A taste of French provincial style close to home


You could be easily forgiven for thinking you were driving through the south of France when you first sight Araucaria B&B.

This grand mansion, built in the French Provincial style, sits regally on a hilltop in Ewingsdale, looking across the valley to the waters of Byron Bay and its clifftop lighthouse.

Araucaria is the botanical name for the hoop pine, the only trees on the property when it was first bought by owners Kate Platt and David Young.

Now there is an abundance of citrus fruit trees, flowering shrubs and herbs and vegetables for the kitchen table.

As an interior designer, Kate has decorated many of the Northern Rivers’ finest homes and David is a well-known, award-winning photographer.

She was involved in every aspect of the design during the building and decorating phase, keeping a hawk eye on the finest detail.

Most of the stunning features of the house were custom made or imported. The roof tiles came from Barcelona!

The couple built it over three years, originally for the family, but now that their two sons have flown the nest they are happy to share their home with the interesting people – mainly couples – who choose their place for a B&B stay in Byron.

This is as far from the traditional concept of a country B&B as it gets: not a whiff of pot pourri or a lace doily in sight.

Guests can choose from a variety of spacious and tastefully decorated rooms, some with their own terrace, most with their own ensuite, and the popular pool room, only a few steps to the inground pool in summer and romantically lit by the lighthouse at night.

All four bathrooms have marble tiles and floors.

The grand lounge room, where guests are most welcome to draw up a sofa by the open fire, has six-metre ceilings and a curving sandstone staircase to the upstairs suites.

Kate is an accomplished cook and an overnight stay here guarantees a delicious gourmet breakfast, which is served in the formal dining room.

On the morning of my visit pears poached in red wine and cinammon were served with Bircher muesli and creamy youghurt, followed by French toast with a marmalade sauce with berries and bacon.

There was an endless flow of freshly made pots of tea and coffee and toast for those who still had an appetite.

Guests mainly indulged in this final course just to try Kate’s home made jams and marmalades, made fresh from citrus fruits picked from the garden.

There are no television sets in the five guest rooms. Rather, people choose to read the papers at a leisurely pace or immerse themselves in a novel in between bouts of sightseeing.

"We like it to be a quiet, romantic stay for people," says Kate. "For that reason we don’t take children. We have a lot of couples celebrating special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays."

Guests are encouraged to help themselves to local teas, coffee and home made cake, available in the kitchen all day. The cake may be lemon and poppyseed, pear and walnut or good old chocolate brownies.

The homely feel of the house is accentuated by tasteful works of art, photographs by David and art objects everywhere.

It would be difficult to find an alfresco eating area with a better view than the terrace which flows from the kitchen lounge.

"People respect and enjoy the fact that this is our home," says David. "A lot of our guests say they just felt like part of the family while they were here."

David and Kate are happy to recommend things to do and places to go, including their selection of the best in local dining options.

They have even taken guests to the local Farmers Market.

Winter specials at Araucaria start at $220 a couple, including gourmet breakfast, free wi fi, stunning views and a roaring log fire.

Phone 0411 888 416 or email kate@kateplatt.com if you want to make a booking.


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