Days of swine and roses
Pigpen ... Little Pig Creek is a spacious, comfortable haunt, full of warm bohemian touches.
Megan Johnston forgets restrained city habits in this relaxed rural cottage.
Urban dwellers beware. One step inside Little Pig Creek and all the restraint acquired from years of decluttering and apartment living could easily, imperceptibly be undone. Entering this wooden-slab and stone cottage feels like entering a globetrotter's bohemian fantasy. From wall hangings dripping in detail to the acres of sheer floaty fabrics in Eastern prints, I'm immediately seduced by the sensory overload. One entire afternoon of our stay is spent looking at treasures collected from across the world.
We're on a "babymoon", seeking a couple of days of hibernation, and this is just the place to do it. Most of the weekend is spent curled up on a plush day bed reading and snoozing. Now and then, one of us ambles over to the stereo system to choose which one of many world-music CDs to play. Yet there's no make-do hippie vibe here. The huge timber-lined structure feels snug and sturdy while spacious living areas and two queen bedrooms feel more than generous enough for the one or two couples they are designed to accommodate.
The building is the legacy of Sydney man Peter Dodkin, who died six years after construction began nearly 30 years ago. Inspired by a house he had seen made from timber sleepers, he and his partner, Loo Taylor, used local grey ironbark and other hardwoods to create the bulk of the cottage. The name itself was inspired by a dry creek bed a friend came upon while driving across the Nullarbor Plain.
Taylor, a horticulturalist, finished the project and has kept the place in top condition since, tending lovingly to a sprawling garden, which is in full bloom on our visit. We spend an hour or two strolling from flower to flower. Love seats look on to a glorious green view of the hills beyond. In cooler months, you can light an outdoor log fire.
Comforts here include a gin-and-tonic tray on arrival, quality coffee, a wood heater and a large cast-iron bath in a handsome, oversize bathroom. There are plenty of fun details, too, such as lights with pull strings and a collection of bottles filled with sands collected on adventures far and wide.
If you're up for a bit of stimulation, check out the billiards-style board game called carrom or flick through the cottage's stock of DVDs. Child-friendly accoutrements include a portacot, feeding chair and cute knitted toys.
The cottage's large open kitchen with gas stovetop is perfect for serious cooking. Not up to it? Look in the freezer and you'll find locally made gourmet Asian curries ($25 each) ready for heating.
There's plenty of space for a dinner party inside; the timber deck overlooking the garden is also an ideal spot for a quiet drink or meal. In Kangaroo Valley village, we're tempted by newcomer Bistro One46 (bistro146.com.au), which chef Gerald Poelzl opened in April. It proves a good choice, with solid service and a range of tasty meat and seafood dishes. Jing Jo (jingjo.com.au) offers reliable Thai favourites, while Cafe Bella has a well-deserved reputation for heart-warming Mediterranean fare.
It has to be the house itself. It feels enchanting yet comfortable, other-worldly yet lived-in. Maybe I'm transfixed by the beautiful surroundings, but I find the place hard to fault. The only niggling detail is the shower curtain around the bath, which covers the taps and makes it difficult to control the flow of water.
On the rare occasions we do venture out, we scour village boutiques for gifts and stop by the Friendly Inn for a drink. Nearby Tallowa Dam proves a pleasant picnic spot and, on the way home, we can't resist a trawl through the Berry Markets, our inner minimalists tut-tutting all the while.
Little Pig Creek
Address 1673 Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley.
The verdict Beautiful, ornately decorated retreat in a natural setting not far from the village.
Price From $275 a night at weekends; $245 a night during the week. Minimum two-night stays.
Bookings Phone 0416 754 272, see littlepigcreek.com.au.
Getting there From Sydney, head south on the Princes Highway. At Berry, turn right on to Kangaroo Valley Road. After 18 kilometres, turn right on to Moss Vale Road. Little Pig Creek is one kilometre past this junction, on the left.
Perfect for A romantic and restorative bohemian escape.
Wheelchair access No.
While you're there Read, read and read. Stroll through the cemetery next door. Dine at Bistro One46. Shop for gifts and homewares. Canoe on the river or at Tallowa Dam. Cycle along the bike path or try one of 25 bushwalks around Kangaroo Valley.
Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.