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Go glamping in Victoria

A new player in the online sharing economy recently launched in Australia. Glamping Hub aims to be the portal to quirky regional stays.

Glamping Hub wants to get you back to nature without having bugs and beetles crawling inside your tent.

“Airbnb really owns the cities, houses, condos, townhouses and things like that,” says Glamping Hub co-founder Ruben Martinez. “Glamping has evolved because people are beginning to take more risks. It is no longer this weird idea of, ‘Well, it’s glamping and it has to be $10,000 a night with a butler and helicopter to take you in.’ Now, you can take a weekend trip for a lower budget.”

We check out two Glamping Hub properties from their recently launched list of Victorian stays.

The fairy cottage

Our first property, Tanglewood, looks like Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi (of the Sagrada Familia) built a weekender for Tinkerbell. It really turns on the whimsy with octagonal windows, tree roots carved into the walls and a giant gumnut as a rangehood in the kitchen. The first bedroom has a mural of a tree painted on the walls and the second has a glass “star light” in the ceiling. Both have misshapen balconies where you can sit and take in the Australian bush setting, the colours of which are reflected in the interior design. The whole place looks like it was moulded out of clay.

Tanglewood is set on Mira Mira Fantasy Accommodation, a property just 90 minutes from Melbourne in Crossover on the road to Mount Baw Baw. It has a handful of unique retreats on 22 acres of bushland. We meet our host, Carl Ward, who lives in the castle that you drive up to, just after passing under the twisted steel dragon at the property’s entrance.

Carl’s father, Nobby, a retired builder, hails from the UK and moved to Gippsland to let his imagination run free and build a series of passion projects. First came the Japanese Zen Retreat, which Nobby and his wife Sheila lived in while building the next stay, a cave. They then moved into the cave while building Tanglewood. Then they tested out the fairy cottage while building an English Cottage, and finally Dragon Manor, the stately, turreted home from which Carl now manages the business.

Back in Tanglewood, we settle in for a night of card games and nachos surrounded by fairy decals, star-shaped lanterns and sculptures of dragons and gnomes.

The cave house

Time to get our Flintstones on as we move over to the cave house for the second night. Carl takes us over to the ominous cave entrance where you walk through the mouth of Magog, a character from the Bible said to represent the earth. From there we descend a winding staircase to a man-made cave with carved stalactites and stalagmites, running water features, rustic furniture and three separate openings onto the lush hillside, which runs down to a body of water.

“This is where we got the name of the business, Mira Mira, from,” Carl says as she shows us around. “’Mirror Mirror’ reflects the English fairytale side of things, referencing Snow White, but it’s spelled M-I-R-A, which is Aboriginal for reflection.” Sitting outside the cave, you watch the horses graze on the hill, see the gums reflected in the still water and a do a little soul searching from the comfort of your home in the ground.

Nobby excavated a huge chasm in the hillside, heaped the dirt back in, sprayed concrete over the top of it and let it set for two weeks. He then dug out the soil leaving a concrete cavern that he filled with electrics, and poured a concrete floor. The result is a charming faux-cave with a master bedroom bedecked in leather and iron. The cave is painted in 17 different hues of browns and, due to the residence being hugged by a hill, it stays at a stable 23 degrees, though there is also a log fire should you get cold.

If glamping now means quirky stays that have nature at the forefront, then nights at Mira Mira are right on message.

Check out Glamping Hub to find out more.