Off-grid eco lodges in Victoria's Grampians could be your ticket to 'green' tourism boom

Solar power, battery storage and buildings designed to leave the lightest footprint on the environment as possible.

It might sound like a future pledge from the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow, but it's been the reality at 'Aquila', seven kilometres from the Victorian village of Dunkeld, since 2001.

The 'eco lodge' resort, which borders the Grampians National Park, has just hit the market, giving prospective purchasers the opportunity tap into the zeitgeist and satisfy our increasing appetite for domestic travel that's as 'green' as possible.

"I would say given the social climate at the moment also I think that the demand for eco tourism is only just burgeoning," listing agent Sue Gratton, of Circa Heritage & Lifestyle, said.

One of the lodges at Aquila, located at 586 Victoria Valley Road, Dunkeld. Picture: Supplied

One of the lodges at Aquila, located at 586 Victoria Valley Road, Dunkeld. Picture: Supplied

The resort consists of four fully self-contained lodges, each built to exacting environmental stands, and a main sandstone home built in the octagonal style.

"I feel as though ... people are much more interested in their environmental footprint and therefore in terms of the client base or anyone who is purchasing this, they would be interested in purchasing a property that will not only bring them an income but will sit with their environmental consciousness," Ms Gratton said.

Current owners Harry and Iwona Wakeling purchased the property in 2008, having been attracted to the lodges, and their ethos, since they'd stayed there.

"The concept behind it and the way the architects achieved what they were given in their brief, we certainly enjoyed that. Their brief was to design the lodges to give the guests as much exposure to the outside from the inside of the building and they achieve that really well," Mr Wakeling said.

The lodges are nestled among the trees and border the Grampians National Park. Picture: Supplied

The lodges are nestled among the trees and border the Grampians National Park. Picture: Supplied

Under their stewardship, Aquila has begun to tap into the international market, with the lodges a favourite among European and South African tourists in particular, with guests maintaining bookings years in advance.

During the pandemic, and the closure of international borders, Mr Wakeling had noticed a newfound enthusiasm for the property from local travellers.

"They've come from far and wide. We've had guests from out past Traralgon, Mansfield, Kilcunda and people coming down from Mildura and along the Murray," he said.

"We've even had a lot of people coming up from the coast, surprisingly a lot of people from Port Fairy and and down to Anglesea, those people were coming inland they got tired and wanted to see something else from the beach."

The couple are now looking to pass the mantle to someone "younger and fitter", Mr Wakeling said.

Ms Gratton explained that the property was built under a Trust for Nature 'conservation covenant', allowing for future development that respects the tenets of the trust in terms of land care and wildlife protection.

A future owner could consider using the existing main residence and a separate limestone studio as a day spa or artists' retreat, repurposing existing buildings to increase income potential she said.

Other than the remote controlled solar panel and battery storage system, there's a an underground, worm-based Biolytic waste management system.

The property made the ideal 'tree change' opportunity, Ms Gratton said, with the current owners self-managing the lodges with the assistance of staff.

She said major tourist attractions, including a recently-opened, extended walking trail through the Grampians and the nearby Royal Mail Hotel, meant that Dunkeld was turning into a high-profile tourism destination.

This story Off-grid eco lodges in Victoria's Grampians could be your ticket to 'green' tourism boom first appeared on The Courier.