The Camperdown Mill Accommodation, review: Among the upper crust

Read our writer's views on this property below

A converted grain mill offers Greg Clarke a sense of refined comfort.

The sounds of breakfast being prepared aren't going to filter up to the loft of the three-storey hotel room. At least, I hope not. My wife is still sleeping, under a timber shingle ceiling in a converted grain mill.

Despite my clanging in the kitchen, the Mill's elevated and spacious layout should ensure she'll sleep her way into this Saturday morning.

The Camperdown mill was built in 1868 at a time when the influence and money of Victoria's squattocracy extended from the fertile western district to Melbourne.

While Camperdown still quietly speaks of past glories through a regal boulevard of elm trees and a striking gothic-style clock tower, the Mill's perfectly scuffed timber floorboards, the finely cut shingles and the polished timber grain hoppers above the beds on the second floor whisper more private, lesser-known, tales.

There are 11 rooms at the Mill. Some are contemporary additions but we are staying in the Owers Room, named after William Owers, the fellow who built the mill.

All three floors are part of the original building but its redevelopment includes antique furnishings, black-and-white photographs and a reproduction of the painting Chloe. In the lounge by the kitchen, deer and boar heads are mounted on a wall. I'm unfussed by their glazed stare whenever I'm lingering over coffee and the papers or wine and cheese.

The Mill, transformed to accommodation in 1998, includes modern comforts. What the striking industrial features make of sharing their charm with the spa baths on the second and third floor isn't known but they doubtless think the world has gone a little soft. My wife Jodi and I are grateful for both.

Some negatives lurk about the Mill. Not everyone will be thrilled that "reception" is in the Commercial Hotel, beside a room full of poker machines, about 400 metres from the accommodation (the owner runs both properties).

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However, our room(s) unites history, story and comfort, and I was lured by the blend, and the fact I can't recall ever having rented anywhere with three separate floors.

A spiral staircase connects the layers and while it's narrow - suitably mill-ish - it can be negotiated with a sleeping beauty's breakfast at hand.

And then we ate The pubs, cafes and takeaway food shops are about 400 metres away, on Manifold Street. The breakfast ingredients at the mill are simple, which means there will be room for servings of pies, soups and cakes at the Loaf and Lounge, a bakery and cafe, where almost everything, from breads to macarons, is made on the premises. The Wheatsheaf Hotel up the road in Terang (about 20 kilometres from Camperdown) is a fine country pub. The braised lamb shank ($19.50) and the efficient service can be as warming as the red wine.

The deal maker Three floors, each with a story told around a tasteful combination of antique furnishings, mod cons and timber structures of the workaday era that are now polished artefacts.

Stepping out Lake Bullen Merri, a crater lake on the edge of town, is one place to walk off the bounty from the bakery. The farms around Camperdown claim some of the finest examples of dry stonewalls - typically built by craftsmen from Scotland - in Australia. A drive around some of the back roads around Lake Purrumbete reveals long lines of these works of art. There is also trout fishing at the lake.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

The Mill Accommodation

Address Curdie Street, Camperdown.

The verdict A finely preserved chapter of colonial history.

Price The Owers Room room costs from $160 a couple a night and up to $300 for six people. The tariff includes continental breakfast and eggs, bread and cheese. It also has (real) coffee and a plunger.

Bookings Phone 5593 2996; see camperdownmill.com.au.

Getting there Camperdown is about a 2½ hours' drive from Melbourne via Colac. Camperdown is on the Melbourne- Warrnambool train line. The Mill is about one kilometre from the station.

Perfect for A family (two single beds and a double are on the second floor) or two couples who will enjoy the generous space in the Owers Room.

Wheelchair access One of the 11 rooms.

While you're there Walk to the top of Mount Leura and look over what is said to be one of the world's largest volcanic plains. Mount Leura is linked to nearby Sugarloaf Mountain by a walking trail.