Ballarat’s new romantic retreat by the dam side

Words By Della Vreeland
Images by Nikole Ramsay

The duo behind the highly-coveted Pyrenees accommodation space Grayling’s Gift has opened up its second unique venture – this time in the form of a van, by a dam.

Aptly called Jean-Claude, the vintage caravan is nestled among the gumtrees and overlooks the serene acreage located on the owners’ secluded property.

Jean-Claude co-owner Annie Brereton says she and her husband Shane decided to take on the project after witnessing the incredible success of Grayling’s Gift, particularly following the onset of the health pandemic.

‘We soon realised experiences that provided people with much more than a bed were going to be needed in our new normal,’ Annie says.

‘COVID has made us all evaluate our lives to various degrees, and for us, it meant committing fully to providing people with inspirational places where they could take a real break from the busyness and mess of everyday life.’

Annie and Shane made the move from Melbourne to Ballarat in order to fully commit to their aforementioned business aim.

During their search for somewhere to live, they made sure to purchase a property that could also house another accommodation offering.

‘We had stumbled across this beautiful, but very unkempt, parcel of Australian bush just 10 minutes from the heart of Ballarat,’ Annie says. ‘The house needs a major renovation and the acreage had been let go, but we had a vision for something special on the little dam.’

And so Jean-Claude was born – a lovingly-restored 1970s caravan perfect for a much-needed romantic getaway.

The van boasts a king-size bed dressed in luxurious French linen and includes a cosy nook for reading.

The van’s outdoor shack houses a toilet and warming shower, plus a covered area for food preparation and washing-up, as well as a small bar fridge, esky and BBQ – allowing guests to truly appreciate their natural surroundings by the glistening water.

In true Annie and Shane style, much of the decor and furnishings have been sourced second-hand and from vintage sellers, adding to the overall allure of the space.

‘Our vision is to create an experience unlike any other,’ Annie says. ‘I like to refer to it as old-fashioned hospitality combined with modern luxury.

‘Gone are the 1000-count cotton sheets and sterile hotel styling. Ours is a more welcoming, but no less luxurious offering, that strives to make each and every guest feel like they are being wrapped in a giant hug from the moment they enter any of our properties.  Spaces to reflect, reconnect and wonder.’

Just recently, Annie and Shane rebranded their business from Grayling’s Gift to the Wonder Inns in order to accurately represent their vision and ever-expanding accommodation offerings.

‘We have plans for further expansion and this will enable us to keep growing,’ Annie says.

‘Next year we embark on the renovation of a little city apartment above a shop in the Main Street of Ballarat.  Our properties are all very different from one another but are all designed to offer the same opportunity for couples to come and reconnect amongst unique, inspiring settings.

‘We are striving to create something so far removed from home in order to give our guests the opportunity to dream their own dreams and hopefully return home inspired to take action.’


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Jean-Claude
WHERE: Mount Helen, Ballarat
FIND OUT MORE: wonderinns.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Sleep under the stars at Daylesford’s new Skyview Bubble Tent

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For even the most ardent camping lovers, winter can spell an unavoidable abstinence from the great outdoors. Our state’s chaotic weather doesn’t make for the most reliable holiday destination. But rest assured there is a way to experience the total immersion with nature camping brings, without the soggy socks and ice-cold nights. May we introduce Daylesford’s newest glamping accommodation sure to quench that thirst?

Meet the Skyview Bubble Tent, one of regional Victoria’s most unique getaway accommodations, nestled right on the edge of Wombat State Park in Daylesford. Brought to life by local couple Anita and Richard Payne, the new luxury stay has been fitted with all the finest details to make your camping experience one to remember.

The clear circular roof gives you almost 360-degree views of the surrounding woodland where you will likely see several kangaroos hopping past, or maybe even one of the alpaca’s the pair keep on their farm. And of course, the magic of thousands of stars at night, completely uninterrupted by nearby lights.

After discovering the bubble tent phenomenon in Europe, Anita and Richard set the wheels in motion to create Victoria’s first one a couple of years ago. Much evolution has seen the tent transform into a fully equipped getaway experience. Inside there is a Queen-sized bed with luxury linen, beanbags to squish into and tea and coffee facilities to get you really cosy. While the outdoor area features a wooden deck with a log fire (and pizza oven) and gas BBQ, outdoor shower, kitchen facilities, cantilevered umbrella with fairy lights and even a bush hammock to soak it all up.

“Our intention was to give people a sense of seclusion and privacy… and it’s just been fun putting it all together,” Anita says. “It really is just a magical experience in the Aussie bush.”

So pack your winter woollies (or your hat if you’re booking ahead) and your adventurous spirit, the Skyview Bubble Tent is ready to greet you.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: Skyview Bubble Tent
WHERE: 162 Brandy Hot Road, Eganstown
WHEN: Check website for availability
MORE INFO: Bookings via Dayget Daylesford

Glamping and 24/7 bathing now happening at Peninsula Hot Springs

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Date night just levelled up.

