Wilga Park Cottage, Griffith review: Cottage industry

Read our writer's views on this property below

Flair and a green thumb make a model bed and breakfast, writes Bruce Elder.

Wilga Park Cottage is a reminder that a good bed and breakfast is more about creativity and inspiration than vast outlays of money. Eight years ago, Susie and Kevin Sternberg bought a large, transportable home and plonked it in the garden of their substantial home outside Griffith. They kept a record of the event, which is displayed in the cottage.

The Sternbergs built verandas on the front and back, around which they planted vines, and they laid turf all around. They trucked in 50 tonnes of lucerne mulch, planted 150 trees and bushes and developed a beautiful and mostly native garden.

Now they have an idyllic two-bedroom cottage surrounded by shady trees and gardens that look as though they were established many years ago.

It is a model of what can be done with an ordinary house and a lot of imagination.

Wilga Park Cottage is a simple rectangle - it is seven metres wide, not including the verandas, and 24 metres long - and there is plenty of room for two bedrooms at either end of a large, central lounge-dining room and kitchen.

Each room has a main colour. There is a blue bedroom, a lime-green bedroom and the large lounge-dining room is an arresting Mediterranean yellow. This imagination and attention to detail create a special and original B&B.

The two comfortable queen-sized beds, with solid-timber bedheads and quality linen, come with a range of pillows to suit various sleeping idiosyncrasies. A trundle and a sofa bed make the cottage suitable for families or two couples. The bathroom has a large shower and bath and the cottage has a fully equipped laundry, barbecue, television, DVD and CD player.

The cottage's location, 11.2 kilometres east of Griffith, and the Sternbergs' commitment to privacy encourage the traveller to make the most of the kitchen, which has every conceivable device. A carefully chosen breakfast hamper including local bacon, ripe tomatoes, fresh bread, the makings for hot drinks, free-range eggs and home-made jam (the fig is delicious) is provided. The richness of Griffith's produce - wine, olives and more sold at several excellent specialist Italian shops in the city centre - means cooking is a desirable and sensible option.

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For those after takeaway, the cottage has an extensive list of restaurants, including infor- mation about which ones deliver.

There is a strong argument that no visit to Griffith is complete without some fresh pasta or a pizza. Griffith is a true Little Italy, which is why it has more good restaurants, great cafes, interesting delis and vineyards than any centre of equivalent size in Australia. And it's why travellers can come away feeling as though they've just holidayed in the antipodean equivalent of Tuscany or Umbria.

The region's "holiday planner" has a cover featuring a happy group gathered around one of those long tables laden with good food and wine customarily seen in movies about the Italian dolce vita.

It's easy to spend a relaxing few days here. Griffith's main attractions include the excellent Pioneer Village Museum, set on 18 hectares of bushland two kilometres north-east of town on Scenic Hill, a spur of the McPherson Range. There are interesting walks here, including Sir Dudley DeChair's Lookout, a natural rock formation that affords a bird's-eye view of the way agriculture has developed around the town.

Griffith is surrounded by orchards and vineyards. Winemaking in the area is dominated by the huge De Bortoli complex but only a few kilometres from Wilga Park Cottage, just out of Yenda, is the delightful Yarran Wines, where excellent shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot can be tasted and bought.

If you yearn to experience Italy but want to avoid the 20-hour flight, Griffith and Wilga Park Cottage are a substitute.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Wilga Park Cottage

Address 6 Condon Road, between Bilbul and Yenda, near Griffith.

The verdict A roomy and relaxing rural retreat near the city and the region's best vineyards.

Price $140 a night for a couple; $110 for a single; extra adult $30; extra child $15.

Booking Phone 6968 1661 or see wilgaparkcottage.com.au.

Getting there Griffith can be reached by the Hume Highway, 647km from Sydney via Wagga Wagga and 574km via Harden and Temora. Rex flies to Griffith from Sydney from $135 one way. Wilga Park Cottage is located 11.2 kilometres east of Griffith, just beyond De Bortoli Wines on the Burley Griffin Way.

Perfect for A quiet country break where you can cook using the best of Griffith's local produce and enjoy the tranquillity of a verdant garden.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Admire Walter Burley Griffin's streetscape in Griffith; try some boutique wine at Yarran Wines (178 Myall Park Road, Yenda); visit the remarkable Hermit's Cave on Scenic Hill.