Give Me Shelter
Scott, the owner of TinyHome – a new, sort of hidden (but increasingly less so) place to stay near Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills – has an enviable problem.
“It’s a shame, but I don’t get to stay there very much anymore because it’s so booked up,” says Scott. “I stayed there a lot last winter when it was almost, but not quite, finished. I just loved the simplicity of it.”
TinyHome’s singularity and simplicity make it one of the best places for South Australians to experience this winter. Comprised of three small cabins fanned out on a deck, it contains all of the necessities but not too many distractions, so the beauty of the surrounding Adelaide Hills can seep into guests’ bones.
“I wanted to create something on the site that would reflect what it means to live here,” says Scott.
“It’s quite raw, and it’s basically dropped in the middle of a field. There’s something about the immersion in the middle of the field I really like. You lie in bed and the kangaroos don’t care you’re there. All the animals are in their zone, and they don’t react to your presence.”
The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views from bed out over the rolling green hills of the organic farm on which TinyHome is located. Meanwhile, the nearby wildlife and herd of friendly cows, as well as the camp fire, allow you to revel in the primal force of the season’s chill while staying luxuriously comfortable.
Heading out and striking this fine balance between exposure to winter’s power and decadent protection from the season’s elements is the key to a merry, rather than miserable, cold season. Head to the Limestone Coast in the coming months to experience a highly refined version of this juxtaposition at Honeyfield Cottage – one of the state’s most romantic winter hideaways. The raw construction of the cottage – with its limestone and timber pallete and open wood fireplace – brings you closer to nature without even going outside. Collect your own eggs from the house hens or tramp the nearby rugged coastline for a properly immersive seasonal experience.
The feeling of embracing winter shifts gear when you reach the unbridled wilderness of Kangaroo Island, where communities are found in just a few developed pockets spotted between vast tracts of bushland. Nestled amongst the scrub are secluded, eco-friendly accommodation options like Ecopia, which has binoculars supplied so you can watch wildlife through the panoramic windows or even while soaking in the bath.
The double whammy of immersion in hot water and astounding winter views is also available at TinyHome – which has an outdoor bath set into its deck overlooking the cow pastures. But these places are only a couple of the competitors for the title of best winter view from the bath. On the Fleurieu Peninsula, Inkwell Wine have launched Hotel California Road – an architectural marvel built using a collection of shipping containers that were somehow transformed into a luxury boutique hotel set among the vines. Hotel California Road’s bathtub view is a strong rival to those already mentioned, but what makes it a particularly good winter hideaway is the easy access to excellent wine. A short walk from the hotel is the Inkwell Wine tasting room, where you can sit by the fireplace and sample a selection of vintage drops, before deciding which bottle of red should accompany you back to your room.
When there’s more than one or two of you heading out to enjoy these cooler days, then the Captain’s Cottage in Blinman stands at the ready. The three-bedroom home has been carefully outfitted by One Small Room, incorporates under floor heating, and is the ideal spot from which to explore the ancient landscape of the Flinders Ranges – which is known for its hiking-friendly sunny and clear winter days. Closer to Adelaide, The Other House at Piccadilly in the Adelaide Hills is a good base from which to explore the lush landscapes and copious high-end hospitality options in the region, if you can extract yourself from amongst the modern comforts that lie within the home’s restored bluestone walls.
You Can Always Get What You Want
Discovering luxurious hideaways is not the only benefit of stepping beyond your home’s threshold by indulging in the traditional cold-weather pastime of near-constant eating and drinking.
A good steak and a glass of red is a classic winter combination. Fortunately, our backyard is home to a restaurant that is acclaimed for serving the best of both.
The Barn Steakhouse in Mount Gambier is a paddock-to-plate eatery with a straw-thatched ceiling and log cabin walls that make it one of the cosiest places to dine on a cold night. Here, the menu matches the architecture. The signature dish sees chefs searing steaks from grass-fed cows raised on the property over mallee coals, while vegetables are picked from the garden out back. The obscenely fresh food is accompanied by a 750-strong wine list that has been lauded by Gourmet Traveller as one of the best in Australia.
“We are really selling wines we like and that we believe offer something interesting and of value,” says Kent Comley, The Barn’s manager.
“I’m not interested in listing wines that I don’t believe in, because if I can’t sell it, I have to drink it.”
Handing over decisions about what food and wine pairs best with the crispy cool of winter to experts like Kent is one of the best ways to revel in the season. Located on opposite sides of the state, two iconic restaurants have taken this practice to its logical conclusion.
Travel north from Adelaide and you will find Hentley Farm in the Barossa Valley, where chef Lachlan Colwill serves no a la carte dishes, only his four- or seven-course degustation menus. Beside a gently crackling fire inside the stone farmhouse, Lachlan guides diners through an unmissable edible tour of what his region has to offer when it turns cold.
“It’s an incredible privilege to head up a progressive kitchen in the very region I grew up,” he says.
“The produce we use often comes from people I went to school with that have taken over the family farms, old friends with orchards and home gardens, and family supplying us with produce from the very trees I used to climb.”
If, instead, you choose to head south out of Adelaide you will encounter McLaren Vale’s The Salopian Inn. Also housed in a beautiful old stone homestead, The Salopian is a testament to the vision of head chef and co-owner Karena Armstrong who created her own organic kitchen garden to supply the restaurant. While not compulsory, Karena’s tasting menu comes highly recommended, as does sampling several of the rare craft gins available here.
Eating in winter, though, shouldn’t only be about fine dining. Sometimes the best thing to turn a rainy day into a simple pleasure is a good drink sipped in a warm front bar. The Adelaide Hills is replete with venues that offer comfortable bar tops upon which to lean and excellent drinks to hold whilst doing so. If you don’t get stuck gazing in wonder around the wine room curated by sommelier Jonathan Brook at The Crafers Hotel, then journeying another 15 minutes up the hill to The Uraidla Hotel and Brewery is very much advised.
The team at Uraidla are creating their own little republic and as winter rolls in, the venue becomes a very special place to visit.
“The concept with the Uraidla is bringing everything in house,” says head brewer and co-owner Oscar Matthews. “There’s a seasonal garden in the back and we bake bread on site at the bakery.”
Doing everything – including beer production – from scratch means Oscar can cater specifically to the seasons as they change.
“Of course, in winter we transition in to the dark beer – our amber ale is a transitional beer and we’re brewing up all our stouts,” he says. “We’ve got a couple of open fireplaces to sit by and then there’s the big glasshouse dining area so you can watch the sky while you eat and drink.”
“Winter is my favourite time of the year,” Oscar concludes. And with so many unparalleled places here in South Australia to eat, drink and sleep under darkening skies, we can understand why.
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