Melissa Singer enjoys the sounds and seclusion of the Gallery at Olinda.
The misty, fern-lined roads of the Dandenong Ranges make the perfect location for a short winter getaway. Located just 45 minutes drive from the city, The Gallery B&B Olinda is located on a quiet 1.5-acre property surrounded by forest and farmland. Secluded, yet close enough to the local shops and restaurants, the Gallery is the only accommodation on the block, meaning no noise from other guests – unless you count the local kookaburras and parrots.
As the name suggests, the Gallery B&B was once an art space. Owners Mark and Rhonda have lovingly and painstakingly converted the split-level cottage into a romantic, contemporary retreat for two. Intimate yet spacious, the wine glass chandelier in the entrance way acts as a clever divider between the two "wings" of the cottage. Upstairs you'll find an oversized mezzanine bedroom with a double spa, while downstairs a separate bathroom, gourmet galley kitchen and well-appointed living space provide plenty of reading nooks and places to relax and reconnect. Large windows let in the garden view – including an 80-year-old copper beech tree that can be illuminated at night – and loads of natural light, while easy-to-operate blinds mean privacy is guaranteed.
Plush and totally frill-free, the Gallery meets the highest standards of modern country accommodation, with a layout to match (extra points for the bathroom not being connected to the bedroom). Quality linens make hopping into the "Goldilocks" bed – not too hard, not too soft – a dream, while window bench seating in printed textiles and bright statement chairs in the living areas add colour to the neutral base, which uses wood, brick and carpet to create different "zones" throughout the flowing space. A roaring gas log heater, heat lamps in the bathrooms and electric blankets will keep things toasty in the winter months. Special touches abound – local guides, compendiums filled with hand-picked dining recommendations and an assortment of books and trinkets to ogle. And don't forget to leave a message – or your own landscape – on the giant easel in the living area.
Arrive late, as we did, and the owners will happily arrange a generous antipasto platter so dinner needn't be a bother. In the morning, a freshly baked loaf is left on the doorstep, to enjoy with a fully-stocked fridge of biodynamic eggs, free-range bacon, organic yoghurt and juices. If you wish to supplement your feast, Pellegrino's in Mount Dandenong has excellent fruit, veg and deli items. Guests who prefer to stay in will especially appreciate the brand-name crockery and utensils, assortment of plunger teas and coffees, and a generous bottle of olive oil.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Even if the temperature dips into single figures, a drive to the Mount Dandenong lookout makes a worthwhile adventure. On a clear day you can see all the way to Port Phillip Bay in the west and across the Great Dividing Range. And if the wind really starts to bite, there's refuge in the onsite cafe, though better coffee can be found at Little Elixir, on the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
Two nights here and you will feel like you've spent a week in a winter retreat. Warm and cosy, yet with all the comforts of home, this is an example of how short-stay accommodation should be done.
HOW TO GET THERE
Head east on the Burwood Highway past Ferntree Gully and follow the signs to Olinda. Take the Monbulk turnoff and you'll find the Gallery about 2 kilometres along the road.
Midweek rates from $280 a night, two-night weekends (Fri-Sat, Sat-Sun) $610. Bookings (03) 9751 1580, email@example.com.
Our rating: 4
The writer was a guest of The Gallery B&B Olinda.