I’m not sure if it was the wallaby welcome party or that we were unlocking a door to perhaps the world’s first fully zero-emission house, but I felt a wave of natural calm on stepping into Tamar Solarhome.
As a worldly collective, we are learning to tread more lightly. Off-grid, low emission, enviro-friendly terms are thrown about with fashionable abandon, but Tamar Solarhome has taken it to a new level. It’s not just ‘off grid’ until that moment guests need the generator. It’s not just ‘brochure green’ but arguably the world’s first house that is 100% off-grid and 100% electric. There is no wood fire or gas for heating and cooking, there is no backup generator. No powerlines stretch overhead and it’s no hybrid car needing a plug in for juice. What’s more, it’s fittingly on the doorstep to some of northern Tassie’s finest natural assets.
Pushing open the thick triple-glazed glass door, it’s immediately apparent that staying in this solar home doesn’t mean a dip in modern comforts. It’s warm, state-of-the-art and appointed with everything from an ethanol eco fire to an induction glass cooktop. Wandering through the two-bedroom secluded haven, I pull open grand French doors – the master bedroom spilling out onto the deck. Walking back by the bathroom, I pause. The generous bathtub just begs to bathe in Tasmanian rainwater.
After studying a masters in sustainable building design in the UK, homeowner and architect David Macfarlane chose Greens Beach in northern Tasmania to test his solar concept home. It took two years to devise his storm and fire-proof dwelling. He selected the location based on its challenging climate and natural seclusion. Choosing this harsher environment allowed Macfarlane to test the sustainability of his off-grid features and monitor for warmth, power outages, and energy efficiencies, using the highest quality products available.
Completing the build in 2017, Macfarlane lived in the property for one year to test the solar home’s performance. The home, with its 25 solar panels, performed well beyond his expectation. He has now opened its doors for others to enjoy.
Nestled on an acre of bushland, the home is just an hour from the Launceston Airport. Greens Beach is a small community at the Tamar River mouth that I hadn’t spent much time exploring, so I was delighted to see the myriad of walking trails and tips provided by David. Directions to the sheltered swimming beach and a walking trail leading past the wallaby welcome crew seemed a suitable evening stroll for us.
Weaving through the casuarinas and tea trees, it didn’t take long to reach Greens Beach where the sun was sinking in spectacular fashion, casting final light over the colourful boathouses lining the shore. Out on the horizon, Low Head Lighthouse commenced its dependable recurrent glow.
Retreating back to the Solar Home, a quick gas lighter flick and the eco fire licks into flame. It’s ambient company for a moment of stillness, musing over the selection of coffee table books before dinner. Although we don’t light up the pizza oven, I make a mental note the home can accommodate four, making it ideal for an evening of woodfired pizza and chatter into the night. For us, dinner is a selection of regional treats from an area famed for its Tamar Valley wines and rich bounty best collected en route. Naturally, the bath then calls.
I wake early in king-sized luxury to the sound of the sea. The room is awfully cosy and if there wasn’t a DeLonghi coffee machine waiting, the rise may have taken longer. We took coffee to the deck and hatched a plan. World class golf at Barnbougle Dunes? Platypus House? A wander to Badger Head via Copper Cove? With every booking allowing for early check-in (any time after 11am) and late check-out through until 4pm there was time to take a longer 6-8 hour Badger Head hike departing from nearby Springlawn at Narawntapu National Park.
A few things fascinate me about this coastal walk. First, we are pretty much guaranteed to see wildlife – Badger Head was documented as containing over 200 species of native fauna within just a two kilometres radius. Next, the idea of walking four pristine sandy kilometres along Badgers Beach to Badger Head sounds like the ultimate head-clearing sojourn. Finally, I want to see where Australia’s first female pirate used to hang out! Badger Head is named after Charlotte Badger, a convict escapee who roamed the region back in the early 1800s.
The walk rewards in every way, complete with echidna and wallaby encounters. Down on Copper Cove I stumble across thousands of beautiful shells, all pushed against shoreline boulders by the moving tides. They have me down on my knees like I’m hunting for treasure Charlotte Badger-style. I’m lost in time at this remote cove before being nudged to begin the return trek. It’s no surprise the late Steve Irwin handpicked land here for a wildlife sanctuary just before his death – it’s simply stunning.
We get back to solar home-base by mid-afternoon with plenty of time to freshen up and bid farewell. It’s a genuinely pleasant feeling to know that our stay has involved treading gently, all the while feeling relaxed and indulgent. I eye that wood fired pizza on the way out, with a silent promise of return.
To receive a complimentary bottle of the region's wine on arrival, simply note Tailored Tasmania Promo in the Comments Section when booking.
Bookings must fall between July 1 and August 31, 2019. Visit Tamar Solarhome to book your escape.
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.