Thursday, February 12, 2015

Daylesford, Victoria - The White House

As soon as I saw this image for the White House in Daylesford I hastily made plans to incorporate a short diversion to Daylesford - just an hour and a half's drive north-west of Melbourne - into our trip. This is the Garden Room located in the garden of the main cottage. Completely self-contained with it's own bathroom and claw-foot bath/shower.

Beautiful hand-made linens compliment the oh-so comfortable bed.
Botanical field notes from a vintage textbook decorate the wall.
A floor fan and metal side table continue owner/designer Lynda Gardener's penchant for industrial and laboratory pieces.
Lynda has the meticulous eye of an experienced collector and vintage market regular.
Every corner is a visual feast, perfectly curated ...
....and calming.
I can honestly say I've never slept in a more relaxing room.
The back of the main cottage opens out onto a lovely weathered deck with table and deck chairs and a crusty, well-seasoned BBQ that has seen many family meals.
The lounge is a perfect space for gathering a family or group of friends for a Big Chill weekend.
Even though it's late December Daylesford can experience some cold snaps and the temperature drops to Zero during our stay. Perfect for building a fire while we watch the Test Cricket and graze on wood-smoked pizza from nearby Café Koukla
A quick run to the local service station to stock up on more firewood..
The lounge room is packed with so many interesting finds it is easy for the eye to wonder to past lives, past times.
A collection of old prints above the bureau.
I started my journalism career on a typewriter like this one. Now its a relic from the past that fits perfectly into another of Lynda's vignettes.
The kitchen and dining-room with seating for ten is designed for gourmands and weekend cooks alike. Great array of sharp knives, platters and crockery with a stove/oven, large fridge and a striking blackboard splash wall.
Further along the corridor is one of the White House's great rooms - the library- decorated with a wall of real books and a wall of bookcase wallpaper. Beaten old leather armchairs beckon you to come in and immerse yourself in another world.
But eventually you will have to tear yourself away so you can slip into a deep relaxing bath in the main bathroom.
The two large double bedrooms are located at the front of the house.
They are also incredibly dreamy spaces with French linens, voluptuous pillows...
You should just come to The White House to catch up on your sleep. That's what we did. Long deep sleeps that are hard to come by when you live in noisy inner city Sydney.
No garbage trucks. No jack-hammers. Sleep heaven.
With the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa nearby and 3 of regional Victoria's best restaurants  - including The Lake House located a short drive away, a stay in Daylesford and The White House (click here for prices)  is simply a must.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Staycation - Sebel Manly Beach, Sydney

Holidaying locally or 'staycations' are becoming  popular as our airports install more and more intrusive and time-wasting security measures. I want to go on  a holiday to relax not to disrobe in public and have a stranger grope my body with a cold rubber glove. (If I wanted that kind of holiday I'd stay home in my inner city suburb of  Kings Cross.)

Mark and I want our weekend getaway to be simple, relaxing and eco-conscious. No ozone-destroying airflights. No foreign currency. No foreign languages to massacre.
Just a $20 return ferry ticket from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf and in one hour we're on glorious Manly beach with the sand between our toes breathing in the salty ocean air.

It's hard to believe we're still in the same city.

Every day feels like a holiday in Manly . Does anyone actually work here?

We're staying at the refurbished Sebel Manly Beach which sits under the long avenue of Norfolk Pines as close to the beach as you can get.

Our ocean-view room on the fourth floor is comfortably designed to maximise that glorious vista.

... our own private balcony to enjoy a sun-downer on. The Sebel is a destination hotel. Luxury and location in a perfect package.

There's a well-stocked kitchenette for those who want to stay a little longer...

.. and a stylish bathroom with a great shower..

After we unpack we hit the short coastal walk to Shelley Beach. Dinner is at Pilu's at Freshwater and then a deep sleep with the balcony doors wide open to let in that invigorating oxygenated air, with the waves crashing in the darkness.

We couldn't have pre-ordered better weather for the next morning.

After another long beach walk we try out the breakfast offerings downstairs at Manly Wine. It's just had a makeover as well.
We try the fresh juices, baked croissants ....

.... and Mark tackles the Big Brekkie. All worth a trip on their own.

I need to be back in Sydney for a  Monday lunch-time meeting. So it's back on the ferry and back to Circular Quay with time to spare.
Now that was a holiday. And not a rubber glove in sight. 
Saucy Onion stayed as a guest of the Sebel Manly Beach.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hotel - QT Port Douglas


We're escaping the Sydney winter gloom with a long weekend in Far North Queensland at the QT Resort in Port Douglas.

A car from Exemplar coaches and limousines is waiting at Cairns airport to ferry us north along the stunning 1 hour-long coastal drive to Port Douglas.

Wally, our driver, entertains us with his local knowledge and challenging pop quizzes.
It's hard to believe that a 3 hour flight can transport you to a completely different climate with lush tropical vegetation and that gloriously warm sun.

A massive striped black and white lampshade is suspended from the QT entrance giving a hint of the playful design and fit-out featured throughout this new luxury resort.

We check-in and head to our room.
It's large and comfortable with the black and white stripes and happy summer colours theme continuing across the decor.

I love the printed lamp shades.

And we have a relaxing view onto the bush hinterland stretching behind the resort into the mountains.

Our room has an adjoining kitchen, dining and lounge area with another balcony.

... with more playful artwork.

Time to explore the rest of the resort and grab some lunch at Estilo - the QT's relaxed bar and lounge.

A selection of sliders and a crisp chardonnay will do very nicely

... enjoyed near the pool.
With only a few days to see the sights we've booked a same-day ocean sunset sail with Sailaway

Our safety instructions are accompanied with champagne and canapés. Very civilised.

And off we go!

It's quite magical on the water. There's a warm breeze and the air tastes of sea salt as we glide past the wharf.
As we explore the outlying reefs and gently dodge the other boats also enjoying dusk on the water, I think about my fellow Sydney-siders trapped in evening traffic congestion. This is a good time to saviour.

Dinner afterwards is in town at the renowned Harrisons restaurant in their beautiful fairy-light lit garden courtyard overlooking the beach.

The 14-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder with hay-baked pumpkin, feta and cucumber and mint salad lives up to its legendary reputation. Perfectly matched with a tasty bottle of the local Ambar Hill Reserve chardonnay. We sleep very well that night.
After an invigorating breakfast - including delicious carrot and watermelon shots - I want to explore the QT resort's kitchen garden.

It's tucked away in the car park in raised beds along the fence line to protect the garden from winds and capture as much of that morning sun. The garden is bursting with fresh herbs and winter greens.

Tiny radishes poke through the soil. It will soon be time to put in the summer plantings to add to the restaurant's menu.

QT's kitchen garden is part of its commitment to reducing the environmental impact of the resort's activities and giving guests a taste of locally-sourced produce.  The chefs tend to it themselves and hopefully in time it will expand to allow even more crops to be grown on site.

A short cab drive back into town to soak up a little more of that sun before we fly out tomorrow.
The locals are on the wharf trying their luck with their lines.

Port Douglas is an ideal little hamlet surprisingly untouched by the developer's dollar.

There is an authenticity and simplicity about the place that is beguiling.

I'm already planning my next getaway.