Simple, stylish and bucolic, this Highlands hideout is the ultimate small escape with big peace and tranquillity on offer.
In my experience, style is not something that can be learned or copied. Rather, it comes from an innate belief that what you do and the way you put things together just works.
Such style is immediately apparent when I arrive for my Airbnb stay at The Humpy. It sits on Clearys Lane in Wildes Meadow, the love child of Nicky and Tina Goodall, and built on the template of a pioneer settler’s hut, is striking in its individuality and charm.
The Goodalls moved to the Highlands 20 years ago from a sheep property, Coolibah, near Young. Their daughter Harriet, a master sculptural weaver (and our Instagram star on page 95 whose solo exhibition opens in July at Sturt Gallery, Mittagong), lives just up the road in Robertson with her farming family.
‘We decided to settle in the Highlands because when you look around the countryside it’s like a three course meal for hungry eyes,’ says the charmingly loquacious Nicky. ‘This land used to be owned by Gwen Meredith, the dear woman who wrote the long running ABC radio serial Blue Hills, which was very important to a lot of people in the bush, including me when I was a young jackaroo growing up. I’m a farmer not a builder but I’m pretty practical and can use a hammer and saw, so I said to Tina, I think I’ve got a house in me before I die.’
Nicky built the property’s stylish main house out of two tin sheds and lots of natural earthly materials to appeal to the couple’s ‘bucolic bent’. Two years later, when Tina said they needed another bedroom and bathroom to accommodate friends and family, Nicky again took up his tools and constructed the freestanding Humpy that sits across the lawn.
‘We thought along the lines of a settler’s hut,’ says Nicky. ‘With a skillion out the front and back, one large room in the middle and bush poles holding it up. We used lots of secondhand materials like railway sleepers.’
Clad in corrugated iron, this self catering accommodation option is indeed bucolic style at its best. The main door is fashioned as stable door out of old four by two, as are the front shutters that open onto the garden with winter roses and hydrangeas, ]a dam, eucalypts and a swing. Outside on the skillion, there is a table and chairs, perfect for sundowners.
Inside, one room with enormous exposed wood beams has a king sized bed with a patchwork bedhead. An antique baby bassinette and chaise lounge offer sleeping options for a child or two. There is a desk, another comfy settee, a microwave, kettle, toaster and shelves, and a full fridge considerately stocked with fresh milk, teabags, ground coffee, homemade granola and jam. A little table under the window makes a perfect place for a laptop if a visitor is intent on making this getaway a work affair. The bathroom continues the shearing shed feel of this place, with a rain water shower floored with stones brought from Coolibah.
The silence here is golden, only interrupted by intermittent singing magpies or the laugh of a kookaburra. Looking for quiet, I walk to the top of Clearys Lane, hemmed by giant gums, and marvel over the beauty of Wildes Meadow. Others come to The Humpy looking for different things. Such as love.
‘We had our first engagement recently,’ Nicky tells me fondly. ‘A young couple in their twenties booked for three days, and one evening Tina and I heard the sound of laughter coming from across the lawn. The next morning when they came to say their goodbyes they told how the young fella had got down on one knee and proposed. He had given his love a beautiful box cut diamond, and she had happily said yes.’
It seems a fitting tribute to this getaway that was built with love.
The Humpy, Wildes Meadow
Suits: people with a work deadline to meet; romantics with a big question to ask urbanites looking to escape; lovers of rustic style and nature.
Recommend: lying in bed listening to the rain on the corrugated roof with the window open to the night