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Australia’s Best Sustainable Airbnbs and Eco Friendly Holiday Homes

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One of the unexpected gifts to come out of the crazy 2020 ride has been the chance to slow down long enough to think about how we’ve been living our lives, and what we’d like to change in the years to come.

Sustainable travel is far from a new concept, but I like to believe that it will become more of a focus as we hit reset and move forward.

Which is why I was inspired to create a collection of some of the best sustainable Airbnbs and holiday homes in Australia, sharing places that are doing something special to both lighten their footprint and make our stays all the more enjoyable.

For those on Instagram I’ve also created an account that shares great eco stays both here in Australia and around the world. You can see a new place to stay every day over on @sustainable_getaways.

But for now let’s start off here in Australia, with these inspirational sustainable stays…

Alkira, Cape Tribulation, Queensland

You may recognise this absolute stunner from my best holiday homes and Airbnbs in Queensland story and it’s such an incredible home it deserves top billing on this list too.

Designed by Australian architect Charles Wright, Alkira, was originally known as Stamp House and was built for stamp collector Rod Perry, who had a dream of creating a unique and sustainable North Queensland home. And boy did he make that dream a reality.

This award winning, carbon neutral, off-the-grid bunker has six bedrooms, each at the tip of one of the building’s wings.

All of the energy is renewable, with solar power used to offset air conditioning and LED lighting, and the entire roof area collects water for the 250,000 litre in-ground water tank with hydraulic systems. There’s even an on-site Advanced Tertiary Sewerage Treatment plant for grey water recycling and irrigation.

It’s also the most beautiful cyclone shelter I’ve ever seen, and is Category 5 cyclone proof. Strong, beautiful, sustainable. So. Much. Yes.

Alkira Cape Tribulation
Alkira Cape Tribulation exterior

The Edge, Port Douglas, Queensland

Another Aussie architectural gem from Charles Wright, The Edge won the 2015 MBA National Award for the Best Luxury House in Australia and looks straight out over Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas to the Coral Sea beyond.

That huge space ship style roof is used to harvest rain water that’s directed to in-ground water tanks, there are low energy LED fittings throughout and while you have air conditioning as an option, thanks to the cross-flow ventilation you’ll be able to cool down naturally with that fresh salty air.

Read: The best time to see Field of Light at Uluru

The entire home is constructed from concrete and is able to use the power of insulated thermal mass engineering.

The Edge sleeps up to four people in two bedrooms with en-suites and walk in wardrobes.There’s a heated 10-metre infinity lap pool, a fully equipped kitchen inside and a gas BBQ outside.

And if you can bear to leave home, it’s only a short stroll down to the beach and Port Douglas’ shops and restaurants.

The Edge, Port Douglas Airbnb Queensland
Inside The Edge, Port Douglas Airbnb

Kimo Estate, JR’s EcoHut, Nangus, NSW

Earlier this year, just before Covid lockdowns changed everything, I travelled to Gundagai for a wedding at Kimo Estate.

The grooms, Tim and Ben, stayed high on the hill in one of the estate’s EcoHuts and I remember thinking what an incredible place it would be to start the next exciting chapter of your life, and that I’d love to come back and stay right there someday.

A lot of things have changed this year, but that travel dream has not.

JR’s EcoHut at Kimo Estate has 360 degree views over the Murrambidgee river flats and out over the Kimo valley. Totally off grid, the architecturally designed hut uses solar power for light and to heat the water for that shower with a view.

Read: 11 weekend getaways Sydney locals love

Kimo Estate is a working 7,000 acre farm, and the eco huts on the property are made out of local timber, steel and galvanised iron, and are set several kilometres apart from one another so you can feel like you’re the only one out there, day and night.

JR's Ecohut Kimo Estate Airbnb
JR's Ecohut Kimo Estate interior

Cobhearthome, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

This gem of a sustainable home at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast is sparking a whole bunch of Ibiza villa memories for me, and I’m loving the fact that we can stay in a designer cob house right here in Australia.

