Australia is a country made up of endless natural beauty. Oceans, mountains, and Outback deserts offer an endless array of options to explore and appreciate.
Three hours to the north of Melbourne is the area referred to as the Victorian Highlands or the Australian Alpine Mountains. There, you will find a stunning range of rocky pine tree covered mountains, rambling rivers, and wide-open valleys dotted with farmlands, pastures of grazing livestock, and vineyards.
In the middle of this pristine landscape are a collection of three homes with interiors and design that rival the natural beauty of their surroundings. The Kilnhouses make an ideal respite to enjoy the abundant nature of the Victorian Highlands as well as to explore the wine trails and quaint towns that grace this region.
The Australian Highlands are an ideal destination to explore. Mount Buffalo is the Australian Alpine region’s 5500 ft peak and the centrepiece of the view from the Kilnhouses. The mountain is snow caped from autumn to spring and is frequented by skiers, and families tobogganing, sledding or there to make snow angels. During the warmer months, the area is ideal for nature walks through the spectacular scenery with the fresh, clean mountain water offering chilly swims in the Ovens and Buckland rivers, while a trek to a sublime waterfall is a must.
The Highlands have a wealth of quaint towns and villages such as Porepunkah and Bright, which has a good offering of upscale restaurants and as well as some tiny shoppes and boutiques for a bit of retail therapy. The Victorian Highlands are also one of Australia’s highly regarded wine regions producing cool climate Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Riesling wines.
There is a languid pace in the Ovens Valley created by surroundings of fertile fruit orchards, vineyards, hop fields, and paddocks with grazing Alpine Angus cows. At the base of Mount Buffalo and surrounded by this bucolic scenery are the Kilnhouses.
There are three houses placed far apart on a 15-acre sprawling farmland and Alpine Angus stud farm where you will see these bovine beasts meandering about. The Kilnhouses produce their own wine as well, with the properties boasting rows and rows of Verdelho, Prosecco, Tempranillo and Vermentino grape vines for the production of their highly regarded Kilnhouse Row 8 wines.
In days gone past, the area was part of the Australia gold rush, later made prosperous from tobacco farming where the remnants of the past are scattered across the landscape in the form of rusted out corrugated tobacco kilns. The kilns are the tobacco drying structures with a 20-foot roof top and a vent at the top similar to a long chimney to accelerate the drying process.
Instead of tearing down these structures and starting from scratch, the owners, Clare and Jim Delany, wisely decided to reincarnate these 1960s era tobacco dying houses into upcycled design masterpieces. Once inside, you will question if you’ve walked into an uber stylish holiday home or an issue of Architectural Digest.
From the roadside, the three self-contained houses – named Cavedons, Chinamans and Sorting Shed – appear as rustic tobacco structures surrounded by the picturesque backdrop. Upon entering, guests will find ultra-modern, sophisticated holiday homes with a luxurious Scandinavian influenced decor. Each has a unique architectural design and appealing touches with well-appointed kitchens, open living spaces, and top-notch amenities.
The owners brought in the most highly acclaimed architects and designers to work on the Kilnhouses, as evidenced in the design aesthetic of clean lines, rich wood accents, neutral colours, and exquisite modern art. The Cavedons House features two 50-year-old kiln houses that were deconstructed and then upcycled, taking advantage of their 20-foot walls for lofty ceilings, and a ceiling windowpane that opens to let in cooling air in and warm air out.
The light-filled living area is in one of the 20 by 20-foot structures, and throughout you will find sumptuous interiors and posh furnishings curated for luxury and comfort. The room offers state-of-the-art electronics with a 60-inch television with high-tech sound system, an archive of movies, and music library.
The room is made even more cosy with a slow-combustion stove fireplace with an ample supply of chopped wood available for those chilly nights. The room’s most compelling feature is the 10ft high window offering unobstructed panoramic views onto the vineyard, farmlands and Mount Buffalo in the distance. As part of the designer’s ambition to ensure guests relish all that this place has to offer, there is a window-seat that begs each guest for their time to sit and gaze.
Beyond the living room, interiors are awash with natural light through ubiquitous windows and glass doors and offer industrial chic polished concrete floors, heated for barefoot comfort.
