Family accommodation in the Central Tablelands on the site of a historic woolshed
Long before the Orange region founded its blossoming reputation as a cool climate wine destination, the New South Wales Central Tablelands was sheep country, home to some of Australia’s most legendary shearers. 35km south of Orange, just outside the tiny township of Carcoar, a picturesque piece of its early agricultural history remains.
‘Old Errowanbang’ is a 250 acre property and the site of several noteworthy buildings – one being the historic Old Errowanbang Woolshed, and another, a dedicated holiday guest house, set against a backdrop of lush green paddocks, sparkling reservoirs and fertile fields.
As you roll into the property down a rambling country drive, parrots feeding on wildflower patches by the roadside take off in twittering flashes of brilliant colour. A working windmill turns beside a burbling creek. The resident horses hang their handsome heads over the wooden fence, curiously noting the arrival of new guests. Over the little bridge and up the hill, the guest house sits right in the middle of all this rural splendour. This is the country escape idealised by city-siders in our cramped urban quarters – a landscape of hills and pastures and trees and star-filled night skies, as far as the eye can see.
The Guest House
The main accommodation on the property is a modern, single storey structure, with wraparound verandas and a fabulous rear deck. Here (if the weather is warm enough), you can take advantage of a barbecue, a pizza oven and outdoor tables with panoramic views of the countryside sprawling out in all directions. Old Errowanbang’s proprietor and caretaker is the affable Jann Harries. She previously ran the guest house as a training centre for workers at the nearby Cadia mine, so the house has been rather grandly constructed to cater to corporate needs. There are six enormous bedrooms, a huge kitchen and a massive living area with an adjoining pool room, so the property can easily cater for a dozen people without feeling remotely crowded. Its sheer size means this isn’t your typical cosy farmstay, but for entertaining a big group of family and friends, Old Errowanbang is a practical and impressive choice for a weekend getaway.
The old woolshed, built in 1886, is the pride and joy of the property. If Jann is around during your visit, don’t miss the opportunity to go for a guided tour of this unique piece of Australian history. A short walk uphill from the guest house, the woolshed’s enormity is immediately striking, but it’s when the door creaks open and you take your first glimpse inside that the sensation of stepping back in time envelopes you. Your eyes take a moment to adjust as dust rises and settles on the 130-year-old pinewood floors and interior walls, built over a painstaking 12 months, without machines or drills or engines. Columns of musty light filter between the floorboards and ceiling beams. Cobwebs hang from the old metal wall-mounted shearing machines, brought in in the early 1900s to replace the backbreaking work of blade shearing. The largest original woolshed in the region, Errowanbang was one of the most ambitious agricultural projects of its time. The shearing floor, wool sorting, baling and storage areas cover a gloriously atmospheric four levels, meticulously restored by Jann and her family, with the help of local history buffs.
Carcoar is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney, in the heart of Central Tablelands wine country. Old Errowanbang makes a great base for heading out on country drives through the vineyards, stopping in at cellar doors to sample cool climate specialities such as pinot noir, shiraz, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. If you’d prefer a dining out experience to self-catering at the guest house, the nearby town of Millthorpe is a charming village, home to heritage buildings, boutique shops and pubs, the excellent Old Mill Café and even Chef’s Hatted restaurant, Tonic.
by Fiona Davies
Old Errowanbang Woolshed
t; 0400 667 231
a: Carcoar NSW