Country charm with a splash of magic thrown in at Camden Valley Inn

The ‘Land of Oz’ installation at Camden Valley Inn.
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As the cost-of-living crisis bites, families are looking for more affordable holidays – potentially without the hefty price of airfares thrown in.

But finding a cost-effective holiday a little closer to home that still feels like a decent getaway can be hard to achieve.

Enter Camden, south-west of Sydney, and more specifically the Camden Valley Inn.

Just under an hour from Penrith, this stunning five acre property offers country charm combined with modern food and bars, making it a decent weekend escape – especially in winter where that crisp morning air hits different, and the fire pits at night make for a comfortable experience for everyone despite the drop in temperature.

Right now, until the end of July, Camden Valley Inn has a ‘Land of Oz’ installation, offering you the opportunity to traverse the Yellow Brick Road and run into the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. It’s open from 7am seven days a week, and there’s special additions mid-week including a magician visit on Thursdays and cheap pizzas on Wednesdays.

The beauty of the Camden Valley Inn.

The three-year-old we had in tow for this recent visit loved this installation, climbing aboard the tractor that sits at the start of the display and constantly skipping along the yellow brick road (and demanding a treat or two from the Munchkin Candy Cart).

There’s also some special ‘Land of Oz’ food offerings on offer, including the Wicked Witch Cocktail – which I can personally vouch for – and the delicious Loaded White Hot Chocolate, which will bring a smile to anyone with a sweet tooth.

Food, yes, let’s talk food

During our two-night stay at the Camden Valley Inn, we had the opportunity to try a variety of food from the large menu the venue boasts.

Night one saw us enjoy a Meat Lover’s and Hawaiian pizza by the fire pit – these delicious wood fired pizzas are to die for, packed with plenty of flavour and delicious ingredients.

For lunch the next day, it was straight to the pub classics – and Camden Valley Inn does a mean chicken schnitzel and chicken parmigiana.

For dinner, you simply have to try the mouth-watering Massaman Lamb Shank – a creamy Massaman curry of 12-hour slowly braised lamb shank with potatoes, cashews, fried onion and basmati rice, served with roti bread. It was absolutely delicious!

The Camden Valley Inn’s Massaman Lamb Shank.

My wife tucked into the Vodka Gnocchi and gave it five stars, while little-miss-three devoured the grilled chicken and vegetables on the affordable kids’ menu.

And to wash it all down? A few cocktails from the extensive list of specialties, but of course they’ll make the classics too.

A good point about the Camden Valley Inn: You can order at the bar or direct from your table, but either way, cocktails and food is delivered to you. It ensures lines move fast and there’s no wasted time in catching up with friends or relaxing at the many bars and table options.

Rest your weary head

Camden Valley Inn has a rural charm to it, and with that is accommodation that isn’t necessarily five-star hotel standard (although you we didn’t experience the King Spa or Executive Suite, so perhaps there’s a secret to uncover there), but it doesn’t need to be.

There’s such extraordinary space at this venue, that you won’t really be spending too much time in the room. Whether you want to sit with your partner and sip a glass of wine while watching the sunset on some perfectly positioned lounges, or send the kids to the play equipment, there’s plenty to do throughout the day.

Accommodation at the Camden Valley Inn.

The rooms themselves are comfortable, equipped with Foxtel connections and decent bathrooms – and it’s cute to find your way to your abode for the evening through the differently named cottages, like Rose and Magnolia.

While you’re there

Being in this part of Sydney puts you within a short drive to a couple of highly recommended experiences.

The NSW Rail Museum is located just a short drive from Camden Valley Inn in Thirlmere, and provides a fantastic trip down memory lane into the state’s railway history.

Adult tickets are just $15, and you can upgrade to take a steam train ride – about a half-hour round trip. Visit to book tickets.

A display at the NSW Rail Museum.

On the way back to Penrith on Sunday, we called by Bon Rean Highlands in Theresa Park – and discovered one of the highlights of the weekend.

Here, you can get up close to the property’s cows – feeding them bread and fruit and learning about their quirks from the family who operate this stunning Highland Cattle farm.

Tours are only available on weekends, and can be booked at

A resident at Bon Rean.

A final word

If you’ve got a young family and you’re looking for a laid back weekend, with a little bit of history and unique experiences thrown in, head to south-west Sydney.

Base yourself at the Camden Valley Inn (the 7am opening time is a big help in terms of securing a hearty breakfast before you head off for the day) and plan a few little adventures during your stay.

Visit for more information.

The writer stayed as a guest of the Camden Valley Inn.

Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender's Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia's leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.

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