Feel and see the love at Bella Vista, Beechworth.
Sue Wallace soaks up the history - and spa treatments - of Beechworth.
Bella Vista is a cute, self-contained, two-storey timber house catering for two, with grand views over the scenic Beechworth Gorge and State Park. Gilded sunsets can be enjoyed from the lounge room, upstairs bedroom and balcony.
There's a whimsical touch to this place, built with passion by long-term Beechworth resident Joe Kraus and wife Elizabeth. You can feel and see the love that's gone into it by the immaculate attention to detail.
Wood features heavily throughout the one-bedroom house, with pine floors and walls. The spacious lounge has glass and timber doors opening to the balcony. A slick, fully equipped kitchen has everything you need to create a feast, as well as a full-size oven, microwave and coffee machine. The second-floor bedroom has a small sitting area with comfy couch, a TV and DVD player and separate bathroom with a shower pod. The downstairs bathroom features a spa bath, shower and compact laundry. There's a small courtyard at the rear with a barbecue.
The lounge room is perfect for lazing on the leather couch, complete with a large flat-screen telly and with all those windows you can keep an eye on what's happening outside. Creature comforts include quality linen, good heating, a dining area and a bookcase with interesting reading material that reveals much about Ned Kelly's antics.
Beechworth is a foodies' paradise with a string of excellent restaurants and cafes showcasing the delicious produce of the region and many local drops. For breakfast we head to the new George's Bar and Restaurant in the former Mayday Hills Hospital where pain perdu - "fancy French toast" - with poached quince is popular, as are eggs done all ways. For lunch it is Harrietville salmon at Gigi's and, after a long walk, dinner at The Ox and Hound where we have zucchini and lemon risotto and fried zucchini flower, followed by a warm Stanley apple and raisin tart - and a walk home. The house is stocked with essentials including good coffee and tea.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
The Beechworth Gorge has great walking and bike tracks, so pack your runners. You can smell the eucalypts as you wander the gorge where gold miners once sought their luck in the Spring Creek Cascades. History buffs are in their element here with 32 National Trust classified buildings. The Beechworth Historic and Cultural Precinct includes the courthouse where Ned Kelly and his mother faced the judges.
Through the 1860s more than 20,000 people lived in the town, where you could quench your thirst at its 61 pubs. These days, Ben Kraus' crafted beer at the Bridge Road Brewers has a great following. For those who aren't afraid of the dark there's the Mayday Hills Ghost tour at the former asylum and you can also step behind the bars at the historic Beechworth Gaol and view Ned Kelly's cell. There's a line-up of quaint shops selling old-fashioned sweets at the Beechworth Sweet Company to French wares at The Growing Suitcase and Francis Pilley.
Chill out at the Beechworth Spa with a honey treatment and don't leave town without an ironbark honey and macadamia ice-cream from the Beechworth Honey Experience.
Beechworth is a three-hour drive from Melbourne on the Hume Freeway. Turn off at Wangaratta for the last 25-30 minute leg.
Bella Vista, 2 Bridge Street, Beechworth. Phone 0431 917 592. Monday to Wednesday, $180 per couple per night, Thursday to Sunday $200 per couple per night. Two-night minimum. See bellavistabeechworth.com.au.