Friday 17 May 2019

Tiny house review: Tallarook on the NSW south coast

I once had a boyfriend who loved to declare, whenever we found ourselves in a small space - a hotel room, a shipping container, even an elevator - "I could live here". It was a declaration of his independence from traditional houses, decades before tiny houses became a thing, but his words have been coming back to me lately.

Tiny house in the mist
Pic: Tom Wilson Media
Most notably on a recent road trip during which I got to stay in four very different tiny houses - two in NSW and two in Victoria.

Following on from my review of Edmond, run by In2theWild, this post is about tiny #2 on that trip: beautiful Tallarook Tiny Home on the NSW south coast, about four hours south of Sydney.

Built by Designer Eco Tiny Homes, Tallarook, which opened last year, is no ordinary tiny house stay. First, there's its wilderness setting: surrounded by sky-high river red gums on 20 hectares (50 acres) of farmland right on the Clyde River, said to be the cleanest river in eastern Australia because its catchment lies within three national parks and 10 state forests.

Last one in makes dinner!
You won't be surprised to learn that the first thing we did on arriving, Mr No Impact Girl and I, was dump our bags, amble down the short path to the river - we could see it sparkling between the trees - and throw ourselves in. Is there anything more reviving after a long drive on a hot late-summer afternoon than a skinny dip in water that's good enough to drink?

The peace began to settle on us. There was no one else around. No sound but the wind whispering to the trees. After drip-drying in the sun we walked back to the house to check out our lodgings for the next two nights.

First impressions
From the outside Tallarook is more cabin than tiny house, with its timber cladding and high barn-shaped roof.

The woodsy deck
A wide covered deck cleverly doubles the living space - it's the perfect spot to relax in one of the cane chairs with a cup of tea or do a few stretches (BYO yoga mat), and when you bring two stools out from inside the wide railing turns into a breakfast bar.

At six metres long, Tallarook gives you a good idea of the amount of space you'd have if you were to actually live in tiny house (the longest tinys are 7.2 metres). Because although they make great weekenders, tinys are also undercover advocates for a more minimalist life.

"Most of the people who come here are either thinking of living in a tiny house or looking for an adventure," said Karen Bennett, who runs Tallarook with her husband Brian, when we arrived.

The single loft above
 the L-shaped daybed
Inside job
Inside, the decor is light, white and contemporary. It's beautifully put together with plenty of stylish, nature-based details - like the coastal-blue cushions and driftwood wall hangings that remind you the sea is only 30 minutes away. And, in the kitchen, timber benchtops, Japanese shibori-print placemats and earthy ceramic crockery.

The queen-sized loft bed is a highlight. At the top of a wide-stepped ladder it's as inviting and comfortable as any hotel bed - with storm-blue Morgan & Finch bed linen, three windows and two skylights (which also have insect screens and blinds) for star-gazing before sleep.

The hotel-like bed
The kitchen has everything you'd need: a two-burner gas stove, an electric oven and a full-sized fridge. Ditto for the compact bathroom; there's a composting toilet, a small handbasin and a great hot shower, and fluffy towels are provided.

Except for the gas stove, Tallarook runs on renewables - it's connected to the property's solar electricity and rainwater supply - and is also, thankfully, off-line (there's no Wi-Fi or mobile reception).

Kitchen, bathroom, ladder & loft
I tried to find at least a couple of negatives, for balance. All I could come up with was its aspect: facing west for river views makes it a bit hot on summer afternoons - but probably wonderfully warm in winter.

The experience 
That first evening, we had cheese and crackers on the deck in the last of the day's sunshine. Kangaroos grazed on the lawn behind us. Kookaburras laughed somewhere high and out of sight.

Deckchairs in the sun
We made a simple dinner and read a little. You can tell a lot about a tiny from its reading material; at Tallarook there was a basket full of slow-living magazines like Flow and Breathe as well as a Designer Eco Tiny Homes cattle dog (that's Aussie for "catalogue").

The next day, sunshine streamed in through the skylights, which we opened for forest views and some morning-fresh air.

Barefoot do-nothing time
Ahead lay a whole day to do nothing in particular - how often do you get to say that? There was a cooked breakfast, more river swims, naps on the daybed, more reading.

A breakfast hamper full of fresh local ingredients is included, by the way, and it's amazing: ours had farm-fresh eggs, crusty sourdough bread, jam from Clyde River Berry Farm next door, bacon, muesli, yoghurt, milk and fresh orange juice. There was coffee, tea, hot chocolate - and marshmallows - in the cupboard.

Kayaks on the Clyde
Pic: Tom Wilson Media
Sure, you could use Tallarook as a base for exploring the south coast (see "While you're there" below) but that'd be wasting its secluded location. It's a place to stop moving, be still and relax.

It's like camping, but not really, though we did use the fire-pit one night, played some guitar and toasted those marshmallows.

On our last day, kookaburras woke us early so we decided to take out the double-canoe. It was more of a drift than a paddle, through the morning mist. A platypus gave itself away when it dived, breaking the silky stillness. If we'd kept paddling downstream we would have popped out at Batemans Bay.

Tallarook: a place of peace
The verdict
Tallarook Tiny Home is a place to retreat to, to stop the wheels of the world spinning. It's a vehicle for reconnecting with nature. You're right there, day and night, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze and the warmth of the sun, looking up at the moon, swimming in the Clyde...

Before we left, I had to have one last swim. And as I climbed out of the water onto the small landing, still dripping, I looked up at Tallarook and thought, yeah, I could live here.


A few words from Mr No Impact Girl: "Wow! I love this place. Stunning setting, brilliant deck, spacious and beautifully ambient. I'd like to live here, and I'm not even the other boyfriend."

How to do it: Tallarook Tiny Home is on the NSW south coast, about 4.5 hours south of Sydney and just inland from Bawley Point. The nightly rate is $250 (minimum two nights) including breakfast. See

While you're there: Pick your own berries at Clyde River Berry Farm next door, in December and January. Or hike up nearby Pigeon House Mountain (Didthul). Karen is a certified masseuse and offers full-body relaxation massages on your deck. And pristine beaches at Bawley Point, Kioloa and Pebbly Beach (popular with kangaroos too) are just 30 minutes away.

Gratitude: Big thanks to Destination NSWDesigner Eco Tiny Homes and Tallarook Tiny Home - and to the lovely Karen and Brian Bennett for making our stay so wonderful. Up next: An interview with Designer Eco Tiny Homes builder Grant Emans...


  1. Love the idea of being off-grid amidst what sounds like a beautiful setting. And how lucky were you to (kinda) see a platypus!

    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, such a beautiful tiny in a beautiful spot - happy to be able to spread the word about it :-)