At Bloodwood Cabin, 250 km west of Bundaberg in Queensland, first light washes the landscape with a golden glow and gently stirs the wallabies. The quintessentially Australian setting of gum trees, blonde grasses and sparkling granite is situated on a 20,000 acre organic-certified beef farm owned by Carly and Grant Burnham, who were both born into generations-deep farming families.
The timber and tin-clad shack merges with the natural terrain, located on a hill and hidden from the main house and the buzz of farming activity. It was built by the Burnhams and a few expert helpers in 2016, providing a resting place for friends and family and a quiet spot for Carly to practice yoga. “The build of the first part took a couple of months in between farm work, and then the bathroom extension was added a few years later, which made it more self-sufficient for guests to stay,” Carly explains.
Inspired by a Californian couple who built a rustic cabin with reclaimed materials on a budget of $US500, Carly repurposed old windows and doors pulled from a 1930s-era farmhouse that sat empty on their expansive property. The source of the framework, walls and floors was also hyper-local. “We grow our own hardwood and have a sawmill, so my husband harvested the trees and sawed the timber,” Carly explains, adding that grey ironbark eucalypt and blue gum feature throughout. “Ironbark is one of Australia's hardest timbers, so the cabin could be there for hundreds of years and will only get better with age,” she says.
The richly organic material palette harmonises with the bushy backdrop and requires only the lightest styling layers. “I don't have to do too much to make it really beautiful,” Carly shares. “And it’s about knowing what touches to add- just enough but not too much.” Carly quickly included The Dharma Door selections in the pared-back interiors, having long been a fan of our handmade range. “The Dharma Door products offer a beauty that’s not overstated, and that’s what I love about natural pieces. It celebrates raw materials as something simple and beautiful and looks like it fits in a natural environment. It complements our cabin and the surroundings.”
The off-grid retreat embodies a character-filled tin shed aesthetic, but not at the expense of elevated comfort levels. Pulling back the sliding doors reveals a sunken bathtub with a stunning view, while the outdoor plunge pool (a repurposed cattle trough) is the best spot to take in the enthralling sunsets. Tropical temperatures prevail in this pocket of the world, but the mercury can drop through the night. “We insulated the ply ceiling with sawdust from our sawmill. It’s quite warm and cosy in winter, especially because the fire we installed actually puts out good heat,” says Carly. Homegrown eggs, freshly made sourdough and organic beef sausages, florals, and other goodies plucked from the family’s bountiful garden await guests and add a wholesome seasonal touch.
“We run a sustainable farm and are very concerned about the environment,” Carly explains. “We do minimal clearing of trees and focus on developing healthy soil and beef, hoping to do our bit to alleviate climate issues.” To say that life is busy for the Burnhams and their four children is an understatement, but they strive for a healthy work-life balance. “I feel we break the paradigm of farmers a little bit,” Carly reveals. “We have time boundaries where we stop and invest in our family or community, or our health and wellbeing. The rhythm of nature needs certain things done at certain times, so we have to make sacrifices, but then we’ll get back into our own rhythm when it calms down.”
Slowing down and realigning underpins the mood of Bloodwood Cabin, where morning birdsong is the alarm clock, and the days pass as you watch the billy boil or soak in the tub. An endless indigo expanse of starry sky heralds the night. “It’s magical looking at the stars through the doors and windows. You can lie in bed or the bath and have that view, and it’s really special,” says Carly. With the nearest town centre of Monto a lengthy 60 km away, Bloodwood Cabin offers a true escape from the mental clutter of daily life and a detoxifying immersion in nature.
Carly listed the cabin on Airbnb in July 2021 and wasn’t anticipating the remote stay’s extreme popularity. It’s consistently booked by Queenslanders exploring their home state, travellers breaking up a cross-country road trip, or mindful individuals looking to do self-development work in solitude. Guests regularly express interest in the family’s sustainable agricultural practices. The community-minded Carly sees this as an opportunity to weave workshops and educational tours into the Bloodwood Cabin experience. “It’s about bringing people together to share knowledge and the beauty of the land,” she notes.
To find out more: www.bonniedoone.com.au/bloodwood-cabin and follow @bloodwood_cabin
Story written by Jessica Bellef
Images by Carly Burnham
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