Spend the night at Barranca in Kangaroo Valley and learn a lesson in off-grid opulence.
Why did it take me so long to head to Kangaroo Valley? I’d heard about the picturesque country village a mere two hours from Sydney, sure. But being from Melbourne has historically meant that the charms of a beach holiday are much more deserving of my hard-earned annual leave. Rarely had I road-tripped out of the city for anything other than a famed stretch of NSW coastline.
If the summer bushfires of 2020 and COVID-19 pandemic have taught me anything it’s the power of a good old fashioned domestic holiday. Now is the time to explore our own backyard, and take a #holidayherethisyear, if you will.
I was first introduced to the beauty of Barranca by an email in my inbox. After perusing the never-ending stream of daydream-worthy imagery, I thought that this was exactly the kind of exclusive retreat that was deserving of my time and attention. In hindsight, I thank my lucky stars I made the correct decision.
Unwind in your own secluded paradise at Barranca. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
Address: 408 Bunkers Hill Road, Kangaroo Valley, NSW, 2577
There is a two-night minimum stay policy and a three-night minimum stay policy for long weekends.
Barranca is located in the magical Kangaroo Valley. It is a two-hour drive from both Sydney and Canberra.
Kangaroo Valley township has a bakery, cafes, a small supermarket and bottle shop for essential supplies, but if you’re looking to stock up we recommend a pit stop at Bowral supermarkets en route.
The natural wonders of Kangaroo Valley is easy to explore from Barranca. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
Entering Barranca’s luxe driveway is a lesson in accommodation opulence.
The name – meaning narrow, winding river gorge – accurately reflects the property’s idyllic natural surroundings. Deep escarpments tower over the four properties on offer, with panoramic views of valleys and vistas surrounding your car as you drive through the entrance.
The first thing you’ll notice about Barranca is that it’s a striking piece of farmhouse architecture. The 400-hectare, privately owned property was designed by award-winning Grove Architects in Woollahra. Any of the four luxury villas you’re appointed will deliver by way of contemporary design and meticulous attention to detail.
Each of the on-site offerings – aptly named Ferndale, Willow, Jacaranda and Banksia – was built using native Australian timber and upcycled heritage sandstone. Each villa blends seamlessly into the verdant native surroundings, making our arrival all the more spectacular.
Driving in at around 4pm delivered a famous Kangaroo Valley sunset – with no greater setting to enjoy it from than our appointed property, Ferndale.
Enjoy sweeping valley views from bed. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
Each of Barranca’s four villa’s face north, immersed in all-day sunlight. They’re also placed a discreet distance away from one another, which grants privacy for guests who prefer it.
Our villa, Ferndale, shone in all of its four-bedroom, two-bathroom glory. It was warmly embraced by surrounding hills and escarpments on both sides, offering a completely isolated setting for gatherings of up to eight guests.
Outside, tiny pebbles surround the charcoal-painted brilliance. There’s an outdoor fire pit and a (warm!) outdoor shower. The adjacent back balcony houses a barbeque and sitting area for al-fresco meals.
Convene around the fire pit of an evening. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
It is a remarkable structure inside, too. Panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows make an artwork of views across the valley, with the odd wild kangaroo keeping you company as you lounge by the fireplace. And while decadent polished concrete floors and recycled timber notes reign throughout, there’s also something inherently homely about the place.
Soft furnishings and jute rugs decorate the living and bedrooms. The kitchen boasts SMEG appliances and in the bathroom, you’ll find Australian scent-masters, Leif amenities. Fresh eggs, milk and sourdough were waiting for us on arrival, as well as a Nespresso coffee machine and a selection of T2 teas.
The only traffic you’ll see on the roads here is the German Shorthaired Pointer farm dog, Ellie. There’s also the roaming melange of animals that call Barranca’s peripheral paddocks home. Spot buffalo, donkey, pigs and horses throughout your time here – including the largest horse in Australia, Stormy George.
Farm feeding tours depart at 8am each morning. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
To get up close and personal, join the farmhand for a feeding tour at 8am every morning. You can learn all about the animal’s side hustles as work and riding horses, and the impressive on-site Equine Therapy Program, which is a collaboration with The Cedars Shire Horse Stud and Flying Change Leadership.
The horses are used for Equine Therapy programs. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
Barranca is also home to multi-disciplinary event space, Archie’s. It’s named after the property’s celebrated Shire horse Cedars Archibold, who in 1987 was the first purebred Shire to be born in Australia since the early 1900s. He stopped traffic as a Mounted Police Horse in Redfern, won prizes at the Easter Show and even had a few TV stints before his passing in 2014.
While closed for renovation at the time of our stay, Archie’s will eventually house a 150-person shared space perched high on the hills of the property. Book it out for weddings, art schools, conferences, paddock-to-plate cooking tutorials, wellness retreats or the signature equine program.
Follow Barranca’s marked trails for an unparalleled bushwalking experience. The property lies in a valley of its own, which makes for various grades of safe, uninterrupted walking tracks.
One of the best (and the only one we undertook) is the descent to the fresh running water creek. Sit in the natural rock pools and feel like the only people in the world under the scented beauty of Staghorn trees that line the river gums. There is no vehicle access and the walk back home is steep and lengthy; if you’d like a lift in either direction, ask the caretaker for a ride.
The property has its own wild swimming prospects. (Image: Eliza Sholly)
But by no means is a stay at Barranca all about nature. Recharge the batteries and indulge in a devoted pamper package from the privacy of your villa. Massage, facials and beauty treatments are available. For more information, head here.
The surrounding Kangaroo Valley
Barranca is located right at the foothills of the magical Kangaroo Valley township and the surrounding Shoalhaven region. If you find yourself in the mood to venture beyond the property, head here for a list of ways to fill your itinerary.