We countdown the ultimate Australian destinations where you can really unwind and indulge – #4 Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Wolgan Valley, NSW  04
Wolgan Valley
Resort & Spa,
Wolgan Valley, NSW

TOP CAPACITY: A maximum of 90 guests can stay here at any time, in 40 stand-alone suites.

WHAT TO EXPECT
A luxurious, countrified resort in a valley that remains hidden until you are in it. Textured sandstone cliffs around the valley are a showstopper, with the lightshow provided by the sun, clouds and sometimes, misty showers. Just sit on your verandah, in your pool, on your horse or by the resort pool and be mesmerised. The resort is a recycler’s dream, using all kinds of things – natural and manmade – to make doors, artworks, lamps. Even the original farmhouse, circa 1832, has been lovingly restored.

ACCOMMODATION
Most affordable room: One-bedroom Heritage suites are far from basic, with a pool, roomy verandah, beautifully fitted out living room, bedroom and bathroom and a walk-in robe. Priced from $1560 per couple per night for a minimum of three nights, $1950 per couple per night for up to two nights.
Best room in the house: The Wolgan Suite has two bedrooms plus separate staff quarters and a gourmet kitchen, if you please. All up, it sleeps six. The suite sits on the hill and has interiors to fit its princely views – it has already hosted several sheikhs and A-listers. Priced from $4400 minimum three nights, $5500 for up to two nights.

ACTIVITIES
The tariff includes two nature-based activities per day. My favourites were: horse riding – fantastic 90 minute rides allow you to really go bush and see the property from places you wouldn’t normally get to; the Wildlife and Sundowner Tour – a four-wheel-drive trip to explore the property, see the Wollemi pines and wildlife before stopping for a champers at sunset; mountain-bike riding – guided rides around the property for 90 minutes ensure you work off some of the beautiful food and wine you have been indulging in as well as enjoying the scenery. Then, of course, there’s the stunning Timeless Spa – but treatments are not included in the tariff.

BEST FEATURES
 The location. The secret valley with its natural beauty, pioneering past and Wollemi pine grove is mesmerising, beautiful and ethereal. The original farmhouse adds to the charm. It was built in 1832 by the Walker family – European settlers who owned the nearby Wallerawang Estate. Charles Darwin visited the homestead in January 1838 while on a hunting trip with the Walkers, and was quite enamoured of the area, writing prodigiously about how the valley may have been formed. The building was condemned but was painstakingly restored by Ian Kiernan over two years, at a cost of $2 million. Many items found in the homestead were restored and are now on display, along with other items showing the indigenous, settler and agricultural history of the area. The homestead is also where you’ll find the kitchen garden, established in exactly the same place and in the same format as it was in the 1800s.
 The suites. More like separate luxury homes, the suites are exquisite. Everything from the books in the bookcase to the flexible screening on the veranda has been well thought out.
 The food. There is truly incredible food served in the Wolgan Dining Room or the Country Kitchen, or you can dine in your suite or organise a private feast somewhere on the property.

DOWN SIDES
 If you are a wine connoisseur, beware that the included wines are nothing special. Although beer and some select regional wines are included in the tariff, you will need to pay for any others from the impressive cellar.
 Some activities don’t go ahead in the rain,
so if it’s sunny, don’t leave it for tomorrow.
 Transfers from the city are not cheap, so if you live in Sydney or surrounds, it’s best to drive yourself here.

THE FOOD
Executive chef Dwane Goodman delivers an Australian cuisine, using local produce where possible and sound farm-to-fork practices. The resort supports Mandagery Creek farmed venison from Orange, Ormiston free-range pork and Lakelands organic olive oil from Mudgee, Oberon line-caught trout, Malfoy’s Gold Honey from the Central Tablelands and Whisk & Pin gourmet mueslis from the Blue Mountains. They even roast their own coffee, bake their own bread daily as well as growing their own fruit, vegetables and nuts in the kitchen garden. The mouth-watering treats begin with breakfast, with a divine spread that includes Muesli Parfait with seasonal fresh berries and freshly made pastries, or breads with homemade preserves and local cheeses. You can eat lunch in the ambient Country Kitchen and up the ante at dinner in the Wolgan Dining Room. A different menu is offered every night.

THE DETAILS:

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
(02) 6550 1800; wolganvalley.com

Words by Helen Hayes

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