Six places to up the romance for your loved one this year

Kangaroo Valley, Barranca, country style

Beautiful surrounds at Barranca, Kangaroo Valley

Planning a romantic escape that’s perfect for chilling and taking time out?

Here are some great places to enjoy cosying up and maybe even popping the question.

They are special places from the country to Sydney Harbour that are sure to impress a loved one, any time of the year.

Barranca, Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Barranca, Kangaroo Valley, romantic stay NSW, Love NSW

Barranca, Kangaroo Valley is exceptional

Where: 408 Bunkers Hill Rd, Barrengarry.

About: Barranca is tucked away in the heart of Kangaroo Valley, a two-hour drive south of Sydney.

What: Four luxury two-and four-bedroom villas star on a 400-hectare cattle property. They face a dramatic pleated escarpment with ever-changing hues to the north and are hemmed by native bushland with tumbling streams. Kangaroo Valley township is a 10-minute drive away.

Background: Designed by Sydney’s much-awarded Grove Architects, the villas are in harmony with nature and feature Australian timber and upcycled heritage sandstone. Huge windows, a wooden deck, full galley style kitchen with polished concrete floors and Smeg appliances, Greg Natale soft furnishings plus grey tiled ensuites with Leif products, feature.

What is it like? The villas are as beautiful as the landscape whether you decide to snuggle up fireside, enjoy a deck barbecue or roast marshmallows by the Robert Plum firepit. Kangaroos, wallabies and birdlife can be spotted at Barranca that means a narrow river gorge.

What to do? Follow a bush trail for a spot of forest bathing among the trees or chill in the freshwater rock pools where river gums line the creek with staghorns overhead – a 15-minute walk away.  Morning animal feeding with the friendly horses, pigs, donkeys and the cutest Shetland – Lick Lick is a delight.

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Flashjacks of Gundagai, NSW

Flash Jacks Gundagai, Country stay, country styleFlash Jacks of Gundagai

Where: 14 Homer St, Gundagai.

About: Around mid-way between Sydney and Melbourne, just off the Hume Highway, the hotel is on one of the picturesque hills surrounding Gundagai. It is an area that is home to heroes of Australian bush folklore such as the legendary shearer after which Flash Jacks is named.

What: A former convent has been lovingly converted to nine divine suites of various sizes.

Background: The convent dates back to 1888 and has been converted by Gundagai tourism gurus David and Emelia Ferguson, who also developed the nearby award-winning eco-accommodation, Kimo Estate.

What is it like? Links to Gundagai’s past and Australian pioneers are reflected through wool, steel and timber features in the high ceiling suites. Although minimalistic there are warming touches such as honey coloured pine timber floors and checked rugs and cushions.

The Smeg minibar showcases local drops such as a Nick Spencer Gundagai Red and a Borambola Sparkling is perfect while soaking up the views over the historic town. A shiny white-tiled ensuite with sweet-smelling plant-based Leif products enhance a heavenly stay.

The glory of the building with its glowing red bricks, lovely white painted verandahs and elegant bay windows marry with modern technology including digital check-in and a virtual concierge

What to do? Step across the street for breakfast at the Coffee Pedaller where the bacon and egg roll with Vegemite mayonnaise has a big following. That famous Dog on the Tuckerbox is 7km away on the opposite side of the Hume Highway. Take photos of the historic timber bridges.

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Nimbo Fork Lodge, Tumut NSW

Beautiful Nimbo Fork Lodge near Tumut, NSW

Where: 330 Nimbo Rd, Killimicat.

About: The lodge is located in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, in scenic countryside.

It is the new home of the fifth Three Blue Ducks restaurant. The food is as good as its Bondi counterpart but with a country spin.

What: Set on a stunning location on the fork of the Tumut River and Nimbo Creek, the classic-style five-suite lodge which also has six luxury riverside cottages, is surrounded by panoramic views that command attention. The dining room is in the main lodge.

Background: A former exclusive fishing lodge has been revamped by Josh Walsh, wife Sophie, along with business partners Alex and Tom Heggaton. They purchased the lodge two and a half years ago and have put their own stamp on it.

What is it like? The cosy white painted cottages feature a Hamptons-style look with a huge bathroom and bathtub perfect for soaking and admiring the stunning views down to the river.

The verandah is ideal for reading or daydreaming and you can book a horse ride, a massage or organise a picnic by the river.

What to do? It doesn’t take long to settle into the lodge life where you can head out for a swim, bike ride, hike or throw in a line for a catch and release fly fishing experience. Dining is a great experience.

