Of all the weddings I’ve had,* my wedding at Wolgan Valley in 2012 is probably still my favourite. It was a small, playful affair. We had only 22 guests, and we merged silly with sophistication for an evening that was funny, meaningful, elegant, intimate, and, well, a bit loose, if I’m being frank. It was perfect. Celebrating this anniversary is half the reason we try to return to (what is now the) One & Only Wolgan Valley each year. The other half is because we were going there as a couple before we were married, and the final half is because it’s a very special place on earth/I can’t count.
Set in a breathtaking bowl of mountains, dense bush and ochre cliffs, Wolgan Valley is a smattering of villas and one cosy main lodge lodged in the bush of central west NSW. It’s the perfect place to breathe deep, clear your head, re-group and yknow, stop. (But with local chardonnay and bushwalks instead of yoga and green juices.) Going there at the start of December gives us a reprieve between a big busy year and a densely packed, mega-social festive season.
When Hamish and I started going to Wolgan back in 2010, it was an adults only resort, and our trips were comprised of getting drunk, food, spa treatments, food, and sleep. It was glorious. Children are warmly welcomed now, which takes nothing away from lovebirds wanting a hand-holdy, romantic escape filled with couples’ massages and picnics – the place is huge, you can very much stay in your own bubble – but is very handy when you have a child or children, and you quite enjoy holidaying as a family.
Our son – like all children who visit – loves hooning around on the back of our bikes, swimming in the pool, going down to the creek to search for frogs and tigers (I haven’t the heart to tell him there are none), and admiring the many kangaroos and wombats that freely roam the property. I love seeing my vitamin-D deficient inner-city Melbournian son go free-range in the sun for a few days, and have some vague semblance of the bush upbringing his mother had. (Just, um, you know, sans the golf buggies and turndown service and wait staff.) (But the same flies, cockatoos and tadpoles.)
It may only be a couple of days each year, but this trip grants us uninterrupted family time at a place that’s genuinely special to us.
Which is why it was so friggen annoying when the Wipflis crashed our trip. Sure, they’re our best mates, we often holiday with them, (we’ve even been to Wolgan with them before), and we don’t see nearly enough of our interstate buddies, but, I mean, have some sensitivity, guys. I won’t mention the fact they just ‘happened’ to buy matching rash vests and legionnaires hats, or that they would always just ‘happen’ to be at the same restaurant as us every meal (there’s only one choice, but still, I mean: CUL-INGY), or just ‘happen’ to ride past our villa at the exact moment we were heading up to the pool.
Nevertheless. We somehow managed to make it work.
As the old adage goes**: You can pick your holiday destination, but you can’t pick your friends.
*I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes.
Hamish Blake and Zoë Foster Blake at Wolgan Valley with their son Sonny
Zoë wears a Yosuzi hat
Hamish Blake with Michael “Wippa” Wipfli
Zoë wears The Acqua Brand rashguard
Lisa Wipfli with son Ted
L-R: Lisa, Michael, Ted, Sonny, Hamish and Zoë
L-R: The Wipfli family; Sonny Blake