Immerse In The Yarra Valley
1548 Melba Highway, Dixons Creek, 3775
(PO Box 481,Yarra Glen, 3775)
Phone (03) 5965 2444 Fax (03) 5965 2441
There is a large triangular tub with spa jets in the bathroom. It looks inviting until you turn around and see the note on the wall reminding you to be careful with water; it is the country, after all, and there is a drought. So much for the weekend of guilt-free indulgence. There is still something hedonistic about the showers, though, which have to be taken in the middle of said large tub, leaving you feeling rather like a statue of a nymph in a fountain – a fountain open to private viewings, as the glass in the bathroom doors leaves little to the imagination of whoever happens to be sitting in the adjoining living room.
The gripes end there. This cottage suite at the Immerse spa in the Yarra Valley is a cosy nest for those who wish to venture no further, with a luxuriously fitted out bedroom, pleasant sitting room and small balcony, perfect for the consumption of trashy detective novels and endless cups of tea in the sun. A short stagger up the path is the spa, where prices about 40 per cent higher than those common in town will buy a pummelling massage or a gentle facial, as well as more esoteric services
(I shall go to my grave wondering about the red wine bath and the aromatherapy salt glow). The restaurant has imaginative brekkies and standard yuppie dinners (salmon fillets and sticky date pudding).
It is all very pleasant and urban middle-class; a bit of city luxury dropped into the countryside. This is what is happening all over the Yarra Valley, where modest farms are interspersed now with wineries and flash restaurants.
Immerse has its own paddocks behind the vineyards where you can have a walk that leaves you suitably mud-encrusted. But for a real rural experience, try the parklands and footy oval of the nearby town of Yarra Glen. The younger sheilas might be picking their way delicately through the mud on high heels, but the rest of the locals are made of sterner stuff. They stand rugged up in coats and scarves, eating pies and sauce and roaring abuse and encouragement; several of the players have pot bellies; the utes have kelpies in the back.
Now that’s a weekend in the country.
Cost: various weekend packages available, from $240 a double per night. This reviewer’s package, $549 a double per night (includes cooked breakfast; $50 spa pass; wine tasting and bottle of wine; two-course dinner for two with wine; full-day winery tour with Yarra Valley Winery Tours, including lunch).
Distance: 65 kilometres (an hour’s drive) from Melbourne.
Accommodation: guesthouse with five double rooms (two king, three queen)
and a two-bedroom cottage (sleeps six).
Features: spa with beauty and massage treatments, cafe, gourmet picnic hampers, cellar-door wine-tastings.
Nearby: Yarra Valley wineries and restaurants, national park, ballooning, the Healesville animal sanctuary, Maroondah Dam.
Bookings: two months ahead.
Children: in the cottage only.
Wheelchair access: yes.

First published in The Age.