“I feel like I’m in a story book,” Monica said over the classical music blaring from the car radio as we neared our destination.
We’d driven down a winding forest road, along a dirt track, and through a gate that Monica, my friend and travelling companion, had hopped out to open. Now, we were coasting up and down the rolling green hills of a farm.
At the top of one hill, I gasped. There it was.
We were 10 minutes from the centre of the village of Robertson, NSW (the town for filming Babe), and two hours from Sydney.
We were here to spend the night at a tiny house called Edmond. It’s one of 10 tiny houses across NSW that can be booked through Australian start-up In2thewild, which gives people the chance to escape the daily grind by going off-grid. In2thewild puts eco-friendly tiny houses on beautiful and secluded rural properties, and then organises stays.
“We were just so busy all the time with work, phones, TV and traffic, but when we’d go away it was so nice to switch off and just enjoy each other’s company,” says Celeste Giannas from In2thewild. “We thought, how could we bring that to other people?
“People go on holidays, but they’re still in very touristic areas. This is just a chance for them to get away from all of it and really disconnect.”
So far, the company’s tiny houses are only on NSW properties, but it is looking to expand into Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. There are also other Australian businesses offering tiny house rentals, as well as Airbnbs.
“What to do if there’s a cow at your door”: This was one of the troubleshooting questions and answers in the 14-page information pack I was sent a few days before my stay. (Answer: Tell it to go away or just ignore it.)
Other details had included how to get to Edmond, how to turn on the gas, water and power, and a list of activities and attractions in the area, including waterfalls, walks, and how to find the Big Potato (a local landmark).
Inside, Edmond was far more spacious than I’d expected. It had a kitchen with a fridge, sink and heaps of cabinet space. A nook with colourful cushions, set against picture windows, offered a view of the surrounding greenery. The bathroom had a hot shower and a composting toilet.
A ladder led up to a loft with a queen-sized bed on the floor and a skylight overhead so we could see the stars. All this within a floor area of just 16 square metres, including the loft.
Though there were hints of camping life, we were hardly roughing it.
After exploring the tiny house – which took all of five minutes – Monica and I set to work on the wine bottle we’d picked up at a nearby general store and began collecting our Instagram fodder. One wine bottle and close to what seemed like 500 photos – of the tiny house, Monica posing in the tiny house, me in the tiny house and us together in the tiny house – later, it was still only late afternoon, and we had an entire night to kill.
We dug into the pre-made dinners we’d also picked up from the shop. We explored around the outside of Edmond, barefoot. We watched sunset, which was a stunning pink and purple affair. I had a long hot shower.
Time passed slowly, but it was a welcome change of pace. There was nowhere we needed to be and nothing we needed to do.
We went to sleep early that night, and woke to an incredible sunrise. As we drove away, back down the storybook setting farm road we’d driven along just a day before, I felt more than a little sad to leave Edmond and its chilled-out way of life.
A stay in a tiny house really is an ideal introduction to minimalist living. With few frills, the focus becomes on connecting with your fellow travel companions and being alone with your thoughts.
“I believe that the way of the future is downsizing, and once people realise they don’t need as much as they think they do, life becomes a lot simpler, and financially, that becomes less of a burden as well,” Giannis says.
In hindsight, I would have done my tiny house experience a little differently.
First, to maximise the off-the-grid experience, I would’ve summoned the willpower to put my phone into aeroplane mode. Many of In2thewild’s properties don’t have mobile reception – Edmond did, and I found myself scrolling through Instagram and reading texts from friends in Sydney, just like I would’ve at home.
Next, rather than getting caught up in the excitement of staying in a tiny house and wanting to maximise its every moment, I would’ve dropped my bags and headed out to explore the area immediately after arriving.
Part of the In2thewild experience, according to Giannis, is to encourage spending time outdoors, and I hadn’t taken advantage of wandering among all the nearby stunning scenery.
Last, staying more than just one night would’ve helped to better embrace the slower-paced lifestyle. Stocking up on ingredients at the start, cooking meals, going on excursions, and getting into a routine of watching sunrises and sunsets would’ve heightened the experience ten-fold.
Any more than three nights though, and I would have gone stir-crazy. After exploring all the nearby outdoor attractions and relishing the slower pace, I would have felt as if I was wasting my time. But, hey, maybe that is exactly why I need a longer stay.
Tiny house stays – worth the hype?
Ideally a tiny house stay is best suited for couples and small families. They facilitate face-to-face conversations, old-fashioned entertainment and time to think. There were many free outdoor activities nearby, and a kitchen and fire pit to cook home meals, which made the experience more affordable.
For girlfriends staying only one night though, without the romance factor and considering we didn’t know how to use the fire pit, there were a few less benefits.
All the same, in the years to come, tiny houses will inevitably become common. Though tiny, Edmond had enough room to do almost every domestic activity you would at home – s mall, but perfectly formed, as they say.
In2thewild’s rates are from $179/night on weeknights and $299 on weekends. Tiny houses are also available through other rental agencies and Airbnb.