything else in the cabin is small but highly functional and elegant.

The sound system is tiny but crisp; the seating is cosy and includes a clever eating nook next to the kitchen, where we dine quaintly.


The gas log fireplace is unobtrusive, as are the airconditioning systems in each room. The floor in the lounge room is polished timber and the bedroom is carpeted - a lovely contrast but with equal levels of comfort. An angled wall between the two rooms makes the most of the space, while a corrugated ceiling gives a rural feel.

Clean, modern wall prints, smooth textures and warm lighting abound. The place is free of clutter yet houses everything you could want for a weekend away: a fully equipped kitchen, backpacks for treks, robes, games, DVDs, books, binoculars, wireless internet, umbrellas, a thick folder of information about local attractions, a washing machine and dryer.

The exterior is equally well designed. Decks on two sides offer views across a beautiful valley. On one deck, there's a banana chair; the other, a dining table and barbecue, both surrounded by lighting and well-attended shrubs.

Melanie, our host, doesn't stick around for a chat, perhaps wanting to give us privacy. However, we do meet when she drops over a barbecue pack on the second night of our stay (scotch fillet, atlantic salmon, salad and cake). Apart from that, it is reasonable to assume that at Somewhere Unique, you will avoid all human contact. Even the neighbouring cabin is out of view.

The region has wineries, galleries, restaurants, historic cemeteries and reminders of Aboriginal and convict history. There's a lavender farm, observatory, museums, a zoo and great opportunities for hiking or mountain biking. For tips on other attractions, just pop into the Wollombi Tavern, order a drink and meet the locals.

The writer was a guest of Somewhere Unique and Tourism NSW.

Trip notes

Where Somewhere Unique, Narone Creek Road, Wollombi. (02) 4998 3257,

Getting there Take the F3, turn off at Peats Ridge Road and drive up the heritage Great North Road.

How much $330 a couple a night at weekends; $220 a night during the week; $180 a couple a night for seven nights or more.

Style statement A billionaire's IKEA — Swedish practicality and minimalism, with continental elegance and bush privacy.

Perfect for A nature-loving couple looking for the cosiest of places for an escape.

Take the kids? No, this is time out for adults.

Don't forget Tennis racquets. There are a couple of tennis courts in Wollombi. Also, don't forget to make your calls beforehand as there is little phone reception.

A shame about No television in the bedroom.

Kudos Mountain bikes and helmets at the ready just outside our cabin.