Stay here: a backyard mini-break at Bunjil Farm, Victoria

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

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It’s hard to narrow down the list of favourite bloggers, but Lisa Eats World is certainly up there. I love the way she writes, and as a fellow Melbourne girl, I love reading about her new discoveries in and around the city. It was one of those discoveries she wrote about a few months ago that gave me massive adventure-envy; her visit to Bunjil Farm out in Kyneton, Victoria. After reading her post twice and following the link through to the farm’s website, I emailed the lovely Lyn straight away to make a booking, too.

When I read about the gorgeous 1850’s settler’s hut that Lisa stayed in, the idea of curling up by the fire on a cold winter’s night with a good book and mug of hot tea was utterly irresistible to me. I often venture out on little country Victoria trips solo, but the husband joined me this time – the promise of a fire place-warmed hut away from it all had him hooked, too.

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A drive up through Macedon, Woodend and Kyneton brought us to Bunjil Farm, run by the lovely Lyn Stephenson, and her two furry sidekicks, Eddie and Zoe. Lyn’s property is open, lush and absolutely stunning, performing double duty as both accommodation for escape artists like us, 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 side. 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), and you can see that there are so many details of the farm that have been carefully thought out with respect for the earth in mind. There are a few options for accommodation at Bunjil Farm, but I knew it had to be the settler’s hut for us. Unlike Lisa, who visited in summer, we were there on a particularly cold winter’s night, so the fireplace was a huge selling point for us.

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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 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 divided over the room, 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 vessel 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 was 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. And nice, 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 was simple and the bed was very comfortable – lots of big pillows to rest our heads on and a double doona situation kept us nice and warm overnight. There was also a very efficient plug in heater that warmed the bedroom up perfectly.

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Head out the back and say hi to your neighbours, too – we met some absolutely 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 – you’ll see their photos on a post I wrote on Monday. This gorgeous red-head followed us along the fence line, gently nudging our hands with his nose, to get a bit of a pat. We’re both huge animal lovers, so we were in heaven 🙂

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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! In my mind, eating that beautiful spread by the fireplace was picture perfect; in reality, it was more like two well-rested, pyjama-clad, large kids wolfing down toast like they hadn’t eaten in days. And this kid finished 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. Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t even… The smell of a freshly lit fireplace is one of my favourite smells in the world, and if you could taste that smell, it’s be toasted marshmallows.

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Lyn was kind enough to come and see us off in the morning, along with Eddie and Zoe, her adorable little fur babies. We both desperately needed a break from life, and 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 amazing. Lyn’s created the most wonderful atmosphere at Bunjil Farm, making you simultaneously feel like you were totally at home and also a well looked after guest. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’ll be returning again; this is the ultimate stop and recharge mini break 🙂

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8 places to enjoy a cuppa in Melbourne this week 

Ohh Sunday arvo – that means the fun and freedom of the weekend is almost over, and we’re back to the offices tomorrow! Us Melbournians also faces an additionally fun start to the weekend when our public transport system once again went to shit and train staff went on strike; I was one of the lucky ones who got to work from home and avoid the debacle completely, but I know not everyone was quite so fortunate. What made me giggle the most, watching Sunrise on Friday morning, was the reporter who seemed a little baffled by the fact that there were hardly any people around Flinders Street Station and that the people who were around and spoken to were pretty calm. Wanna know why? We’re used to public transport being inefficient and frequently cancelled. We’re now masters of making alternate arrangements. It’s just a fact of life here – like you know not to trust the tap water in Fiji, you also know not to rely on Melbourne’s public transport. It’s just known.

Anyway, regardless of whether you were caught up in it or not, whether you had a fabulously relaxing weekend or a crappy, stressful one, Monday is still Monday. If you’re a city-working lemming like me, by the time you hit your lunch break tomorrow, chances are you really need that break. So you may as well head somewhere with a good book to read, away from all the other Monday grumps – here are my favourite eight places in the CBD where you can actually enjoy that time out with a good cup of tea. Or coffee. And by enjoy, I mean enjoy – in peace, all alone, with your book or newspaper or notebook and pen, or Instagram feed or whatever else you need to get you through those last few Monday hours!

1. Naked Espresso
390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
For: Tea Drop tea and their own blend of coffee, breakfast, jaffles, and a sexy pastry and cake cabinet

2. Manchester Press
8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne CBD
For: Coffee Cartel tea, 8oz house blend coffee, and bagels… oh my!

3.  Solarino
7 Howey Place, Melbourne CBD
For: tea and coffee and breaky in a cute undercover laneway location

4. Journal Canteen
253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
For: tea, coffee, simple but delicious Italian style panini in a lively atmosphere.

5. Good Ovening
200 Queen St, Melbourne CBD
For: crazy cute astro-turf and 70’s lawn furniture, kitschy decor and really good English Breakfast Tea

6.  Brunetti
214 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
For: that feeling of sitting out in an Italian piazza while you’re on your break. And amazing Italian biscotti to go with your hot beverage.

7. Berto’s
180 William St, Melborune CBD
For: A proper Italian lunch in a beautiful, classy, but friendly space before your afternoon macchiato kick.

8. Little Cupcakes
Degraves St, 4/118 Queen St, and 181 William St, Melbourne CBD
For: Best till last – these are, hands down, the BEST cupcakes in the city. If the idea of a hot cup of tea and a red velvet, peanut butter cookie crumb and/or cherry ripe cupcake doesn’t appeal to you, you’re beyond help.

Tea time: The Old Tea Shop, Warburton, Victoria

The Old Tea House
3393 Warburton Hwy, Warburton, Victoria
http://www.theoldteashop.com.au/

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I got a few strange looks from people over the weekend when it was apparent that I was alone. I know that a lot of people can’t think of many things more horrifying than dining alone, but I actually really love it! I find that I’m really happy sitting in a cafe with my tea or meal, and a book or notepad or tablet to do some reading or writing in between bites of food and people watching. No, I’m not on my phone, I’m not texting or checking Facebook, I’m just enjoying MY time. My favourite places to enjoy this time alone are always tea houses, so you can imagine how excited I was when I arrived in Warburton and saw a sign hanging over The Old Tea Shop, boasting over 200 tea blends. And another sign promising not only freshly baked, but gluten free scones! Done deal!

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The Old Tea Shop was the place dreams are made of for premature nannas like me; beautiful tea sets all around, the smell of fresh scones baking, and a wall of tea that stopped me in my tracks. Not only can you take any of the teas home with you (or order online!), you can also select any of the teas on display to enjoy in store (the best way to do this is to open every jar and smell them all). After MUCH deliberation, I decided on a pot of the almond and vanilla black tea, which was incredibly good; just enough almond flavour to know what you were drinking, subtle enough nor to taste funny. I also took home packages of sticky toffee, macadamia and French Earl grey.

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So the teas are fantastic. But let’s talk about the gluten free scones for as moment; can it be done?? Can they honestly, truly be made to be soft and delicate and buttery and delicious if they’re gluten free? In a word, yes. I’d never have believed it if I hadn’t tried them for myself, but the scones here are delicious! While they’re not traditional scones (more like a scone/cupcake hybrid, they are beautiful. Lighter and fluffier than you’d ever believe possible for a gluten free item, they’re the perfect little accompaniment to your pot of tea.

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This is a place that tea lovers in Melbourne should visit; the tea is amazing, both in variety and quality, the service is the friendliest in town, and they cater exceptionally well for special diets! And if you can’t make it down to visit, do yourself a favour and check out the online store!

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