Turon Gates Sunvale review 

Turon Gates is an eco-retreat just outside of Capertee, NSW, approximately three hours’ drive from Sydney. It offers a variety of accommodation styles from camping to luxury lodges. For this review we are experiencing the recently-built, 250-square-metre Sunvale lodge. It features an open-plan living and kitchen area, a crackling fireplace, indoor and outdoor dining spaces, endless mountain views and most importantly, a cosy space to create special memories together. 

Traveller: Cara Wagstaff
Address: 284 Eagle Hawk Rd, Capertee NSW 2846
Date: June 2024 
Price range: From $1,175 per night with a two-night minimum stay required
Best for: Groups of friends and families with kids aged over 10

Exterior view of Sunvale

First impressions

An email pops up in my inbox with details on our stay and directions on how best to get to the property, avoiding back roads and river crossings. Dutifully following said directions we put Capertee into our GPS and once we arrive in the small country town, we switch over to their directions. We turn off the highway onto a surprisingly well-maintained, unsealed road and follow the signposts to Sunvale. Solar-powered lights illuminate a driveway up to and surrounding the property, bathing it in a welcoming glow. We park right outside and unload the car.

I’d describe the indoor decor as a Scandinavian meets Safari Tent vibe. Scandi design elements of light and bright spaces, timber floorboards and cosy linens and textures mesh with a white and beige colour palette and canvas wallpaper both internal and on the building’s exterior, a gentle nod to the property’s glamping tents. High ceilings, glittering chandeliers, wooden cupboards finished with rattan touches and a mounted animal skull and horns give it a quirky, yet charming country feel.

The pièce de résistance is the free-standing log fireplace positioned in the lounge area and overlooking the deck. It quickly becomes the central relaxing point for this weekend’s sojourn. A complimentary bottle of wine and pot of local honey has been left for us from the owners, as well as an invitation to call or visit their lodge at any time if we have questions. It’s a warm welcome indeed.

A lush 100-square-metre deck for relaxing and enjoying the serenity

The concept

Turon Gates offers camping, glamping, river cottages and the more upmarket mountain retreats. Sunvale is the newest luxury mountain offering open-plan living, a cosy fireplace and four well-appointed bedrooms, catering to groups of up to eight. Turon Gates is an eco-retreat and is completely off-grid. Power is generated by solar panels, which we drive past, batteries and even wood fire when it comes to the outdoor hot tub. Guests are asked to be careful with water and energy usage and only pre-approved electronic devices can be used. Phones and laptops are ok to use.

Read: Ivy Carruth’s glamping review at Turon Gates

We loved the woodfire hot tub

The digs

An open-plan kitchen, dining and living area take centre stage, and the four spacious bedrooms and two oversized bathrooms splinter off to the sides. Two master suites with four poster king beds overlook the deck with woodfired hot tub and mesmerising valley views. At the rear, two bedrooms can be configured with either a king or two single beds. The two bathrooms sit between the bedrooms, one with a deep free-standing bathtub with French doors opening onto the wraparound deck to take in the soothing mountain views. As you can sense there is a theme here of large but cosy spaces.

The master bedroom

Each bedroom has its own reverse cycle air conditioning unit, which is on a timer for energy efficiency and beds are fitted with electric blankets. Bedside and free-standing lamps as well as downlights make room lighting customisable and ambient. In my room, a chair, coat rack, hanging/decor ladder and two low benches are handy for storing luggage.

One of the two loftily spacious bathrooms

A functional kitchen runs on either side of the large 10-seater wooden dining table. Everything you need to prepare nourishing meals is provided from ample wine and cocktail glasses, even plastic versions for outside or in the hot tub, crockery, cooking utensils, three mini-fridges, an oven and a dishwasher. You do need to self-cater as there is nowhere onsite to purchase food or drinks so make sure you’ve packed yummy food and drinks to enjoy.

The ideal space for entertaining and enjoying each others company

When it’s time to relax post meals, cosy up around the free-standing log fireplace. If you’re in the mood for music, a wireless speaker is available. Simply connect your phone to listen to your favourite playlists. A Samsung Frame TV seamlessly blends in as a piece of artwork and is also available if you need visual entertainment.

