Hotel Highlights

  • Between the Clare Valley wine region and the Flinders Ranges: a taste of superb Riesling and Australia’s legendary Outback.
  • Opulent to the hilt, this high-Victorian pastoral homestead has been restored in style.
  • All-inclusive breakfast, dinner and drinks: forget about petty extra charges and relax.

Overview

Set within striking distance of South Australia's Clare Valley vineyards, North Bundaleer hotel evokes Victorian-era elegance on the edge of the outback. Though the vibe remains relaxed, this 1901 grand stone mansion – set on 400 acres of native bush and farmland – is a romantic retreat featuring lavish, high-Victorian rooms.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking North Bundaleer with us:

A two-litre cask of North Bundaleer olive oil

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

Four, including one suite.

Check–out

11am, but flexible subject to availability. Check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $851.91 (AU$909), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include all meals and drinks –including cooked breakfast, four-course dinner with Clare Valley wines, afternoon tea and an open bar.

Also

With no set in your room, you’ll need to head to the indigenous-art-adorned TV room for small-screen entertainment, or to the lavish library to peruse antiquarian books. If you’re feeling a bit Piano Man, tickle the ivories in the grand ballroom.

At the hotel

Library and drawing room, grand piano, TV room, open fires, espresso machines, free WiFi throughout, gardens. In rooms: Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

The vibrant Red Room Suite has a canopied four-poster, a sitting room with an open fire, and a bath and shower in an airy, window-lined ensuite (it’s a former conservatory – cue great views out). The Blue Room boasts a huge bathroom with a freestanding roll-top bath, and the more contemporary African Room has ethnic artefacts and a private shower, which is not ensuite. Our favourite is the William Morris Room where a big brass bed and lavish wallpaper pay homage to the Arts and Crafts genius.

Packing tips

Bring some walking shoes for the climb up to Maslin’ Lookout – the sunset views are sublime. Across the road from the property’s is North Bundaleer Forest – the oldest pine plantation in the British Empire.

Also

North Bundaleer isn’t really suitable for children, but they can be accommodated on occasion.

Children

North Bundaleer isn’t really suitable for children, but they can be accommodated on occasion.

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Eco‐friendly

North Bundaleer recycles rubbish and is rainwater-reliant rather than drawing on mains supplies. The organic vegetable garden keeps the kitchen well stocked, and the property even grows its own oranges and olives.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

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Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

After canapés in the drawing room, supper in the dining room is coordinated by Sydney-trained executive chef Leo Hollingshead, and usually involves four courses in an affable, dinner-party atmosphere. Typical dishes include white asparagus with gorgonzola and truffled honey. The wine flows as fast as the conversation; expect silverware, antique crockery, candles and crisp linen. Breakfasts maintain Hollingshead’s high standards. For lunch, order a picnic hamper.

Hotel Bar

The rates here include a selection of alcoholic drinks from the 24-hour bar, a dedicated nook off the kitchen. Help yourself to fine local wine (Sevenhill, Crabtree and O’Leary Walker), South Australian Coopers beer or a G&T – you can enjoy a tipple anywhere in the homestead.

Last orders

Breakfast from 7am till 11am or whenever suits (just let your hosts know the night before). Evenings kick-off round 6.30pm with drinks and canapés in the Drawing Room, followed by dinner in the Dining Room from 7.30pm till 10.30pm, but it's flexible.

Room service

The emphasis here is on shared meal times with your hosts and other guests, but room service is available all day too. Red Room guests can breakfast or dine in their suite for romantic privacy.

Smith Insider

Dress code

High-necked frilly blouses for her and a pointy beard and monocle for him wouldn’t look out of place amid the Victoriana, but smart-casual attire will do.

Top table

There’s only one table in the breakfast room, and another long table in the dining room, so go with the familial flow and get communal.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

On a hillside just south of Clare township, Artisan's Table, at Wendouree Road (+61 (0)8 8842 1796), at Wendouree Road, serves up sophisticated contemporary fare on a sunny deck. Kirrihill Wines’ (+61 (0)8 8842 4087) cellar door is also on site for sampling some riesling.

Local bars

Clare is a hard working country town, and when the blokes who’ve been doing the work get a thirst for beer they head to Clare Hotel, at 244 Main North Road (+61 (0)8 8842 2816). Expect an authentic country atmosphere, with lots of loud talk, TV screens showing the racing and hearty pub meals (heavy on the meat).

Local cafés

Cafe Cygnets (+61 (0)8 8849 2030) at Main Road North whips up the best coffee in Auburn, or hit the providore counter for gourmet delights.

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Wineries and wilderness

North Bundaleer

RM Williams Way, Jamestown, Clare Valley, South Australia 5491, Australia

North Bundaleer is situated on the edge of the Clare Valley wine growing region 12km south of Jamestown, and half way between Adelaide and the Flinders Rangers.

Planes

Fly into Adelaide Airport (http://www.adelaideairport.com.au/) – international and domestic flights arrive and depart daily. North Bundaleer is a two hour drive north of Adelaide through scenic vineyards, farmland and forests. There is also an airstrip at Jamestown. Suitable for light planes, the Hubert Wilkins Airstrip is only ten minutes from the property and charter flights can be arranged by the hotel.

Automobiles

You can hire a car at Adelaide Airport from any of the major car hire companies on site. The drive north from Adelaide takes just over two hours. There is plenty of on-site parking at North Bundaleer and having a car will enable you to explore the quaint neighbouring townships and nearby wineries.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Margie Seale , Page-turning publisher

This review of North Bundaleer in Clare Valley is taken from our guidebook Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection Australia/New Zealand.

