What’s in a name? Much, evidently, if you’re talking about Promised Land, a tranquil sanctuary of rolling green pastures and lush, subtropical bushland tucked 12 kilometres north-west of Bellingen, just inland from Coffs Harbour, NSW. The World Heritage-listed Dorrigo rainforest is 40 minutes west and 30 minutes to the east you’ll find a string of superb beaches.
Set within a secluded 100-hectare private property, the three self-contained timber Promised Land Cottages (two two-bedroom and one one-bedroom) enjoy striking 180-degree views of the valley and the surrounding rainforest-clad mountains. They’re simple, elegant, open-plan affairs, with high vaulted ceilings and sliding glass doors that lead to spacious decks off every room, including the spa bathroom. Each cottage is surrounded by subtly fenced-off landscaped gardens, meaning you can laze about on the lawn while the property’s rather sociable horses and cows meander by on the other side.
It’s all about getting back to nature. About bushwalking along the banks of the pristine Never Never River, just a five-minute walk from the property, and picnicking by the swimming hole. About morning rides through the forest on the property’s mountain bikes, or afternoon tennis matches on their courts. About soaking up some vitamin D on the lawn with a good book while a steak sizzles on the barbie. Or, once the sun slips behind the mountains, about grabbing a DVD from the property’s shared games room (which also houses a book library, pool and ping-pong tables), or stargazing on the lawn under a blanket of twinkling stars.
Bellingen, the free-spirited historic town by the Bellinger River, is well worth a few hours of your time on the way in or out. “Organic” and “sustainable” are the words du jour and vintage clothing stores, art galleries live-music venues, cafes and restaurants line the streets. Kombu Wholefoods is family-owned and a one-stop shop for organic produce to take to Promised Land, while Mouza, an exotic Middle Eastern eatery, does a delicious seafood curry.
Cost: $220 a couple a night (minimum two nights), extra person $25 a night.
Distance: 540km (6.5 hours’ drive) north of Sydney.
Wheelchair access: yes.