Who dairies, wins
As the sun sets over the imposing Mount Gulaga in the pretty village of Tilba Tilba on the NSW South Coast, there could be few finer things in life than nestling into an outdoor chair, glass of wine in hand, while tucking into a selection of cheeses from the nearby Tilba Real Dairy. The sound of chooks clucking contentedly in the background and horses trotting in the distance complete the bucolic picture at Mountain View Farm, three hours from Canberra.
Once a cattle farm and dairy that was the heart of this rural community, Mountain View Farm is now the perfect escape for those wanting to get back to nature, with three ‘glamping’ tents set in landscaped gardens, two fully self-contained cottages and a studio converted from old workshops.
We’re sitting in the old dairy which is now a communal outdoor courtyard, its original flagstones and eccentric collection of furniture and accoutrements from farming life a nod to its former use.
Our host Kathryn runs the place with her kids Marcus and Stella. She moved here from Western Australia but brought with her a taste of home – seed stock of distinctive pink and white flowers called Everlasting Daisies. She planted them on site and they now attract photographers and Instagrammers from afar. In addition to her accommodation business, which attracts those in the know on a repeat basis, she sells the flowers fresh and dried.
While most will find it hard to drag themselves away from the glorious rural views, there is much to discover nearby on the food front. In postcard-perfect Central Tilba Village the ABC Cheese Factory stocks award-winning local cheeses, milk, icecreams, milkshakes and condiments; nearby Rose and Sparrow Cafe is turning out great Devonshire teas; the Dromedary Hotel combines great pub grub with warm and personal service; and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better savoury pancake than those dished up at La Galette, right on the doorstep of Mountain View Farm.
And with its location 15 minutes from the beaches of Narooma and Bermagui, you’ll never be short of an oyster, either.
“I feel we’re in a really special place,” Kathryn says, as we spread another chunk of Mountain Ash Camembert on a cracker. “When the sun is up, this mountain glows.”
I’m so content, I’m glowing too. But it might just be the shiraz.
On the banks of the Murrumbidgee, 90 minutes from Canberra, Riverside Drive in the tiny village of Jugiong is a microcosm of the ultimate gourmet tourism experience. The Sir George, built in 1845 by Irish immigrant John Sheahan, has been reimagined as a chic gastro-temple, with outdoor dining spaces set under the shade of lush and sprawling trees, cosy indoor nooks featuring squidgy leather sofas and old wooden dining tables befitting this grand historic building, open fireplaces and shelves displaying old-style books and nick-nacks.
It’s also home to the Curators Collective, an assemblage of homewares and fashion with not a hint of country kitsch.
After a lunch of house-made pork and fennel sausages, cauliflower fritters with spiced yoghurt or beer-battered fish and chips, stroll just a few metres down the street to the Long Track Pantry, a fantastic repository of hand-made, small-batch products including jams and marmalades, relishes and chutneys, vinegars, sauces, olives and more. Long Track Pantry has a cafe for breakfast and lunch, with daily blackboard specials focused on local, seasonal produce, plus a tasting room in its nearby jam factory.
On a warm day, you could do worse than ordering a scoop of blood orange gelato next door from the Lickety Splits Gelato Bar, or getting out of the sun and into the Jugiong Wine Cellar owned by the excellent Grove Estate Wines from nearby Young to try a few of the famous Hilltops Region vintages.
All this meandering is likely to leave a person exhausted so it’s good to know that you don’t have to make the trek back home after the day is done. The Sir George’s designer barn-style accommodation overlooking manicured gardens, snow pear trees and the pub’s small onsite bakery to the rear of the property is the perfect place to rest and recuperate overnight.