As you enter the tiny village of Marananga in the Barossa Valley – a renowned wine region a one-hour drive north-east of Adelaide – at the start of Seppeltsfield Road’s iconic avenue of palms a sign reads, “slow down”. It refers as much to the villagers’ way of life as it does the speed limit.
Take a leaf out of their book with a stay at one of two just-opened eco villas, set back from the road on a hectare of bushland.
But there’s no roughing it here. Inside each 35-square-metre villa there’s a soaking tub and rain shower, a queen bed made with Cultiver French linen, and a fully equipped kitchen (stocked with local produce). There’s also a sprawling front deck (with a pair of rocking chairs) that overlooks a peppermint box woodland.
Owner Cathy Wills’s family has more than 150 years of history in the Barossa. In 2012 she moved into a cottage on the adjacent block with her husband, Grant.
The couple’s villas are environmentally sensitive, with as minimal a footprint as possible. “We’re current custodians of this land but we won’t be forever,” Wills says. “I love the idea someone in the future could pick these up and return the land to its natural state without anyone knowing they’d been here.”
Sydney firm Stephen Sainsbury Architects is a “pioneer in this kind of design,” says Wills, though this is its first project in South Australia. The villas were constructed with Ecoshelta, a prefabricated, customisable modular building system, which comes as an Ikea flat pack on steroids.
Supervised by the architect, family and friends – including Wills’s brother, Geyer Wine Co and Yetti and the Kokonut winemaker Dave Geyer – pieced each villa together. Geyer’s wife was charged with interior design (“We gave her a twig of blue gum from the property [as a reference point],” Wills says).
Each villa sleeps two and there’s a minimum two-night stay, with prices starting at $385 per night.
They’re perfectly situated as a home base. “You’re secluded, but you’re also included,” Wills says. Within walking distance are Two Hands Wines, Barossa Valley Estate’s newly refurbed cellar door and boutique gin producer Seppeltsfield Road Distillers. There’s also Bar Louise, adjoining fine diner Appellation, which Wills says serves some of the best burgers in town.