How did a 1920s W-Class tram end up on a shady bush property in the Macedon Ranges?
“Jean Claude Van Tram is absolutely the show stealer,” says Angela Henley, the owner of Camp Kulning in Lauriston.
Henley says the chairman of the Melbourne Tram Museum recently stayed at her one-acre country getaway as a guest. He discovered the tram debuted in Glenhuntly in 1926, before being based in Kew Depot in the ’70s.
“I have no idea how it ended up on the property, but have been told it’s been there for around 10 years.”
The resident tram was in a sad state when Henley bought the site, which is an hour north-west of Melbourne, in 2014. A carpenter friend spent four months restoring it, and now it has two separate bedrooms, an adjoining lounge area, a fireplace and a book nook.
Across the way from Jean Claude are Camp Kulning’s other sleeping quarters. The second is a 1952 Globetrotter caravan which Henley picked up via a “buy, swap, sell” noticeboard in Daylesford. It’s snug, but fits a double bed, dresser, dining booth and kitchenette. The third and final is the cottage. What it lacks in vehicular novelty it makes up for with its retro kitchen, pot-bellied stove and hyper attention to kitschy detail.
The decent record collection in the cottage – filled with the likes of Twerps, Courtney Barnett and Dick Diver – is a clue to Henley’s career as a music publicist (she’s been looking after Meredith Music Festival and Golden Plains since 2009).
“For the longest time I wanted to run an old caravan park or summer-camp style accommodation,” Henley says. “A few friends stayed over soon after I moved onto the property, and seeing them really relaxed and enjoying the space I realised I already had the location for my grand plan.”
What’s cool about Kulning is all the things it can be. There are cases full of good books, board games and vintage equipment for croquet or badminton. It can be a peaceful, isolated retreat to read, write and disconnect. You can spot kangaroos in the surrounding scrub, when it’s quiet enough. But the assorted sleeping quarters and central campfire means its also a really fun, no-frills and cheap getaway with a group (it sleeps up to eight).
Did we mention there’s a tiki bar?
“Last year frankie magazine featured the property in their interior-designs book, Spaces Volume 3. I’d always wanted a tiki bar, so I whipped up one that morning for the photo shoot. It’s amazing what a $15 roll of bamboo, some $5 wicker garden torches and a pack of cable ties can do to quickly improve the appearance of a shed.”
It stuck around as a permanent feature. Henley’s since added an enormous green peacock chair, a cane lounge suite and an impressive collection of tiki mugs.
And she will keep adding bits and pieces to Kulning.
“I plan to turn the carport into a large, glass-walled dining area. The forest views will be spectacular! Oh and a hot tub, I’d really like to add a hot tub.”
If you choose to leave the hammock or your spot by the campfire and head into town, Henley has all the tips.
For eating and drinking:
“There’s a live-music venue and burger joint on Piper Street called Major Tom’s. They play excellent records and have delicious cocktails. It’s owned by Prue and Rob who also run the Kyneton Music Festival each year. I also spend a bit of time over the road at another cosy bar called Midnight Starling. Duck Duck Goose and Little Swallow are my go-to places for coffee and breakfast and I recommend Hamster, a cute vegetarian and vegan cafe for lunch.”
“Hiding above Little Swallow cafe on Piper Street is a shop called Long Story Short. They have four rooms full of second-hand records, books and vintage clothes. Just down the road is Stockroom, which is a retail space for local designers and makers. It also has a gallery and a little yard out the back where they occasionally host live music. Kabinett has beautiful antique and vintage furniture, in fact, the whole area is a goldmine for op shops and vintage wares. The Mill Market in Daylesford is just 15 minutes from Camp Kulning, which is a massive warehouse full of collectables and second-hand bits and bobs, and the recently opened Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar is about 25 minutes away.”
Turpins Falls isn’t too far away and there are a few secret spots nearby that I fill guests in on when they arrive.
The writer was a guest of Camp Kulning.