MEG LAW finds a family of four can stay in an eco-friendly tiny house and live to tell the tale
It was at a dinner party with friends that we realised we were different. When discussion turned to the perfect family holiday, a tropical island with white sand beaches, cocktails and a 24/7 kids club was the outright winner. My husband and I were outvoted. We looked at each other across the table and grinned in silent amusement as we reminisced about the holidays we had taken with our kids, aged three and seven – snow shoeing, skiing, caving, kayaking. For us, the ultimate family getaway entails adventure, nature, wilderness, simplicity and quality time with the kids. The next morning our tiny house adventure was born.
Over ten days, we stayed in three different tiny houses in NSW and Victoria with In2TheWild Tiny Holidays. Our first house was called Walden, near Bungonia National Park in the NSW Southern Tablelands. The kids raced each other to the farm gates and swung them open in anticipation. “Mum, it’s REALLY tiny!”, my daughter shrieked. This was followed by raucous laughter and high-pitched screams as we took in the cute (and indeed VERY tiny) blue timber-clad cubby house, perched gallantly in the middle of an open field. But what the house lacked in size, it made up for in charm. The native bushland that surrounded it relieved my inner claustrophobic, and I had a sudden urge to run through the bush like Max in Where the Wild Things Are.
The kids clambered out of the car and raced to the door, getting excited about the ladder that led to the attic bedroom, the drop toilet that “looks like a real toilet”, the hidden shower and the novelty of all four of us sleeping together in one room. Meanwhile, I was enamoured with the interior design and attention to detail, including polished floorboards, large windows and the most stunning décor including lanterns, cushions, throws and books. It was like a luxe hotel room – only a little on the smaller side.
That night we cooked marshmallows on the campfire before bunking down the kids and enjoying some ‘couple time’ with a local pinot, under a blanket of stars. Simple living at its best, with no distractions… ahhh, how’s the serenity?
Oh, and it also happened to have a boutique winery next door (#winning), as well as an eco-acquaponic micro-farm that grows amazing produce.
Our next tiny house, Edmond, proved to be my favourite. Perched on a hilltop at Robertson in the NSW Southern Highlands, surrounded by more than 40ha of lush green meadows and overlooking a huge escarpment, this place took my breath away. Aside from a few friendly cows, wombats and kangaroos, we had it completely to ourselves. I loved waking in the loft bedroom and seeing the clouds floating overhead through the skylight window.
Once we settled in, we didn’t want to leave. But there are also plenty of enticing options nearby, including a cheese factory, local produce store and the double vertical drop waterfall, Belmore Falls, in Morton National Park.
Over the border in Victoria, the last house on our adventure, Sancho, was voted favourite by our two mini-explorers, thanks to the resident billy goats and kangaroos, and because it offered the best stargazing experience. Less than 90 minutes’ drive northwest from Melbourne, and completely off the grid in a secluded paddock with views over bushland and dams, Sancho is the best wilderness adventure money can buy. Nearby attractions include Trentham Falls, which is one of the longest single drop waterfalls in Victoria, and Wombat State Forest, where you can 4WD, bushwalk or horse ride. By now, both kids had deemed themselves to be tiny house travel experts, scaling the ladder to bed each night at record speed, and having marshmallow cook-offs.
During our trip, the most common question we heard from locals was: “How do you squeeze a family of four into a tiny house without killing each other?” We quickly decided to unpack only what we needed and leave everything else in the car. There were lots of hidden drawers, ample cupboards and even storage underneath the beds, which helped. It’s hard to holiday these days without feeling the pressures of our grief-stricken planet, but these eco-friendly homes cleverly contain everything you could need and leave minimal impact on the environment – thanks to solar panels, composting toilets and low-impact living.
We took pleasure in the simple things, like watching the kids wake up at first light and reach their fingers over to write in the condensation on the window, stargazing around the fire pit at night, and reading in a hammock.
At the end of the trip, we noticed a difference in the kids. Their curiosity levels were heightened. From the back seat of the car, they asked us loads of questions about wildlife and nature. They seemed more present, self-aware, calm, happy and content in each other’s company. Not touching a device or watching TV in 10 days hadn’t even bothered them. Back seat squabbling had lessened, and there was more merriment.
The writer was a guest of In2TheWild Tiny Holidays.