Alkira Eco-Glamping Retreat is a little bit magical, beginning with the drive in. It’s an easy one-hour trip from Melbourne, in Emerald in the Dandenong Ranges, and never has a town been more aptly named; the landscape is part farmland, part vineyards and part eucalypt and tree-fern forest.
The former artist studio has been converted to a tiny straw-bale villa that sleeps two, located on a 40-acre farm that Emily Stygall’s family has been running for decades.
There’s local linen and plump pillows in shades of sunny yellow and ivory on the bed, plus salt lamps, a few indoor plants and a bowl of fresh fruit in the room. A shelf holds a few books and an old-school stereo that plays soft meditation music, and there’s a small collection of games and colouring books, too.
A fold-out timber breakfast bar looks out over vineyards, and there’s a basic outdoor kitchen under a tin roof where you can prepare the provided granola, toast, jam, tea and coffee in the morning. Or cook on the barbeque and toast marshmallows over the campfire at night.
A picnic basket of cheese, crackers, cold meats, chocolate and wine, and a breakfast hamper with bacon and eggs, brioche buns and espresso coffee can both be ordered in advance from Mrs Schmick, a vintage hire and picnic package business in Emerald.
You can wander around the property to meet cows, horses, alpacas and ducks, or head out for a walk among the eucalyptus bushland. And if you’ve forgotten proper footwear, or if it’s muddy out, gumboots are provided.