Nestled amidst the Snowy Mountains in Crackenback, approximately a 5-hour drive from Sydney, stands the remarkable 'Mill Cabin.' This enchanting abode is perched on a naturally cleared site, offering awe-inspiring vistas of the New South Wales high country range.
Up there, an immediate connection with nature unfolds, creating a distinct separation from the urban way of life, but in the most organic and harmonious way. The cabin embraces natural building materials whenever possible, featuring a simple yet captivating design reminiscent of the traditional stockman huts found in the Australian high country. It effortlessly blends into its surroundings, and we couldn't pass this one up as a shoot location for our Winter range!
Pony Rider has long been associated with the Snowys, so you can imagine our sheer excitement when we crossed paths with Illustrator Niki Fisher and her partner, Trent Lowe, a skilled carpenter. These extraordinary individuals captivated us, not only with their adventurous spirit and zest for life, but also with their profound connection to nature and mindful way of living. It was this special bond that drew us to them and their magical haven.
We were lucky enough to spend an entire day with this dynamic duo, revelling in delightful moments, capturing images of our Winter range against the backdrop of their picturesque boutique stay. We were truly captivated as they shared their incredible journey of relocating their family to the Snowys to pursue their passions, their deep love for nature, and their desire to embrace a more off-grid lifestyle. And, of course, we couldn't help but marvel at how our Pony Riders gear complemented their space so perfectly!
Hear from Niki & Trent…
1. Tell us all about your journey and beautiful space
We moved to Jindabyne from Melbourne about five years ago. We were drawn to the mountains for outdoor activities and to raise our family. We haven’t looked back, it was the right move for us. We both love design, the mountains, the outdoors and an active lifestyle. Being a designer and a carpenter, we both have a lot of motivation and gain the most satisfaction in our work when we undertake a project like this. To us, Mill Cabin is the perfect place we would want to come to experience the mountains. I suppose our journey works backwards from there. We felt if we created such a place other people would get to see and experience what we love about the mountains so much.
2. What was your vision and reason behind it all?
Our vision was to create a space that connects harmoniously to its surrounds and one that is completely removed from the stressors of modern day life. We spent lots of time hiking and mountain biking into high country huts and felt immense contentment by having our immediate needs attended to, being warm, fed and sheltered. It was this sense of being free from distractions and having nothing but the present to focus on that we wanted to recreate.
Mill Cabin is our take on a high country hut with a contemporary twist.
3. Talk us through your design / build process and how you re-imagine it all from the beginning?
As we were taking inspiration from the stockman’s hut of the high country, we had a basis to begin the design process. The property is north facing and has spectacular views in that direction, so that was predetermined. Thermally it’s very efficient, with double glazing, plenty of insulation, and is well sealed to prevent thermal escape. We used all the latest and improved methods that were learned on other builds in recent years. Being able to complete all the plans and drafting saved us a lot of time not having to go back and forth with third parties. The design process evolved fairly naturally from that initial basis of a stockman’s hut, with the need for the spaces to be functional and inviting. It’s simple but it works, and it’s efficient. We wanted to be off-grid as the technology now allows for this to happen, and it’s important to us that we use sustainable practices. This is something we feel more strongly about since having a family. Following generations need a planet to live on. Burning fossil fuels when we now have an alternative didn’t seem right, especially when starting from a clean slate. The granite bush rocks were picked up by hand from the surrounding area and fit perfectly into the landscape. The bush rock with all its moss and character brings a sense of permanence, as if it has always been there. For us it had to be a fortified structure that will stand the test of time.
4. Was there a stand out feature of the stay that you love to admire?
The space is designed with the views and nature being centre stage, the living area is encased by windows and doors that open to the outside. Everything was really dictated by the outside landscape and environment. It was important that the space be calming, highly functional and comfortable without distracting or competing with its environment
5. How do you feel when you're there, describing the perfect day at the cabin?
A perfect day - waking up to the sound of lyre birds outside, morning breakfast by the fire, with all the optimism of a day in the wilderness ahead. To go fly fishing or skiing depending on the season, or for a hike with the family to soak up all that that nature and the outdoors offer. Returning later in the day for a soak in the bath, and a steak cooked on the fire with a beer. The experience always brings about a feeling of being reset and ready to go again.
6. What drew you to this location and what is so special about this location?
Although Mill Cabin is not in the national park it has a similar feeling to that of the Park. The property does have a biodiversity overlay due to its unique vegetation. There is abundant wildlife and you can’t help but feel like you are a visitor on their patch. It’s such a quiet place that it wants you to stop and simply observe. We were drawn to this place because it’s like a snapshot of what we love about the mountains, the views, the big sky, the lifestyle, the different moods the weather brings.
7. What’s your favourite time of year in the Snowys - or is that a silly question?
No it's not a silly question. Since living here we love all of them. They all have something unique to offer. We love the outdoors so each season has something that is either different, or is a different experience in that season. As our boys grow older we are able to experience more of these activities with them. The Snowy’s is a year round destination with something for everyone.
8. What special features does the property have that helps folk get off the grid and to spend more time connected to the land?
Mill Cabin sits on 15 acres and is submerged in the bush. With large decks to sit on to take in the views, a fire pit BBQ area to huddle around and cook some tucker and a wood fired bathtub to soak in and enjoy the amazing views. If the weather doesn’t allow for this, then you can observe nature’s show from inside through the large windows, in a cosy environment, which can be equally satisfying. Witnessing the silence of a calm snowfall is something very special for those lucky enough to witness this.
9. What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt and will take with you on further adventures?
Do something you are passionate about. If you are passionate about something you will make a better job of it and you will appreciate the experience even more.
10. Share with us how a touch of Pony Rider gear fits into your space so well.
The Pony Rider gear is completely in sync with the cabin, as if it was designed for our space. Each piece adds so much warmth and style and elevates the experience of being in a location like this. A huge part of our journey is connecting with like minded brands that care as much about the planet as we do and the fact that Pony Rider is a certified B Corp makes us very proud to use their ethical products at Mill Cabin.
Needless to say this beauty is worth a trip to the Snowys, and you can book your own Mill Cabin experience by giving the button below a good old tap.
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Designed by Niki Fisher & Trent Lowe