The sleepy, slightly bohemian town of Bungendore is just a 30-minute drive north-east of Canberra, but don’t let that put you off. It’s also just a few minutes’ drive from the rolling hills of the far reaches of the Canberra District wine region, and the shores of Lake George with its sci-fi-like windmills.
Nestled beneath a gigantic ribbon oak tree and constructed of granite carved from a local quarry, this 152-year-old house is crammed with gramophones, crystal decanters, Persian rugs and other antiques.
If you arrive in the afternoon, you might be greeted by the charming young Rachael – daughter of owners Debbie and John Putt – dressed in a fabulous 1950s ensemble and bearing freshly baked cookies. Go for a walk through the house at midnight, however, and you might encounter one of the its past (and passed!) inhabitants – or so we were warned. The Old Stone House contains four spacious bedrooms, each with its own bathroom (though the Ribbon Oak room’s private bathroom is located across the hall, which can be slightly awkward), and two sitting-rooms.
The sprawling garden is the perfect spot for a stroll post-breakfast which, if you’re lucky, will include poached eggs with asparagus and freshly picked local berries. Port and choccies in the front lounge, a soak in a claw-foot bathtub (available in two of the bathrooms) and a walk through the historic village, with its impressive woodwork gallery and rustic-chic Lake George pub and restaurant, are other interesting ways to while away your time.
Dinner at Le Très Bon, a charming, old-school French bistro in the village that serves a mouth-watering tarte flambée. Pop into Mingei Store House in the village square, where owner Mary Taguchi sells Japanese indigo-dyed cotton creations with infectious enthusiasm. A visit to Lark Hill biodynamic winery, just a 10-minute drive away, will be rewarded with a taste of its award-winning 2011 riesling and lunch at the restaurant, which focuses on seasonal produce from their farm. And, of course, if there’s something wonderful showing at the National Gallery, take a drive into the big smoke.
The Old Stone House
41 molonglo street,
phone: (02) 6238 1888
Cost: From $220 a couple a night (two-night minimum).
Distance: 3 hours’ drive (265km) south-west of Sydney.