Escape Southern Highlands stays at a designer shed and discovers magic at the bottom of the garden.
I’m all for that old adage try before you buy but it sort of defeats the purpose when staying somewhere new for the first time.
Which is why I am happy the owners of Watershed, a chic shed conversion on the outskirts of Robertson, have done the hard yards. This local family (mum, dad, three teenage kids, two poodles, pet sheep and alpacas) spent their school holidays here for more than a decade before relocating permanently in 2014 from inner city Sydney.
“We spent many long weekends and weeks here in holiday rentals and Airbnb’s from cottages on the Gib to Wildes Meadow to Moss Vale,” Dad told me some years back.
“From the outset though we felt there was a particular kind of beauty to Robertson. It feels like the far-flung part of the Highlands, like it’s just that more in the country.”
It’s early autumn and as we turn off the Illawarra Highway, it indeed feels like we are off the beaten track. Draped by towering radiata pines, the driveway sweeps around the family’s 1884 farmhouse and past an enormous trampoline and treehouse with zipline. My eight year old son and companion for the night, shouts in delight.
On trend in its matt black finish, Watershed sits at the bottom of the garden, magic against green paddocks. A readied firepit in the courtyard is surrounded by balloon back chairs. I make a mental note to mention it to my city girlfriends. What a perfect spot to spend a night catching up. Outside there is also a large outdoor table and chairs for al fresco dining. Watershed stands on land that was once part of a 120 hectare dairy farm. The original weatherboard homestead was built by a former surveyor general for the Berrima District. But there is nothing historical about this groovy little pad. Designed around an old machinery shed, the main structure is corrugated tin bought second hand from a knocked down shed. ‘Gives it a great patina,’ explains the Mum.
Inside is open plan with a stylish living area, wood burning stove, designer kitchen and luxury bathroom with huge shower. The concrete floor is right on designer spec with loads of rugs and floor to ceiling windows looking out into the garden. The decor is cosy chintz with standing lamps, armchairs and a comfy lounge to sink into. There are throw rugs on every chair. Robertson can get cold.
Upstairs there is a charming mezzanine sleeping area. It has a slanting roof, sky windows and twinkling fairy lights that give the feel of camping out in a luxurious shearing shed. There is a queen bed with two singles under the eaves. All are scrumptiously made with cosy duvets and sheepskin rugs. Watershed sleeps five, even six. A sofa in the corner can be made up into another single and downstairs the lounge converts into a double sofa bed.
This is welcoming, easy accommodation, perfect for a weekend or week stay. Thoughtful and kind hearts are also evident, illustrated by the opening sentence in the all-important information folder.
‘We want you to enjoy your break,’ our hosts have written. ‘Please let us know if there is anything missing or you need help with anything.’
No need. They have thought of it all. The kitchen with its gas range, wall oven and stocked cupboards is expertly kitted out. In the fridge there is fresh milk from Tilba Dairy, Lurpak butter and jams. On the stone benchtop, a coffee machine and a sourdough loaf awaits for our breakfast. There are bowls of freshly laid eggs and Granny Smith apples and a yellow jug of bright daisies. There is even a carafe of port for cold nights. The wood burner is set (thus the designer woodpile outside) and there are bath robes in the bathroom, and jumpers for nights around the firepit.
‘Mum, we could move in here,’ my son says eagerly, before running outside to play with Chester, one of family’s friendly poodles who has come to say hello. Dogs are welcome; there is secure fencing all around Watershed. It’s dinner time so we decamp for the nearby Roberston Public House & Restaurant. Here we talk Pokémon over rump steak for me (Wednesdays are $15 steak nights with salad and chips) and chicken schnitzel for my son. Kids eat for $5 Tuesday and Wednesdays. We head back to The Watershed and snuggle up on the downstairs settee. Bedtime stories consist of my eight year old delightedly reading more from the information folder. This time about recalcitrant uninvited guests.
‘We occasionally get frogs and we’re pretty sure they arrive up through the toilet. If you find one and if this freaks you out, call us and we’ll come catch it. Otherwise just get a plastic container, catch it and throw it out on the grass.’
‘There is a wombat who regularly visits the attached woodshed and he can make bumps in the night. There are also lots of rabbits around in the morning and at dusk.’
We are early to bed, and fall asleep listening to the winds pick up and the occasional soft rattle of the roof. We wake early to country sounds, and within minutes, my son is off outside.
‘Back soon Mum, I’m just going to look for those rabbits.’
Watershed – Robertson stayz.com.au
*Escape Southern Highlands was a guest of Watershed