Basalt luxury accommodation features a thoughtful design that plays to its surroundings and the beautiful seasonality of Orange, in regional NSW.
Turning off the highway towards Mt Canobolis, the world shifts from rolling pastures to orchards and dense forests that break to sudden sunshine as one property gives way to the next. Last winter, the snow was thick with that crunching hush of the lone driver. The trees were bare and sculptural, but now, everything is a deep green, studded with gleaming red fruit as the road winds its way upwards past orchard after orchard of apples, peaches, plums, and apricots.
Arriving along the winding road that ascends to The Pinnacle, the Basalt signage is discreet and in tune with the natural stone of the surrounding landscape. Entering the property, the winding road continues through newly planted pear trees that will, with time, form a seasonal welcome from lush to sculptural. The arrival, however, is orchestrated so we are not aware of the view until turning to park beside our lodge. At which point, the entire valley and region surrounding Orange is breathtakingly revealed. Magic.
Perched above the city of Orange on the slope of Towac Pinnacle as it nears Mt Canobolis, Basalt luxury accommodation is an architectural delight. Minimalist and pared back to the simplest of forms, each of the three separate accommodations is a private retreat and perfect landing pad to take in the breathtaking views. Located within a family-run cherry orchard, each of the pods faces east to take in the rising sun. Positioned to be perfectly private, the deck makes a morning yoga session the ultimate start to the day.
For those not familiar with Orange, the key to its beauty lies in its extreme seasonality and altitude. With Towac Pinnacle sitting at 1190m and Mt Conobolis at 1397m, the seasons range from scorching summers, where the trees surrounding the huts are lush and laden with cherries, to the gorgeous spring cherry blossom, and then bare and surrounded by snow in winter. And then, of course, there is autumn, which gives Orange the name of Colour City. The whole landscape transforms into a riot of colour as the nights cool, but days remain warm.
With architecture by Mudgee-based Cameron Anderson Architects, the self-contained lodges are designed around a reduced material palette of rammed earth, steel, glass, and polished concrete. In doing so, the beauty of each natural element is allowed to sit comfortably within the surrounding nature, while clearly articulating the dynamic lines of the built form.
“The buildings are designed with ultimate privacy in mind, with the angled walls widening to take in the expansive view of Orange below”, says Anderson. Moreover, the rammed earth protects and insulates so that even on the snowiest day, guests are perfectly cocooned.
Having grown up on the cherry farm before venturing into the world of event management, our host Simon Rollin rightly felt the location and his skill set were perfect partners for a bespoke accommodation offering:
“The Pinnacle [as locals call the Towac Pinnacle] has always been my backyard and it’s a beautiful place to share, but there is so much more to the region — a secret layer, if you like — that we are in the right place to facilitate”, he says.
He then suggests a range of tailored experiences, from individual wine tastings with Swinging Bridge’s exemplar viticulturalist Tom Ward (2022 winner of the Orange Cellar Door of the Year) to guest-specific cellar door tours (including the sublime De Salis, noted in 2019 as among the top 50 wine experiences in the world).
Indeed, Orange is increasingly lauded as the new epicentre of viticulture: “The Orange wine region is moving into an exciting phase of driving continuous improvement. In the past decade there has been an influx of viticulture expertise and a younger generation of winemakers, both maturing in the region and moving to the region, that are pushing the quality boundaries,” says Adam Walls of Wine Selectors.
The accommodation is refined simplicity with incredibly comfortable beds and soft linens. First stop is a relaxing soak in a large stone bath with a window that opens the space completely to the view. Drink in hand, with a sprig of mint, picked straight from the pots of herbs on the deck, and my day is complete. Bliss.