Savour the sights of the Shoalhaven

The famous Hampden Bridge: a Kangaroo Valley landmark.
The famous Hampden Bridge: a Kangaroo Valley landmark.

The main street is the grandly named Moss Vale Road, but in reality Kangaroo Valley is on the way to nowhere and a bit of an adventure to get to, which is how the locals - population less than a thousand - like it.

It's tucked away in the NSW Southern Highlands on the sort of bendy, challenging stretch of road that serious biker clubs and performance-car groups love to tackle on weekend excursions.

And if Kangaroo Valley is on the road to nowhere then I'm not sure how to describe the splendid isolation of Bundanon (533 Bundanon Road, Illaroo; phone 02 4422 2100; visit www.bundanon.com.au), the former home of Arthur and Yvonne Boyd, and frequented by members of one of Australia's most artistic families - a dynasty of painters, sculptors and architects among them - and their friends, who sometimes apparently had proclivities that demanded a bit of isolation.

There, that's a nice way of putting that they definitely weren't as naughty as the Lindsays but that they could be a bit different.

The property sits on a magnificently beautiful bend of the Shoalhaven River and in the early 1990s was gifted to the Australian people.

Bundanon homestead: a gift to the Australian people. Image: Keith Saunders.

Bundanon homestead: a gift to the Australian people. Image: Keith Saunders.

It's managed by the Bundanon Trust and is the headquarters for an active arts community and maintains a role as one of the country's main places of artistic residence, as well as hosting a range of concerts and other public events.

The sawn-timber-lined sandstone homestead dates from the 1860s and the property features many long-living pines from the period.

The house is open for public inspection every Sunday with tours being conducted by devoted fans of the Boyds and taking in the homestead and studio - and providing a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of a marvellously diverse and talented family.

Tours are priced at $20 per adult ($15 concession, $10 children under 16).

By the time I'd done justice to the Boyds and driven back to Kangaroo Valley's Hampden Deli Dining (4/160 Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley; phone 0477 002 102; visit www.hampdendeli.com.au), I was running late for lunch, but the proprietors, Nick Gardner and Stevie-Lee Bounader, willingly and expertly managed to plate a lovely meal using delicious ingredients from their delicatessen.

I sat at a table outside in the sun and washed the food down with a glass of Ricca Terra dry white from South Australia. Everything was right with the world.

The Friendly Inn: a great place for a drink and a chat.

The Friendly Inn: a great place for a drink and a chat.

Nick and Stevie-Lee, incidentally, run a series of regular cooking classes which are proving highly popular with those in the culinary know. And they just love to take excellent, fresh local produce and turn it into tasty food, and just as much enjoy showing others how to do it.

Nick and Stevie-Lee both come with impeccable credentials. The former, for instance, finished his apprenticeship at Sydney's highly regarded Quay and worked at the city's landmark Tetsuya's Restaurant after a couple of years cooking in Europe.

Kangaroo Valley is probably just a little too big to be called a village but that's most definitely the feel it has as you make your way along the main street to the Friendly Inn (159 Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley; phone 02 4465 1355; visit www.thefriendlyinn.com.au) pub for a drink, browse the Pioneer Village Museum (2029 Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley; phone 02 4465 1306; visit www.kangaroovalleymuseum.com), learn some traditional skills from the lead-light makers or the woodworkers, and have a bight to eat in one of the cafés or restaurants that proliferate.

For general information on Kangaroo Valley, see www.visitnsw.com.