The kitchen is fully equipped with top-notch appliances including ILVE oven, induction cooktop and an Italian espresso machine, as well as pantry staples, gadgets, crockery and cutlery, as if Emeril Lagasse were on his way over to prepare dinner. In fact, a private chef can be arranged, as can local deli platters and supplies for meals, which need to be pre-ordered.
Adjacent to the kitchen area is an outdoor living space surrounded by lemon trees with a barbeque, ideal for grilling up some tasty steaks and seafood for a summer’s night dinner al fresco.
There are three bedrooms to accommodate a family or group of friends and the master bedroom is a space that most will not want to leave. The bedroom is another design masterpiece with chic décor, king size bed with 400 thread count linens and a stylish Le Corbusier chaise along with floor-to-ceiling views of the mountain and blue sky. Bathrooms are nicely equipped with fluffy robes and Aseop bathroom amenities.
Just off the living room is a large wooden deck under a trellis of grape vines ideal for basking in the sun, having lunch or just lounging while taking in the views with a glass of wine.
Food and drink
Visitors will want to dine out while in the region and there are plenty of options to choose from in the local area. A few minutes away is the sleepy town centre of Porepunkah, which offers an ideal place to pop in for a bistro style dinner at the Porepunkah Pub. A bit further away is the town of Bright with an ample offering of cafes and sophisticated restaurants for a gourmet dinner. One watering hole that you will want to visit is Bright Brewery. It’s a great place for a casual meal with menu choices including wood oven lamb sausage barbecue pizza and fried and stuffed Harrietville rainbow trout.
Bright Brewery and their team of talented brewers have crafted some of the best brew in Australia with a range of 20 craft beers including their light Blowhard Pilsner and full-bodied Staircase Porter, all of which are on draft. The outdoor space is lovely as well with a deck area set on the banks of the Ovens River. On weekends, live music from top local and touring artists is hosted in the beer garden, an ideal pairing with the delicious pub food and a frothy glass of hops.
No matter what time of year it is, there is so much do in the Victorian High Country. Throughout the area you will find fantastic bike and jogging trails that run through the beautiful scenery. The Kilnhouses come with the use of their retro Chapelli commuter bikes, so fresh air and long rides on the gorgeous trails and Ovens River are a must. Walkers will enjoy strolling around the lanes between the cow pastures or on the tracks into Mount Buffalo along gorges, waterfalls and open plains.
During the winter months, skiing in the nearby Mount Buffalo is ideal for families, or more advanced skiers will enjoy the impressive runs and facilities at Mount Hotham and Falls Creek, which are about an hour away.
Australian winemaking burst onto the international wine scene in the early 80s with exceptional wines from the Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and the Barossa. The Alpine Wine region has secured a strong following of its own with high altitude cool climate wines renowned for their intense fruit flavours and natural acidity.
The region is perfect for producing cool-climate wine including Merlot, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The Alpine wine region also produces a fine offering of sparkling wines and Italian varietals such as Nebbiolo, Fiano and Saperavi. A good place to start would be at the area’s most notable wineries – Feathertop Winery, Billy Button Wines, Ringer Reef Winery and Gapsted Wines.
Gapsted Wines was launched in 1996 when seven wine-producing families of the region came together to create a high-quality wine brand offering a selection of good quality, mid-priced wines. In 2001 they added a top-notch cellar door experience that is now recognised as Victoria High Country’s finest.
The cellar door serves a delectable gourmet lunch based on a seasonal menu sourced from regional meats and produce. It makes for a sublime afternoon of wine tasting followed by lunch on the deck overlooking the Ovens Valley and vineyards.
In a nutshell
The Kilnhouses offer an unforgettable holiday experience in the Victorian Highlands. These uber stylish respites, located at the base of Mount Buffalo, offer a restful getaway ensconced in farmlands and vineyards. With so much to do in the area, these posh hideaways make an ideal base to take in all the incredible experiences this region has to offer.
Houses can be booked from $350 per night for two people.
Address: Cavedons Lane, Eurobin, Victoria, Australia
Phone: 0408 553 332