Ever wanted to spend the night in a tiny house? Well, you can do just this in the state of Victoria in Australia, where an enterprising company Shacky has partnered with farms to create homestays in a fully-equipped, eco-friendly tiny house. Read on to find out more about this fun and sustainable travel experience.
One of the biggest perks of living in Melbourne (apart from the food, culture, coffee, etc) is its proximity to some wonderful rural destinations.
Any visitor to Victoria should get out of the city and into the surrounding countryside. As it’s one of Australia’s smaller states, this is easily doable.
There are cute, historic towns and funky regional cities and all sorts of food, sport and arts festivals.
Plus, there’s plenty of quirky accommodation options popping up all over the countryside. These are designed for city dwellers looking for some fresh air and a break from day to day life.
Shacky is one such company that exists for this reason. It makes the perfect countryside escape during an Australian winter.
An Introduction to Shacky: Glamping in a Tiny Home
What is a Shacky, precisely? It’s definitely not the image the mind may conjure up. I’m picturing a ramshackle tin shack, rotting in its foundations. This would hardly make for a pleasant weekend away.
Rather, Shacky is working with farmers to place tiny homes on properties around the Victorian countryside. These houses are small, but cosy and fully functional – with a sustainable twist.
Sustainability is my jam and Shacky promises the perfect getaway from Melbourne city and a chance to return to an area of Victoria that I really, truly love – the nearby King Valley.
What to expect out of Shacky
After a day spent exploring the King Valley, we arrive at The Olive Grove, ready for an evening of rest and relaxation.
Our host shows us the inner workings of the tiny house. We walk through how to start the outdoor bonfire (a skill I wish I were better at), to lighting the indoor heater that will keep us warm in the night.
She then bids us adieu and leaves us to it.
We immediately divide our tasks, with my boyfriend firing up the BBQ to get our dinner roasting, while I attend to the fire, which I managed to keep burning for several hours, NEW RECORD.
We eat our meal by the fire, before adjourning into the tiny house to chat, drink wine and beer and eat cheese under the fairy lights. We drift off at around 10pm – the earliest I’ve gone to sleep in around a month and a half.
I sleep fairly soundly, waking up to the dawn chorus at around 7am. I carefully climb over my still-sleeping fella, pulling on my coat and beanie. Grabbing my camera, I decide to try and snap some early morning pictures.
Dawn is breaking with the beautiful, soft pastel colours that I associate with an Australian winter. Walking out toward the surrounding paddocks, I immediately have my first wildlife sighting. Wild kangaroos, who eye me off before fleeing – clearing fences in one swift bound.
Cockatoos, red wattlebirds and magpies alternatively shriek and warble their tunes from nearby trees.
Most exciting are the sheep and two alpacas, who live on the farm making an appearance. Within my eyeline, they walk amongst the olive trees and jump up for a nibble of the fruit, here and there. Splendid.
Why Shacky is fabulous (and sustainable)
First and foremost in the list of wonderful things – Shacky is completely self-sufficient.
The lights run on solar power, the water heated by a generator. Heating is provided by a bonfire outside and a portable heater which runs on methylated spirits, indoors.
The toilet is compostable – a type which I’ve only used once before when sleeping in a church in England. The compost provided eventually breaks down, forming a mulch which can then be used on gardens.
The shower is located outdoors(!) at the back of the house. It is interesting to have to strip down to nothing in the early morning cold, but the shower pressure is excellent and the water very warm.
I enjoyed listening to the call of the birds and watching the morning light break through the olive trees, whilst I lathered myself over with soap.
As with most tiny houses, Shacky is moveable – if a family no longer wanted to play host, Shacky could be relocated to new surroundings.
How much space do we really need?
I think of my flat in Melbourne as being tiny, but Shacky is a stark reminder on how little space we do indeed need to get by.
I’m not entirely sure I’d like to “shack up” with my other half in a space that small. I’ll admit I was having visions of having a tiny home of my own, with an adjacent sprawling garden.
Stick it in Tasmania and it just might be my dream living situation.
Sustainability factors aside, it is a lot of fun. It is lovely to get out of the city, travel to an area of the state that I really dig (and bring my fella there for the first time) and poke around a few new places.
We were blessed with wonderful weather. A perfect, sunny day, with not a cloud in the sky.
Unfortunately, the moon was out at night, meaning star-gazing was not as great as it could have been. We still saw a heck load more than we can in the city.
I left feeling completely relaxed and ready to tackle the week of work ahead – precisely what was promised on Shacky’s website!
