Escape to the Country
Australia is essentially a land of urban metropolises with lots of space in-between. And when that space is filled with rolling green hills, patches of sub-tropical and eucalypt forest, views to the ocean and an abundance of wildlife, it can be truly mesmerising.
Northern New South Wales is one of those spaces. Named after the south of Wales, the quintessential land of green hills and valleys, it is clear to see why this patch on the eastern seaboard made our forebears homesick for the verdant lands they had left far behind.
Driving in this part of Australia is a treat, and staying there transports you to another, more serene, existence. Whilst the beaches and coast hold their appeal, the lure of crisp air, open fires and quaint villages can be very tantalising.
On a recent trip to the Byron Bay hinterland, my daughters and I had the pleasure of staying in a French-provincial style barn on a private property near Federal. The Barn is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway, family holiday or friends’ weekend break. Consisting of a traditional-style barn, complete with exposed timber beams, sealed brick floors, sunny courtyard and main bedroom with four-poster bed, and a connecting building featuring a second bedroom, it is a truly lovely property. It is situated on a working 100 acre farm and is in close proximity to the villages of Bangalow and Federal and the seaside resort of Byron Bay. Secluded and peaceful, it gives you a sense of being in your own private paradise far from the madding crowd, yet within easy distance of a myriad of activities.
First stop on our mini getaway was Bangalow – the epitome of what every country town should be. It features a collection of heritage buildings housing cerebral and culinary distractions such as The Poet store – an eclectic collection of magazines such as The Philosopher and Womankind, edgy stationery, and books “that will make you think”. My daughters and I spent several hours in this haven of creativity, sifting through a treasure trove of the kind of books you’ve always wanted to read but have never had the time to do so. We departed with an armful of challenging and inspiring publications to fuel our holiday down-time. We browsed through the homeware, vintage fashion and providore stores and had a leisurely lunch at The Town. Cafe by day and degustation restaurant by night, The Town is a must-visit destination.
The next day, we made the short trip to Byron Bay to climb to Cape Byron and its famous lighthouse – the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. It was winter, but typically Queensland-like, the sun was beating down, the sky was an impossible blue and a friendly wallaby even came out to entertain the passing parade on our hike skywards.
En-route we stopped at The Farm at Byron Bay, for some takeaway coffee. We had lunched there a few days previously, and couldn’t resist another pit stop to soak up the smell of freshly-baked artisan breads and pastries and the aroma of brewing coffee.
All in all, we had a relaxing break, with enough diversions to keep us entertained, ample food to satiate our culinary desires, and importantly, time to contemplate the beauty which is all around us.
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