For those who don’t already know, cob walls are made from a mixture of organic materials including mud, sand, hay, and straw that are then moulded a bit like a clay sculpture from the ground up, creating those lovely curved walls.

Winner of the 2019 best small home at the Building Designers Association of Australia awards, Cobhearthome not only embraces the ancient building technique, it’s also used salvaged materials including the doors from the old Maleny Community Centre and old timber from Brisbane’s Brett’s Wharf.

Read: The best Airbnbs with Sydney Harbour Views

Cobhearthome sleeps up to four in two queen rooms, where the pillow choices include organic cotton and wool, gel memory foam and more traditional fare, and the bathrooms are stocked with all natural body washes, shampoos and conditioners.

Guests can eat freshly picked treats from the Cobhearthome’s edible garden, and the gourmet breakfast hampers that are available upon request are packed with local produce including fresh eggs from the home’s own chickens, and Maleny wine and cheese.

Cobhearthome Airbnb living area
Cobhearthome Sustanable Airbnb bedroom

The Treehouse, Bilpin, NSW

This secret Treehouse in the Blue Mountains provides the perfect combination of getting back to nature and feeling like a big kid.

Created by Master Builder Lionel Buckett, who has been helping to raise ecotourism awareness for the past twenty years, the Treehouse is found on 600 acres of private wilderness along with some other pretty incredible ways to stay (more on that next).

Read: Glamping South Australia, luxury tents, helicopters and swags

In the Treehouse you can live and sleep high in the treetops with the birds, and when it’s too cool to stay outside you can keep soaking in those views through floor to ceiling windows. Speaking of soaking, there’s also a spa tub with corner window views, along with a kitchenette and a fireplace to stay cosy inside.

Blue Mountains Treehouse
Blue Mountains Treehouse views

Enchanted Cave, Bilpin, NSW

The jaw dropping moments continue with another one of Lionel Buckett’s creations: the Enchanted Cave.

After stepping through the Hobbit style door you’ll find yourself in a clifftop cave with a view. Built on a natural rock platform, the cave looks out over World Heritage national park where you can feel like you’re a million miles away from the real world.

Read: Inside the Mysa Motel, the Gold Coast’s first sustainable motel

Not your average cave dwelling, the Enchanted Cave comes with a hot tub, a cosy fireplace, and a kitchen where you can create your own meals and avoid missing a minute of cave time by going out to dinner.

The Enchanted Cave Blue Mountains
Enchanted Cave eco stay, Blue Mountains

Alkira Eco Glamping, Emerald, Victoria

Our second Alkira is found at the opposite end of the country in the Dandenong Ranges and is special in a very different way.

This Alkira is made from straw bales which as well as being a renewable resource can provide ten times the insulation of traditional homes and is rather oddly a flame retardant. I know, it makes no sense but according to this CSIRO test it’s true.

The walls have been covered with a lime-sand render, a technique that’s been used in Europe for hundreds of years and both keeps the walls waterproof and insect free.

Read: NSW silo art – how and where to see them all

There are all sorts of recycled materials both in the yurt and the shower and toilet hut, including the doors, windows, timber and corrugated iron. And to protect the ground and the nearby creek from chemicals Alkira uses an Ecoflo eco-friendly waterless composting toilet.

So apart from being freaking adorable it’s ticking all sorts of green boxes in the countryside.

Alkira glamping sustainable stay Victoria
Alkira glamping interior

Earthship Ironbank, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Just 45 minutes out of Adelaide’s CBD this light and lovely off the grid number is ready to take you away from the everyday.

Earthship Ironbank is a self-sufficient and self-contained studio apartment, that’s just next door to the owners’ passive solar strawbale house in case you need any help sailing your ship.

Read: Gorgeous dog friendly cottages in the Cotswolds

Vegetarian breakfast ingredients are supplied, including free range eggs and honey from the property so you can whip up a delicious breakfast from backyard to plate. And if you love wood-fired pizza there’s a wood oven in the kitchen where you can make your own, or a microwave if you feel like going for an even easier quick fix dinner.

