Jul 20, 2016
Leave the city behind and retreat to the ultimate in Lockyer Valley country comfort.
Heading westward on the Ipswich Motorway the Brisbane cityscape quickly recedes, revealing the rugged, natural beauty of the Lockyer Valley at the foot of the Great Dividing Range. As the sun begins to set, the vast blue skies fade and golden light bathes the rich red earth, fertile farmlands and mountainous terrain, home to abundant native wildlife. It’s a perfect picture of bucolic serenity.
Spicers Hidden Vale
Just an easy one-hour drive from Brisbane, tucked away at the end of a winding road, the warmest of country-style hospitality awaits at Spicers Hidden Vale – a romantic, luxury retreat set around an historic homestead on more than 4850 hectares of picturesque Australian landscape.
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Kangaroos bound around the gardens of the lovingly restored country homestead, which forms the heart of the lodge – a pristine example of the graceful Queenslander-style architecture of yesteryear.
The dining room opens to sprawling wraparound verandahs overlooking an infinity pool and the mountains beyond. It’s a vista that can be enjoyed from every room in the lodge; choose from Valley View rooms, or for the ultimate in privacy and space, stand-alone cottages are scattered around the homestead – each with its own unique charm – with separate lounge rooms, open fireplaces, spa baths and wide verandahs.
The retreat’s Homage restaurant takes the term paddock to plate seriously. Spicers raises its own pigs, chickens and cattle and maintains an extensive market garden. Head Chef Ash Martin melds European techniques with a distinctly Australian style and flavour – putting the smokehouse and coal pit to good use.
The seven-course tasting menu includes a map pinpointing the location of the farms in the surrounding countryside that supply the kitchen with the freshest possible produce. Freshwater crayfish from Tarome are served on skewers of rosemary and cooked on a bed of coals at the table. Squab from Pittsworth is perfectly paired with fig, cinnamon myrtle and honey from Spicers’ beehives. Forest Hill Farm Stall vegetables are a reminder of what veggies used to taste like.
With extensive mountain-biking trails, two pools, a tennis court, croquet lawn and boules court, it’s quite easy to while away a weekend without leaving the property. Set out on foot on an afternoon wildlife-spotting walk and you’re likely to see koalas snoozing in the tall gum trees, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and wombats in their natural habitat.
Still on site, Homage’s damper-making class will be high on your to-do list once you’ve tasted the restaurant’s “bush bread” and, if you need a little extra help relaxing, book into Spa Anise, for an aromatherapy massage or facial. Otherwise, stargazing by the bonfire at night with a decent glass of red should also do the trick.
Got the golfing bug? The nearby town of Laidley boasts a well-manicured 12-hole course adjacent to picturesque Lake Dyer and its mountainous backdrop.
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