Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published July 10th 2014
Hide away with Moondyne Joe
Tucked away in the middle of the Avon Valley National Park lies the area known as Moondyne - the area Joseph Bolitho Johns, the bush ranger takes his name from, rather than the other way round.
Moondyne Joe (Photo in the Public Domain)
He was very active in the area and even had a hideaway cave there.
Previously primarily a business conference centre, Moondyne is a 1800 acre property of staggering natural beauty that is widening its field of operations to allow couples and smaller groups to take advantage of their superb facilities. Which makes it a secret that's only just now beginning to leak out.
Angela and I spent a day and a night there to sample and report back to you, gentle reader, on what it's like and what it has to offer.
Moondyne Country Homestead (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
Firstly, let me say right off the bat, it's pure heaven. You drive into the forest, along a gently winding road steadily upwards for about seven kilometres.
As you drive through the bush, all green now, and dappled with sunlight you can feel the strains and stresses of the week simply peeling away so that by the time you get to reception to be welcomed warmly by Christine and Peter and the rescue dog, Gypsy, the cure has already begun.
Boronia Cottage (Photo by Peter Nott)
Accommodation is in one of several chalets or bunkhouses of individual rooms, beautifully, but rustically, appointed.
Meals can be either self-catered in the chalets or in the rather splendid under-cover BBQ area. If you decide to dine in, as we did, meals are taken in the dining room, one storey of a three layer building nestled into the side of an embankment, with the other levels having a comfortable lounge with a large fireplace, and a games room with a foosball table, lots of board games, poker chips and so on.
The dining hall (Photo by Peter Nott)
The meal, which I'll tell you more about next month when I have more space, was magnificent. And the cooked English breakfast next morning no less so.
We spent the night in the Boronia Cottage, a large square, elegant room with a kitchenette, separate facilities, couches, a dining table and a wide, deep verandah all the way around with magnificent sweeping views all the way down to the Avon River 600 feet below us.
The view down the valley (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
The silence was profound and deeply relaxing, the twitter of birds, the faint rumble of the Indian Pacific served only to emphasise the silence rather than destroy it.
One of the less obvious attractions is the drinking water, which comes from one of the many springs on the property. It's twice filtered and checked regularly and tastes simply divine to those of us used to Perth's barely adequate tap water. It's also pumped in so you get serious pressure for showering.
Wedding day at Moondyne (Photo by Peter Nott)
I cannot do justice to the feeling of welcome and quiet enjoyment of the nature all around that Moondyne gives.
Since opening the resort up to the wider public several weddings have taken place and since the total capacity is somewhere between twenty and twenty-six, the place is ideal for acting tutorial weekends, family anniversaries, murder mystery weekends, sewing bees, any conceivable event that would be improved by good food, comfortable beds and quiet enjoyment.
And for those of a more energetic nature than I there is a pool and winding walks laid out through this glorious property surrounded on all sides by National Park, so the place teems with wildlife - birds, emus and kangaroos both Red and Western Grey.
Peter and Christine are wonderful hosts and wonderfully unobtrusive - there when you need them, but not fussing around. My idea of perfection.