Southern Wild Co shines a light on some favourite stays around Australia, those that offer a sanctuary away form the hustle of everyday life, a place to relax and create new memories. A home away from home.
Meet Ellington Grove. This is a story of a cool gully with weeping willows and the scent of dark woodlands. Where precious bath rituals are lit by candlelight and the ghosted notes of Jazz piano float by in a nod to the past.
What is the story behind Ellington Grove
My memory returns to the day after we put an offer in to buy The Cottage. We decided to visit the local market before heading home to Sydney. As we were strolling along the main street of Candelo, we heard the muffled sound of jazz coming from a gorgeous, out of tune, antique piano. It was coming from an abandoned shop window as if the spirit of a time long gone was still lingering. Everywhere we turned seemed to be a subtle nod to the jazz age; from the Town Hall, stubbornly still standing, its Art Deco designs shooting into the sky, to the rustling notices in windows for music festivals, the local Arts Society, blues nights, poetry jams you name it. It seemed the spirit of Duke Ellington and his legacy was everywhere in this tiny town and music had touched every corner. And so, it was that the town had named the cottage for us, Ellington Grove.
Ellington Grove, a cedar cottage sitting on 5 acres, is nestled within a grove of tortured Willows and giant Eucalyptus in the hills of the tiny village of Candelo in NSW. Originally named Rose Cottage for its flourishing rose garden, over time, as the tortured willows rose to the sky and threw dappled light across the Grove it was simply called The Cottage.
Built in the late 1800s and owned by the Gates family, it was passed to the Mayes family in the 1930s. Mr Mayes was known at the time as the gentleman with the Model T Ford and Mrs Mayes had the extraordinary luck of winning the lottery!! The Cottage was then rented out to a family with 10 children and the front verandah was used as a bedroom.
The cottage has been home to many generations of families large and small and when we saw her for the first time we knew that it would make the perfect retreat/Airbnb. We wanted her transported back to the golden days of jazz, a home, an experience not merely somewhere to rest between travels.
How did you go about decorating Ellington
Ellington has been reimagined as a luxury retreat that takes you on a walk down memory lane, that might pull you away from the hustle and bustle of life. Decorating the cottage came naturally once the name was decided upon. Vintage furniture bought locally from Bega, preferably with touches of glamour and a little glitz. Bits and pieces picked up at the local Vinnies and online, and most importantly touches of velvet for that luxurious feel with lots of beautiful French linen for the beds. There is the odd photo of The Duke himself as well as a vintage musical instrument here and there as if it were occupied at one point by the musician of its namesake.
We added a new kitchen with all the necessities for the modern age, but at the same time as the practical everyday items, we have beautiful vintage glassware for guests to use.
We wanted the place to feel a little glamorous even though it is a country cottage so you can put on the Jazz playlist and sink into the velvet sofas and take a nostalgic journey back to the 30s. We tried to think of everything that we would want in a holiday home but with a magical touch.
We always try to bring in fresh flowers from the garden or the fields and if these are not available there is always the old apple tree or Eucalyptus branches.
Ellington has proved to be a special magical escape, unlike home. Little did we realise how important that idea would be as most of our guests have made the trip for that purpose during the last few unpredictable years.
Best places to eat and visitFor the best local food, you cant go past The Candelo Cafe which is within walking distance from the cottage. It is perfect for breakfast and lunch and we have the General Store where you can buy anything you need.
The Candelo Pub is another 5 minutes walk across the bridge, you'll often see local musicians playing and their pub menu is excellent.
For special occasions and less than 30 minutes drive:
- Banksia Restaurant in Pambula for top-quality food.
- Valentina in Merimbula with its beautiful decor has a delicious menu for sharing.
- Dulcies Cottage in Merimbula for the best hamburgers.
- Longstocking Brewery in Pambula for local pizzas and craft beer.
- North of Eden Artisan Distillers for hand-crafted gin and Gin School.
For the eyes
A simple drive from Candelo to the Coast and beyond through Tathra and Bermagui. You can't go past the stunning secluded beaches and beautiful rolling hills.
There are many beautiful walks around the Sapphire Coast, the best place to find something to suit is to look at the activities section on www.sapphirecoast.com.
Favourite time of day, season and favourite spot at Ellington
My favourite time of day at Ellington is sunrise. I love to catch the early morning light when the sun shows itself at the top of the fields and gradually throws its light over the orchard and the cottage when all you can hear are the birds, the cows and the frogs together in the early morning chorus.
Even though it gets very cold, Winter is a favourite because of its crisp clear mornings especially when there is a frost, it is magical.
My favourite spot is probably in the bath looking at the stars and after a bath sitting by the fire wrapped up in a cosy throw and reading a good book.
What rituals make you feel at home, wherever you may be in the world?
My most precious ritual is a bath. I will always choose accommodation with a bath, its my favourite thing to do and the best way to unwind. In the words of Sylvia Plath "There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them".
Another favoured ritual is exploring local areas by going on a walk.
Which Southern Wild Co scent is the perfect fit for Ellington Grove and why?
Southern Wild's Hidden Vale candle is most suited to Ellington Grove. There is a gully with Weeping Willows at one end of the property and woodlands all around the area. I feel when I light this candle it takes me on a journey to these places. This is what we are burning at the moment in the cottage.
I so enjoyed being transported to the days of jazz reading your article in Ellington Grove