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Follow Your Compass

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Audrey Priscilla, a young traveller and writer, discusses sustainable travelling, and her experience with the increasingly popular eco-stays.

The Summit, Cradle Mt (Photo taken by writer)

This time last year I was in the midst of year 12 revision, preparing for final exams that would lead me to the University of my dreams. Fast track to today and I’m writing this article from a youth hostel in Brussels. I’m sure you’re begging the question, how did I end up here? I blame it on COVID, strict border restrictions and perhaps a sprinkle of much needed fate.

This year has been full of disappointment, adaptation, challenges, resilience and being lost in myself. It has been getting myself out of a legally binding accommodation contract because Jacinda Arden extended her border reopening. It’s been waking up on the morning of my 18th birthday party with COVID. It’s been working on an unmanaged and disorganised regenerative farm. It’s been working 60 hours a week in a poorly managed, understaffed hotel in the middle of nowhere. It’s been meeting my roommate who became my best friend, who I then followed to Europe, or rather persuaded her to go so that I could follow her. It’s been solo backpacking as an 18-year-old woman through Europe. It’s been a rollercoaster! 

Inside the kitchen looking out (Photo taken by writer)

As a traveller and an eco-warrior, I feel conflicted because I want to see the world but travelling can be very unsustainable. I intend to share with you what I have learnt and how we can become more environmentally mindful in our travel adventures. My journey began in Tasmania, so that is where I’ll take you first. My mum and I stayed in a magical, off-grid tiny house in the very North of this enchanted state of Australia. Places like this are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow you to give back to Nature while you explore the world.

Tasmania is the hotspot for travel at the moment, whether you are looking for high-quality gastronomy, adventure, relaxation or luxury. It is only a 40 minute flight from Melbourne (to Launceston), or a 12 hour ferry ride if you wish to take your own vehicle (to Devonport). Tassie offers what we are all in lack of: a good old return to Nature. But who are we to visit Nature if we don’t give back? Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, explore, discover and immerse, however, I am aware that travelling has a significant carbon footprint when you combine plane emissions, car hire, short-stay accommodation and eating out. 

Looking into the tiny house (Photo taken by the writer)

With Tasmania’s Tiny House Getaway Compass Hut, you can truly escape into Nature to restore your soul whilst ensuring her sustainability. Their mission statement is “Taking up the challenge to be as eco and sustainable as possible and sharing it with the world.” As well as being totally sustainable, Compass Hut uses part of their profit to support green organisations and projects such as Renew Members, Tasmanian Arboretum and Sustainable House Day

Compass Hut is an Ecostar accredited, 100% off-grid tiny house, producing power via hybrid solar and battery storage. The huts, Barnhaus and Arc Pavilion, are located on an organic farm in the Forth valley, a 20 minute drive to Devonport where the Spirit of Tasmania (the ship that goes between Tassie and the mainland) docks. The Forth Valley is located in a beautiful agricultural country… Close your eyes and imagine yourself relaxed into soft, earth-toned linen on the not-so-tiny bed, casting your eyes onto rolling green hills, daisy meadows and rich soil. This view is irresistible and you can even glimpse the ocean beyond the lush greenery.

View from the Bed (Photo’s taken by writer)

Put the fire on to instantly heat up the space (although, the sun does quite a good job of that) and brew a tea or coffee to warm your soul. Home-grown herbal tea, regular tea and espresso coffee are all offered.

The kitchen and living room are small but if it is nice weather, the deck gets beautiful evening sun. It would be a good idea to get a big lunch somewhere in town, and bring home some local cheese and wine to enjoy on the deck. I suggest checking out Hill Street in Devonport which is a part of the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) and has an array of local, organic products. The huts do have a TV and wifi, but being off-grid inspires one to take to a book or play a board game. Enjoy the slow existence that Compass Hut offers you!

(Photo taken by writer)

Regarding travel ideas during your stay, my highest recommendation is Cradle Mountain. Approximately 65 minutes by car, Cradle Mountain is a magical wonderland disguised as a protected national park. You can see a variety of flora; huge Pencil and King Billy pine trees, enchanted moss, the deciduous fagus which turns gold in Autumn, Waratah flowers which spring in late November, and fauna; wombats, quokkas, paddymelons, wallabies, platypi, Tassie devils and echidnas.

As you drive into Cradle Mt, you will first notice the Visitor’s Centre. You can get barista coffee, souvenirs and bus tickets here. The bus pass is essential if you wish to enter the national park. I suggest continuing to drive to Cradle Mt Lodge (CML) where you can park your car for the day with access to toilets, food, short walks and a bus stop. 

View from the tiny house (Photo taken by the writer)

In my opinion, the most beautiful walk is called the King Billy track located on the CML property, free to the public. This 40 minute stroll will take you through the untouched forest. An adjacent walk called the Enchanted Walk is one of Tasmania’s best short walks totalling around 15 minutes of pure bliss. In the on-season the buses run every 10-15 minutes to and from Dove Lake. You can set foot from Snake Hill, Ronny Creek or Dove Lake and let your heart take you where it wants to go. Marions Lookout is a must for the more adventurous souls – not recommended for young children or inexperienced persons.

However, you can also get to Marions via the Horse track which is much more gentle but also longer. In my opinion, the view from Marions exceeds The Summit but getting all the way up to the top of Cradle Mt is an achievement and a half! Be wary that it could take up to 8 hours depending on fitness and the route you take.

Marion’s Lookout, Cradle Mt (Photo taken by writer)

At the end of a day of walking, the tavern at CML is open to the public. It has local beers, wines and gins as well as wood-fired pizzas, greasy snacks and substantially sized pub meals. The ambience of the wooden lodge is super cosy!

In addition to Cradle Mt, you can find many joys closer to home:

- Penguin: quaint, coastal town

- The Berry Patch: a ‘farm to fork’ type cafe

- La Villa Wines: vineyard/cellar door

- Hellyers Road Distillery

- Shepparton: the town of murals

- Devonport Lighthouse walk

In essence, Compass Hut is the self-loving, soul-enriching adventure that will give you the return to Nature that we’re all craving. And you get to fall asleep under the stars knowing that you gave back and returned that favour. Environmental sustainability is about treating Nature with reciprocal love and respect as she gives us. At Compass Hut, you can lose yourself in Tassie’s wilderness to find yourself. To find your compass within… and follow it.

View from the tiny house (Photo taken by the writer)

About the Author: Audrey Priscilla is an environment enthusiast who has taken a gap year between high school and university. In an unexpected twist of fate, she found herself backpacking through Europe. When she isn’t exploring the rich European culture and history, you could find her writing poetry, hiking in Nature or cooking tasty plant-based food. 

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