Earthship Ironbark South Australia
Earthship Ironbark bathroom

The Earth Covered House, Rock Forest, NSW

On a conservation property outside of Bathurst, this Earth Covered House doesn’t just look cool, it stays that way thanks to being shielded by the earth.

Built by a German master builder in 1994, the house uses the earth’s thermal mass to maintain ultra-low energy consumption.

There’s at least 2.1m (7 feet) of earth coverage over the house and double glazing to add to the insulation. Earth tube ventilation keeps the fresh air flowing and the interior temperature is an average 21 degrees, dipping down to 18 if no heating is used in winter and up to 23 in the height of summer.

There are three bedrooms, sleeping up to five guests, and all the joinery is hand made on site using local and donated timbers. And while your mobile won’t work underneath all that earth, you can pop out to the garden to make a call, or use the Wi-Fi inside to stay in touch with the outside world. Or not.

Earth Covered House Airbnb
Earth Covered House Airbnb interior

Hobart Hideaway Pods

Just minutes outside Hobart in the foothills of Mt Wellington, the Hobart Hideaway Pods are eco friendly tiny houses with a view.

There are two pods to choose from, the Vanilla Pod and the Pea Pod which is wheelchair friendly, and both are made with sustainably sourced building materials including Eco Ply and reclaimed hardwoods.

Read: A Byron Hinterland stay at the Woollybutts eco cottage in Federal

The solar passive design reduces the need for electric heating and the double glazed windows help to keep you cosy even on one of those super crisp Tasmanian winter mornings. 

The pods use waterless, chemical free composting toilets that save around 60,000 litres of drinking water a year each, and the shower and sink’s grey water is filtered through a reed bed before it’s reabsorbed into the soil.

The owners’ trophy cabinet includes gold, silver and bronze Tasmanian Tourism awards in both eco tourism and standard accommodation, and if you’d like to learn more about how the pods are made you can check out Ecoshelta and maybe even get inspired to build your own eco granny flat or house.

Hobart Hideaway Pods
Hobart Hideaway Pods view

The Recyclable House, Beaufort, Victoria

From one angle the Recyclable House looks like a big fancy shed. But then you see it from another side and it shows its true colours as a fun country getaway for a big family or group of friends.

This Airbnb sleeps up to ten people and has plenty of games for the kids including a trampoline to bounce around on.

Designed and built using closed loop, passive-solar construction principles it’s a bit of an experimental home with a focus on the circular economy.

Rather than putting in air conditioning the house has been designed with cross flow ventilation, but if it’s a hot night and there’s no breeze there are extraction and pedestal fans standing by.

And thanks to the natural house finishes including the paint and oil stains, and the use of natural cleaning products it’s a very low-tox life kinda place.

The Recyclable House Eco Airbnb
The Recyclable House Airbnb interior

Goonengerry Eco Home, Byron Bay Hinterland, NSW

On the edge of a Byron Bay hinterland rainforest in an 80 acre wildlife sanctuary, this eco Airbnb has been created by a couple with a passion for the good green life.

Between Rachel’s sustainable design business and Campbell’s work as an organic chef and gardener, this Goonengerry Eco Home was destined for a life that’s gentle on the planet. 

The house is made of strawbale, stone and glass, and has an open contemporary design. I’m also loving that outdoor bathroom, which was named Australia’s most beautiful bathroom by Home Beautiful Magazine in 2010.

Read: 11 of the best Byron Bay retreat ideas

The home is mostly powered by solar (with mains backup) including solar hotwater and a solar heated plunge pool. The roof catchment area can fill up to 50,000 litres of drinking water tanks, and there’s a greywater reedbed and compost toilet.

Guests are welcome to pick fresh fruit and vegies from the garden and orchard and can eat fresh eggs from the resident chickens.

There’s a projection screen for DVDs and the TV and a library full of books to read, that’s if you can stop looking out at the view and just listening to the sounds of the rainforest.

Goonengerry Eco Home Airbnb outdoor bathroom
Goonengerry Eco Home Airbnb view

Callignee II, Gippsland, Victoria

The first home to appear on Grand Designs Australia, Callignee II was born out of the ashes of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires, after owner Chris Clarke decided to rebuild on the same site when his home was burnt to the ground.

