A luxury bush getaway for the bucket list
IT IS so quiet. Quiet as only the Australian bush can be.
The unmistakable laugh of far-off kookaburras breaks the prolonged silence.
Then a whip bird.
Quickly, tranquillity returns, leaving only the slight rustling of leaves around us.
From our comfy chairs on the undercover veranda, the break in the eucalypts reveals a herd of dairy cows on their morning graze and a smattering of farmhouses amid grand sprawling trees below, climbing past cleared grasslands and forests to the prized vista: the summit of Woolumbin Mount Warning.
This is what we've been waiting for.
Our arrival the previous afternoon in this rainforest canopy had been met with cloud cover and a smoky haze from distant bushfires over the border in Queensland.
But the morning breeze has cleared the air and uncovered the reason behind the name of our villa: Mountain View.
Colours emerge from the earlier greys.
The vista holds my gaze as the hot cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast hubbie has prepared on the barbecue starts to go cold.
A soft rebuke and I manage a mouthful while wondering how we can ever fit in the array of fruit, bread and jam, olives and cheeses that remain in the supplied picnic basket.
Oh how I love it here.
But we're certainly not roughing it in the bush.
We're sampling the hospitality of Mistere Spa and Retreat, Urliup, in Northern NSW - three spacious, luxury self-contained villas that offer privacy and downtime we've been craving.
This very Australian getaway (pronounced, aptly, like "mist" and air") has all the creature comforts you need to unwind - from the soft sophistication of the modern four-poster bed, electric fireplace and airconditioning, to the bespoke timber coffee table and warm embrace of the jacuzzi.
Regal Retreats likes to call it "elevated elegance", with an attention to detail, high-end features and breath-taking surrounds.
This is how to get away from it all … without being away from it all.
The "secret" retreat in the stunning Tweed Valley is hidden amid 52ha of idyllic, pristine rainforest.
Yet Murwillumbah is only 10 minutes (8km) away, down and around our mountain road, then a few bends further on to the west. Cabarita Beach ¬- where we came from yesterday - lies only half-an-hour east.
A flat-screen TV, WiFi and great mobile phone coverage are waiting for you - if you can't do without them.
So are boutique shopping and restaurants in Murwillumbah (and I highly recommend Bacaro Restaurant Bar for authentic Italian).
And you could spend hours playing board games and chess or reading a host of books and tourism information.
But this is a place to just relax, relax, relax.
It's so much nicer putting down the remote control, leaving the phone in the handbag, and tuning in to the wildlife, which can range from "growling" male koalas looking for mates and mountain brushtail possums to shy wallabies, cheeky goannas and water dragons, plus a variety of birdlife including owls on lamp posts, exotic parrots and tiny kingfishers.
The Urliup villas - Mountain View, Fountain View and Waterfall View ¬- previously were known as Wychwood but were totally cosmetically renovated to officially open on Remembrance Day (November 11) in 2017.
While Fountain View and Waterfall View sit by the perch-filled dam, Mountain View has a beautiful outlook to Wollumbin Mt Warning, which was formed from a volcanic plug of the now-defunct Tweed Volcano.
After breakfast, we decide to take a stroll on the Zodiac Trail to find our Year of the Water Tiger. It's one of two pleasant walks (the other is named the Antman Trail) that are filled with sculptures and oddities, flowering plants and massive trees.
We take our time reconnecting with nature - and each other.
And in less than 24 hours, I'm ready to face the real world again.
AT A GLANCE:
Regal Retreats' Mistere Spa and Retreat
1110 Urliup Rd, Urliup NSW
The villas can be occupied by one couple for the ultimate in privacy or for groups and families.
Breakfast baskets and barbecue packs are available to buy before check-in.
Regal Retreats prides itself on unique Australian accommodation.
Visit www.misterespaandretreat.com or call 0411 052 759 to book.