by Bookastay staff
For the eco-aware amongst you, these cosy cabins will be right up your alley. Style gurus will be equally impressed. Thoughtfully designed using many eco-tricks of the trade, they work in beautifully with the heritage timber and corrugated iron shearing-shed nearby.
The owners, Marion and Lachlan Commens, thought very hard about how they would site and build their cabins. The spine-tingling views of the towering red cliffs were the first consideration, and they also wanted the old woolshed to dictate the feel of the place. And any building had to face north so that passive solar principles could be fully utilised.
Once they had the site, they encompassed as many design features as they could to comply with their ‘act local, think global’ philosophy. A special technique called radial cutting was used for the Australian hardwood timber, so there was no wastage. Dry composting toilets are a feature, for water conservation (water comes from a spring in the rocks above the cabins). Organic citrus paints are used throughout, and there’s gas for heating, hot water and in the kitchen. And recycling is of course a basic consideration.
The eco-friendly angle is the backstage manager, but the interior décor is the real star here – the Aussie outback feel to the cabins is funky and authentic. Rustic slab benches, bush poles and corrugated iron is used to great effect. There’s lots of glass, with views from every room of those amazing cliffs. And the bathrooms have to be seen to be believed.
Marion is spot-on with the little touches too, such as new magazines and luxurious throws on the couches – and she can also supply delectable breakfast baskets to order. They’re great for a romantic getaway for couples, but kids are welcome too: a toy basket and DVDs are on hand for quiet moments.
For some fascinating history on the farm, we’ll hand you over to Marion:
“Lachlan’s family were first settlers in this end of Kanimbla Valley, over 100 years ago. This end of the valley is known as Centennial Glen. His grandparents (George William Commens) began clearing and built the original homestead, which is still in use by the family.
It was constructed using the rammed earth ‘pese’ wall method. He also built the first section of the shearing-shed beside the cabins (hence the name Woolshed Cabins). His son, Lachlan’s father, was also George William and was the only surviving boy in a large family. He set up a sawmill on the property, which helped with further clearing of land, and extended the shearing-shed into the size it is today.
When Lachlan and I decided to build, we chose the scenic spot beside the woolshed. It’s no longer used for shearing as we don’t stock sheep. The farm now carries beef cattle, which we breed and fatten, and horses (on agistment).
We wanted the building to be eco friendly (without being weird!) and be a quality statement that showed our love and connection to this place. We now own a much smaller segment than the original property – about 250 acres (originally it was over 1,000 acres). Lachlan’s brothers and sister hold similarly sized shares. All the cousins come together at Christmas and sometimes Easter, and the property is the meeting place.
The access road down the mountain from Blackheath did not exist in early days. The access was about an hour’s round trip in through the back of the valley. The grandparents were very self-sufficient… vege gardens, chooks, milking cow, cattle and sheep to kill for meat. But they do say it was nothing for the blokes to walk up to town up through the bush and mountain cliffs on a Friday night to go to pub and buy the papers and cigarettes!
My mother in law also tells me a hair-raising story of when her eldest was born. He had a feeding problem that meant he needed formula, but there was some extreme rain that closed off their road access and flooded the creek below the house. One of their friends walked down through the bush over the cliffs and mountain to throw tins of baby formula across the creek to them. Most made it across. That was only in the 1950s…
Now we are only 20 mins drive from Blackheath. The farm can seem quite busy to us as we see horse riders (Centennial Glen Stables runs horse riding and sulky drives – it’s Lachlan’s brother Jim’s business). Also hang gliders and paragliders land on the property after they jump from Mt Blackheath. And of course, there are our guests!”
Local things to see and do
- Centennial Glen Stables
- The Victory Theatre Antique Centre and cafe
- Blackheath Lookout
- The Megalong Tearooms