ANGE, my beautiful bride of 40 years, wanted nothing more for her recent 60th birthday than a couple of nights at a B&B in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Not Bali, Sydney or Uluru.
She wanted to go to Montville, half an hour's drive from our home in Buderim.
And how perfect was that for me?
I would miss only one game of golf and could still keep up to date with the footy scores.
So on a wet Saturday a few months ago, we traversed the beautiful Blackall Range and canvassed the people of Montville on the best B&Bs in the area. We were advised that if we seriously wanted the best, we should check out Secrets on the Lake, less than 10 minutes' drive west of Montville, sitting on the edge of Lake Baroon. It wasn't cheap, they warned, but it was perfect for celebrating a special occasion.
We'd checked out half a dozen other suggestions by the time we arrived at Secrets, but that was it.
Ange had found her idyllic escape.
We booked our three-day, two-night R&R without hesitation, conveniently sandwiching our stay in the week between her birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary.
To describe the experience as unforgettable is merely scratching the surface: Secrets on the Lake is unique in so many ways.
The 10 individually-themed tree houses are set in the protected Kondalilla National Park and are accessible only by elevated, carved timber walkways. Totalling just under a kilometre in length, the walkways are lit until 11pm each night, providing a spectacular vista.
All but two of the tree houses are designed specifically for couples, with the bedroom, living room and sunken spa in the one open-plan area, albeit on different levels. Each also has a rainforest balcony with barbecue and double swing chair - a love seat - as well as a view of Lake Baroon.
But such is the density of the rainforest and the meticulous planning to ensure privacy, each of the tree houses is concealed from the view of the others. Hence vast expanses of glass also abound.
The attention to detail in the tree houses - the first built 15 years ago - is quite amazing. All furniture is carved and themed, delicate forged ironwork is featured and each house has a themed leadlight window.
We stayed in Possums - elevated eight metres in the rainforest canopy - and we never lost touch with the motif.
Not only were carvings on the front door and tables, mirrors and wall hangings inside, but while eating dinner on the deck on our second night, three of the nosey locals visited, and ate with us.
For our two-night stay, we were provided a breakfast basket on arrival with ample provisions - fruit, cereal, eggs, bread, milk, orange juice and condiments - with freshly-baked croissants delivered each morning.
And a bottle of champagne, also included, struck a chord with the birthday girl. On our second night, we ordered the barbecue hamper - rib fillet, chicken sausages, salads, baked potatoes, garlic bread, sticky date pudding and ice-cream. It was more than enough for us and our three inquisitive guests.
Recently-opened Secrets Cafe and Deck offers lunch and snacks until 4pm, as well as complimentary fresh home-made scones with strawberry jam and cream on arrival. And star barista Sarah complements this with a brilliant coffee.
But if something more substantial is needed or a special dinner planned, Montville is a stone's throw away.
One of my pet hates is wasting money. But not a dollar of this extravagance was squandered.
SECRETS ON THE LAKE
Secrets on the Lake is at 207 Narrows Rd, Montville.
Phone: 5478 5888 Email: secretsonthelake.com.au
Rates start from $700 per couple (weekends) and $360 per couple weekdays.
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