Australia's favourite food blogger, Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, visits the Sunshine Coast and stays in the spectacular Escape House.
It was the quickest of trips. I would be barely more than 24 hours on the Sunshine Coast where I was booked to speak for half an hour. The rest of the time would be spent in transit or doing work and catching up with friends.
And yet the view kept drawing my eyes like a hand had pulled my chin towards it. The view is the lush, green of the hinterland to Mount Coolum and Old Woman Island or Mudjimba. I was to speak at the at the Gourmet Garden International Food Bloggers Cook Off (Gourmet Garden’s farms are located on the Sunshine Coast) and my home for the 24 hours was Escape House an enormous three bedroom house with views as far as the eye can see.
I step through the wooden double doors and the property’s caretaker, David, greets me and shows me around. The kitchen, on the left, is a feature with induction stove and European appliances. The owner of Escapes is Brisbane’s dessert king, Martin Duncan from Freestyle Tout. It is photo-shoot ready with caesarstone benchtops, an island, hidden double freezer and fridge. The music system plays throughout the whole house and can be adjusted for volume in each room. Reverse cycle air conditioning and light dimmers to help set the mood.
The lounge room has a comfortable modular lounge, a colourful throw artfully tossed across the end and the whole building has a luxe, natural lodge feel to it from the hide rug to the neutral cloth textures of the lounge and bean bags and the lamps made with branches or tree trunk pillars. The telescope is set up for maximum viewing and floor to ceiling windows open out onto a sizable wooden deck with barbecue.
The main bedroom is all view too and has a king sized bed (which is ridiculously comfortable – I slept like a baby). There is also a large bean bag and behind the bed is an enormous closet where a sarong hangs as well as bathrobes and yoga mats. Artwork features prominently in the house and David proudly shows me his wife’s painting in the lounge room which shows the view from the house.
The bathroom, always the room that I am a little obsessed with, has a large egg shaped bath with a very handy wooden paddle across it to rest things on and there are also his and her sinks. Toiletries are soap, shampoo and towels; you will need to bring lotion, tissues and conditioner. Mirrored on the other side of the sinks are twin shower heads. Bath salts are kept in the cupboard behind the mirror and I make a mental date with the bath after dinner.
The house keeps going and from the main bedroom and the third bedroom, is access to the plunge pool and pool lounges and there are also laundry facilities. I’d love to go for a little dip but work calls and I just look longingly at the water instead. The second bedroom is a mirror image of the main bedroom on the other side of the house which makes it ideal for three couples. I make myself a cup of tea – the pantry is helpfully stocked in the way that only a chef would with provisions of goose fat, jersey milk, eggs from their garden and a proper coffee machine. You can also pre order any supplies to be stocked in the fridge for your stay.
I do some work and before I know it, night falls and the image in the painting is mirrored by the lights below. There’s a knock at the door and the lovely Martin arrives, settles in and puts on the log fire and then shortly after my friend, the delightful Maureen from Orgasmic Chef, and her darling husband John arrive. I feel like I know her already because we’ve read each other’s blogs for years and even though we hadn’t met before, we settle in and chat like old friends.
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