Western Australia is home to plenty of singular vineyard accommodation options. In the Swan Valley, for instance, is Upper Reach’s cosy spa cottage. In the Great Southern, Castelli Estate and Alkoomi Wines both have on-site digs, while Island Brook Estate is one of a handful of grape-based accommodation options in Margaret River. Windows Estate’s petite eco cabin is the latest member of the club – it opened on January 1 – but this Margaret River jewel has a lot more going for it than simply being new.
As the name suggests, this accommodation aims to help reconnect guests with nature – and it starts with a semi-bushland setting with vistas of vines and towering gums. The sparsely appointed cabin reiterates the mantra of less being more – it’s equipped with everything you need for a self-contained stay, but wi-fi and TV are conspicuously absent. This isn’t the place, says Windows Estate co-owner Jo Davies, for a Netflix binge.
“If people want to really change and get back to nature, you have to give them that connection,” says Davies, who’s been working on the cabin for three years. “If there’s no connection they don’t care, if there’s no emotional connection, it’s not going to work. This is very much about trying to get people to care about their surroundings again and having them come here in the quiet and connecting with each other.”
Having said that, there are more than enough details throughout the cabin to distract those interested in art, design and green thinking. A soaring waterfall window above the bed lets guests sleep under the stars and wake up to views of soaring gum trees. Instead of air conditioning, the cabin’s passive solar design keeps things cool (the orientation capitalises on existing trees for afternoon shade, and louvred windows channel afternoon sea breezes into the space). Indoor and outdoor window seats encourage lounging. And fresh flowers; sustainably themed books (pickling, low-waste living, cabin-design porn); and a rotating cast of avian visitors (during my stay, I saw Australian wood ducks, ring-neck parrots, wrens and red-tailed black cockatoos) reinforce the back-to-nature ethos.
For Davies and the cabin’s designer Matilda Brealey, using local products and materials was a major part of the eco-oriented brief. The furniture – a cosy day bed in front of the Australian-made fireplace, and an outdoor setting for two – has been custom-built by Vasse-based furnituremakers Timber Grooves with jarrah from Davies’s father’s Busselton farm. The crockery has all been sourced from local ceramicists, and the en suite bathroom is stocked with toiletries from Vasse Virgin. Even the brass taps and hand-blown lights were made in Australia.
“When we say it’s local, it’s as local as it can possibly be,” says Davies. “Using local materials was something we really wanted to do. It was tricky at times, but I think we got there at the end.”
Although the cabin is au courant with contemporary accommodation trends, Davies says she’s not about to swap life as a vigneron for that of a hotelier.
“[It’s] not like, oh, ‘let’s get into the accommodation business’. It’s really more of an extension of what we do here,” she says. (Windows Estate was certified organic in 2019, 20 years after she and husband Chris Davies established the vineyard.) “We really just wanted to share what we have here and get people a little more connected to nature and where the things they eat and drink come from.”