Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MUM AND DAD'S GARDEN


My dad would be scratching his head as to why I am putting these pictures online. He thinks the garden at our family home is in the worst shape of it's life, given nobody has been living in the house and tending to it properly for some years now (aside from mowing the lawns every so often, as you see here!) I don't agree with him. I love the effortless look of the garden, how it isn't something that requires a lot of work, though it took a whole lot of effort to create it in the first place. When mum and dad bought the house, the whole side of the property was a densely overgrown area with a mere trickle of a creek running through it. Over time, dad created what you see today. After work and on any days off, he toiled. He dug out the creek, making it a large feature of the garden; and every single rock you see in these pictures, he laid himself (with the help of a friend or some of us kids, of course). The stone bridge and every waterfall was also his work. He put in lamp posts and planted many of the trees too.

I remember at one stage he'd made the creek three times as wide as it is now, with a jetty, neat stone edges and stepping stones, but he decided he didn't like it that way anymore and overhauled it again, making it less contrived. I don't know how long it must have taken him to remove the jetty and all those rocks and bring in earth, but he did it, and without doing his back in!

He also completely overhauled the front garden and back courtyards but they aren't too pretty at the moment so I'll hold off on posting about them! Soon he and mum will be moving back into the house and I am excited to see what he plans to do with the property once they get there. My sister wishes to have her wedding and reception at the family home soon, and dad thinks the garden as it is simply won't do! Watch this space.

EMIRATES WOLGAN VALLEY


When I was young, I didn't appreciate the Australian landscape. I grew up in a rural area - a place where the quintessential Australian bush meets the most pristine ocean - and craved the buzz, lights and sounds of the city for as long as I can remember. I got my wish at 17 or so and never looked back. Until now, that is. The desire to be amongst eucalypts and ferns, imposing cliff faces and rolling pastures has seized me. I feel like I have deprived myself of this country's incredible landscape for so long that I am frantically scrambling to catch up. This weekend just past, we were lucky enough to experience one of the most visually stunning and remote bush settings, all the while enjoying the spoils of a luxury resort. 

Emirates Wolgan Valley (who recently appointed One & Only Resorts to manage it) is a conservation-based resort nestled in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. We were told that the land had belonged to the Webb family and used as a cattle farm, before the Sheikh spied the vast and spectacular valley from his helicopter on the way to another proposed resort location (which fatefully, fell through) and asked the pilot to land. Apparently, he asked him to land the chopper again on the journey back and the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort was born. 

When a 5 star resort sets up in such an untouched location, one can't help but fear ruin. Queensland in the 80's and 90's is a difficult sight to recover from. Thankfully, this resort blends seamlessly into the natural landscape - timber and sandstone is predominant. One night at dinner (in the main building, which itself is reminiscent of an old homestead) I had an exciting realisation: even the fabric of the chairs we sat on were the exact colour of the mountains! Some were the sagey green of the ones close enough to climb; others were the dark blue of the distant peaks. There wasn't an element of the resort's vision, design, execution that I could fault. The homestead style-main building and lodgings wouldn't be out of place on a ranch or snowy peak, with colossal fireplaces as features; exposed beams; panelled walls and furnishings in hides, tweeds, florals and plaids. It excited me greatly! I can't write this post without mentioning the staff: there wasn't a single employee we met who wasn't both exceedingly professional and down-to-earth.

You can do as much or as little as you please. We chose the former - a couple of hour's bushwalk and a lesiurely swim and spa treatment here and there was all we could muster. Mostly we just wanted to sort of sit and take it all in, and there were plenty of spots to do just that. If you want a little more action, hikes, horse rides and cultural tours are offered. I do hope we'll be back again to do all of that. Without any further adieu, let me bring you the pictorial.

The Villa


The Resort and Location


Dining and Decor


The Spa


I hope you're a reader who appreciates a picture-saturated post!!! It's fair to say I'm still quite thrilled about how we spent our Australia Day long weekend. 

As I plan to escape the city as much as I can this year, I wonder if you might share some of your favourite locations for a weekend getaway? I'm even thinking of getting camping gear, so even if it's off  a little off the beaten track, I'm keen to hear about it!