Woodlands Rainforest Retreat, Victoria

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Where Is It:  Set deep within the Toolangi State Forest in Narbethong, 80kms or 1.5 hours drive northeast from Melbourne.

Why Go: When you’re in need of, or simply desire, a romantic hideaway, it is peaceful, private and very relaxing.

Best For: Stylish couples seeking a romantic getaway, and honeymooners.

Three Things We Loved: The clean air, stunning views, warm hospitality.


Hidden in the spectacular rainforest of the Black Spur, in the mountains on the edge of Victoria’s famous Yarra Valley, is one of Australia’s leading boutique accommodation retreats and the ultimate secret hideaway for couples. This retreat provides a rare combination of genuine privacy and indulgent luxury within a lush rainforest setting. Each of the generously appointed fully self-contained cottages is set within 16 hectares of native forest overlooking magnificent fern gullies and babbling creeks, and have been designed and positioned to offer complete seclusion, both from its neighbours and the outside world. Nature’s wonders abound; beautifully coloured parrots and cockatoos are quick to accept the invitation to eat seeds placed on the outside deck, while a stroll through the property is likely to delight with multiple sightings of kookaburras, wombats, wallabies and echidnas. Although a phone signal is available, there’s a real temptation to unplug from the world to simply immerse oneself in this rainforest paradise and soak up the stunning native fauna and flora at your fingertips.

The Accommodation:

The architect-designed cottages are split level and open-plan, with huge floor to ceiling windows that look directly out onto the forest. Crafted from local materials including polished mountain ash floorboards, myrtle beech benches and yellow stringy-bark exterior cladding, they blend into the surrounding bush so well that they seem a natural part of the rainforest environment. Each cottage features a large open brick fireplace that is stacked ready to light (with plenty of extra chopped wood on hand) as well as central heating and cooling. There’s a fully self-contained kitchen, a comfortable king bed with a selection of pillows of differing firmness, a TV, DVD and CD players with a selection of discs both audio and video. The oversized sunken spa bath in the bathroom is one of the cottage’s crowning features. As music is piped into the bathroom, one is able to enjoy a leisurely therapeutic massage from heated water jets while gazing through a glass wall beyond the deck into a 360-degree view of the fern gully treetops outside.  

Where We Stayed:

Opening the door to Gully View cottage we are initially greeted by a pair of his and her gumboots and two umbrellas on the veranda. Inside, a beautiful bottle of local Yarra Valley red wine, half a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, some homemade jams and a basket of oranges await us. A personalised welcome message also beckons. The door closes and we step into another world. It’s hard to know whether to feed the parrots with the birdseed we’ve been given or to pad through the heated stone bathroom floor wearing fluffy robes to light candles, fill champagne glasses and take a bath together. We investigate the fully stocked mini-bar and the selection of late night snacks. There’s also a library full of board games and movies at our disposal. We decide to take a nap. The king size bed is inviting and extremely comfortable and we relax with the magnificent view of the rainforest that can be accessed from the bath, the lounge, the kitchen and even when simply resting.

What Else Is There:

Beyond Woodlands Rainforest Retreat, should anyone on a romantic couples escape wish to venture out, the Yarra Valley is a world class, world-renowned wine region. It is a place of unspoilt pristine beauty, where the water and the air are clean and crisp, the views spectacular and the friendly ambience invites you to just rest and savour the very best of this region. There are many quaint towns and villages here, and the locals at Narbethong often gather at The Black Spur Inn for both a drink and a good old-fashioned pub style meal. The beautiful mountain village of Marysville nearby boasts several dining choices, a magnificent waterfall and a picturesque golf course.  

The Verdict:

If a totally secluded luxury couples’ hideaway where the two of you can be alone together is for you, Woodlands Rainforest Retreat can offer a wonderfully memorable experience. Summer or winter you’ll find everything you need at your fingertips so all you’ll have to do is pick and choose what you’d like when. Surrender comes easily as the sound sights and smell of this temperate rainforest engulf your senses.

Woodlands Rainforest Retreat is located at 137 Manby Rd, Narbethong VIC 3778 Australia, +61 (3) 5963 7150, www.woodlandscottages.com.au. Rates from $499.

Guest Writer, Sandy Kaye