What you need to bring for Shacky
The Shacky is pretty well-equipped, so beyond a change of clothes and toiletries, there’s not much more you need to bring. If you’re looking to make your suitcase or overnight bag as eco-friendly as possible, I’ve got a few suggestions for you.
If you get cold quite easily, I’d recommend bringing a jacket, gloves, beanie and a scarf. Once you’ve got the outside fire roaring, you’ll be as right as rain.
Inside, the tiny house was kept quite cosy by the portable heater. We didn’t run it during the night however and there were a couple of points where I woke up feeling a bit chilly and wished I’d had another blanket.
Cuddling up to the man-sized heater snoozing next to me in the bed helped solve this issue.
You can pay extra to have dinner, breakfast, wine or snacks left in the tiny house to accommodate you during your stay.
We’d already picked up wine, beer and cheese from our trip to the King Valley, so we decided not to take this option.
We also stopped in a local Coles earlier in the day to stock up on sausages, steak, salad and bread, which we barbecued that evening. I brought a small esky along for the occasion, which I store in the boot of my car.
It’s up to you, really, but I still have the mentality of a student (I graduated a decade ago, ha) when it comes to these sort of things and I like to save money where I can!
Plus it gives me more cash to spend on things I really enjoy, like books, earrings and socks.
Who is best suited to stay at Shacky?
Personally, I think it would be nicest for a couple’s escape.
The home is small and you’ll be in each other’s space, which will be less pleasant if you’re not inclined to cuddle up to one another.
Be aware that the home only accommodates two people and pets aren’t allowed. You’ll have to leave Fido and Mittens at home.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you’re very unlikely to get mobile phone reception at Shacky – they are, after all situated in remote locations and the whole idea of the experience is to switch off from day to day life and relax!
Was it too cold in the winter?
Staying anywhere like this in the dead of winter is always a bit of a risk, if you’re not a fan of the cold.
Personally, I think it’s an experience that is made for the cooler months.
Our host had said that they put in a little pool to replace the bonfire in the front of the Shacky during the summer, which they think of as a swim-up bar. Admittedly, this did sound like a fun experience, one that I’d be down for trying.
Read more: A Day out at Healesville in the Yarra Valley
Where can I shack up in a Shacky?
There are currently three locations on offer – Olive Grove, where we stayed, another nestled within the Yarra Valley and one in Halls Gap, in the Grampians.
Other points of interest
Here are a few things you can do before or after your Shacky stay in the High Country.
Explore the nearby town of Euroa. There are a lot of pretty, historic buildings to ogle at.
Due to time constraints, we ended up driving through the town centre, after having lunch at Seven Creeks Hotel.
I love both the interior and exterior of the hotel, but service was a bit slow and I’d class the food as normal pub fare – nothing to write home about in a postcard to Mum.
If you don’t mind going for a bit of a drive further north, it’s well worth making a stop in the town of Glenrowan. It’s best known for being the site of the final siege and capture of Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly and his gang in 1880. There’s a giant statue of Ned out the front of the visitor’s centre and the rest of the town adheres strongly to the bushranger theme.
I would highly recommend heading on to Milawa and the King Valley. Grab some cheese at Milawa Cheese Co and journey down the region’s Prosecco Road, stopping at vineyards along the way to sample some delicious Italian-inspired sparkling, made locally in Victoria!
There are plenty of delightful places to grab a feed – I recommend Mountain View Hotel in Whitfield for some boutique, yet hearty fare or Patricia’s Table at Brown Brother’s vineyard, also equally pleasing on the taste buds.
If you love street art, be sure to check out the town of Benalla and nearby High Country Silo Art Trail. Benalla is home to an annual street art festival and boasts over 65 murals through its town.
There are two silo art trails in Victoria and one is easily accessible from Benalla. Something to check out before or after your stay in Shacky!
If you fancy making a weekend of it, I’d recommend staying either in Milawa or Wangaratta. I’ve personally stayed in Milawa Motel for $140, which was really quite lovely and Gardenview Lodge in Wangaratta, which was very basic but affordable at $105.
Check out other hotel options in Wangaratta or Milawa here
From the King Valley, you can access Victoria’s lesser hyped scenic drive – the Great Alpine Road. I’ve driven some of this road and it’s glorious.
Would you stay in a tiny house in the Victorian countryside? Let me know in the comments and please share this to inspire more winter travel fun times. You can follow Birdgehls on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for more travel inspiration for Australia and elsewhere. Sign up to my newsletter for more posts like this.
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