things that I like in schooling are: play-based approach, not too much emphasis on achievement (letting kids achieve at their own pace), concern for group dynamics and how kids fit in with others, building relationships, self directed learning... ok,ok the Cottage School is all that, but is this also in some way part of public schooling?
Both of my kids attend Taroona Primary School. It's a really lovely school community. Great teachers, good principal, and generally a well regarded school in Southern Tasmania.
As for what you're looking for, all I can really say is that if you're looking for those qualities in a school - you're probably best looking at a Cottage School or Steiner or something like that. Taroona is like all public schools - it's not a play based approach, there is some emphasis on achievement but it is more about personal achievement (doing your best, playing fair, respect for others and the environment, that kind of thing), and little, if any, self directed learning. The school does encourage building relationships, particularly with the community at large, the environment, and within the school itself (it has a buddy system where grade 3 student are 'buddied' with Kinders, and each year after that - grade 4's with preps, grade 5's with grade 1's, grade 6's with grade 2's).
If you're like to know more, feel free to respond and I can do my best to answer any questions you have ( of course, this will only be my opinion/experience of the school) :-)
Hope this helps you make up your mind. We've been very happy with the school and have no plans to change the kids out of there any time soon.