Local sheep-shearing heritage and contemporary style meet at a well-regarded country hotel.
History- and nature-lovers wanting even more seclusion while road-tripping through rural Victoria should book one of the newly refurbished Deluxe Mount Sturgeon One Bedroom Cottages at The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld. Located in Gunditjmara country, a scenic three-hour drive west from Melbourne, the cozy lodgings promise a back-to-nature experience right on the doorstep of the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park, but with creature comforts like a rain shower and plush king bed. The cottages are set three kilometers from the hotel proper, within the 91-hectare Mount Sturgeon Biodiversity Reserve. The Royal Mail Hotel’s in-house conservation team is reintroducing native flora and fauna to the area, which has a resident population of wallabies and kangaroos.
Mornington Peninsula–based Byrne Architects looked to the cottages’ original function as shearers’ quarters, respecting the spirit of the 1850s bluestone structures while updating the historic woolsheds with touches of luxury, hiring both local and European artisans to give the place a quintessentially Australian character. Elegant furniture makes for a pleasing contrast to the the original bluestone walls, while a palette of warm earthy tones, natural textiles, and rich timbers point to the scenery found just outside the sash windows. In the cooler months, the fireplace becomes the centerpiece of each cottage, while a private yard beckons during the summer with views of Wugarri (Mount Sturgeon).
Guests will also find a bespoke Sommelier’s Bar stocked with a complimentary demi-bottle of champagne and pours of their choice from the Royal Mail Hotel’s 30,000-bottle cellar. The minibar in each cottage comes stocked with house-made olive oil and a candle, artisanal chocolates and handmade potato chips from Victorian producers. A breakfast of seasonal fruit from the Royal Mail orchard, yogurt, organic granola, freshly baked croissants, and preserves will be delivered right to your door each morning.
Stays in the Deluxe Mount Sturgeon One Bedroom Cottages include a tour of the Biodiversity Reserve with the conservation team at feeding time. The full Royal Mail Hotel experience can be enjoyed through the Gariwerd Luxury Escape package. Priced from A$1,850 (about US$1,187) for two nights, it comes with daily in-room breakfast, one dinner for two at the property’s signature regional restaurant, Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, plus a dinner at its casual diner Parker Street Project. Complimentary transfers from the cottage for dining are part of the deal, as is a kitchen garden tour and “cellar tutorial” taking in the largest private collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in the Southern Hemisphere.