Suspended between gum trees in New England high country, this tiny bubbletent is one of three new ways to sleep under the stars.
As I hop up into the baby bubbletent I feel like a kid who’s discovered a strange new treehouse. At first the tent wiggles with me but when I stop moving about and laughing it quickly stabilises and I’m floating in the air between the trees.
The tiny Mary Ann Bugg bubbletent at Mirumiru is suspended between two trees. (Image: Amanda Woods)
My feather-filled, linen-covered GlamSwag adds to the floating on a tiny cloud feeling and while I could go for privacy and extra warmth by keeping the inner frame raised I quickly disconnect it and push it to the back of the tent so I can see everything around and above me.
The view looking out from the Mary Ann Bugg suspended bubbletent at Mirumiru. (Image: Amanda Woods)
I could stay here all night, but as we’re just outside of Tenterfield in New England NSW and heading for sub zero temperatures I decide to save that for the warmer months. Instead, I soak up the afternoon sun and watch the sun set before climbing back down to solid ground and moving into the bigger bubble where cashmere sheets over an electric blanket await.
The Mirumiru story
When Cathryn van der Walt and her husband Brad Middleton travelled the world together they would always make time to look up at the stars. Creating a luxury star gazing experience on their family farm became a passion project and after pushing through COVID-19 and other challenges Mirumiru Bubbletent opened in April 2022.
Means bubble in Aotearoa (Maori). (Image: Amanda Woods)
In a nod to Brad’s home country of New Zealand Mirumiru (pron: me-roo me-roo) means bubble in Aotearoa (Maori), and the tents are named after bushrangers who used the granite countryside as cover in years gone by: Captain Moonlite, Captain Thunderbolt, and one of Australia’s first female bushrangers and Thunderbolt’s partner, Mary Ann Bugg.
As well as providing a special way to stay, Cathryn is committed to working with local artisans, artists and service providers to help give back to this part of regional Australia.
The owners of Mirumiru brought their dream of creating a luxury star gazing experience on their family farm to life. (Image: Sera Wright)
“It’s like a submarine,” Cathryn explains as she unzips the first door. “You need to step inside and close one door before you can open the next one.”
In the inflated hallway a small wardrobe holds fresh towels, slip on shoes, games and a first aid kit, and provides both hanging and shelf space for clothes. There’s a cooler style fridge for food and drink, and a cocktail making kit for guests to whip up their favourite tipple.
The writer opts to stay in one of the larger bubbletents for her winter stay. (Image: Sera Wright)
Through the next zipped doorway in the main bedroom I find a queen bed made up with luxury linens, a bedside table, lamp and reading lights, and a telescope for a closer look at the moon and planets above. On the other side of the bedroom a third bubble within the bubble holds the bathroom with a composting toilet and hand basin with a pump tap.
Luxe bedding features in the main bedroom.(Image: Sera Wright)
The two big bubbletents, Captain Thunderbolt and Captain Moonlite are the same size and have an outdoor bathtub with hot and cold running water, a kitchenette with a gas stove and kettle, cooking pots and a fry pan and crockery and cutlery.
Soak up the views from the private outdoor tub. (Image: Sera Wright)
Number of guests
The big bubbletents sleep two adults each but thanks to the mini bubbletent the Thunderbolt and Mary Ann Bugg combo can sleep two adults and three children. Or possibly two adults in the big bubble and another adult or two in the mini Mirumiru, which has a 200kg limit.
I may be accustomed to sleeping in new beds around the world but when I sleepily wonder where I am at 3am and then look up and see stars I know there’s no chance I’ll be falling straight back to sleep.
With the rise in astrotourism an increasing number of travellers are chasing star filled skies. Lying back in my warm bed I can see the Southern Cross and countless other stars in the Milky Way and just as I’m thinking how appropriate the word stargazing is, a shooting star streaks across the sky.
