Sluuuuurp. Wind up the windows! A gorgeous golden horse looks at me right in the eye, her nose pressed against the glass ready for another lick of my car. Driving slowly along a rocky road past more unfenced horses, goats and an alpaca, I see a man waving at me from a distance. Stuart, he introduces himself, is the owner and handyman behind Ooaree Farm Cabin built circa 2001, a cabin nestled within the rolling hills of sleepy beach town Gerringong, NSW. “The wife and kids and I used to come here every weekend,” he nostalgically recollects, continuing with sharing fond memories of raising his family.
Stepping inside the rustic home of history that slightly smells of sandalwood, I’m immediately infatuated. Surrounded by vintage knick knacks and wooden craftwork, the eco-friendly adult cubby house has all living essentials: a kitchenette, dining table, sofa, bathroom with a clean compost toilet and king size mattress on the mezzanine floor.
“Let me know when you’re ready to use the outdoor bathtub, I’ll help you fire up the wood to heat the water.” A bath under the stars? Yes, please! Stuart returns to his house 50m away, the distance between us far enough to feel seclusion.
Stepping outside, you’re gifted with orchard trees and direct access to a colourful fruit and vegetable garden you’re welcome to pick from (fresh bay leaves for my spaghetti bolognese tonight, why not). The 140 acre farm and out in-between the valleys are playgrounds to wander and recharge with fresh air, where two merry dogs are quick to make friends with you. As much as it’s tempting to fill solitude’s silence with music, the nearby stream and singing birds sound much more therapeutic.
Once I’ve passed the home-cooking and glass of red wine on a toasty evening with the help of a small heater, a selection of 90s movies on DVDs provided at the home await me. Hello ’10 Things I Hate About You’. Ahh, I’m relieved to end the day melting into cushiony pillows.
Stuart’s love for collecting and building things is more evident when he shares his vision behind the work-in-progress centrepiece of his backyard, an original 1896 stone façade of a historic building in Sydney CBD. Frequenting two-hour trips up the coast then back, he transported each block the size of a baby elephant, one by one, to piece together this very grand backdrop that’s few storeys high. That’s dedication.
Now that the kids have grown up and Stuart and his wife are focusing on building their bigger dream home, they’re sharing the cabin on home rental site Airbnb so the space – so clearly close to their hearts – receives the attention it deserves.
If you don’t mind a tiny roughness, this cosy cabin is the perfect weekender for solo travellers or couples wanting to escape to the countryside. It also screams writer’s retreat or a hot spot for a ‘Think Week’ as coined by Bill Gates. It’s a secret I almost don’t want to share.
Ah, the simple life. Are you also a fan of countryside cabins? Where else unique have you stayed at recently? Write me a comment below.
This experience was independently paid for.
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HOW TO BOOK
Get $45 off your first Airbnb experience using my referral link – yay!
HOW TO GET THERE
Sydney to Gerringong is a scenic two-hour drive through the Grand Pacific Drive. The Airbnb homeowners will share the exact location and details on how to get there once you confirm the booking.
- Be prepared to have limited (if any) WiFi. Get offline and instead dig into a good read (check out 5 Books That Will Change Your Life), practice yoga or embrace your inner child over classic board games brought from home.
- If you’re planning to cook, prepare simple meals as the kitchen is basic. Alternatively, prepare a killer antipasto platter.
- Bring thongs (or bathroom sandals) to wear when showering and closed shoes for exploring the farm.
- Explore local towns Kiama and Gerringong, including the stunning 22km Kiama Coastal Walk and the seemingly never-ending Seven Mile Beach.
- Wander through the historic buildings and leafy surrounds of Berry, including a lazy long lunch and shopping for antiques, collectibles and other quirky goodies.
- Do a short day trip to Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay, just one hour further south where you’ll feel the softest, squeakiest, whitest sand beneath your feet!