The White House, Lorne, review: Rekindle an old flame

Read our writer's views on this property below

Justine Costigan embraces winter in a 1930s farmhouse with a modern touch.

I've always liked the beach in winter. The prospect of brisk walks on cold, clear days, no crowds and the reward of an open fire and a glass of wine on return has always seemed as appealing as hot summer sun, swimming and sand between your toes. And with what feels like the first really cold winter in Victoria for years and no budget for far north Queensland or south-east Asia, making an effort to embrace the joys of winter seems like the best way to get through the next few months.

That's why when idly browsing the web for potential weekends away, I'm immediately taken by images of the White House, a sprawling old weatherboard home with sweeping views of the Otways and farmland. Only 15 minutes by car from Lorne, it has bushwalks, an olive grove and a cider apple orchard to explore, a decent cup of coffee and newspapers only a short drive away and, best of all, two fireplaces.

The 1930s farmhouse perched high on the hill looks even better than we hoped. Inside, there's a large open-plan living room with a modern kitchen but the rest of the house is typical of its era, with wide hallways leading to two bathrooms, four bedrooms and another living/dining area. It looks just like one of the many pre-war homes my great-aunts used to live in, except, when I was a child, these houses were typically decorated with floral carpet, heavy velvet curtains, huge sofas and armchairs, small tables covered in doilies and photographs of dignitaries such as the Queen, the Pope, or Bert Newton on every wall.

Luckily, the owners of the White House have different design ideas.

Although the original architectural details have mostly been retained, the look of the house is simple and serene. Instead of floral wallpaper, the painted walls are crisp white and sunny yellow, polished floorboards replace carpet and furniture has been reduced to a minimum - somewhere to sit and somewhere to sleep.

It may be too large and rambling to be really cosy but it is comfortable and has all the basics - a well-stocked kitchen, a television and DVDs, fireplace, large sofas and good beds.

It's cold, though, and while the children run around exploring, we try to light the fire.

Despite the huge pile of wood at our disposal, it's hard work and a brief scan of other heating options (small oil heaters) makes it clear that if we want to be warm, we'll need a roaring fire.

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By dusk, the house is slowly warming and down in the paddock below us, kangaroos have gathered and frogs in the nearby dam have a croaking party.

As night descends, we're treated to a sky filled with stars and then, a few hours later, an eclipse of the moon.

The doubts I've been having about a winter escape dissolve in the thrill of observing nature at work.

Next day, we wake to an icy morning. In the valley below, the cold has created a white lake of cloud. As the cloud clears and the sun burns the mist away, the clear skies suggest a trip to Lorne and a walk on the main beach where we fly a kite.

Back at the White House, we discover the fire we left in the morning is still alive. We throw on a few more logs, curl up on the sofa and open that bottle of wine. Winter really isn't so bad.

VISITORS' BOOK

The White House

Address Pennyroyal Station Road, Lorne.

Phone Contact owners via stayz.com.au/61904.

Cost From $190-$300 a night.

Getting there Take the scenic route down the Great Ocean Road then right to Deans Marsh as you enter Lorne.

Summary Like staying in an inland lighthouse, with 360-degree views.

Verdict 17/20

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.