A THICK haze blanketed the Sunshine Coast as it sizzled on a summer griddle. Not a hint of a sea breeze, so air-cons were cranked up.
Thousands headed for the beaches and even more marched, shoulder to shoulder, into shopping centres.
We went west.
The Blackall Range, in the Coast hinterland, is usually cooler.
We drove up from Landsborough toward Maleny, veering north toward Flaxton.
The heat followed.
Spicers Clovelly Estate, on top of gently undulating hills near Mapleton, rose like a mirage between the eastern ridgeline and Baroon Pocket Dam.
The estate’s architecture is shimmering French Provencal.
Its neat clutch of gabled white buildings preside over manicured, surprisingly green lawns.
At one end, a library and its veranda, with outdoor lounge, lazily take shade under a huge jacaranda tree. There, guests can enjoytake breakfast, morning coffee, lunch or sip a late-afternoon champagne.
Provencal subtly permeates Clovelly Estate.
Modern French furniture here, a framed front page of the newspaper Le Monde there.
Trees, as well as groves of magnolias and gardenias, dapple the gardens around the house, throwing canvasses of light and shade, living Monet paintings.
Timber and sandstone walkways wind between the bar, lounge, dining room and library, connecting Clovelly’s 10 suites, hidden around corners or up timber staircases, off the common rooms.
On one wall, you might find a hat hook with a beret, bonnet and scarf, and, on the opposite, a trompe l’oeil mirror image.
It is the details that make Clovelly special. Guests decide how private or quiet their stays will be.
Attentive, friendly staff and well-appointed suites cater to all tastes, leaving nothing to chance.
The suites, many with spa baths, have everything from a pillow menu to heated bathroom floors.
Each, of course, has air-conditioning, which, in the cooler months, also heats rooms.
Wood-fired heaters, for when the chill sets in, add even more character to the common rooms.
In the evening, the songs of Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet and Charles Aznavour and their ilk drift through Clovelly’s dining room, an exquisite restaurant, with alcoves, for guests.
Its menus have been developed by executive chef Cameron Matthews, who has held senior positions at leading restaurants in Brisbane, Victoria and the Whitsundays in a multi-award-winning career spanning 17 years.
It shows at Clovelly Estate. The menu – including four or seven-course degustation selections – features some of the Sunshine Coast’s best fresh produce.
And the fine food is complemented by a stunning cellar – a selection of more than 100 wines from Australia, New Zealand and across the world, including some of France’s best red and white wines.
Dining at Clovelly, breakfast, lunch or dinner, is a superb gourmet experience to be savoured.
The Clovelly retreat also features a two-room spa, exclusive to in-house guests, providing the perfect tonic for tired bodies.
Guests can take in fresh country air on a 15-minute walk that skirts a ridge overlooking Baroon Pocket Dam, or a 2km rainforest path that passes by a pool with a resident platypus and, in wetter months, a waterfall.
It also can cater for intimate weddings for up to 50 guests, and for small conferences and groups.
Even at the height of summer’s slow burn, Spacers Clovelly Estate is cool. In winter, it is, no doubt, equally impressive.
For more information and bookings for Spicers Clovelly Estate phone 1300 717 027 or visit the website.