Stay here: Bunjil Farm, Victoria

Bunjil Farm
Kyneton-Springhill Road, Lauriston, VIC
http://bunjilfarm.com.au/

 

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A beautiful drive up through Macedon, Woodend and Kyneton brings you to Bunjil Farm, run by the lovely Lyn Stephenson. Lyn’s property is open, lush and absolutely stunning. It performs double duty as both accommodation for city escapees needing a break, and a hemp farm.

Hemp, for the record, is not the same as marijuana; Lyn’s crops are grown under license, subject to strict testing, and are used to produce, oil, textiles and building materials. You learn something new every day…

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But, back to the accommodation. Paying homage to the original owners of this nation, the farm was named after Bunjil, the creator of the earth (you can read more about Bunjil’s story here). It’s instantly clear that so many details of the farm have been carefully thought out with respect for the earth in mind. There are a few options for accommodation at Bunjil Farm; when we visited, we stayed in the Settler’s Hut. Having visited in winter, the fireplace was a big selling point.

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This beautiful little hut has been carefully restored and kept as close to the original 1850’s version as possible, without compromising too much on modern comforts. There’s no TV or stereo or central heating, but there are very comfy couches, the aforementioned magnificent fireplace, and plenty of space to read, write and draw. The stone floors, while beautiful, are also pretty cold if you visit in winter, so pack your wooly socks.

The kitchen is spread across the hut, with a big wooden cabinet holding your breakfast provisions, tea, coffee, flatware and what not. The water in the hut is bore water, so a large glass jug full of fresh drinking water is provided, too. A sink over in the opposite corner, however, holds modern luxuries like a toaster, mini fridge, electric kettle and dishwashing detergent.

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The bathroom is stunning, with the original plumbing still on display in the shower, but with modern plumbing actually in use, which means there’s not long to wait for a nice, hot shower. Thank goodness. Soft, fluffy towels are provided for you, as are some good, old fashioned hot water bottles to keep you warm and toasty at night. I hadn’t used a hot water bottle in YEARS, but was incredibly grateful that Lyn had the foresight to mention them as the temperature dropped later in the evening.

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The bedroom is simple and the bed is very comfortable – lots of big pillows to rest your heads on and a double doona will keep you warm overnight. There’s also a very efficient plug in heater that warms the bedroom up perfectly.

And don’t forget to head out the back and say hi to the neighbours – we met the most beautiful horses that Lyn keeps on her property for one of the city’s horse-and-cart owners. One was a bit feisty, but the others were incredibly placid and sweet-natured, and very photogenic. This gorgeous red-head followed us along the fence line, gently nudging our hands with his nose, to get a bit of a pat.

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You can also expect breakfast to be a pretty impressive affair, with Lyn providing everything you’ll need; yoghurt, fresh milk, eggs, a very fresh loaf of bread, jams, butter, muesli, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, even Vegemite. You might be picturing an elegant, civilised breakfast in front of the fireplace, and maybe that’s what your breakfast will look like. In our case, it looked more like two large, pyjama-clad kids wolfing down fresh toast like they hadn’t eaten in days. And this kid polished off the marshmallows that Lyn kindly left on the table, along with some nice, long metal swords, so that I could toast them over the fire.

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When we visited Bunjil Farm, we both desperately needed a break from life. Being able to literally switch off from life with no TV, put our phones away, not have to rush around to see or do anything, and just BE was the perfect way to reset. Lyn’s created the most wonderful atmosphere at Bunjil Farm, making you simultaneously feel like you’re totally comfortable and at home, and a well looked after guest at the same time.

Stay here: The DoubleTree Hilton, Melbourne

DoubleTree by Hilton, Melbourne
270 Flinders St, Melbourne CBD
http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels

Playing tourist in your own city is seriously underrated. A lot of Melbourians, especially those who work in the CBD, avoid the city at all costs on weekends. I was the opposite. The longer I worked in the city, the more I discovered and the more I fell in love with it. While it’s definitely not a hidden treasue, the DoubleTree Hilton is a perfect tourist-at-home night away spot.

 

Service and amenities include:
– 24 hour business and fitness centres
– a generous 12pm check out
– WiFi (not free, unfortunately)
– luggage storage
– laundry service
– safety deposit boxes
– hotel restaurant
– parking (AUD$30 per night)
– accessible rooms
– tea & coffee making facilities
– complimentary (and a little bit fancy) toiletries from Crabtree & Evelyn
– HDTVs
– walk-in showers

Being literally a stone’s throw from Flinders Street Station, it couldn’t be more accessible, and rates start from around $180 per night for two people (for a lead in, interior rooms); a little extra will upgrade you to a city view room or a Flinders Street Station view.

And the best part? If you’re staying there, you can feel free to ask for a complimentary DoubleTree Hilton chocolate chip cookie. At any time.