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 BullerRoo Mansfield, Victoria

Beautiful BullerRoo, near Mansfield

Where: 177 Melba Rd, Mansfield

About: The luxury farmstay overlooks Mt Buller, the Barwite Valley and rolling farmlands. It is about 15 minutes from Mansfield and on the way to Mt Buller.

What: It’s a special place with fantastic 180-degree views. Located on a working goat stud with the cutest miniature pygmy goats and several pet alpacas, you can spot kangaroos in the distance at dusk and dawn, hopping by for a look.

That’s what inspired the name BullerRoo- the views of Buller and kangaroos in abundance. It seems they too know a great place when they see it too.

Background: It’s been a dream of Vickie and Ed van der Hoeven, who were inspired by luxury ski chalets and have created a perfect retreat in the high country.

What is it like? It’s a stunner- those views will stop you in your tracks and chances are you will want to layback on the leather couch with reindeer hides and savour the views.

The open plan upstairs retreat has a rustic stone feature wall in the living area with a French cast-iron chiminea and plenty of wood supplied.

The two-bedroom luxury farm stay accommodates up to five. There’s a state of the art kitchen and showstopper bathroom – with three showers.

But the crowning glory is definitely the rooftop terrace with an outdoor dining space and BBQ. It’s perfect for nature spotting and checking out those starry skies.

There is also a charming two-bedroom stone cottage, nearby.

What to do? Soak up those views, then head down to the Broken River that runs along the base of the property and you may see a platypus. Visit  Mansfield for dinner and do a spot of wine tasting at Delatite Wines. For a great gin tour and tasting book at Swiftcrest Distillery, a small farm-based distillery.

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Sambar Hills, King Valley, Victoria

Sambar Hills King Valley

Where: 1150 Upper King River Road, Cheshunt South.

About: Sambar Hills is located amid a boutique Pinot Noir vineyard, located at the end of the King Valley.

What: There are three stylish cabins with deep baths overlooking the pretty vineyards.

Background: Sally and Jamie Keith fell in love with the King Valley years ago and moved with their four young children to establish their new venture in 2019.

Jamie, a builder, converted former stadium corporate boxes into accommodation and transported them from Shell Harbour where they previously lived.

What is it like? The cabins capture the picturesque views of the vineyard and towering bushland and you feel like staying put and soaking up those vistas.

The sleek design features huge windows, a spacious open plan queen bedroom with integrated ensuite.

The queen room is adjoined to the living area, with kitchenette facilities.

There’s a BBQ on each balcony alfresco and outdoor furniture.

What to do? Head out for a walk and spot beautiful birdlife in the vineyards, then  wander along the King River track. There’s a swimming hole nearby and Lake William Hovel which is great for fishing and water sports is a short drive.There are some excellent wineries in the area including Chrismont that has a fabulous restaurant, Dal Zotto Wines known for its prosecco and Trattoria restaurant and Pizzini Wines. Watch out for the resident koala, Carmello.

After a winery hop, it’s great to return and soak in a bath with stunning views over the vineyards. There’s also a fire pit – with wood supplied.

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Romance BnB on Sea with Sydney by Sail

Sydney Harbour, yacht stay, luxury yachts, Sydney by Sail

Go for a sail with Sydney by Sail on beautiful Sydney Harbour

Where: Sydney By Sail, National Maritime Museum, Sydney, NSW

About: Settle in for an indulgent sleepover right on Sydney’s magical harbour in a new luxury yacht.

What: Overnight stays on the sleek vessels are managed by the team at Sydney by Sail, one of the oldest sailing businesses in Australia, led by Olympic yachtsman Matt Hayes.

Background:  Depending on the package, explore the Harbour under sail before anchoring in a sheltered bay for a refreshing swim followed by gourmet lunch.  Relax and laze on deck before your skipper will anchor you for the evening where you will stay alone for a night of music and romance under the stars.

What is it like? Fabulous – you feel as if you are in charge of your own luxe yacht and you fall asleep serenaded by the waves lapping at the side. There’s a full bathroom below deck and also tv and a great sound system.

What to do? Enjoy the harbour adventures and watch those ferries and luxury yachts cruise by. Never know who you will see. There’s a seafood feast awaiting, complete with fresh king prawns, slabs of smoked salmon, fresh Sydney rock oysters and marinated octopus served with lemon and cocktail sauce. It’s accompanied by a tuna tataki salad with brown rice, cabbage, shallots, kale, carrot, coriander, edamame, crispy shallots, seaweed salad and spicy sesame dressing.  Delicious breakfast boxes filled with goodies can be enjoyed on deck before a skipper and brings you back to reality.

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