On a patch of ancestral land of the Wonnarua people in Australia’s rural Hunter Valley region, The Barracks Tocal lives up to the meaning of its name with aplomb. A Koori word, Tocal translates to “plenty” and you’ll find a land of plenty no matter where you look. Plenty of time to soak up the country charm and serenity; to learn fascinating First Nations and colonial history; and to discover the luxury hidden inside the four restored suites. On one of Australia’s oldest colonial working farms – and current agricultural college – the plush comfort of the modernised quarters contrasts the 150-year-old tales of toiling convicts and farmhands whose work is buried in the brick walls. Vaulted, exposed-beam ceilings sit overtop queen beds and cosy sitting rooms, with decor that nods respectfully to Tocal Homestead’s rich history. Nibble on the gourmet breakfast hamper out on the verandah, watching as animals graze yonder. Or sip on a glass of Boydell’s sparkling verdelho (available on booking) as the day gives way to night. Among the everpresent whispers of the past, marvel at the Tocal Homestead and outbuildings with the included option of an immersive audio guided tour on Sundays, before making tracks towards Paterson to discover the history of the former rail hub and inland port. Further afield, the Hunter Valley’s vineyards await – along with buzzy regional towns Maitland, Singleton and Pokolbin – all within an hours’ drive.
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