Wake to see a star-filled sky from the comfort of your own bubbletent. (Image: Peitao Tan)
Disconnecting from the world
Even before those stars come out at night, escaping into a private bubble away from the rest of the world is a special kind of bliss. While wi-fi is provided and phone signal is strong, it’s easy to put all devices down and disconnect.
Luxe local products
The attention to detail and sense of place provided by local products also raises the bar at Mirumiru. Guests drink tea from Tenterfield’s Little Echidna Home, and as well as using gumleaf cheeseboards by Manual Arts DEpt they can have personally monogrammed ones made as a souvenir.
Cathyrn works with a range of local businesses to offer add ons including White Cottage floral bouquets and eye masks infused with hyaluronic acid and argan oil by Lunalux, while also offering French wine and champagne truffle chocolates.
And while all of the linens are high quality you can also upgrade your bed with cashmere sheets for an even more luxurious lie-back-and-look-at-the-stars night.
Luxe local products are used wherever possible. (Image: Amanda Woods)
Sustainability was front of mind from the start at Mirumiru where the bubbletents are entirely off grid.
All electricity comes from solar power, while filtered rainwater is used in the outdoor showers and vintage baths, and the internal composting toilet saves thousands of litres of water per year.
To help regenerate the land over 500 natives have already planted including a bush tucker garden, and there will be no cattle or sheep on the property until the land has had a chance to fully recover.
Best time to stay
Tenterfield has four very distinct seasons which means the best time to come depends on the sort of holiday you’d like to have.
Winter is the best time for stargazing anywhere in the world. The earth’s atmosphere doesn’t have as much moisture in the colder months making it clearer and easier to spot fainter stars and nebulae in that crisp cold air.
But winters in New England are also cold and when the sun goes down the bubbles can get cold too. There are electric blankets and small fan heaters in the big bubbles to take the edge off, and sleeping bags rated to -5 degrees for the mini bubbletent.
During my winter stay while I’m not cold when I’m in bed I do sleep with a beanie on when the temperatures dip below zero overnight. But longer nights mean more star time and when I wake up to glittering frost in the morning I soon forget about the cold.
Winter is the best time of year for stargazing. (Image: Sera Wright)
Spring is blossom season and Tenterfield has streets lined with flowering plum and cherry trees. Enjoy a blossom walk around town and through Millbrook Park before coming back to your bubble.
In summer December is the most spectacular month to stay with green grass, a mix of blue skies and misty rainfall and spectacular sunsets. Native lilies, waratahs and flannel flowers can be found in the surrounding National Parks.
Save the mini bubbletent for the warmer weather when heating isn’t required. (Image: Sera Wright)
Meanwhile, March and April are the best months in autumn when the trees change colour and bright orange and red leaves can be found on New England country drives.
The gorgeous sunrises can be enjoyed all year round. (Image: Amanda Woods)
What to bring
As the bubbletents are self-catering you’ll need to bring anything you’d like to eat or drink during your stay. Or if you plan and ask ahead, Cathyrn can also provide some groceries.
Enclosed shoes are best all year round and throw in some hiking boots too if you’d like to get out onto the National Park trails, and while bath towels are provided it’s BYO beach towels if you’re planning to swim in waterholes.
Sunscreen and lip balm are a must any time of year as you’ll feel the sun and wind in the New England high country. And if you’re coming in winter bring all of your winter layers including thermals, puffer jackets, warm winter socks and a beanie.
Organic hand soap, hair and body wash, and conditioner are all provided. If you prefer to use your own keep in mind that at Mirumiru they filter the water to use on plants so only use products that are kind to the environment.
The Mirumiru Bubbletent guidebook can be saved on your device as an app and includes a list of what they provide in the tents, along with handy guides for everything from how to use the compostable toilet to the furry and feathered friends you might meet on the farm.
Mirumiru is just a few minutes outside of Tenterfield, which is around three and a half hours drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast and just under eight hours from Sydney.
The nearest airports are Armidale and Lismore (both two hours away).