Switching off has never been easier. Cordelia Williamson experiences the invigoration and isolation at one of Unyoked’s hidden tiny cabins.
Feb 12, 2023 6:00am
We arrive and it’s cool; fog covering the mountains that surround our speck of a cabin, transforming rural Australia into another world. We pour wine into enamel mugs and sit; sips between sharp breaths as we recover from our steep hike in. We’re instantly calm – I can barely remember the late start to our journey, the stress of city traffic and the four-hour drive to get here. It feels good to be back off-grid.
Roscoe is one of Unyoked’s “spicy” cabins, meaning it’s a steep, ten-minute walk from our parking spot, adding to the thrill of isolation. It sits atop a grassy paddock dotted with cattle (and cowpats), surveying the land splayed out and sprawling.
Inside, it’s compact but has everything you could need; the kitchen stops at the foot of the bed, and the bed substitutes for a lounge room, framed by two large windows; an invisible wall so clear you feel you could reach out and touch the mountaintops. The bathroom features another set of perfectly placed windows, their captivating views artfully balanced by the sleek and spacious shower.
I count about 30 minutes from our arrival, measured by the colour-changing sky. I have a perfunctory scan for my phone to check if I’m right, but no luck. It must be in the car. Not that it matters – there’s no reception at Roscoe.
For the screen obsessed, don’t worry – Roscoe has plenty of charming touches; there’s a well-curated collection of books, including one titled Cabin Porn and another Hideaways; a retro cassette player with Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys tapes stacked against it; a drawer full of board games and playing cards; and a comforting line-up of cooking essentials such as olive oil, salt and pepper, tea and “energiser beans” (coffee).
Since launching in 2016, Unyoked has expanded to nine areas across Australia, from the wild valleys of Tasmania to the red earth landscapes of Western Australia, as well as in Te Ika-a-Māui (New Zealand’s north island) and even in the UK.
It is one of several companies offering remote, off-grid hideaways around the country, allowing guests to immerse themselves in nature and switch off without distraction from the outside world. Brothers Cameron and Chris Grant launched the venture as a way of helping people escape from their demanding city lives.
“The idea came from us being stuck in corporate jobs and seeing the expectations and demands of modern life in the city taking away our ability to be free and disappear into nature when we really needed it,” says Cameron.
“We’d always been massive cabin fans and loved that raw feeling you get when seeing a hermit’s shack on a mountain, or tucked in a pine forest somewhere. So we wondered what it’d be like if we could have that, but within a short drive from our office desk instead.”
We cook dinner on the fire and sip our second mug of chilled red. We’re having orecchiette with garlicky broccoli, chilli and pork-fennel sausage – our go-to getaway meal. The fire is pure theatre, but we’ll take any excuse to sit by a campfire – even in summer (when fire bans permit).
I relish in the quiet and pick up a new book, Seeing Other People by Diana Reid. My partner – a doona-covered lump rising and falling – sleeps beside me as I hungrily read, before I too doze off as rain falls on the tin roof.
The next morning we wake to soft sun streaming through the windows and a young calf curiously gazing in. It’s still cool now, but it’ll burn off. We slowly move about Roscoe – making breakfast, sipping tea, grinding coffee beans and reading – until midmorning when it’s too hot to stay in our wooden box on a hill.
We ready ourselves for our first – and only – venture from the cabin. We crossed several fords to get Roscoe and now we’re heading down to take a dip in the wide creek that runs through the property.
The water is icy, clean. The sort of water you imagine was the catalyst for the idea of baptism. Cleansing. Two head dunks and I hop out. We bake on the grass and look up through the sparse gum canopy above, eating leftover Christmas ham rolls and cracking a tinnie.