Touch of luxury at a rural escape from city life
FOR anyone who loves to be surrounded by nature and open spaces on a trip away, while enjoying the comforts of home, "glamping" is the way to go.
Sydneysiders escaping the hustle and bustle of city living have found the perfect getaway in the Mudgee region, about four hours' drive northwest of the metropolis.
Cam and Tasch D'Arcy discovered the beauty of Mudgee more than four years ago, and invested for the first time in the tourism industry.
"We love going to wine regions so we went and checked it out," Cam said. "It's got a lot of wineries, restaurants and cafes, and is kind of a farming township. It is a beautiful region, the people are so warm and friendly. We got married out here and thought it'd be great to own property here."
Initially they bought Abingdon House, a well-appointed four-bedroom holiday home on a scenic 10-hectare property only nine minutes' drive to the centre of Mudgee, which they still own.
Then they ventured into "glamping" 18 months ago on a 113-hectare property, a mixture of bush and farmland, with one luxury tent as tourist accommodation.
"There's plenty of room to explore," Cam said. "It's for those people who normally wouldn't go camping, but want to be with nature.
"The business is going great, and we're still very heavily booked. Most of the people are from Sydney and 90 per cent of our guests are Australians."
Activities on offer at Sierra Escape include bush tucker tasting and cooking, helicopter charter flights around the region, wine tours, plenty of walks or, less energetically, building a campfire and sitting on the deck enjoying the views.
The D'Arcys have recently added two new "eco-lodgings" at Sierra Escape which are solar-powered and take the idyllic glamping experience up a level.
Each tent is positioned discreetly away from the other, perched high on the rolling hills of Sierra with large beds, inviting panoramic views and large windows - perfect for watching sunrises, sunsets and starry nights.
The so-called Dulili tent sleeps up to seven, while a perfect romantic getaway can be had in the Uralla tent, which features an outdoor freestanding bathtub.
"Both Tasch and I work in the hectic commercial world. I run a film company, which means long hours and there's always a lot going on, so Mudgee provides the opportunity to relax, unplug and enjoy the best of what life has to offer," Cam says.
Their property offers solitude with undulating hills, wildlife, creeks and spectacular views, situated just 20 minutes from town and in the heart of the central west wine region of NSW.
"We wanted people, in particular city-dwellers, to experience Mudgee in luxury, while still being close to nature," Tasch said. "Importantly, we wanted to do something with a minimal footprint out of our respect for the land. Our Australian-made eco-tents use solar power, each has a fireplace and the high-quality material that has been used for the exterior insulates for warmth in winter, while the floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the cooling summer breeze.
"Even those who hate the idea of camping love this unique, off-the-grid experience."
Find out more about Sierra Escape at www.sierraescape.com.au.
The surrounding countryside has dozens of wineries. The Colonial Inn Museum displays domestic and agricultural items from the 19th and 20th centuries. Northeast of town, Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve has abundant birdlife and is crossed by the Castle Rocks walk. Farther northeast, Goulburn River National Park is home to emus and red-necked wallabies. Hundreds of significant Aboriginal sites dot the park. Nullo Mountain, east of Mudgee, offers views of vast Wollemi National Park. Wollemi features the dramatic Colo River gorge and the Glow Worm Tunnel in an old underground railway.