Also included in the price – usually A$1,950 (US$2,050) per night, less with special offers – are meals, including regional wines, in the Wolgan Dining Room and Country Kitchen cafe, plus two guided nature excursions a day.
This turns out to be a good deal. For one thing, the nearest town, Lithgow, is a 40-minute drive away. For another, food, libations and excursions at Wolgan Valley Resort are first-rate.
I took lunch in Country Kitchen, a casual space that opens to the outdoors with views of the infinity swimming pool and beautifully appointed Timeless Spa. The daily menu is written on a chalkboard and tends toward light, flavorful and fresh fare.
Breakfast, served upstairs in the Wolgan Dining Room, is sumptuous, ranging from gourmet Whisk and Pin muesli (which is something like granola, for those who haven’t heard of this Swiss-originating cereal-and-dried-fruits dish) to cooked-to-order eggs, fresh fruit, juice, tea and coffee.
I am a coffee snob but I was not disappointed. The bountiful selection of pastries and fruit parked tableside on a trolley by relaxed but efficient servers could make a meal.
Things just get better in the evening, when dinner is served in the dining room. I supped one night with Anston Fivaz, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa’s executive chef and food and beverage director. The South African-born Fivaz arrived in Oz from Dubai in December.
I am happy to put myself in the care of people who know more than I do, so he picked the food and wines for our tasting menu, which included a lovely duck breast with pearl barley, sweet corn and pine nuts.
Wolgan sources nearly everything, save ocean fish, from within 100 miles, using a network of regional vendors: artisan olive oil producers, vintners, cheese makers, producers of free-range meats. After dining, we repaired to a walk-in wine room stocked with nine exquisite Australian and imported cheeses, bread with truffled honey and port for a savory finish.
The resort’s food has been such a hit that Emirates announced on March 14 it would introduce dishes designed at the resort by Fivaz to its Australian airport lounges. It’s easy to see why.
The resort offers guided excursions around the property and neighboring national parks. Among them is a nighttime wildlife tour, a walk through lovingly restored 1830s farm buildings and Wolgan’s lush flower, herb and vegetable kitchen gardens, and a 1.5-hour drive and walk led by knowledgeable naturalists.
On my tour, we spied a high-flying eagle and hawks overhead, and endangered indigenous mosses and ferns and a wombat burrow underfoot.
Inside, outside, it all works. The planet is rich in high-end resorts. Few can be mentioned in the same breath as this one.
Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa’s postal address is P.O. Box 390, Lithgow, 2790 NSW, Australia. Its telephone number is +61 2 6350 1800, For more information, e-mail info(at)wolganvalley.com or visit www.wolganvalley.com.
David Armstrong is a San Francisco Bay Area journalist specializing in features, news and reviews about travel destinations, airports, airlines, hotels and resorts. He is the former tourism, aviation and international trade reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and covered tourism, movies, media and theater for the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner. He is the author of five books and numerous travel articles for TheStreet.com, Travel + Leisure, Global Traveler, Napa Sonoma Magazine, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Toronto Star, Chicago Sun-Times, Aviation.com and many others. He blogs at http://davidarmstrongontravel.blogspot.com.