The morning mist hovers low over Wolgan Valley, jealously guarding the charms of this mystical landscape until the sun rises to lift its veil. Pastures that half a day ago hosted mobs of curious kangaroos are barren this morning, awash with a powerful silence. Then, as the steam from your coffee drifts into the morning chill, the long, plaintive whaaaaaa of a duck declares another day in utopia has officially begun.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley resort is tucked between the Wollemi and Gardens of Stone national parks in the Greater Blue Mountains area less than 200 kilometres west of Sydney. Occupying just one per cent of the 2833-hectare wildlife reserve it sits on, the resort features 40 freestanding villas, two restaurants, a bar, wellness spa, swimming pool, gym and tennis court. With a private indoor/outdoor pool in each villa, a range of luxe body therapies on offer and long, languid walks guided by the song of eastern rosellas, relaxation is a given.
Restoration of the spirit, however, is a bonus money can’t buy. Follow those chatty ducks along the pathway to the main homestead and fortify yourself for the day ahead with a breakfast that melds country comfort – English muffins, ham, poached eggs – and inner-city café cool with dishesincorporating kale, tahini and quinoa.
And what is the day ahead? Well, that’s entirely up to you. It may be hiking with a guide through lush grasslands, crossing pristine rivers and clomping through fields on the back of a gentle horse as kangaroos and wallaroos look on, their firm gaze suggesting interest, their stillness a signal that no creature here – horse, human or marsupial – is to be feared. Maybe you’ll even plant a tree (the resort, which holds internationally accredited carbon-neutral status, is deeply committed to conservation).
Or perhaps you’ll gravitate to the spawhere there’s a steam room and sauna and each of the six treatment rooms has a Japanese-style soaking tub with views over the vast terrain. If you have two-and-a-half hours to spare (of course you do), the spa’s Radiance treatment starts with a warm bath, graduates to a soothing back massage and ends with a thermal infusing mask.
Wake up! It’s almost time to indulge in a Sundowner. Pull up a chair on the deck (1832 Wolgan gin, anybody?), watch the sun sink behind the ancient escarpment then drift into the dining room where the tables are dressed in crisp white linen, logs crackle in the stone fireplace and local produce from venison loin to truffle-infused risotto awaits.
The ducks have called it a day. Take their lead. There’s an open fire flickering in your villa, a bottle of red wine on the table and a luxe four-poster bed to sink into. How else is a perfect day in the Australian bush supposed to end?