The perfect spot to relax in the afternoon

Before booking…

Turon Gate’s Sunvale is not pet-friendly and is only for guests aged 10 and above. If you have young kids or furry friends, check out their other options here.

Turon Gates history

Turon Gates began in 1973 when husband and wife team Soren and Sonya Lunoe bought the land by Turon River for family holidays. It was completely undeveloped and in some cases, the best access was by river. The duo built the first cabin, which is still standing as the manager’s cabin, in 1974. Over the following years they added more cabins and started inviting guests. In 1999 they purchased 3,760 acres of land to the north east of the property and developed Turon Retreats, the luxury mountain lodge offerings. In 2018 they added six new luxe glamping tents and in 2019 son of Soren and Sonya, Michael Lunoe and his wife Alejandra took over the reins, living onsite and managing the property ever since.

Canoe hire is available at Turon Gates

Things to do at Turon Gates

Whether you prefer enjoying your holiday exploring or sitting back and relaxing, there are many activities to enjoy at Turon Gates.

  • Bushwalking. You can explore over 2,400 acres and eight kilometres of river frontage at Turon Gates. Check the walking map available in your accommodation with estimated walking times and levels of difficulty.
  • Bird watching. Try your best to spot as many of the 75 bird species known in the area, in particular the wedge-tailed eagle which is famous in the region.
  • Fishing. Turon River is a freshwater trout stream with a season running from October to June. You will need to bring your own fishing gear and licence.
  • Swim in the Turon River. Check the in room map for the best swimming spot.
  • Horse Riding. Explore the area from the vantage point of being on horseback. Choose from either a one or 1.5-hour guided trail ride. For guests aged 10 and over.
  • Pony rides. For younger guests aged between two and nine years old, contact reception to book a horseback ride for your little one.
  • Canoeing. Another great way to explore the Turon River. Canoe hire is available for $30 for three hours.
  • Pan for gold. Connect with Turon Gates’ gold panning routes. Did you know the Turon River was one of the sites of the NSW’s 1851 Gold Rush? Borrow a pan from reception and try your luck!
  • Mountain bike along the fire trials. You will need to bring your own bike.
  • Spot wildlife. During our stay we saw kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos, cows, horses, goats and birdlife.
  • Gaze at the stars. Clear dark skies free from light pollution create a great place to see the stars.
Explore the area on horseback

The green tick

Turon Gates’ Sunvale lodge was built with recycled timber, is almost entirely solar or battery powered, using gas only for the four-burner stovetop. Timer-operated air conditioning units in the four bedrooms help conserve energy. A fireplace is used for heating the central room and the hot tub is woodfired.

Out and about

During our weekend away we opted to make best use of our time in the cottage and didn’t do too much exploring other than a drive down to the main Turon Gates site and a walk along the river. If you’re staying for longer, a few ideas are lunch at the Royal Hotel Capertee, and if the timing works, visiting the Capertee community markets held every third Sunday of the month. Capertee is about a 15-minute drive from Sunvale. Further afield you can visit the charming towns of Sofala, Lithgow, Mudgee or Bathurst.

Turon Gates’ roads are well maintained and suitable for 2WDs

V&T expert rating

9/10. This was my second visit to Turon Gates, the last time being about 17 years ago. It had the same charming feel to it and it was great to experience the recently-built Sunvale lodge. It was cosy yet spacious given there were six of us, we never felt on top of each other. I really enjoyed how spaced out all of the lodges are so you truly feel isolated in the wilderness. A highlight was chilling out in the wood fire hot tub on the deck, enjoying the mountain vibes and my family’s company. This is a great spot for a special weekend away with family or a group of friends. I highly recommend it.

Some of the wildlife you’ll spot

How can I book?

You can book directly on the Turon Gates website here.

If only…

There were board games available. We loved our time in the cottage so much we didn’t want to leave. Rainy weather also kept us indoors and we would have relished a game together. 

Where is Turon Gates’ Sunvale lodge

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Images supplied by Turon Gates

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