Late last year, Harry and I had high hopes for an action-packed first summer together. Ah, the best laid plans…
The sudden death of my dad in November put paid to any such notions and, after a brief return home to my native Britain, we have instead spent the best part of summer in hibernation, venturing out only as far as the local park.
While I would love to say Harry demonstrated an uncanny empathy for my grief, alas, he did not. Whatever my emotional state, his reaction remains the same – he brings a ball and waits patiently for me to throw it.
Nonetheless, dogs are still one of the greatest anti-depressants available and Harry’s endless quirky antics have made me smile when nothing or no one else can. The comforting warmth of him slumped across my tummy (his latest preferred sleeping position) is also extremely effective for easing anxiety. And so, after a couple of months of pet therapy we are back from our hiatus and ready to face the world once more.
A mini-break from Sydney was the ideal way to ease ourselves back into the game. As most dog-owners are aware, finding pet-friendly accommodation can be a challenge. Finding a peaceful and private resort that’s as appealing to your dog as you, even more so. And yet that’s exactly what we recently discovered in Kangaroo Valley.
Kookaburra Hill offers self-contained pet-friendly accommodation in a private country house set on five acres. It’s a beautiful setting, with manicured lawns, rose gardens and mountain views.
The expansive lawns were a real luxury for Harry. They’re securely fenced, so you can play ball for hours (and we did!) without having to worry about your pooch pulling a Harry Houdini. Two kitchens (indoor and outdoor) were a hit with Harry – a second surely just increases the chances of a stray sausage finding its way to the floor – and the outdoor kitchen is also gated, creating another secure space to leave your dog.
Harry’s weekend highlights included dead-eyeing Moffat the alpaca (safely fenced off), beating Olivia the resident golden retriever at a game of ball (Olivia visits by invitation only but we found her to be a most welcome guest) and stalking lizards (he displayed the same levels of obsessive compulsive behaviour he shows with a ball, staring fixedly at the lizards with a very waggy tail. I’m not convinced his intentions were friendly…).
Him Indoors and I also had plenty to keep us occupied. Mostly food. Our host, Pamela, generously allowed us access to her vegetable garden, as well as supplying fresh eggs from her hens. And then there was the baking. Fresh berry muffins on arrival, hot pancakes delivered to our door for breakfast – and scones with homemade jam and whipped cream were the pièce de résistance. The pool, which we had exclusive use of, would have been the ideal to burn off those excess calories. Unfortunately, it was also the ideal place for a snooze in the sun.
Kookaburra Hill is just a few minutes’ walk from Kangaroo Valley’s main street, with its pie shop, fudge shop, restaurants, cafes and shops full of curios and collectables. We enjoyed a social drink (or two…) in the beer garden of The Friendly Inn, which has a large grassy area and plenty of space. Bistro One46 and Cafe Bella both offer outdoor dining options for you and your dog, although Bistro One46 secured our vote for its quieter terrace spot, under the vines.
The Kangaroo River and its associated activities (especially canoeing and kayaking) is a major attraction. While we remained landlubbers, we did take a walk around its banks before exploring further afield.
Nearby Yarrawa Estate, high in the hills, is one of the most welcoming and homely cellar doors you’re likely to find. The wines are award-winning, and the homemade pickles and marmalades delicious. We received an exuberant welcome from wine dogs Jack and Muscat but their enthusiasm proved a little too much for Harry, who refused to get out of the car.
Kangaroo Valley makes for a relaxing country retreat and, for us, it was the perfect place to recharge and re-whet our appetite for adventure.
Kookaburra Hill is currently for sale. Our advice – pay a visit while you can.
Kookaburra Hill, 230 Moss Vale Rd, Kangaroo Valley. Tel: 02 4465 2285.