We nabbed a night in one of the most in-demand off-grid huts in Australia & here’s what did (and didn’t) go down
Imagine the consumerist rebellion of the Tiny House Movement meeting the comfort level of a quality Airbnb and you’ll get close to what it feels like to stay in an Unyoked cabin, the new cool kid on the off-grid-escape block.
But there’s a bigger mission behind this brand new cluster of cabins beyond just getting outdoors. It’s about connecting through the power of disconnecting. And if that sounds contradictory, I promise it’s all by design.
If you’ve ever felt a sense of dread when your phone rings or a bit of blah after scrolling through everyone’s highlight reel on Instagram then you’ll understand why this kind of rustic tech-adverse holiday is so à la mode in 2019. A break from modernity has become a bit of a novelty but the barrier for entry (*cough* completely roughing it) tends to put most people off.
So welcome to luxury in 2019. It’s all French linen sheets and composting toilets because according to Unyoked founders Chris and Cam Grant, a good life is all about balance.
And it’s a surefire recipe for success because trying to score a night in one of their sustainable hideaways is like trying to find a carpark at a Westfield during Christmas (all about timing and patience). And when a spot comes available you snatch it up whether it’s convenient for you or not.
That’s how I found myself (family in tow) deep in rural New South Wales on a Monday afternoon with only latitude and longitude tapped into my GPS and some obscure instructions to ‘turn left at the shed but after the vineyard’.
You see, getting to your Unyoked cabin is half the journey and is a necessary step to acclimating to your new off-grid surrounds. It’s about tapping into a childlike sense of adventure that’s lacking from so many weekend escapes. And nothing makes you feel a bit adventurous like leaving your car and dragging a trolley of provisions a few hundred metres into the wild unknown.
We arrived to a modern box seemingly straight out of one of those coffee table books about Scandinavian architecture.
There was enough room inside for a small kitchenette, a fairly generous bathroom and shower and a very Instagram-friendly plush queen-size bed by a giant picture window overlooking the forest beyond. I know a digital detox is the name of the game with Unyoked but when life hands you a scene straight out of a Gestalten book it’s only right to take as many happy-snaps as possible for post-holiday uploading.
For the record, there actually is a Gestalten book on the bookshelf for handy perusal (among a collection of Penguin classics).
If the sense of luxe hadn’t quite hit by then it was more than cemented upon opening the mini bar fridge. Inside we found a treasure trove of pre-mixed Archie Rose Negroni cocktails just waiting for fireside consumption.
This is something Unyoked excels in above any other cabin stays. You’re well and truly out of the city but still in proximity to some of the coolest creatives in the business. For example, wilderness cook and Instagram superstar Sarah Glover has designed the s’mores kits (the peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallow fireside treat favoured by North Americans), Sydney distillery Archie Rose has contributed the cocktails and local multi-awarded organic vineyards are selected for the bottles of wine on offer.
Thanks to all this you can’t help but walk with a little more swagger as you collect twigs for the fire (a Negroni or two will do that).
As the sun descends the cosiness factor ramps up and before long it was time to tuck our toddler into the large bed and read him stories by a small lamp. Halfway through Green Eggs and Ham we realised how long it’s been since we all read a book as a family (as opposed to playing rock-paper-scissors on which parent would be on the bedtime routine). We did all the voices, we took turns reading pages, our boy fell asleep easier than he had in ages. Clearly this cabin thing was already working its magic on us.
Around this point you’re probably thinking ‘well, that’s what happens when you don’t have any other distractions’. Which is exactly the point.
Anyone who has ever tried to give themselves a digital detox will know how difficult it can be to switch off while still surrounded by all the frantic flotsam of reality. The temptation to zone out and scroll is ever-present and the feeling is almost akin to an alcoholic fresh out of rehab. But when you have fires to prep, s’mores to build, music to listen to and stories to read? This is the kind of relaxed busywork that restores the soul.
There’s no urge to scroll and mentally escape because your mind is engaged. It’s already having fun, fuelled by raw authentic good times. Sure, it’s not as hyper-stimulating as an oversaturated Instagram landscape shot but that’s why it’s so brilliant, you could think of it as a rest for your brain.
Because there aren’t any blinds (well, who needs them? There’s nobody else around) we woke up as the sun rose. Our boy still zonked out between us and the sound of birdsong in the background.
Force of habit has me normally immediately reaching out for my phone. The standard routine being: eyes open, find phone, scroll, wake up to a combination of bad news, good news, no news.
This morning I didn’t know where my phone was. It didn’t matter. I pulled the covers up, sniffed by boy’s head and went back to sleep.
Luckily Unyoked generously offer an 11am check-out time, for exactly these kind of moments.