Quiet spot ... bush and gardens surround the cottages.

Quiet spot ... bush and gardens surround the cottages.

Surrounded by friendly but raucous locals, David Knox admires the unspoilt bushland and clever design of a south coast hideaway.

MILTON Country Cottages has an early-morning alarm.

Well, not so much an alarm as a symphony, or cacophony - depending on your state of mind and body at the time.

For most guests, this wake-up call will be a welcome relief from car horns, the roar of machinery or piped music emanating from the mobile phone at the bedside.

Milton Country Cottages' reveille is sounded by the magnificent birds that abound in the surrounding lush forest. Waking in the comfortable bed would be seventh heaven for ornithologists, I imagine.

They could lie in bed, listening to the tumult, and muse: Yep, that's the cry (warble, shriek, song) of the crimson rosella, king parrot, wild duck, superb blue wren, kookaburra or a clutch of other birds that inhabit the bush.

After the feathered locals have dug guests from their repose, they can make for the cottages' well-stocked coffee and tea collection and stroll on to the verandah (weather permitting) to take in the sights.

No, not sweeping vistas or million-dollar views - descriptions overused by real estate agents - just beautiful unspoilt bush with magnificent trees and shrubs.

There is nary a sign of civilisation.

What you may see while staying here is a goanna shinnying up a tree trunk, a kangaroo loping about on the lawn or a green sward that serves as a reassuring bushfire buffer between the property and the forest.

Nestled on 4.8 hectares of verdant bush, the architect-designed and purpose-built property comprises two one-bedroom cottages, a two-bedroom cottage and a two-bedroom garden pavilion. Each cottage is tastefully and generously fitted with just about everything you could need, including a barbecue, spa bath, fully equipped kitchens and an extensive collection of DVDs, plus family games such as Scrabble. There's even a decanter of complimentary port for a late snifter, perhaps while sitting in front of the wood fire in the depths of a south coast winter.

The thought and intelligence that has gone into designing Milton Country Cottages extends to the north-facing verandahs with day bed and the way in which the cottages are spaced well apart, with gardens both native and planted, for privacy.

The cottages' co-owner, Kees Staps, operates Yatte Yattah Pottery, which is on site.

His work is on display and is used in the cottages and around the grounds.

Pottery lessons are available and start at $40 an hour for one person.

The previous night you will have delved into host Carol Joyce's enticing basket of goodies to sort out what's for breakfast.

Searching through the trove reminded me of Enid Blyton's wonderful descriptions of the bulging hampers packed for the Famous Five as they set off for a day righting wrong in bucolic Britain.

And if you're lucky, the orange tree will be in season and you can smear your toast with Ms Joyce's home-made marmalade.

There is a chance you may want to leave this idyll to have a poke around the local area.

What is there to do?

Plenty. Surfers are in paradise. There is no need to name all the local hot spots; surfers will know about them or will have ways to find out. It's enough to say the quality and variety of surf in this region, swell allowing, provides something for just about every level of ability.

Plus you will have the chance to ride uncrowded waves in extraordinarily beautiful settings.

Golfers, fishers, divers, sailors, walkers, sightseers and even shoppers are all taken care of in the triangle formed by Milton, Ulladulla and Mollymook.

A highlight of our trip was dinner at Bannisters, Rick Stein's seafood restaurant at Mollymook.

Much of the fish and seafood is caught locally and well-presented at this seaside hotel.

The views were superb and the service was friendly, relaxed and informed.

Strolling Milton village's streets and viewing its heritage buildings and cottages is a perfect way to compensate for indulging in the region's gourmet offerings.

The more energetic guest might instead know to head for Morton National Park, west of Milton, for a bushwalk.

The writer was a guest of Milton Country Cottages and Tourism NSW.

Trip notes

Where

Milton Country Cottages, 83 Egans Farm Lane, Yatte Yattah (about eight kilometres from Milton). (02) 4456 5299, miltoncountrycottages.com.au.

Getting there

Take the Princes Highway south. A few kilometres past Conjola, look on the left for the Egans Farm Lane turn-off.

How much

Weekend stays in a one-bedroom spa cottage from $390 a night for two nights; $490 for three nights. Midweek packages available.

Style statement

Nature meets comfort and they get along fine.

Perfect for

People who want to relax.

Don't forget

An old shirt to wear at your pottery lesson.

A shame about

Glassware: the kitchen could do with a few more wine stems.

Kudos

Intelligent, warm hospitality.

Take the children?

Mad if you don't.