Being fifty-something, I love a weekend getaway, especially in winter and never more so than when life and work seem to have reached overwhelm stage.
But a weekend escape is only ever as good as the accommodation you choose. Do you go with the old favourite haunt or strike out and try something new and unknown? This past weekend, Mr P and I opted to take the risk on the latter and believe we may have found a NEW old favourite haunt.
What we found (thanks to Google) is Rock Brook, a 150-year old fully restored shearers’ hut and bluestone barn on a quiet sheep and grazing property off the beaten track at a tiny spot on the map called Bung Bong (in Victoria’s Goldfields Region, not far from Avoca). I admit the attraction could be nostalgic; Mr P and I spent a couple of newly-wed years living in an old shearer’s cottage rent-free in return for caretaking services. Snap!
And then there’s the name Bung Bong. For the past week I’ve taken sick delight in telling people we’re “going to Bung Bong”. Who has ever heard of Bung Bong?
But what a find! What this little B&B lacks in size, it makes up for in soul-restoring character – vintage furniture and special touches like cool magazines, quality bed linen, fresh flowers, electric blankets and a generous cook-yourself breakfast: bacon, farm-fresh eggs (you can see the chickens from the front door), breads, cereal, condiments, organic orange juice and a bigger range of coffee and tea options than many cafes offer.
And then there’s the open fire: already blazing away when we arrived and fed on an unstinting supply of wood. We have an open fire at home but Rock Brook’s fireplace is big and beautiful with gorgeous old fire dogs perfectly positioned for creating a brilliant blaze.
Less than a hundred metres away, across a lush green paddock, is the picturesque Bet Bet Creek, lined with ancient gum trees and favoured by an amazing range of birdlife. There’s even talk of platypus in that there crick.
The quietude here is what really stands out. We live on a busy road and we think we’re used to the road noise but it’s not until you sit back somewhere as soundless as Rock Brook that you realise what’s missing. And you don’t miss it at all. Not a skerrick.
Julie and Ian, the hosts at Rock Brook, are delightful. Open and generous, happy to stop for a chat and then give you space. Visitors have the run of the property; you’re welcome to wander around, explore and get to know the farm dogs, a trio of working dogs who love nothing more than wrestling each other to get your attention.
We ordered a home-cooked meal for our second night at Rock Brook and Julie whipped us up something to sigh for: lamb shanks casserole and apple crumble, delivered to our digs at the agreed time. We enjoyed our delicious country style meal with a bottle of wine from a local winery. When in Rome …
Rock Brook is only 20 minutes from the renowned Pyrenees Wine Region. There are dozens of wineries and cellar doors – a mix of big, well-known brands and boutique vineyards boasting passionate and dedicated winemakers who love to share their winemaking stories.
Late on Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves on the deck at Dalwhinnie Winery, quaffing a glass of their flagship shiraz and a cheese platter while overlooking the rolling hills of vinerows with kangaroos hopping amongst them and wedge-tailed eagles riding thermals above. Spectacular. And we had the deck to ourselves. Unforgettable (despite Mr P decreeing that one of the cheeses tasted like bandaids).
By night, the sky here sparkles with a myriad of stars we just can’t see from out light-polluted city home. So much going on in that big dark, infinite sky!
Alas, all good things must end and come Monday we slowly made our way home, stopping at the goldfields towns of Maryborough and Talbot for a poke around. There is much to explore and entertain in this region where plenty of the stunning colonial architecture remains intact. We couldn’t resist calling into Clunes, home of the Clunes Booktown Festival.
Before long we’re back in the noisy, bustling city, sorting through the junk mail and giving Jack Sparrow (Pirate Cat) a we-missed-you cuddle. Coming home is ALWAYS a great feeling. This time we’re already thinking about planning another get away to our NEW favourite haunt at Bung Bong. Sooner rather than later.