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The view from the deck at La Rocher Eco Retreat

Nestled in the foothills of Mount Warning/Wollumbin, La Rocher Eco Retreat in the heart of the Tweed Valley near Uki has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and bushland. With a chorus of birdsong in the nearby trees, we opened the door to our villa and discovered that it was even better than the website promised. Setup as a modern studio apartment, La Rocher Eco Retreat had all the features we could ever want including a king size bed, kitchen, lounge and a romantic fireplace ready to light. However, it was hard to take it all in as we couldn’t help but be distracted by the captivating views of Mount Warning/Wollumbin and distant border ranges.

Welcome to your villa at La Rocher Eco Retreat
Welcome to your villa at La Rocher Eco Retreat
Bedroom at La Rocher Eco Retreat

We had foraged at the local delis, food stores and bakeries in Murwillumbah on the way to our accommodation and unpacked our goodies to prepare for an afternoon and evening in. Thanks to our kitchen which had a full fridge and a coffee machine, we were soon sorted with afternoon tea on the deck. My wife was immediately drawn to the bathing pleasure of a free-standing bath that had a perfectly positioned champagne glass and stand to hold her iPad or book ready to go. Some more bathing options included a large walk-in rain shower with excellent water pressure and instant hot water that was perfect on the chilly afternoon we arrived.

Champagne and a bath tube with a view
Bubbly and a bath tub with a view

As the sun began its journey west, we were in a conundrum as to the perfect spot for sunset as the sun was looking right for the deck but the lounge with its fireplace was also tempting. This was soon sorted with the start of the cocktail hour beginning in the lounge and finishing on the deck for sunset. With the birds singing their hearts out and a bright red sunset that set the clouds on the horizon on fire, we settled into this perfect location and toasted the day with a glass of wine and a view to die for. As the early evening chill began to bite, the fireplace and dinner beckoned. With a fully equipped kitchen and a BBQ on the deck, we were all set for self-catering. 

Wine and Cheese on the deck and that view
Wine and cheese at sunset at La Rocher Eco Retreat

We can’t recommend the local delis, butchers and bakeries in the area highly enough as they had a mind-bending assortment of gourmet items that left us wanting to come back to try more, which we did. Our top picks in the delightful township of Murwillumbah were Pasta’bah for house made fresh pasta and sauces,  A & B Blue Ribbon Meats for their amazing sausages and steaks and friendly service, and the must-purchase cheeses from Kat at Kat Harvey Cheese. For the best sweet treats and desserts, Ben’s Patisserie is the place to go, but be warned if you arrive closer to lunch, a lot of the treats will likely be gone so get in quick! We also found also found some great things to see and do in Murwillumbah.

The selection at Kat Harvey Cheese is amazing
Kat from Kat Harvey Cheese at Murwillumbah

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With dinner by the fire and cleaning sorted thanks to a dishwasher, we snuggled down into the super-cosy bed to be ready for another chilled out day in the area. Being an early riser, I was up in time for sunrise and saw some of the first rays of light to hit the east coast of Australia on Mount Warning/Wollumbin. The bird choir greeted me again as I had coffee and juice rugged up on the deck and took in the emerging morning of light filling the valley and distant ranges.

When booking La Rocher Eco Retreat, we had the option of wine and a cheeseboard or a breakfast basket. We chose the latter and had croissants, eggs, tomatoes, an avocado and local bread with juice and milk waiting for us on arrival. There’s no bacon or meat but you can grab your own at the butcher in town (don’t miss the tasty sausages!). After breakfast cooked on the barbeque on the deck, we took a short stroll up to the pool and hot tub for a look but decided it was too chilly for swimming or even hot tubbing. However, we noticed some other guests sitting back in a cabana and enjoying the view later in the day when we left to go out for lunch.

The infinity pool beacons at La Rocher Eco Retreat
The infinity pool beckons at La Rocher Eco Retreat

As midday approached, we headed 10 minutes down the road for lunch at Mavis’ Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant which has an amazing menu. The word is out and it was very popular so you need to book. Our last stop of the day was in Uki, a delightful nearby town with shops to browse and more treats to purchase. The must-do here is the refurbished post office-cum-artisan coffee roster, Bastion Lane Espresso. This is where you can grab a bag of beans or freshly ground coffee to take home or savour a great coffee with a sweet treat while admiring the art by local artists that’s on display.

Bastion Lane Espresso Uki
Bastion Lane Espresso & Post Office at Uki

Returning to La Rocher Eco Retreat, we settled in for another ‘busy’ afternoon of relaxing, sipping wine, tasting cheese and gazing at the view before a final evening by the fire. Another must-do after dinner is shooting star spotting from the deck before bed. There is very little light pollution in this beautiful part of the world and seeing the full splendour of the Milky Way was awe-inspiring. Early morning came with a blanket of fog which was the perfect excuse for a sleep-in and a late breakfast before, sadly, we had to checkout (although we received a text inviting us to stay as late as we wanted to which was lovely).

Venus and the Milky Way from the deck at  La Rocher Eco Retreat
Venus and the Milky Way from the deck at La Rocher Eco Retreat

La Rocher Eco Retreat is very private as the managers communicate via text and there is self-check-in and check-out via a keypad. If you do need anything, they live on-site and are happy to drop by with more firewood or anything else you might want. All you have to do is send them a text. We had a wonderful weekend at La Rocher Eco Retreat and loved the serenity, peace and tranquillity of the Tweed Valley. La Rocher and The Tweed combine warm country hospitality with a vibrant food scene – two of our favourite things.

Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of La Rocher Eco Retreat.

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Trevor Templeman is a photographer and writer who travels the world capturing the essence of locations through their landscape, architecture and people. His words and photographs are published in magazines, newspapers and online around the world.