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Escape the rat-race and relax with a good book and a change of pace in this charming property, situated on a glorious Highlands institution.

In this age of technology there is something very endearing about staying at a place called Book Barn Cottage.

This cottage is located on Bendooley Estate near Berrima. If you know and love books you may also know this place was built on the success of books. The sixth inter-generational success of buying, sourcing, preserving and selling books.

Bendooley Estate is the home of the famed Berkelouw dynasty. Isidoor Berkelouw, a fourth generation book dealer and seller from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, came to Australia in 1948 to escape the horrors of World War II. He opened his first bookstore in Sydney in 1950 and became a pre-eminent dealer in rare, antiquarian and second-hand books. His son Leo began operating the family business from the historic 1839 Highlands estate Bendooley in 1977. He still lives there today alongside son Paul and his wife Katja, who continue the family affair.

Everything at Bendooley Estate is done with quiet good taste. Whether it is the newly renovated book barn situated up the poplar lined driveway from Book Barn Cottage, or the stone cellar door that sits quietly in front of growing vines, Bendooley is elegance personified. The Book Barn is the newest addition to the Bendooley estate. Formerly the gatekeeper’s cottage, it has been extensively refurbished and is now available for weekend and short term lets. The first thing I notice upon collecting the key is the key-ring. A tiny book attached to a string and the key. It is a nice touch. Inside the two-bedroom house, the smell of wooden floor polish sits nicely alongside the aroma book lovers will recognise: that waft of words captured forever on ageing paper.

In the sitting room with its huge leather sofa, armchairs, and open fireplace there is a large bookshelf filled with every genre of book. There are also books on the mantelpiece and coffee table, each one telling its own tale of mystery, adventure, love and loss. To me a house without books, is not a home and I settle in immediately.

The refurb job is beautifully finished. There is a large master bedroom with a king bed, designer bathroom ensuite and large French windows looking out over green gardens. The twin bedroom across the hall has two king twins and a trundle, and its own bathroom with shower and bath. Serenity toiletries from Byron Bay are a welcome touch. Sheets are fine cotton, carpets wool, the laundry fully equipped and roomy. The cottage comes with all the mod-cons such as an LCD TV, DVD and CD player and iPod connector. There is a compactly designed kitchen opening onto the sitting room for those nights when staying in and cooking feels right. French doors open onto a verandah with a BBQ and small table for a meal or a pre-dinner drink to enjoy the lovely autumn evenings.

Staying here is a very civilised affair. Sleeping up to five people, the property is close to Mittagong and even closer to historic Berrima and is a terrific launch pad for the exploring the Highlands. Arriving late in the day, we welcome the teabags and coffee which are provided. A few other extra essentials such as milk, bread and maybe some local jam might also go down a treat with guests. But there is little to find fault with this place. My only regret is I didn’t have time to curl up in front of the fire with a good book.

Details: for further details or to book visit call 0412 551 295 or visit


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