In news that is sure to delight both lovers and lovers of relaxation across the state, the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs is bringing us two very indulgent experiences this year; 24/7 bathing and luxury glamping.

Back after their Covid-induced hibernation, the baths are geared up to bring patrons the ultimate post-lockdown rejuvenation. Say goodbye to stiff limbs and hello to mineral-rich soaking with their new offerings.

The steamy destination, which underwent a $13-million expansion in 2018, has introduced 10 luxury glamping tents throughout the site, each one slightly different to the next. But every one takes comfort to the nines with thermally-heated concrete floors, king beds fitted with luxury linen, generous bathrooms and a private deck.

Not only will guests be able to enjoy the spoils of their heavenly accom, but the experience also includes round-the-clock access to the geothermal mineral pools, so if you fancy a midnight dip, just throw on a bathrobe and head on out. In the morning, breakfast will be served in the Spa Dreaming Centre Dining room — all inclusive of course.

You don’t need to be a glamper to soak under the stars, however; 24/7 bathing is available for those who don’t mind entering after 11pm. Just imagine you and your chosen other under the soothing expanse of stars listening to the late-night hum of crickets… We’re getting relaxed just thinking about it.

It goes without saying that the Peninsula Hot Springs are Mornington’s number one destination for indulgence. Whether you want to bathe, indulge in a spa treatment, join in on wellness activities or practice yoga and meditation, the Springs have got you covered. With the new night-time sessions, you may never want to leave.

Packages for glamping start at $650 per night for two people. 


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Overnight glamping at Peninsula Hot Springs
WHERE: 140 Springs lane, Fingal
WHEN: Bookings available now
MORE INFO: Peninsula Hot Springs

 

Falls to Hotham hike gets eco-glamping upgrade

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The popular Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing hike has had a summer upgrade with an unforgettable tree-top experience.

Alpine Nature Experience has organised an all-inclusive hike from Falls Creek to Mount Hotham that lets you enjoy the popular picturesque hike, but maximises comfort at the same time.

The night before you head off on your hike, you’ll be treated to a night in luxury accommodation – and the luxe treatment continues from here. The next morning, not only will you be transported to the starting point of the hike, there’s also no need to carry your pack or a tent; all your belongings will be transported between sites for you, so you’ll just need to carry a light day pack.

When you arrive at Blair’s Hut Campground for the night, not only is the campsite set up, but dinner will also be ready for you. But this is no ordinary campsite; Alpine Nature Experience will hoist your tent off the ground and between the trees, offering a truly unique camping experience. For dinner, locally-sourced meals will be provided, and other locally-sourced snacks will also be on offer throughout the hike.

The next morning, your belongings will be transported back for you, and you can enjoy a post-hike night back in your luxurious accommodation.

The all-inclusive two-day hike can be self-guided or you also have the option of booking an experienced guide to help you along the way. You can also add return transport to and from Melbourne if you’d like.

To ensure you can fully enjoy the experience, numbers are strictly restricted to just 10 people at a time, and dates are also limited.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Falls To Hotham Crossing – All inclusive Curated Hike
WHERE: Falls to Hotham Crossing
WHEN: Selected dates only from January to March.
FIND OUT MORE: alpinenatureexperience.com.au/summer-bookings

A fleet of airstreams rolls into Mitchelton

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There’ll be more than just Prosecco sparkling at Mitchelton this summer. The Nagambie winery has expanded its accommodation offering, with a fleet of seven Airstream RVs.

Seven of the vintage-style American caravans, known for their distinctive rounded shape and polished aluminium finish, have rolled into Mitchelton to adorn the Estate and offer a unique, year-round accommodation option for guests.

Continuing with the caravanning theme, the Airstreams each have their own deck area with a barbecue so you can whip up some bacon and eggs to have alongside a bottle of Mitchelton sparkling for a DIY proseccie-breakie. Each morning you’ll find a premium breakfast hamper delivered to your door and if you’re in need of a snack, the dry minibar is included.

Mitchelton’s Airstreams are just a short walk from the winery’s existing accommodation, the Mitchelton Hotel, and Airstream guests will also have access to the rest of the facilities including the pool, gym, day spa and Australia’s largest commercial gallery dedicated to Indigenous art.

When it comes to dinner options, you won’t have to go far, with the on-site restaurant, The Muse, offering a menu that favours local, sustainable and ethically farmed ingredients, to be enjoyed alongside a glass or two of wine from Mitchelton’s awarded cellar.

Martin Garrett, Mitchelton Hotel General Manager, said, “Mitchelton isn’t just a winery – we have an incredible Estate in the heart of the Nagambie region which is ripe for exploring. The Mitchelton Airstream Hotel can help do just that – take our guests into the heart of nature for an experience like no other.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Mitchelton Airstream Hotel
WHERE: 470 Mitchellstown Rd, Nagambie
WHEN: Coming soon
MORE INFO: Mitchelton Airstream Hotel