They are “off-grid”, modelled on barns, hidden in vineyards, and inspired by bee hives or neighbours with farmyard animals. These are some of the unique attributes of a range of new eco-friendly accommodation in WA’s South West.
The region has long appealed to visitors for its serenity and raw beauty, so it makes sense that emerging tourism providers are trading heavily on its natural splendour and offering accommodation where guests feel like they’re entwined with the local flora and fauna.
International tourism may have disappeared, but West Australians are exploring our State in huge numbers, seeking unique experiences and accommodation.
Here are three fresh and unusual stay options for your next trip down south.
Margaret River Heartland
Amid a global catastrophe, Anita Revel’s description of her property is undeniably appealing: “We offer the chance to unplug, get grounded, and fill the lungs with fresh air”. In a year when, in all likelihood, exotic adventures to Asian citadels, European villages, and Middle Eastern medinas will remain off limits to us, simple pleasures will be the name of the game.
Instead of chasing culture shock, West Australians can soothe their souls at peaceful places like Margaret River Heartland, the “off-grid” farm stay opened by Anita Revel and Gavin Leiper. Located on this sprawling property, about 3km north of Cowaramup town, are a no-frills yet attractive two-bedroom cottage and what the owners call a tricked-out “glampavan”.
“The cottage has no mod cons — no TV, no microwave, no air-con,” Revel says. “But it does offer what we call ‘Star TV’ — millions of stars in the sky viewable due to no light pollution, and a baker’s oven under the wood fire.” The converted caravan, meanwhile, has a new kitchen, a modern bathroom with rainwater shower, an antique record player, plush day bed, a queen’s size bed, and a wood fire which will be handy in a few months from now.
They’re simultaneously new-school and old-fashioned. That’s one way to sum up the modern “barn hives” that accommodate guests at Barnyard 1978, a winery, restaurant, honey farm and now eco-lodge. This Yallingup property, owned by Raminta Rusilas and Egis Rusilas, has a cluster of accommodation pods designed to resemble both a barn and a beehive.
These two-storey, steel-and-wood “eco-pods” have a queen-bed master suite on their top floor, with a large window that offers views across the vineyard, through which chickens roam. The ground floor, meanwhile, has a bathroom, kitchen with coffee machine, dining table, lounge area and a solar-powered deck with a BBQ.
Egis Rusilas said these stand-alone pods had been designed to maximise natural light and cross-ventilation, reducing the need for air-conditioning or artificial light. Each building captured rain water individually, which was then heated by solar panels, making them “self-sustainable”.
When the temperature plummets in winter, guests can warm their pods with a pellet heater, which Rusilas described as the “cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance”. Such environmentally-friendly touches were key to the concept behind the eco-pods. Barn Hives is located just off Caves Road, about 3km south of the beautiful Yallingup Beach.
Petit Eco Cabin
Joanne and Chris Davies are young parents, Yallingup grape growers and wine producers. Now they’re branching out into tourism. At their winery, Windows Estate, the couple offer cheese-making classes, wine and cheese pairing experiences, vineyard tours and now an unusual accommodation option they call their “Petite Eco Cabin”.
Like a miniature version of a European mountain chalet, this small timber cabin is the only accommodation on this property. Unlike those chalets, which are typically dark, cosy environments designed for winter, this cabin is, thanks to its many windows, wonderfully bright.
This includes three huge panes of glass which let guests sit in the cabin’s lounge, by the wood-fire, and admire the vineyard. Not to mention the unique “waterfall window” directly above the king-sized bed, which runs up the wall and then along the sloped roof, so guests can lay down and look up at the sky.
The outdoor shower and bath use rainwater, heated by solar power, with grey water then recycled and used for the property’s newly-planted fruit trees. Located on Caves Road, about 9km south of Yallingup Beach, this property has easy access to the spectacular Canal Rocks and to Margaret River town.
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