If you are a city slicker who would like to get a bit countrified for a weekend then why not head up to the Upper Hunter and spend a couple of nights at the Gumnut Glen Cabins. Only 2.5 hours from Sydney in a little hamlet called Brookfield, this is the perfect spot to getaway from it all and meet some friendly animals both domestic and wild.
When you arrive at Gumnut Glen you are immediately greeted by the effervescent owner Melissa. Don't let her American accent fool you, Melissa is passionate about everything Australian including all of our wildlife as well as our domesticated animals that have had a rough trot. She has given a home to many rescue animals and they live with her and her family on the 40 acre property that is Gumnut Glen.
When we stayed, we parked right beside our cabin. There are 4 on the property, reasonably close together but all screened from each other by plants and bushes. We had booked the family cabin which consisted of a queen bed and a set of bunk beds. The cabins were smallish but they contained all of the mod cons we needed such as reverse cycle air conditioning, flat screen TV with a DVD player, full kitchen and a BBQ. Plus they came with a spa (more about that later).
Two of the other cabins have a queen bed and a single in the living area. Whilst one is set up with a queen bed only. When we entered our cabin we were delighted to see a plate of Melissa's home made brownie waiting for us, we boiled the billy (actually we just put the kettle on) and we sat back and enjoyed the brownie whilst soaking up the view from our cabin.
Once we had unpacked we went on a little explore of the property. There is so much to see and do here. Our first activity was to meet all of the animals and help Melissa feed them. There are alpacas, horses (both big and small) and loads of fouls. And if your timing is right you can collect the eggs - we scored 3 for our breakfast the next morning!
Once the chores of feeding all of the animals have been completed why not take a dip in the salt water pool? You can also just lie low on one of the banana lounges and breathe in the beautiful fresh country air.
Or if the weather is a bit too chilly for a swim, you can go on a bush walk to see how much wildlife you can discover on the property. Koalas, kangaroos and an abundant bird life are all waiting to be discovered. There are also numerous picnic spots all over the property where you can make the most of the natural bushland setting.
When you have exhausted all of these options it is probably time to retire to your cabin where you can enjoy a lovely drink out the front soaking up the bush view whilst your other half cooks a BBQ. The kids can watch a DVD from Melissa's collection of DVDs/books and magazines. Depending on the fire restrictions of the season sometimes Melissa will fire up a bonfire where you can sit around with all of the other guests and have a chin wag.
As the TV is in the living area where the bunk beds are, you can't watch TV once your little ones are asleep but why do you need to? Check out the stars - or have a spa. Ah yes the spa - this is probably the only negative aspect to our stay at Gumnut Glen. The spa took forever to fill up. The reason being is that the cabins rely on rain water. And the rain water in the tanks is shared by the four cabins. So if everyone decides to have a spa at the same time it can take a good while to get a hot full spa (I'm talking at least 30mins!). Also it was quite tricky to get a decent temperature and pressure in the shower.
We had such peaceful sleeps at Gumnut Glen - absolutely no traffic noise and only a bit of hoopla from the other cabins. You hear the local bird life come into full song about 5am but what does that matter? You are in the country. Get up and go for a walk, the bush is beautiful first thing in the morning.
Then when you come back you can cook up some of those fresh chicken eggs that you collected the day before. Or if you are too much of a city slicker to cook your own, head into nearby Dungog for your morning caffeine hit and check out CHILLbillies. There are quite a few cafes and restaurants in the area. Upon Melissa's recommendation we went to the Flying Duck in Vacy (25 mins away) for Sunday lunch and there are also loads of tourist attractions and wineries close by.
How often can you get this up close and personal to alpacas?
I think the litmus test for accommodation should be would you return? And yes we would. The cabins aren't modern or luxurious but they are very comfortable and for around $165.00/night I think they are very good value - especially when you have a host like Melissa and so many activities for the kids to enjoy. So go on and get out of the city and countrify yourselves.
drinking water (you can drink the rain water ..but if you're precious take your own)