“There’s nothing to do in Canberra over summer”? That’s where you’re wrong. Here are 30…
Looking for the perfect off-the-grid experience with all the luxe comforts you expect from a trip away? Us too. And we’ve found the perfect escape—Wildernest.
Canberra has exploded out of lockdown. After three months of a relatively quiet, simple existence, all of a sudden we’ve been thrust into the thick of the silly season—a hectic work schedule, catch-ups with friends, Christmas parties and more. It’s enough to make anyone want to retreat—but haven’t we all had enough of home this year?
Enter, Wildernest. Nestled among 150 acres of working farm land, it’s a haven for those looking to escape the city and unwind. Offering the chance to stay in two tiny houses (nicknamed T1 and T2), or an historic hut for those who want a side of history with their getaway, it’s a unique way to reconnect with nature while relaxing in beautiful accommodation on the edge of the Wingello Forest.
As with any adventure, the journey is as important as the destination. The 90-minute trip offers plenty of chances to stop and enjoy the towns along the way. A delicious country-style lunch at Goulburn’s Roses Cafe (homemade salmon and camembert frittata anyone?) makes for a delightful pit stop, and after exploring heritage architecture and a quick bit of boutique shopping, we continued on our way to Wildernest.
Another half hour along, we found The Midge, Tallong’s cafe and convenience store, before heading deeper into the district. Cell phone reception began to fade, and as each bar disappeared, so did my anxiety of being disconnected from the digital world. Instead, I focused on the endless sky, bucolic beauty, and the promise of comfort on the horizon—all without the urge to send a Snapchat.
T1, T2 and the Stringy Bark Hut are owned by Amanda and James Tait, who came up with the idea of Wildernest after having countless conversations with their city mates about escaping to unplug, unwind and to take a break from it all. And when you arrive at the farm, it’s hard not to appreciate the lengths they’ve gone to, to ensure their guests experience is all that and more.
Hidden among the rural landscape and the adjoining forest, all three accommodation options are completely off-grid and sustainably built, using solar power and gas for heating and cooking.
Wildernest’s newest addition, Stringy Bark Hut, was built in the 1800s from bark stripped from the local peppermint and stringy bark gums, it’s rich in character, with past relics collected and displayed, making for an endlessly fascinating interior. Rustic and earthy, it’s the perfect combination of old and new, and sleep four, making it a perfect escape for a family or friends.
Architecturally designed with a luxe Scandi aesthetic, T1 and T2 both sleep two people and have their own unique charms. If you like the sound of a loft bedroom and wood-fired bathing experience in your own private forest, then T1 is for you!
But our destination was T2. Arriving in the afternoon, I breathed the clean air, running my eye over the blue-grey timber exterior and generous deck—perfect for alfresco dining, sunset drinks and morning coffee. With bushland just steps away, and paddocks next door, the soundtrack of the city gave way to one composed of kookaburras and parrots, broken only by the gentle bellows of a few noisy and nosy cows.
More considered and character-filled than a hotel room, the inside of T2 is minimalist yet luxurious—think bright and white with timber and black accents, and French linen in tones of petrol blue and cream. The clever use of space means this tiny house is big on features—among them, a reading nook, fully equipped kitchen, delightfully hot shower, and a bed that just begs for a sleep-in. All the comforts you need without the disruptions of internet and television.
Stock the fridge with essentials, and Wildernest quickly becomes a sanctuary you won’t need to leave. A lazy afternoon spent reading, a tasty meal cooked up in the T2 kitchen, and a glass of wine by the fire pit and I was perfectly content. The added bonus of falling asleep while gazing up at the stars—which have never looked brighter—and waking up to curious wildlife outside the window only adds to the charm.
However, for the more restless types who want to get out and about, the tiny homes are the perfect base for an adventure, whether your tastes run to the active (bush walking, mountain biking, wildlife spotting) or the gourmet (exploring the Southern Highlands’ many foodie hotspots—perhaps Gumnut Patisserie in Bowral, Artemis Wines in Mittagong or Berrima’s Eschalot).
After a bit of R&R, a wander through the farm is encouraged, and with plenty of native flora and fauna to find (kangaroos, wombats and lyrebirds among them), you won’t be disappointed. It’s idylllic, and while you know there are other people on the property, you feel like you’re the only person in the world.
You can book a stay at Wildernest for up to 28 days, and while I was only there for two, I can tell you there’s nothing like the unique slow stay experience. The chance to unplug, to breathe, to take pleasure in the simple things, fills the soul.
You can’t put a price on escaping into the wildernest.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Abbie Melle