Dec 27, 2011

The Inaugural SSG Bush Christmas: Christmas Day.

Dawn on Christmas Day broke over Wolgan Valley to reveal a clear blue sky and a gentle rolling mist.

Back inside the SSG homestead, I sipped a cup of tea and admired the gingerbread house from turn down service last night.  Through its cellophane wrapping.  You don't want to be lapsing into a food coma too early on Christmas Day.

No getaway series of blog posts from me would be complete without at least one reference to the local fitness facilities.  A day of solid eating needs preparation.

The obligatory view from the treadmill photo.

I was there so early that the ranges were obscured by the fog.  Sorry 'bout that.

The walk home shot isn't much better.  It's so invigorating walking under  mountain ranges and inhaling lung fulls of crisp valley air after the gym.  I should do this more often.

I'm glad I had my solitary time at the gym on Christmas morning.  It gave me a chance to catch up on what's going on in the real world via Sky News.  Wolgan Valley is such an idyllic and secluded little world inhabited only by guests and staff, at times it feels sealed off from the rest of the world, in the nicest possible way.  As I pounded away, I managed to listen to excerpts of Christmas messages from the PM, the leader of the Opposition, religious leaders as well as our troops overseas.  It was uplifting to hear them all talk of hope, family, tolerance and loved ones.  It was especially gratifying to hear the special thanks from our political leaders to the armed forces stationed in areas of tension around the world and also their words of praise to Australians at home working to keep the rest of us safe around the country.  I even put in a few extra minutes on the step machine so that I could listen to the excerpt of Barack and Michelle Obama's Christmas message.

Breakfast was a buffet affair at the Country Kitchen, which is on the ground floor of the main house.  Sparkling wine with strawberries with breakfast?  Yes please.

The fresh berries were outstanding and I ate them at every opportunity.  Mr SSG is modelling a yoghurt shot topped with some local blueberries and raspberries.

Whisk and Pin fans, look no further than the cereal shelves of the buffet for your fix.

The juice bar featured a rainbow of freshly squeezed treats.

Mr SSG's cooked breakfast.

Mr SSG ordered a poached egg and smoked trout cooked breakfast whilst I stuck to refined carbs in the form of pancakes.

After all the rain of Christmas Eve, God decided to smile down upon us on Christmas Day with this perfect blue sky.

After breakfast, Mr SSG and I assembled at the reception area before our first scheduled nature activity of our stay.  Included in the cost of each night's stay are a host of outdoor adventures that are conducted on the expansive grounds of the resort.  I needed a bit of persuasion from Mr SSG but I summoned up enough courage to go horse riding at the stables for my first activity.

Whilst waiting for our ride to the stables, I had a closer look at the walls of the main house which hosted not only artworks but pieces of Australian literary history.

An original letter from one A.B Paterson to one Dorothea Mackellar about the plight of being a writer in Australia and the need to support the country's creative talent.

And this more mundane note from Henry Lawson detailing a business transaction.

Meet Jessie.  He's one of 10 horses who reside in Wolgan's stable.  He's also the boss of the field or harras (didn't make that one up, google tells me that harras is indeed a collective noun for horses) and likes to remind the others of this as often as possible.

I had no idea what beautiful and intelligent animals horses are until I got this chance to meet them.
Oscar, on the other hand is more gentle and tolerant of anxious first time horse riders.  He works well with strangers, knows the drill and has his own way of running things.  He knows when the routine half hour arena ride ends and will pointedly lead his novice rider back to the orange starting blocks and even more pointedly refuse to stray too far.  Even if his rider tries her hardest to pull the reins to her hips.

Oscar and Jessie share this stable with their 8 colleagues.
Many of the horses here are trail horses and some are ex race horses.  Oscar is a thoroughbred and used to race in a past life.

The arena where conducted horse rides are held.  Trail rides are also done on the property.

The duck pond next to the arena.
I'm surprised that I overcame my fear of horse riding so quickly.  It took me five minutes to get used to Oscar and what I was supposed to do.  The half hour flew by for me.

As a reward for his diligence, I got to feed Oscar an apple segment.

Meanwhile, back at the main house, there was a 24.5 metre (as verified by Ian Thorpe) outdoor pool to be made use of.

It was glorious swimming laps in a valley with mountain ranges as far as the eye could see up above and all around.

Lunch time rolled around and with it a visit from Santa (the general manager) and one of his elf helpers.

It was a leisurely afternoon of eating with live jazz in the background.

We began with a series of platters to share.

Prawns and smoked salmon.

Chorizo and cured meats as well as pate.

Frittata and roasted vegetables.

Tartare sauce, sour cream and chilli jam.

Then on to our mains.

Salmon for me, of course.

Mr SSG had the duck confit.

Dessert was a prune pudding with stone fruit and ice cream.

By this point, all I needed to finish a delicious lunch was a good coffee.

While Mr SSG left to explore the wine and cheese room.  The majority of wines served as part of the regular menu (included in the nightly room rate) are sourced from the local region.  The cellar also houses French wines and a few from other parts of Australia.

In the centre of the wine room was a cheese board that was nothing like anything I've seen anywhere else.  There was fresh fruit and crackers to go with the cheeses along one side of the table.

And a range of 12 or so cheeses as the centre piece.

Fortified and dessert wines.
Mr SSG finally emerged with a selection of four cheeses.

And more of that fabulous local fruit.

 It was a sensible idea to wear a dress with a bit of give to lunch.

There was only one thing to do on returning to SSG HQ.  I put the woollen throw to good use and had a 2 hour afternoon nap on the sofa which overlooks the private pool area.

Then I woke up, made a pot of tea and took it out to the pool.  I don't know if the swim / sip / magazine flick training routine is one that Ian Thorpe would endorse but it works well for me.

Christmas Day was definitely different for me this year.  But different in a good way.  This has been such a wonderful holiday for me.  The change of scenery, the quiet and stillness, the friendliness all around.  I feel a great sense of peace here.  It has definitely been an escape.

I hope that whatever you were doing this Christmas was done with loved ones and brought you joy.


  1. Wow SSG, your Christmas day sounds just perfect - relaxing with the one you love, while being served copious amounts of delicious food (that cheese room sounds divine!). Enjoy your break!

  2. Merry Christmas to you and Mr SSG. Your escape looks so tranquil and relaxing, and so unlike my own Christmas day! Wishing you both happiness and good fortune in the new year.

  3. Hello Z
    Thank you for your kind wishes!  Hope you're recovering and resting up post the Christmas rush.
    SSG xxx

  4. Thank you, Adrienne.  I am slowly and painfully adjusting to the real world today.  Hope you've had a lovely Christmas too.
    SSG xxx

  5. This place looks amazing. I want to go there right now!
    Merry Christmas toy uo and Mr SSG and a happy new year.
    T xx

  6. I like the idea of sparkling wine for breakfast. Looks like a lovely break. xoxox

  7.  unforgettable experience for sure.. hope you had wonderful day together!

  8. Merry Christmas Mr and Mrs SSG! This place looks amazing. I love the crisp country air in the morning, it hurts the nostrils... ahhhh your private plunge pool is to die for! x

  9. The food looks absolutely amazing.That pool looks wonderful - it's been far too cold to use ours here so far this year. Fingers crossed for a warmer January.

    Merry Christmas to you and Mr SSG.

    Kitty xx

  10. Such an awesome way to spend Christmas day together!  Bubbles at brekky, sublime food (love the look of Mr SSG's brekky) and horse riding!  You guys deserve this sort of pampering!

  11. Just like the weather here in asia, no more rains. Summer is now approaching.
    We love summer time!!


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