Taking in Australian nature and stargazing in the countryside doesn’t always have to be barren and rugged. Stella the Stargazer is a unique collaboration between Visit Victoria and tiny house manufacturer, Ample, designed to reconnect city types with the stars. Stella is crafted from recycled timber and corrugated iron and the design pays homage to the utilitarian Australian shed. But Stella takes this simple concept of an outback building and adds luxury and convenience.
This mobile accommodation will move around the state of Victoria for the next 12 months. Its first location is Blue Gables Vineyard in Maffra, Gippsland (until December 15, 2022) where you can look to the heavens as you sit amongst the vines. Later, the luxe, kitted out shed will be head to the Great Ocean Road (February 3, 2023 to April 6, 2023) and the Grampians (April 17, 2022 to June 18, 2023).
Blue Gables Vineyard is off a small country road and as you enter the gates you can see Stella tucked away between the rows of green vines on the crest of a small hill. Heading to the cellar door which looks over the bucolic neighboring dairy farm, we are welcomed with a tasting of Blue Gables wines. We have already ordered a shiraz for our dinner in Stella, but we still end up leaving with a bottle of the sparkling chardonnay pinot gris as well.
A natural wonder
Stella looks modest from the outside, surrounded by a small deck and a fire pit with two chairs, but once you step inside, the care and attention poured into this tiny wonder by the team at Ample becomes immediately apparent. The décor is rustic-chic with rusted metal trunks, vintage cooking equipment and weathered journals and books on the limited shelf space. The bathroom has glass louvres that allow an indoor-outdoor shower. And a key feature: the bed that rolls out of back of the house so you can do some alfresco stargazing while tucked under a duvet. We set up the bed and grab some bubbles on the deck before lighting a fire and moving to the fire pit for dinner.
Dining out in style
We’ve pre-ordered a dinner pack from Farmer’s Daughters, helmed by renowned Australian chef Alejandro Saravia, a restaurant that celebrates the produce of the Gippsland region. The meals are simple to prepare on the “Roaring Meg” wood-fired stove in the petite kitchen but packed full of flavor – Saravia has done most of the hard work for us before vacuum packing the food and sending it off to us. A wild game terrine with black garlic chutney from the nearby Snowy River region starts us off as well as a stracciatella, roasted pumpkin and burnt Tambo honey from Gippsland. The main course is a roasted lamb shoulder and dessert is selection of Maffra cheeses.
Night to remember
When night falls, my wife and I feel like the only people for miles. No hint of anyone else to spoil the tranquility. A stay at Stella the Stargazer connects you with nature pretty much the way a glamping experience does – wild but generally danger-free – but its bespoke design goes even further. Here you have the comforts of a roaring fire and a hot meal in your abode, and a bed suspended out over the field to make you feel like you’re sleeping in the wild. It’s eerily peaceful and all we hear are the frogs, cows and birds making their nocturnal noises. Although it’s a true off-grid experience, there’s no reason to worry about anything – the team at Blue Gables vineyard are just over the hill should you have any problems.
Climbing into the lush bedding as it juts out over the field at night, my wife and I have a near-full moon that lights up the sky and a wealth of stars to examine from the comfort of our bed. It is a truly special experience to be bundled up warmly, yet still in the great outdoors gazing into the heavens. Once it got a little chilly, it was easy enough to slide the bed back into place, and just as simple to slide it out again in the morning to watch the sun rise. Along with the new day came breakfast – local bacon, fresh bread and jams and coffee – before we set out on our way. The verdict: Stella by name, stellar by nature.
Ready for a getaway to Victoria? Fly directly to Melbourne with Thai Airways.