Sitting on a couch strewn with rainbow lorikeet-emblazoned pillows, sipping a cuppa and gazing out the window at three wombats, a wallaby and a flock of rosellas feasting in the afternoon sunlight, my husband and I feel like extras on a set of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. We should have expected it, really, what with our digs being named Roo Corner, but that doesn’t stop us pinching ourselves at a childhood dream come true.
Earlier in the afternoon, we drove 10 minutes from Kangaroo Valley village into the two hectares of lush bushland on which Roo Corner sits, on the edge of Morton National Park. It’s easy to understand how owners Lyn and Paul Obern were lured from their native Britain in 2004 by this spectacular setting, which feels a million miles away from civilisation thanks to a welcome lack of phone reception.
Over complimentary chocolate muffins in the communal lounge room, the super-chatty Lyn tells us about the rescued kangaroos and wombats she looks after in an enclosure on the property. Lyn’s passion for her “babies”, and for the wild wombats and kangaroos that wobble past the property most evenings, the wedge-tailed eagles that occasionally soar above and the bowerbirds, galahs and finches that gather in the garden each day, is evident.
There are three double rooms – two queen and one king – and Lyn shows us to a queen room at the front of the house. The floor-to-ceiling windows make for great natural light but they face the driveway, so we have to keep the curtains firmly closed most of the time for privacy. Our room has a large en suite with a heated towel rack that comes in particularly handy during our rain-sodden stay, as well as a tiny wall-mounted flat-screen TV and DVD player with a selection of recent-release DVDs, a bar fridge stocked with a complimentary bottle of wine, and a tea and coffee station in the corner of the room.
And then we ate
After a full English breakfast on Saturday morning, we head straight to the property next door for a two-hour “Flavours of the Valley” Italian cooking class run by husband and wife Toni and Robert Moran. Toni’s family originates from Ostiglia in northern Italy, so her recipes are her family’s own and focused on locally grown produce. “Italian cooking is all about the heart and the hands,” she says, before teaching us to mix “volcanoes” of flour and egg into a sticky dough that we knead with our fists while learning to make pasta from scratch; create ricotta cheese simply by adding vinegar to hot milk, which we then season and stuff into fresh zucchini flowers; and make a raspberry, white chocolate, cream and mascarpone mix that we squeeze into freshly fried cannoli. The highlight of the class, however, is feasting on the fruits of our labour at the end while sipping local wine.
The deal maker
Being tucked away from civilisation and surrounded on all sides by lush bushland and cute native critters is, quite simply, a tonic for the soul.
With the rain constantly pattering on the roof, we’re seriously tempted to hide under the covers with the electric blankets switched on all weekend. Alas, we’ve organised an action-packed itinerary. We ease ourselves into it with a “Meet the Locals” night wildlife safari in a heated four-wheel-drive minibus: the hand-held spotlight scans the scrubby brush and we spy wombats, tawny frogmouths and big groups of eastern grey kangaroos while being proffered bits of native animal lore by our driver, Natalie.
brings a soggy horse-trail ride with the Man from Kangaroo Valley, renowned “horse whisperer” Geoff Fearon, through lush subtropical rainforest shrouded in mist on his 93-hectare mountain property, while a two-hour Sunday morning canoe trip along the Kangaroo River with Kangaroo Valley Safaris caps off our wet weekend. The rain having finally eased, the river is so still the overhanging trees and clouds reflect faultless mirror images that leave us feeling as though we’re paddling through the sky.
The writer was a guest of Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association and Roo Corner.
For more information see stayz.com.au, a division of Fairfax Media.
VISITORS’ BOOK Roo Corner
Address 407B Bendeela Road, Kangaroo Valley.
The verdict Getaway and wildlife sanctuary in one.
Price From $165 a night for up to two people. Minimum two-night weekend stay, breakfast and bottle of wine included.
Bookings See roocorner.com.au.
Getting there Follow the Hume Highway towards Canberra and take the Mittagong turnoff. Follow the signs for Fitzroy Falls, then enter Kangaroo Valley via Barrengarry Mountain. Detailed directions to Roo Corner available on its website.
Perfect for Dropping out and reconnecting with nature.
Wheelchair access Yes.