Braidwood is not only a centre for arts and crafts, it is also the home of a very opulent guesthouse!
The pretty National Trust-listed town of Braidwood is a popular weekend destination. It is nestled in the upper valley of the Shoalhaven River between the rolling hills above the Budawang Ranges plateau, halfway between Canberra and Batemans Bay on the coast.
The first white settlers arrived in the 1820s and farmed tracts of land with the help of convict labour. During the 1850s goldrush the town boomed, and while the odd speck of gold might still be found in a stream, today the town is the service centre to surrounding beef and sheep farms.
But it really is more than a rural centre many buildings from the boom days remain and have been restored under the guidance of the Heritage Council. Churches, residences, hotels, the post office and the council chambers display colonial architecture in all its glory. In the 1850s the first steam flour mill in the district was built at Mona and the miller's home was extended into a grand 30-room mansion.
Braidwood is also a centre for arts and crafts, galleries and eateries. It becomes a haven for quilters each November and is home to a popular Airing of the Quilts festival.
Deua, Budawang and Monga national parks provide lookouts, waterfalls, bushwalking trails, caves and much flora and fauna. Nearby villages of Araluen, Majors Creek, Mongarlowe, Nerriga and Jembaicumbene were witness to the goldrush and are full of reminders of the early days.
Kerry and Greg Schneider purchased the beautiful 1827 property Mona in 1994. In recognition of his services as a naval surgeon superintendent, Dr Braidwood Wilson was granted the very first land title in the district. The Maddrell family purchased the property in 1845 and gave it the name Mona, which is Gaelic for "Isle of Man".
The Schneiders have done major renovations, paying particular attention to the 4.5ha of beautiful gardens which were inspired by the famous English landscaper, Lancelot Capability Brown. In his style, formal gardens are outlined with oak, cottonwood, beech, cedar, ash, horse chestnut, linden and English elm trees. Seasonal changes are marvellous there are carpets of bluebells in spring; summer brings fragrant roses; autumn is ablaze with fiery colours and in winter there are magical frosts.
The gardens have a lake with a five-arch stone bridge and there is a creek for some old-fashioned punting. The Schneiders have laid a three kilometre walking trail around the property and some visitors choose to take a picnic when they take the walk.
Accommodation is in the stables, which is a new building. It has four bedrooms decorated in modern country style, full-size snooker table, juke box, television, video library and fireplace. The old stables have a plunge pool and steam room and there is a tennis court and croquet hoops. There is also an equestrian arena for dressage, an activity which is a passion of the owners.
Most guests love to eat, drink and party and one of the special things about Mona is that guests do not have to share the property with people they don't know. You can stay with your own family or group of friends. But if you go as a couple, the entire property is yours.
Kerry will cook up a storm on request and the meal can be enjoyed in the Blue Room. Their cellar has a large selection of fine Australian wines including 10 vintages of Grange.