The Dairy, Wentworth Falls: The cream of cottage industry

Read our writer's views on this property below

Character and comfort make this house the centre of attention for Danielle Teutsch.

Where do the Blue Mountains officially begin? If you ask the local council, it's Glenbrook. Ask overseas tourists and they will say the mountains start (and finish) at Katoomba, specifically Echo Point. A friend of mine considers Lawson to be the first real mountain town. For me, however, the mountains begin at Wentworth Falls, at 850 metres above sea level and with the last vestiges of suburbia disappearing.

Here is where you start to see that delightful confluence of factors that give the mountains their character.

Spectacular views of the national park? Check. Gracious character homes? Plenty. Cool-climate gardens? Yes. And, not insignificantly, a good bakery.

Our destination is The Dairy, a cottage on the south side of Wentworth Falls that was once attached to a dairy farm. The cottage dates from 1915 and was recently opened as accommodation by Lew and Cathy Hird, who also run Silvermere Guesthouse, on the other side of the highway. At first glance, the pale yellow weatherboard building is as pretty as a picture. There are jonquils and late-season daffodils flowering in the garden, among plum trees. Next door is a 100-year-old oak tree gracefully spreading its bare branches.

The cottage's three bedrooms have heavy timber doors and stained glass windows, so there is character in spades. But there is also modern comfort and the two are sympathetically blended.

The rear of the house has been opened up, with glass doors letting in the light and providing views of the garden. The kitchen is fully fitted but the original stove has been kept as a decorative feature.

A retro lounge suite has been reupholstered and the wooden dining table that seats 10 is ideal for a convivial meal. But does The Dairy pass the liveability test? As we know, there are holiday homes that have been done up on the cheap, or without much forethought, and are consequently full of niggardly discomforts that are only apparent once you stay there.

Here is where The Dairy really shines. It's as if the owners moved in for a month before they opened it to guests and made a list of everything that would make the cottage more liveable. The attention to detail goes above and beyond the basics: quality cotton sheets, heavy drapes to ward off the chill, underfloor heating in the bathroom, a combustion fireplace with good hardwood and a backyard barbecue big enough to roast a suckling pig.

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Even the books on the shelf have been chosen with care, not just salvaged from a local op-shop and shoved in the shelves as is often the case. It was our good fortune that the house proved to be so welcoming and comfortable, because we planned to make the most of it.

Unlike other trips where we've murmured appreciatively at the nice kitchen, only to spend all the time eating out, we came ready to cocoon, making an osso bucco at home and bringing it in a pot. All we needed to do was reheat it and make some mash while the man of the house (a dab hand at desserts) whipped up a quick rhubarb tart.

We proceeded to have breakfast at home (smashing rye sourdough from the Schwarz bakery up the road), followed by lunch (more sourdough) and then dinner (takeaway Indian from the fabulous Arjuna in Katoomba). You could barely budge us from that dining room table, except when we sat by the fire. The rest of the weekend was a pleasant blur of visiting friends and enjoying the crisp air.

Wentworth Falls is indeed the beginning of the Blue Mountains for me and, on that particular weekend, I was more than happy not to set my sights any higher.

The writer was the guest of The Dairy and Tourism NSW.

TRIP NOTES

ADDRESS The Dairy, 1 Lake Street, Wentworth Falls.

BOOKINGS Phone (02) 4757 3311 or 0419 403 576, see silvermere.com.au/dairy.htm.

RATES Between $190 and $290 a night, depending on day of the week. Sleeps six.

VERDICT

Character and comfort in spades and well blended.

WHY YOU'D GO For self-contained accommodation perfect for groups.

WHY YOU WOULDN'T You are on a romantic trip and want something intimate.

FIND TIME TO

- Pick up bread and cakes from Conditorei Patisserie Schwarz on Station Street. Try the rye sourdough, the pretzels or the hazelnut stritzel. Or anything, really.

- Get up early to enjoy the lookout at Wentworth Falls, then have breakfast at the Conservation Hut. The veranda has fantastic views of the Jamison Valley. Phone (02) 4757 3827.

- Follow in Darwin's footsteps. The Charles Darwin Walk is named after the naturalist and follows the Jamison Creek. It's an easy 2-kilometre walk.