This architecturally designed, award-winning retreat is 100% off the grid and thanks to state of the art lithium battery storage can run on solar power almost year round, with the occasional generator back up in the winter months.

Rainwater is harvested onsite, and the home is designed so that the rooms, the swimming pool and gardens can all make the most of the North sun.

The bedroom ceiling, vanity, and dining table timber is recycled from Melbourne’s Princess Pier and the kitchen is decked out with 5 star energy appliances.

Organic shampoos, conditioners and soaps are provided, and guests are asked not to use any non-organic products during their stay to protect the Biolytic Blackwater system. So only bring things that are good for both your body and the environment. Which is a good idea wherever you stay.

Callignee II pool
Callignee II bedroom

The Container, Lilydale, Tasmania

A finalist in the Tasmanian Tourism Awards, The Container has well and truly given an old shipping container a new lease on life with an impressive round of recycling and upcycling.

This one bedroom getaway has a king bed with organic linen sheets tucked in a cosy corner, and the living area has a record player and musical instruments to play, art supplies and books and games, or you can just pop the tele on and sit back with a glass of Tasmanian wine.

You can collect your own fresh eggs from the farm’s chickens and say hi to the sheep as you admire the peonies and waratahs. And as a fan of a good bath I’m loving the outdoor bathtub for a soak under the stars with the Container’s Aesop products.

The Container eco getaway, Tasmania
The Container ecogetaway interior

EarthShip Daintree, Queensland

An off-grid jungle stay, EarthShip Daintree is more for your adventure travellers, preferably in AWD (all wheel drive) vehicles ready to tackle steep drives.

Read: Seven great Aussie road trips

The EarthShip has a plunge pool and a roof top lawn where you can look out over the rainforest and the Coral Sea. The home relies on solar power, though a generator does kick in between 8 and 10pm to top up batteries and filter the pool.

This self contained hideaway for two has a fire pit with a view, a BBQ area, and a veggie garden where guests are welcome to pick fresh ingredients for their meals.

Earthship Daintree
Earthship Daintree pool

The Welcome Swallow Hideaway, Glenaire, Victoria

On an organic farm on the edge of the Cape Otway National Park this shipping container tiny home is rather sweetly named after the Welcome Swallows who made a mud nest on the front porch and raised four babies as the owners brought their retreat dream to life.

While the old shipping container makes up the Welcome Swallow Hideaway cabin, recovered and new building materials have been used to extend the container to create a kitchen, dining and lounge area, and a lush bathroom greenhouse combo where you can look up at the stars from a hot tub built for two surrounded by ferns and flowers.

There are hiking trails just behind the cabin and as well as being able to see the family of koalas that live in the trees right next to the house you could spot kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas and lots of native birds as you well and truly get back to nature.  

Welcome-Swallow Hideaway sustainable holiday home
Welcome-Swallow Hideaway spa

Chendana, Repentance Creek, NSW

This quirky little bungalow in the Byron Bay hinterland is a different kind of sustainable Airbnb, one that’s run not for profit and instead puts all of the money it raises into improving the natural habitat for local wildlife.

At Chendana you can see local koalas, wallabies and if you’re lucky, even platypus, and learn about how your money is going to help protect their environment.

The open space bungalow has a deck and BBQ with views of Night Cap National Park. There are hammocks to lie back in, and you’re only five minutes from Minyon Falls and a ten minute drive from swimming holes or breakfast in the village of Federal.

Read: Glamping in Tasmania – where to get back to nature in style

And if you love hitting the Sunday markets you’ll be able to choose from Lismore, Nimbin, The Channon, Bangalow and Byron Bay before coming back to your own little cabin in the rainforest.

So there we have it, 17 of the best sustainable Airbnbs around Australia. I love the idea of finding more great ones out there to share, so if you have a favourite one that’s not already on the list do let me know. Until then, happy green travels.

Chendana Airbnb
Chendana Airbnb interior

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