What’s the story? The Bendooley Estate Cottages are all about peace, quiet and simple luxury with a literary edge in a beautiful natural setting.
As a young border at Moss Vale’s Tudor House in the 1920s, it would have taken quite an imagination for 10 year old Patrick White to foresee what life had in store for him… Nobel laureate, two times Miles Franklin Award recipient… and almost a century after his school years, the inspiration for a luxury guesthouse in the nearby village of Berrima.
Arriving at Bendooley Estate just on nightfall with the entry pin code at the ready, we were thankful for the smattering of discreet lighting guiding us to the Patrick White cottage, down a neat gravel driveway a short distance from the main building.
For lovers of literature, stepping inside one of the charming cottages is like turning the pages of a new book with a story waiting to be discovered. Each of the Grant McConnell designed hardwood timber huts, in configurations of studio, two or three bedrooms, is named after a legend of Australian literature, including Norman Lindsay, May Gibbs, Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson. An information plaque inside our studio reveals more of the story, recounting Bendooley Estate owner Leo Berkelouw’s meeting with Patrick White at their King Street Sydney bookstore. The writer paid Berkelouw £50 for a secondhand copy of his The Ploughman, and other poems, then ripped out the pages and binned what was left, wanting the collection of poetry out of circulation. The few copies that survived White’s self imposed buy back scheme are now highly sought after by collectors.
Inspired by the eclectic and vibrant style of British designer Kit Kemp, the cottages ooze Highlands hospitality with timber floating floors of locally sourced oak and a striking mix of pattern and colour only an expert stylist could pull off. Mittagong designer Jennifer Gill creates drama with the upholstered bedheads and feature walls using fabrics from Christopher Farr Cloth (available at Ascraft in Australia). The Carnival Grass wallpaper in the Patrick White cottage has a sense of whimsy with giant green and blue flower pods offset by more restrained white tongue and groove panelling. A selection of artwork from the Berkelouw collection, including mid century hotel posters, ancient maps and agricultural drawings, has been thoughtfully put together to reflect the theme.
Outside, a tiled verandah with a pair of elegant cane chairs is the perfect vantage point to gaze out over the paddocks, watch ducks splashing in the stream and take in the rolling hills beyond. The cottages are positioned for privacy with just a glimpse of neighbouring rooftops nestled into surrounding hillocks. Landscaping is natural and barely there; a small garden with a thriving rosemary bush borders the terrace and, in time, native seedlings will grow to provide more buffer between the cottages.
The bathroom is generously sized, with heated tile floors deliciously warm underfoot and an irresistible bath with a handy side table for a book or cuppa. Continue exploring to discover the walk in rain shower with enough elbow room for the lankiest of guests.
A ‘petite kitchenette’ beside the comfy king sized bed has basic dining necessities, including glasses, cutlery, coffee cups (but no plates) plus a selection of T2 teas, a Nespresso machine and a bar fridge. Next morning’s continental breakfast of crusty bread, jams, granola, pots of yoghurt and freshly squeezed juice arrived in a basket at dusk. Other dining options include the Bendooley Estate restaurant for lunch, or a room delivered light snack for dinner. For a more substantial evening meal it’s a short drive to Berrima or a little further to Mittagong or Bowral for dine in or takeaway.
Nightly rates for the Bendooley Estate Cottages start at $295 for the studios and $595 for the three bedroom May Gibbs cottage, with discounts available for longer stays. The literature theme is an ideal showcase for the vast collection of book related memorabilia gathered by generations of the Berkelouw family, who generously share their passion and heritage to create a unique and charming Highlands getaway.
Great for: a private and peaceful getaway with a touch of luxury, and for bibliophiles .. Bendooley’s Book Barn will keep you browsing, and possibly buying for hours
Recommend: running the bath for a long soak in the heated bathroom with the Appelles Apothecary & Lab toiletries provided
Bendooley Estate Cottages
3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima NSW 2577