‘Last night I dreamt I went to North Bundaleer again,’ said Mr Smith a week after our two days of pampered relaxing at this gracious homestead. Although it wasn&...

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North Bundaleer

Anonymous review by Margie Seale, Page-turning publisher

This review of North Bundaleer in Clare Valley is taken from our guidebook Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection Australia/New Zealand.

‘Last night I dreamt I went to North Bundaleer again,’ said Mr Smith a week after our two days of pampered relaxing at this gracious homestead. Although it wasn’t Manderley, and our own story didn’t have quite such a melodramatic conclusion, I knew what he meant; this is a hotel that transports you to another, more romantic, era.

From the hill that crowns 160-hectare grounds – the perfect sundowner spot – the sandstone chimneys of North Bundaleer peek through the blue gums. The house, built in 1901 in the Victorian Queen Anne style, is one of the grandest in the district and has shades of wild folly about it. Above the front door sits a fabulous tower that serves no purpose. At the property’s core, there’s a ballroom where I could imagine the ladies of Longbourn coquettishly munching ices while waiting for Darcy to ask them to dance.

Evoking English country-house Victoriana on the fringes of the Outback is no mean feat, and it’s testament to the owners’ imagination that North Bundaleer has the power to transform you into an Austen heroine – until, that is, a family of kangaroos bounds past and bursts the bubble. About six years ago, Marianne and Malcolm Booth bought a crumbling pile and have since turned it into a mansion retreat with every comfort. Today, it’s a luxurious hotel from which to explore parts of the striking South Australian Outback, from the Clare Valley to the Flinders Ranges.

With only four rooms, a stay here is inevitably intimate. We were lucky enough to secure the headline act – the Red Room Suite, with its enormous canopy bed. It also has a private, ruby toile-wallpapered sitting room with a Chinese theme (a blanket box is topped with the latest editions of The World of Interiors – what more could a decor-obsessed Mrs Smith require?), and a conservatory converted into a modern bathroom. If you’re bedding down here, follow my lead and take a leisurely candlelit bath, gazing out through the wall-filling windows at the sky flocked of stars.

The other bedrooms are no aesthetic slouches either. In short, if you’re into period furnishings done tastefully, you’ll like North Bundaleer – I am, and I do. When we were there, every room showcased vases of seasonal flowers and eucalypts, but I can imagine perfume filling the house when the rose garden is in its full summertime bloom. Stepping eagerly into the ballroom, we were struck by one detail in particular – a restored wallpaper adorned with a winged seahorse, the hippocampus of mythology, now the homestead’s logo. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on the part of the original owners that the symbol of a water god should loom so large in such a bone-dry place.

North Bundaleer’s surrounds are alluring enough, but coupled with Marianne’s inspired cookery (son Leo is executive chef) and Malcolm’s attention to detail, you have somewhere special indeed. As a guest, I am not without quirks – one of which involves tea. I am a staunch subscriber to the etiquette that a pot should be served alongside milk and hot water for those of us who like their flavours delicate. Most people don’t bring it, despite repeated requests. Not here. Delivered to our room with a pot of hot water and a fresh cupcake, my brew was perfect and continued to be, without fail, every time afterwards – heaven for tea purists and exacting guests alike.

Mr Smith and I had stayed at ‘hosted accommodation’ before with mixed (OK, bad) results, so when we discovered we were to dine with the owners in the grand but austere dining room on the first night, our hearts sank. It was with some trepidation that we joined Malcolm, Marianne and another guest for apéritifs in the drawing room.

At least there was lots of bubbly (all drinks are included in the room rate) and spicy deep-fried olives to get things going. And going they got. To our immense relief our hosts were delightful, managing the meal and conversation with tact and verve. By the end of the first course (a wonderful fresh-from-the-garden stinging-nettle soup) we felt as welcome as family members come home for the holidays.

In fact, we may have felt a touch too at home, if the hangover was anything to go by. We meandered into breakfast to find it was an all-in occasion once again, and I feared for Mr Smith – never his best in the morning. Fortunately for him – and me – the quality of the food soon made us shake off our fug. Everything was home-made: eggs from the chooks, jams from local orchard fruit – and more of that pot-perfect tea. When it came to the day’s agenda, we felt that we’d already had more than a fair sampling of the Clare Valley vineyards the previous night, so we planned to walk a small section of the famous Heysen Trail, which passes nearby, and then return to snooze, read, bathe and prepare for the next meal.

Named after Hans Heysen, an early 20th-century landscape artist spellbound by the Flinders Ranges, the Heysen Trail is a 1,200-kilometre trail that stretches from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge. If you have 60 days to kill, you can walk its entirety. Mr Smith and I were less well time-endowed, but a few hours in the crisp air were more than appreciated. The countryside varies from rolling green hills to dry creek gorges, so if you want to see Australia au naturel with minimal effort, this is the way to do it. The trail passes by a property named Never Never – we pondered whether it was called that because it never, never rained there.

While we were getting back to nature, Marianne was busy cooking it; preparing, at my request, supper in our sitting room that night. There we sat at a cloth-covered table for two, napkins white and silver shining, with candles and firelight for atmosphere and a menu that featured the most delicious leek-and-stilton tart. As we ate, we reflected on how we could easily get used to living Marianne and Malcolm’s unique brand of Victorian high life. Leaving for Adelaide the next morning, our feelings were confirmed by the present of a cask of home-pressed olive oil packed in our luggage. North Bundaleer: it’s that type of place.

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