The Loose Box

6825 Great Eastern Highway, Mundaring, WA
phone: (08) 9295 1787

The location Mundaring is less than an hour's drive from Perth, in the midst of what West Australians like to call the "hills": the shallow, craggy slopes of the Darling scarp. A third of the shire is state forest, and contains the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail walk, the Munda Biddi Bike Trail and Mundaring Weir, which is well worth a picnic visit.

The place The Loose Box sits on the highway between Perth and Kalgoorlie, but maintains a surprising serenity. The 1.2-hectare property is surrounded by ghost gums and contains a huge vegie garden that supplies the kitchens. The cottages, set into the gardens, are decorated with a restraint rarely seen among French provincial devotees, and they not only look charming but work well: the pretty, wood-burning stove punches out the heat, the tapestried armchairs are low and reader-friendly, and the deep ceramic bath fills efficiently and enjoys garden views.

The experience The Loose Box is fundamentally about food. For 30 years, chef and owner Alain Fabrègues has been refining his art among the magpies and bandicoots of his adopted state; he opened the six cottages 18 years ago to cater to guests who found themselves too ... weary to make the postprandial trek home. Today, the restaurant is still regularly voted one of the best in WA, and everyone who stays here dines here. Fabrègues has been twice knighted for his services to French culture, and his six-course degustation menu - which might include anything from French foie gras to local black truffles - is a homage to classic haute cuisine.

Don't miss ... the Mundaring truffle festival (, held on July 28-29. Conceived by Fabrègues to celebrate the prized French black truffle, now grown in Manjimup in WA, events include tastings, masterclasses, a produce market, truffle-themed luncheons and a regional wine show. - Amanda Hooton

Cost: B&B only: $425 a couple a night. Friday or Saturday night: $725 a couple, including degustation meal, overnight stay and deluxe continental breakfast. Sunday night: $700 a couple, including degustation luncheon, large cheese platter for supper (served in the cottage), overnight stay and deluxe continental breakfast. Beverages not included.

Distance: 35km (45 minutes' drive) west of Perth.

- Good Weekend