Deep within Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, around an hour from Melbourne, is a new luxury hideaway – flanked by undulating hills, dense forests and fern gullies.
Larnook is the creation of Victorian couple Paul and Michelle Rowse, who plan to build a series of off-grid getaways where the camping-averse could escape the tedium of the daily grind and get back to nature with all the creature comforts (and then some). This is the first.
Comparable cabins can test your tiny-living limits, but Larnook isn’t actually that tiny. Instead of a single shipping container, it’s two clamped together. In the front container is a lounge room with a cushy two-seater couch and a roaring gas log fire (that can heat the place quick smart), as well as a decently sized kitchenette and dining area. The back container holds the bed, bathroom and a cosy sitting area. Then there’s the large deck, which leads down to a perfectly placed wood firepit.
With brass fittings, green hexagonal tiles and louvre windows that open into a plant-filled alcove, the roomy indoor shower is lavish enough. But outside – on a slightly sunken square of decking – is a second, open-air shower with the same incredible pressure and hot-and-cold capability. That makes it just as good for a cooling rinse-off on a summer arvo as it is for a steamy, under-the-stars session on a frosty night.
The hilltop location is breathtaking. A close second: the floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that open the entire space up to the outdoors. This is one of those places where just watching the weather wash over the landscape can entrance you for hours. On a clear day, you can make out the ships bobbing on Port Phillip Bay, while the glistening lights of Cowes on Phillip Island can usually be seen after dark.
Atop the shipping containers is a pavilion roof covered in solar panels, with additional surface area for rain collection. Larnook is powered by solar and batteries, and there’s a grey-water treatment system used to water the surrounding plants. There’s also a composting toilet, which – while not the most extravagant feature – is “an essential part of being truly off-grid”.
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