Life seems to get a little too hectic at times and we just need to slow down and let our bodies recharge. I was running on empty and had nothing else to give, I couldn’t think straight and I flipped out. I got to a point where my anxiety was so bad that I knew I need to find a counsellor to help me through it. In times like this, I find it’s easier to talk to a complete stranger rather than someone you know who may have a bias opinion on things.
I took 2 weeks off work to let my mind rest and my body recharge. No computer, no gym, just relaxation. Karina and I took off for the weekend out to Wollombi (lower Hunter Valley) so we could escape the noisy city life and be immersed in nature.
We arrived around 6:45 pm on Friday night, a little later than I had hoped as it would have been nice to arrive while it was still daylight. With no street lights in the area, it was literally pitch black, thankfully our host Natalie left the front lights on for us so we could see what we were doing whilst unpacking the car.
I was so excited to see the place had an open fireplace, however, 10 mins after firing it up the smoke got way too hectic and consuming the lounge room, so out goes the fire and on goes the heater.
The farmhouse cottage is called Byora and is a lovely little cottage set on 15 lush acres with cows that are free to roam and even a creek with fish in it.
Book your stay at Byora through Airbnb. Just a heads up, as an Airbnb Associate, I earn (at no extra cost to you) when you book through this link.
Stepping inside the cottage gives you a sense of the ’50s with its turbo oven and indoor fireplace whilst also incorporating some of the modern luxuries we are accustomed to these days. The farmhouse was built in 1955 by a local builder by the name of Jack Gabb who built a lot of the houses in the area, many of which are still standing today.
Everything is so green outside and there is a heap of birdlife around. Waking up to the sun shining, the cows grazing and the butterflies peacefully flying around the paddocks was relaxation at its finest. A cup of coffee in hand out on the deck with the sun beaming over the trees was simply bliss. I thought we were going to be stuck inside all day when it started raining, but it was just a light shower that passed over.
Byora is set on 15 acres, so there is plenty of exploring opportunities. We went for a walk down along Milsons Arm Rd to see the cows and then down along Wollombi Brook. On the other side of the bridge it opens up on to a dirt road and massive paddocks where you can see kangaroos and other wildlife. On a sunny day, it is such a peaceful walk.
Saturday lunch we headed out for a drive and stopped in at the Great Northern Trading Post. It was quite busy with a lot of motorbikes and cyclists but we managed to get a table out on the front deck. I had the beef burger with fries and Karina had the tandoori chicken bun with fries. I can definitely recommend this place for a delicious feed, 5 out of 5!
With a full belly, we trekked back the other way into Wollombi town centre to have a look around. I was intrigued to have a look in a shop called The Forge that had collectables, fine art and vintage clothing. There were a few cool things in there and a few that raised the eyebrows! You can’t go to Wollombi and not stop in at the Wollombi Tavern for a drink! It was nice to share a drink outside with the blue-faced honeyeaters that live in the area. We didn’t try the Jungle Juice this time, maybe next time.
After our drink, we were walking back to the car when Karina spotted a gallery behind the shops and wanted to have a look and boy am I glad she found it! Turns out that it is a shared artist space where artists can set up a popup shop for 3 weeks of the year. We met a lovely couple, Anthony and Nancy. Anthony makes beautiful stained glass windows and ornaments and Nancy paints stunning oil paintings. To my surprise, Anthony offered us some mulled wine, so I thought why not!? I’ve never had mulled wine before so I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly impressed, it had a sweet cinnamon taste to it. We got chatting about life and how I was having a break from work when Nancy asked what my passion was, I replied ‘minerals and crystals, I’m about to buy a house and then I’m going to set up a workbench so I can cut stones’. With that came a second glass of mulled wine and stories of travels to Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge. What was meant to be a quick look in a gallery turned out to be a delightful afternoon encounter.
Nancy had just finished an oil painting of the Wollombi Tavern, it was such a nice painting, I really wanted it! Turned out it wasn’t quite finished yet so I ended up purchasing it and went back a week later to pick it up. A stained glass mirror also caught my eye, so we purchased that too. It will be a great memory of our stay in Wollombi and a nice addition to our new home that we’ll soon be buying.
After all that it was back to the cottage for some more relaxation and by relaxation I mean drinking whisky and eating pistachios while sitting out on the deck watching the sun disappear over the mountains.
Once again, we woke up to sunny skies on Sunday morning with a nice breeze whisping through the trees. Breakfast out on the deck could not have been any more peaceful. The sourdough with homemade jams and fresh fruit was a delight.
Having a late checkout allowed us to take in the morning sun and pack up at our leisure. The last thing anyone wants to be doing on a Sunday is rushing to get home.
If you’re in need of a short escape from city life, we can definitely recommend visiting Wollombi and the surrounding towns. We’ll be visiting again, that’s for sure.
If you have a cottage just like Natalie, think about becoming an Airbnb host so people like us can stay and share your lifestyle experience. Find out more.
Things to see and do
Held in Laguna each season, however, on Sunday we were there, they got cancelled due to windy weather. The next one is in October so we may make a day trip and come back out for it.
Find out more on their Facebook page.
Great Northern Trading Post
Great Northern Trading Post the iconic gateway to the Hunter Valley Since 1879 – a great bar, exceptional food and live music on Tourist Drive 33 in the beautiful Hunter Valley.
The Tavern is located in the historic village of Wollombi, on the convict-built Great North Road, the Tavern remains a favoured spot for travellers to and from the tourist destinations in the Hunter Valley’s wine districts, and is especially popular with those wishing to take the Sunday bike ride or drive into the country around Sydney.
View their website for more info
Stop in for a coffee and cake or dine in the garden bar for lunch. Myrtle House focus on fresh, healthy, tasty food and of course their renowned great coffee. They’re open for breakfast, brunch and lunch. They also have accommodation available
See their Facebook page for more info.
The Forge Gallery
The Forge Gallery has an array of great vintage nick nacks. If you are a fan of collecting antique items, this is a must visit place in Wollombi.
The Roadside Gallery presents the works of seven immensely talented Creatives. Local. Eclectic. Inspiring. Each celebrating 3D Art with diversity in their mediums and unique approach.
See their Facebook page for more info.
Wollombi is 132 km north of Sydney via the M1 and the road through Mangrove Mountain and Bucketty. It is 179 km via Castle Hill and Wisemans Ferry on the Great North Road and 31 km south-west of Cessnock.